Why Choose Alvarez?
Why Choose Alvarez?
The resurgence of live performances was recently announced in Singapore, and what better way to celebrate that than to revive our blog where we talk about instruments, audio gear and all things music from time to time! As the distributor of Alvarez Guitars, here's a post answering a commonly asked question: Why Choose Alvarez?
(Content taken from their sparkling, recently-revamped website!)
At Alvarez, we craft instruments with your creativity in mind. We acutely understand that the relationship you have with your instrument directly affects how much you want to play, how you can better develop as a musician, and how the guitar you play impacts how much you play and ignites your creativity.
Making music is one of the most fulfilling gifts in life—but it can also be one of the most frustrating and demanding. Having an instrument that you bond with inspires you. This is the foundation of our approach in creating our instruments.
We also understand we must design for a lifetime. Guitars are not consumable products; they can be kept for decades, being passed on from generation to generation. The way we build guitars must match this tradition. From the choices of woods and components to the accuracy of wood joints and seasoning, every step of our careful approach impacts how our guitars are played, kept, and treasured. This is what drives us, and this directs our design decisions and commitment to thoughtful craftsmanship.
Dedication to quality and value is not always easy. It means we have to make better decisions, gain more knowledge, and keep experimenting and exploring. We call it “perpetual R&D.”
Throughout our development we believe in the decisions we make and also expose decisions that are incorrect, so that musicians playing our guitars never experience any failings. Musicians need to trust their instruments—they are the tools of their trade, they are voices and communication devices and create something that can change the listener’s feelings. Music is a powerful medium best made on dynamic and trustworthy tools.
That is why we obsessively study sanding process, painstakingly test the smallest of components, properly cure our woods, R&D different paints and finish process, invest in tooling and education, and take deep dives into production design as well as product design. For our goal is not just to make great guitars, but to make the greatest value guitars. We incorporate the design and quality we want and you need, which means we have to make them efficiently so as many players as possible can own them.
Only then can we be proud to offer beautiful looking, wonderful sounding instruments that can inspire creativity for a lifetime and bring more music into our lives.
The handmade approach and obsessive R&D.
In a world of mass-produced, fast goods and globalization there seems a growing number of people seeking out handmade products. Items made with a more human approach and the refined skill of Artisans who know their craft and consider the user at every step of production. Alvarez-Yairi is such a product, bench-made guitars, obsessively crafted by a humble and inspiring group of Luthiers who have dedicated their lives to guitar making.
There are 24 Luthiers at Yairi, four of them are Master Luthiers and worked at their benches for up to 55 years. This wealth of expertise helps to set Alvarez apart from many guitar companies. We are known for our endless stockpiles of vintage, and naturally seasoned wood. The Yairi build quality and player experience offer quality rarely found at such accessible price points for hyphenate bench-made instruments.
Tone design and bracing architecture
One of Alvarez’s unique selling propositions is genre and model-specific bracing design throughout the entire line. From Yairi to Regent Series, everything is specially designed for purpose and experience.
Our Bluegrass and Blues guitars have pre-war style bracing delivering vintage tone with a more modern dynamic range. Our larger body guitars such as Baritones and Jumbo’s are fitted with our FST2, forward shifted system, and our mid-sized and smaller body guitars are fitted with MST1 which allows those body sizes to generate more energy, resulting in greater projection.
All of our bracing designs have what we call ‘asymmetric tone bars’. This is where the lower braces (tone bars) are scalloped in opposition to each other. One accentuates the middle frequencies, the other the bass and treble which we believe enhances separation and balance across all six strings.
Sanding and painting the Alvarez way
Achieving a truly clear, thin, and deep shine finish requires knowledge and care. When we say “clear,” we’re referring to our gloss clear coat being as free of “inter-coat” scratching as possible. Any guitar maker will attest that this is not easy and requires real attention to detail, especially in the sanding processes to achieve such a high-end finish.
In many standard guitars you will see circular scratching between the coats. This is usually due to aggressive sanding used to sand back each coat of paint before the next. Although using large industrial sanding machines is quicker, it doesn’t achieve a near-perfect finish. That’s why at Alvarez we slow it down, using hand sanders, painstakingly building our finish through every coat with the end result of true “clearness” in mind. Our finish looks amazing, and it is also thin to allow the soundbox to resonate just that little bit more.
If you’re going to do it, do it properly
Whether it’s a tweak in our bracing, or design of our Ukulele line, we only release models when we know we’ve developed them to the best of our knowledge at any given time. An outstanding example of this is our Cadiz Series.
Embarking on a classical and flamenco series took us to Andalucía several times to study voicing and construction in the home of classical and flamenco guitar making. We worked with Luthiers and talked to local musicians to learn the nuances of flamenco design and made prototype components there before starting any production. The Cadiz bracing design gives a slight nod to that of Jose Ramirez III’s asymmetric architecture in that our guitars have a treble bar. This is to stiffen up the treble side of the top a little which helps us create very round, bell-like trebles on our first three strings. We keep the bass side of the top light by using slightly thinner braces which gives the player very open, clear, and strong bass response.
We believe this attention to detail, an almost obsessional commitment, is a huge part of “Why Alvarez” when it comes to choosing a guitar.
Quality is in the detail
We believe a continual culture of R&D is not just about innovation, it also means we review ourselves as we move forward and learn more. Each component on our guitars is designed, tested, or chosen. For example, our complex curve, standard neck profile has evolved as our capability in production becomes more technical.
Many neck profiles were designed in order to find what we believe to be the most comfortable in different fretting positions and balance between playing at the low, middle, or high end of the fretboard. Everything is considered with the player in mind.
Direct coupled and bi-level bridges
In the 1980s Mr. Yairi developed the Direct Coupled Bridge. He wanted to raise the string tension of the guitar and take the vibration created at the bridge into the top. The bridge design drops the bridge pins much lower than the saddle—that creates a more acute string angle which increases the downforce on the saddle, thus heightening string tension. This really impacts response and projection.
Something you will notice with Alvarez is the immediate response, no matter how soft you play.
Standard Alvarez guitars are fitted with a one-piece bi-level bridge that is based on Yairi’s direct coupled design. This also heightens the string tension and improves response. Alvarez bi-level bridges have become part of DNA and together with the Alvarez logo make our guitars instantly recognizable.
Guitarists always need more guitars
One of the great things about Alvarez is our comprehensive offering, making the brand truly interesting to so many more players. Guitarists love guitars and often want to explore options to achieve their sound or venture into new tonal landscapes.
We have everything for everyone, from multiple wood configurations for standard sizes to Baritones, 8-Strings, 12-Strings, Parlors, Flamenco and everything in between, and every single model is designed correctly for the application it is needed for. Few other brands go to this extent to keep things exciting.
Production design is at the heart of value.
We make excellent guitars affordable because we invest in and design the processes needed to make them that way—from machinery to hands-on applications, quality assurance, and supply chain management. We manage everything to realize our designs and levels of quality and to bring our wonderful guitars to the market at unbelievable value.