Results 1 to 18 of 18

Thread: Alvarez mandolins

  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    2

    Default

    I am looking to buy a new mandolin (middle-price range). The problem is that I live in small-town, Alabama and don't have access to trying many. I have a Kentucky, super-cheap beginner's model and would like to take the next step up (of course on a college student's budget). I have an Alvarez guitar which I really like and think the craftmanship is great for a middle-of-the-road price and was wondering if the same is true of their mandolins. I am specifically looking at the F3ANT and have found it priced for $769.99. Is it worth the price?

    Thanks!

    By His Grace,
    .wireDGrass.

  2. #2
    Registered User John Flynn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Fairfax, VA
    Posts
    7,632

    Default

    The difficulty in answering that question about brands like Alvarez, Kentucky and other importers is that they really aren't builders, so experience doesn't always mean a lot. So that model may be fine or it may not. The quality depends on who they have building it for them in Asia and what specs they are building to, either or both of which may change at any time, without the model # changing. I had a decent Alvarez A800 F-style for years and it was a good deal, but if I only had $770 to spend, I would not spend it on that instrument. That's just my choice. In that price range, I would buy used and I would buy and "A" style to get more instrument for my money. I would make sure I had an approval period and immediately have a local luthier check the instrument over and assuming it had no major flaws, have him set it up right for me. But if you are just dying to have that Alvarez, it seems like the specs on it are about par for the course in that price range, so go for it.

  3. #3
    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Kalamazoo, MI.
    Posts
    1,814

    Default

    I have had my Alvarez since 1975, it has been used hard for all that time, I have some top sinking issues but, I have not always been the "kindest" to it. If you can find one I would say "Get it!"
    I really can't say much about the newer ones, not a terribly popular item around Kalamazoo, sad to say.
    Timothy F. Lewis
    Nos Mos Nunquam Astrum

  4. #4
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Sarasota, Florida
    Posts
    294

    Default

    I think it's important for you to consider the fact that the Alvarez mandolins are not built by Alvarez, per se. Most Asian production mandolins are made by one or two factories, most likely Daewon, and are essentially clones of one another, with the brand name added to the headstock. Hence, an Alvarez is the same as a Fender, Aria, etc., etc. when buying Asian mandos in this price range. Take a look at used Eastman mandos, or some of the Kentucky all solid wood models.

    Dave
    Striving for mediocrity and perpetually falling short.

  5. #5
    ******* Caleb's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    DFW, Texas
    Posts
    1,988

    Default

    On topic: I've played a really nice A-style Alvarez (cannot remember model number, but it's a very light-colored mandolin with spruce top and maples B/S). In fact, that was the first mandolin I'd ever played and I enjoyed it very much. It was worth every bit of the 5 bills they wanted for it, in my view.

    Just as a suggestion, if a person has almost 8 bills to spend, I'd seriously look at a Jade A-style mandolin or an Eastman A-style.
    ...

  6. #6
    Registered User jim_n_virginia's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    North East Carolina
    Posts
    3,515

    Default

    Get an Eastman or Michael Kelly.

  7. #7
    mandolin slinger Steve Ostrander's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    1,736

    Default

    Forget the MK, get an Eastman.
    Chronic MAS

  8. #8
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Hamburg, Pennsylvania
    Posts
    1,225

    Default

    I bought an Alvarez F3Ant second for a friend (and fixed a top crack done during the antiquing process, saving her hundreds). It was light and good-looking and nicely made. Once I had it set up right, it played like butter. It had a relatively good dryish bluegrass sound. But as is generally the case with PacRim mandolins, even a lot of Eastmans, it sounded thin. But it was a decent mandolin for the price and looked nice. In your price range, you sort of have to assume that you are not going to get great tone, but you can at least find solid wood (like the Alvarez), decent construction, and--after a good set-up--excellent playability. I think the playability is the most important, as it helps you learn to play better. You can move up to better tone later. But there are occasionally used A style hand-made mandolins American mandolins on our classified pages that SOUND much better than what you are looking at. The trouble is that it's hard to tell unless you try it.

  9. #9
    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Kalamazoo, MI.
    Posts
    1,814

    Default

    Very nicely put, Blue mtn. Set up and playability can make or break the perception of the instrument. If it feels good, it will make you more at ease with it. I guess I would have to say "find the instrument, not always the Name" and see where that leads you.
    Timothy F. Lewis
    Nos Mos Nunquam Astrum

  10. #10
    Registered User Jim MacDaniel's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Rotten City
    Posts
    3,915

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by (BlueMountain @ Aug. 27 2008, 08:00)
    ...But there are occasionally used A style hand-made mandolins American mandolins on our classified pages that SOUND much better than what you are looking at. The trouble is that it's hard to tell unless you try it.
    Agreed, but one of the best things about buying used, is that if you buy it for a fair market value price and don't like it, you should be able to turn around and sell it for what you paid for it -- but not so if you buy new. Buying used would also permit you to exercise a catch-and-release form of MAS without breaking the bank or loosing money on any given transaction -- and I gradually worked my way up to a used Arches using this method, after starting out with a used Kentucky for $85. (Each time I changed mandolins it cost me no more than one or two hundred dollars extra per transaction, which the wife didn't notice -- but she certainly would have noticed the dent in the budget if I went from the Kentucky to the Arches. )



    "The problem with quotes on the internet, is everybody has one, and most of them are wrong."
    ~ Mark Twain


    Mandolin shirts, hats, case stickers, & more at my Zazzle storefront

  11. #11
    Registered User James Sanford's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Fayette, AL #35555
    Posts
    372
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by (wireDGrass @ Aug. 23 2008, 14:48)
    I am looking to buy a new mandolin (middle-price range). #The problem is that I live in small-town, Alabama and don't have access to trying many. #
    What part of Alabama are you in?

