The Alvarez guitar brand was born in 1965 as a result of a collaboration between the St Louis Music distributor in the US and master luthier Kazuo Yairi in Japan, whose aim was to import good quality acoustic guitars into the US. Cut to today and they’re a brand that is really making waves in the industry. Their use of quality tonewoods, attention to detail, high build standards and attractive price points are just some of the reasons many players are choosing Alvarez.
The Alvarez AD30 is a dreadnought acoustic guitar featuring a solid sitka spruce top and layered African mahogany back and sides. There are also some other key specs that help this guitar punch above its price tag, including a real bone nut, sturdy tuners and forward-shifted X-bracing.
The 30 series represents incredible value for money, it being the entry point into guitars built with a solid top. However, the AD30 is more than just an entry-level guitar. Sure, it’s a great option for players just starting out, but more experienced guitarists will no doubt find it a really fun and expressive instrument to play.
Firstly, it sounds great. It’s got a lovely, warm and rich low end that grows more powerful as you strum harder, and a clear and detailed top end. This is what you might expect from a dreadnought, so it’s reassuring to get that response as soon as you play. Overall, it’s a fairly bright-sounding guitar. It projects nicely, with a good amount of volume, though it reacts nicely to picking dynamics as well. It’s easy to create shades of dark and light with your picking attack and also works well when fingerpicking. Players that have a softer touch might, however, prefer a smaller-bodied guitar that requires less energy to get the top moving, like the AF30.
The spruce top lends a bright and snappy tone, and with this being a solid top, it’s going to get better the more you play it. There’s good note definition too, with all six strings easily heard when strumming full chords.
Going up to and around the 12th fret on the B and top E strings, you do start to lose a bit of power and sustain, but it’s worth considering whether you’ll be spending much time around there anyway.
The Alvarez AD30 feels like a quality instrument; perhaps more than its price tag suggests. The satin body looks and feels great, and the semi-gloss finish on the neck aids quick chord movements without ever feeling too slippery or getting too sweaty if playing live. Overall, it’s got an instantly comfortable, almost pre-worn in feel to it without any actual aging.
The neck profile should be comfortable for most players. It’s quite thin, so beginners will likely find that they can get their hands around open chord positions easily. It’s also got a soft V to C neck profile, so the shape of the back of the neck changes very subtly. This means that you get the optimal neck shape for fretting chords down towards the nut and also for playing lead lines further up the neck.
The only thing in terms of feel that might hinder some players is the bridge. Their design does mean that you get great response and sustain, but the actual shape of it, particularly on the bottom E side could get in the way a little if you rest your hand there whilst playing. The small cutaway of the bridge might catch the palm of your hand depending on your playing style.
It’s worth noting that this guitar came straight out of the box, and required a quick tune - nothing else. There were no neck tweaks needed to get a comfortable playing experience. The frets were level with no rough edges. The tuning pegs also feel high quality. They’re sturdy and they hold tuning really well - this is a pretty big thing for a guitar around this price point.
This is a great guitar that outperforms its price tag. It’s got the classic dreadnought sound, it’s nice and bright and it’s easy to get plenty of volume out of. For this reason – and, of course, its great playability – we rank it among the best acoustic guitars for beginners. However, the Alvarez AD30 is likely to be an upgrade from many starter guitars. With its solid top, good build quality, sturdy tuners and slick neck profile, it’s a great choice for a range of players.
- Price: £249/$300
- Body shape: Dreadnought
- Top: Solid A Sitka spruce
- Back and sides: African mahogany (laminate)
- Fingerboard: Techwood
- Tuners: Chrome, Die Cast
- Nut: Real bone
- Contact: Alvarez