4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on October 25, 2009
I recently purchased this guitar from Amazon's website. The guitar is an Alvarez AJ-60S acoustic, a six-string, jumbo-size. There are no on-board electronics for this model. The same guitar is available with electronics, but that body has a cutaway to access the upper frets on the treble strings. I prefer the top to have a uniform shape. I have the skills and tools to do most of my own luthiery, so I will install a piezo pickup under the saddle, and a preamp with three-band EQ with volume. I also own the Alvarez AJ-60S-12, the acoustic jumbo 12-string which uses the identical body size, also with a DIY piezo/preamp installed.
The AJ-60S and AJ-60S-12 have been discontinued by Alvarez. I did not discover that fact until after I had made my decision to purchase the AJ-60S.
The back and sides are very nice curly maple veneer over a laminate. The top is solid spruce, with good uniform grain across the entire face of the guitar. I think the sound is well-balanced over the entire range -- I have yet to find a dead spot across the frequency spectrum. The finish on the body is a very high-gloss clear over natural maple. I believe a "vintage sunburst" was also available when the guitar was in production. I prefer the natural maple.
The body is bound around its perimeter, front and back, with multi-layer white and black plastic binding. The pickguard is a reddish tortoise-shell plastic, approximately average-sized.
The neck is solid maple, with a rosewood fingerboard. Scale length is approximately 24.75". Width of the neck at the nut is 1.70", thickness at the same place is ~0.91" The headstock is angled back at approximately 15° from the plane of the fingerboard. The headstock is constructed of a separate piece of maple, fixed to the end of the neck with what luthiers refer to as a Spanish joint. MUCH stronger than a typical Martin or Gibson headstock configuration. The neck is equipped with sealed tuning machines, probably Gotohs, with very smooth, consistent operation. The veneer on the face of the headstock looks like rosewood, with the Alvarez logo in mother-of-pearl. The neck and headstock have a narrow white plastic binding. Small black dots are installed in the binding on the side of the neck. There are no fret marker dots installed in the face of the fingerboard. The sole exception is a diagonal m-o-p line across the 12th fret area. Truss rod adjustment is from inside, through the sound hole.
The bridge is a solid rosewood piece, with a compensated plastic saddle to facilitate correct intonation. As set from the factory, the intonation is very close to dead-on. Factory-installed strings are not branded, and are 0.012" (high E) to 0.052" (low E), which are conventionally called "light gauge." They appear to be phosphor-bronze. I own several acoustic guitars, in addition to the two Alvarez units, and prefer extra-light acoustic strings (0.010 to 0.047") in order to minimize stress on the soundboard, bridge, and bridge plate. This is personal preference ONLY, and NOT A RECOMMENDATION.
I also purchased the Alvarez hard-shell case at the same time. I find the case is a very loose fit for the AJ-60S, but should provide an acceptable level of protection for anything but shipment in the luggage compartment of an airline.
Amazon notified me promptly when the guitar and the case shipped (the items were shipped separately, even though purchased on the same order,) and included the tracking number for the delivery service. I was suprised that both items arrived a day early. The guitar was packed in its original packing box, which was also packed inside a larger rectangular box. The case was shipped wrapped in a sheet of opaque white plastic. Neither package arrived with any visible damage, and a close visual inspection of the contents was also satisfactory.
I have owned the guitar for one month (the 12-string for five years) and it is everything I've come to expect from Alvarez. While not an extraordinarily high-priced guitar ($629 MSRP), the fit and finish are outstanding for a mass-produced, laminate body guitar. The curly maple veneer was book-matched very well on the back of the body. There were no apparent dings or dents in the finish. The sound of the instrument when strummed with open chords is very nice -- there is no particular range of frequencies which is overly loud or soft compared to other notes. Barre chords are somewhat subdued, but still well-articulated.
I like the guitar very much. It is as loud and well-balanced as my much more expensive Martin Shenandoah D-4132 (also a laminated rosewood body with a solid spruce top.) Action is good for an acoustic. For the close-out price at which it was offered, it is an outstanding buy. I STRONGLY recommend spending the extra $90 for a hardshell case. This guitar deserves it.
on November 30, 2009
This guitar sounds better overall than I had expected for paying $300 online. The 5th and 6th strings send a booming sound that will easily fill a small room. Your chords will sound beefier than most other acoustics you play around, except for perhaps Martins or other big body brands. This guitar is also very light, and the maple wood on the sides and back is very pretty. I look forward to taking my playing to the advanced intermediate level over the next few years, from where I am now, a novice, tossing off some Hank Williams songs and just now learning to play scales and solos, and basic fingerpicking patterns.
Why not five stars? It's not as big as I anticipated. A Martin dreadnought is definitely bigger, or wider, I think. Also, the first four strings do not project so exceptionally well as the last two, but sound pretty enough.