This is a mediocre guitar with an outstanding preamp
I read a LOT of great things about this guitar prior to buying, so I had fairly high expectations going into this deal, yet at the same time, I've owned a Taylor 614 and a vintage Alvarez-Yairi so I knew a $900 guitar wouldn't come close to that kind of quality. So here's my "calling it as I see it" review of the A3R:
Build - The build quality is pretty good, consistent with what I would expect from a factory in China. There are minor imperfections like exposed glue under the fingerboard at the soundhole, and the body binding is not as straight/even in some places. I wish they had just used plastic binding rather than wood. Frets are good (no jagged edges), the nut is cut well. The plastic housing for the preamp controls doesn't sit flush against the body, I suspect the hole for the preamp wasn't cut big enough. No one should ever say that this guitar is built like a more expensive guitar, because it isn't.
Materials - What's the first thing you notice with the majority of these A3 and AC3 series guitars? Unmatched spruce tops. That's just pathetic that it's got a two-tone top, but I guess they had to compromise somewhere. The back/sides may be solid wood but it looks more like the jacaranda wood that Yairi uses rather than typical Indian rosewood. I'm sure in some botanical dictionary the wood is a distant cousin to rosewood but when I play it, I don't hear rosewood (more on that later). The overall materials are what I would expect in an Asian-made guitar and are no way comparable to more expensive guitars. The plastic nut and bridge should be replaced ASAP.
Sound/Playability - The A3 series has a thin neck which many electric players may like but if you dig a '50s Les Paul neck or a nylon classical neck, you will not like this one. The frets are tiny so I find myself gripping the neck more than I normally would. The overall acoustic sound of this guitar is bland and boring. It lacks all of the crystal highs and deep lows that you would expect in a rosewood/spruce dreadnaught, it sounds like an all mahogany guitar IMO. Replacing the strings, nut, and bridge got some of the highs back but didn't help the lows at all. Plugged in, Dr. Jeckyl turned into Mr. Hyde - the pickup and microphone modeling is outstanding! I was floored when I plugged it straight into my recording interface and heard this really nice tone with all the highs and lows that were missing from the natural acoustic tone.
If you plan to never use the onboard preamp, this guitar is a waste of money. Buy a used Martin, Taylor, Breedlove, Alvarez, etc and be happy. If you plan to record or play live direct to a PA, this is a very good guitar... however... I would suggest one of the less expensive models with the same System 63 preamp because the woods are less of a tone factor in these guitars. If you buy this guitar expecting the big, bold rosewood/spruce tone you may be disappointed.