    Fretted Instruments in Homewood (near Birmingham) has a good selection.

    There is also The Fret Shop in Huntsville that handles Eastman.
    James A. Sanford

  12. #12
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    2

    Default

    Well, I certainly appreciate all that you have said! I really wish that I could try a lot of different options, because I hate to put out any money without knowing what I am dealing with. That is why I wanted to know about Alvarez since I liked my guitar. I will start looking for used mandolins, though, since that is the general suggestion. I just stinks that there is nowhere nearby (that I know of, I'm in Auburn) to lay my hands on a few different brands. Birmingham is only 2 hours away, though, and I'll have to look into that store. Thanks again, and more suggestions are welcome--you are the experienced!

    By His Grace,
    Cody.

  13. #13
    Pogue Mahone theCOOP's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Halifax, NS, Canada
    Posts
    431
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default Re: Alvarez mandolins

    Sorry to reopen an old thread, but one of these Alvarez F3ANT has come up for sale locally (somewhat locally) for $500.

    All I'm curious about is whether it's solid & hand carved or solid and pressed top/back? It has the hand-carved detail to the scroll that some other (pressed?) F-style mandolins don't have. It also appears to have a dovetail joint...or at least the detail of a dovetail joint (do people fake this?).

    as a side note, a lot of the cheap F mandolins I see have very poor scroll and head detail, but this one looks properly proportioned all around.

    Thanks for any additional help,
    Coop
    2011 Eastman MD-315
    Chinese Epiphone MM-30E

    Godin Guitars' Art & Lutherie "Spruce" 6-string dreadnought. Hand made in Canada.

  14. #14
    Robert Fear Folkmusician.com's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Reno, NV
    Posts
    2,024

    Default Re: Alvarez mandolins

    The lines are somewhat blurred. Most pressed mandolins do have some carving done. It is only the really low end instruments that have no carving at all. Most will also have dovetail neck joints. The Alvarez there will come from THE main mandolin factory. Not that there is anything wrong with that. The mandolins from the big factory in China are getting progressively better.
    Robert Fear
    http://www.folkmusician.com
    1-800-493-4922

    "Education is when you read the fine print; experience is what you get when you don't.
    " - Pete Seeger

  15. #15
    Pogue Mahone theCOOP's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Halifax, NS, Canada
    Posts
    431
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default Re: Alvarez mandolins

    Thanks Robert. Upon closer inspection of the photo(s) of the mandolin n question, I guess I could say that the volute (I just learned that work today) carved(?) into the top looks a little soft, compared to others I've seen and know to be fully carved.

    If it were really close, I might have a look, ut it is otherwise about 2 hours away.

    Do we know anything concrete about these Factories, and which mandolins are built in which? Do we know which mandolin directly cross references to another with a different name?
    2011 Eastman MD-315
    Chinese Epiphone MM-30E

    Godin Guitars' Art & Lutherie "Spruce" 6-string dreadnought. Hand made in Canada.

  16. #16
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Wyoming
    Posts
    54

    Default Re: Alvarez mandolins

    I also have a A Alvarez Yairi guitar and love it, And with that said I bought a Mandoline that was a Alvarez thinking it would be the same...Boy was I wrong LUCKY me I sold it for what i paid for it...I bought a Kentucky KM-850 and it is a big step from the Alvarez I had.

    For the amount of cash you want to spen you can get a KM-800 or KM-850 or a used Eastman,you can not go wrong with them and you can get your cash back if you ever wanted to get rid of it.....
    Ray Cantu

  17. #17
    Registered User Don's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Sidney,Ohio
    Posts
    186

    Default Re: Alvarez mandolins

    I would suggest keeping an eye on the classifieds here on Mandolin Cafe. Occasionally a Japanese made Alvarez or Kentucky F style shows up in your price range. If you aren't stuck on F style mandos there's usually a wider selection in the A style mandos.

    Don.

  18. #18
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    St. Peters, MO
    Posts
    27

    Default Re: Alvarez mandolins

    Hi, new to the forum but wanted to chime in on this. I have a Kentucky 650 that was made in the 80's in Japan. They are fairly rare, but there is one on the classifieds now (not mine, I won't sell mine) at what I think is a good price. Mine is a great sounding and playing instrument. I have played better, but not many. Maybe, this helps.

Similar Threads

  1. Alvarez mandolins?
    By c.brenton in forum General Mandolin Discussions
    Replies: 13
    Last Post: Dec-04-2012, 5:18pm
  2. Alvarez f style mandolin - "the alvarez"
    By Dan McIntyre in forum Looking for information about mandolins
    Replies: 26
    Last Post: Nov-04-2011, 10:14am
  3. Alvarez a1-e
    By Tim2723 in forum Four, Five and Eight-String Electrics
    Replies: 16
    Last Post: Nov-25-2010, 9:54pm
  4. Alvarez mandolins?
    By Griffis in forum General Mandolin Discussions
    Replies: 8
    Last Post: Feb-03-2008, 5:30pm
  5. Alvarez A-800
    By Markelberry in forum Looking for information about mandolins
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: Aug-27-2005, 9:33pm

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •