I never thought I'd be leaving my local GC today with a new guitar but every now and then one bites you on the butt and today was my day to get bit.
I'd been keeping my eyes open for a while for a middle price range acoustic electric cutaway as I've been playing more acoustic these days with a fellow guitarist and the Thankful Dads' (my electric Dead band) rhythm section and wanted an upgrade from my cheap, all-ply '80's Yamaha with its mag soundhole PUP.
I thought my problems would be solved by the PRS SE because the two I played at the 2011 Experience sounded so good but the ones that later turned up in my local stores were a disappointment.
Liked the Taylor 100 and 200 series - especially the latter - but didn't find the exact one to pull the trigger on.
Really liked the all solid wood less expensive Martins I played but again, nothing grabbed me to buy yet.
Today, I try one of Alvarez's apparently newly re-designed from the bottom up models, AD710CE (it's actually listed as the AD70 on Alvarez's web page, not sure why GC calls it the 710CE) and couldn't believe my ears. Very nice acoustic tones for only $429 (pre-10% off as GC took my Musician's Friend coupon). Held its own with several guitars 3 to 4 times the price.
Then I plugged it in and was quickly sold. Very serviceable amplified tones. I later looked up the system in the guitar and found this on Alvarez's web page:
The brand new Alvarez SYS650, designed by B-BAND. We chose to work with B-BAND simply because we thought their reproduction of acoustic sound was awesome. The 650 uses B-BAND’s patented electret film technology instead of Piezo materials. A Piezo pickup tends to import a sound of their own into the electrified tone, which is often described as synthetic – You don’t get this with the B-BAND technology which works similar to that of a condenser microphone, allowing for excellent reproduction of the instruments true voice. The SYS650 is a dual pick-up system incorporating one under saddle pick up and a transducer pick up placed under the soundboard. Either pick up can be selected or you can blend between the two to find subtle changes in response for lead, picking or rhythm work. The system also has a fully chromatic, precision tuner with backlit LCD screen; 3-bands of rotary EQ and a great notch control that identifies and deals with any feedback extremely well. The SYS650 is available on all Alvarez Artist* and Masterworks electric acoustic guitars.
Plays like proverbial butter. Definitely an electric guitarist's acoustic. And Alvarez MUST have copied a Martin dread neck carve because it's indistinguishable from several of the Martins. Even the binding's identical-looking.
The last thing I did before pulling out my credit card was to test the intonation across the guitar. And then I was sold - spot on everywhere.
I'm not saying all examples of this mass-produced model will sound as good as I've just described. But at least one does. Might be worth checking out if you're on a workingman's budget.
Oh, and the solid spruce top on mine has a beautiful hue. If Englemann is on one end of the spectrum and Adirondack on the other, mine is closer to the Adirondack. A sweet touch of goldenish reminiscent of an old Martin.
Pic below isn't mine, it's the one on Alvarez's web page, but it'll do for now.