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Thread: Alvarez A900 F style

  1. #1

    Default Alvarez A900 F style

    I have found one of these in an isolated music shop that has been hanging in there for 30 years. It has never been owned and is in brand new condition. It appears to be a well constructed mandolin and I know they were made in Japan from 1981-1991. The guy wants $1000 plus tax. He came down from $1399.00. This appears to be a well built mandolin, but I've never seen an Alvarez worth this price. Does anyone have some insight for me? Is this a good deal? Could my money be spent better elsewhere and if so, please advise?

  2. #2
    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Default Re: Alvarez A900 F style

    unlikely worth it. Likely seems a good price for a solid wood, f-style mandolin. Likely it's carved too thick, sounds too thin and overpriced though. I bought one for under $700 bucks on an eBay purchase that fortunetly, I was able to return. Just a bad mandolin!

    f-d
    ˇpapá gordo ain’t no madre flaca!

    '20 A3, '30 L-1, '97 914, 2012 Cohen A5, 2012 Muth A5, '14 OM28A

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Alvarez A900 F style

    Some past threads that discuss this model can be found here.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Default Re: Alvarez A900 F style

    thank you gentlemen!

  6. #5
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Alvarez A900 F style

    One here for $575; this one listed for $750. Your "isolated music shop" owner's being a tad optimistic, IMHO.

    Alvarez mandolins were among the earliest Japanese-made F-models to arrive, and they were a revelation for those of us in the '70's who had no new instruments other than Gibsons from which to choose. This current thread, and this one, show that they're still around. Pretty sure you could do better for $1K these days, and if it's been stuck in inventory for 30 years (has it suffered any damage from dryness?), you could probably offer the owner $700 and see if he'll take it.

    I believe the A-900 was the top-line Alvarez model sold here; it'll be all solid wood, and carved, probably pretty fancy inlay. I wouldn't turn it down right off the bat, but I wouldn't pay $1K either.
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  7. #6
    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Default Re: Alvarez A900 F style

    They were likely on par with Gibson's of the era. (Insert rim shot!)

    f-d
    ˇpapá gordo ain’t no madre flaca!

    '20 A3, '30 L-1, '97 914, 2012 Cohen A5, 2012 Muth A5, '14 OM28A

  8. #7
    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Alvarez A900 F style

    Seems a bit dear, maybe $700.00 but, I have a hard time with a grand. I love my '75 Alvarez but, can't say about this one.
    Fatt-dad, have you heard or seen this one? Seems a touch cold to judge by only one you played. They were better than most available back then but, there are better ways to spend $1000.00 I agree.
    Timothy F. Lewis
    "If brains was lard, that boy couldn't grease a very big skillet" J.D. Clampett

  9. #8
    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Default Re: Alvarez A900 F style

    fair enough, Timbo. Judge each on their own merits. So, with a fresh set of strings maybe it's the simplest way to get an historical piece that's above par and such. I did have a hand-carved A-150 and an A-100, which were just great! The former had all wooden bindings and the latter just like the cant top Martin mandolin. I had an Aria ProII (PM-750) for many years. The ProII like went from great to bad, but mine was an earlier great one! Many great Kentucky's of the era too!

    Maybe I just like talking about the made in Japan mandolins of the late 70s and early 80s.

    f-d
    ˇpapá gordo ain’t no madre flaca!

    '20 A3, '30 L-1, '97 914, 2012 Cohen A5, 2012 Muth A5, '14 OM28A

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    Registered User Vernon Hughes's Avatar
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    Default Re: Alvarez A900 F style

    I have an A-900 I played for 21 years,still have it, though the neck pulled out and I need to get it back together. It was a great mandolin bought right off the wall in 1977. I bought a near mint one off ebay a couple years ago and it was the worst sounding thing I believe i've played. Maybe beating on mine for all those years 6 nights a week at club jobs broke it in..
    Hughes F-5 #1
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  12. #10
    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Alvarez A900 F style

    First owner of my '75, changed out the single footed rosewood bridge for a two footed ebony, a buddy did an MOP truss rod cover when he was learning about engraving pearl, frets a couple of times but, no major repair issues. Upgraded the case when one of the latches blew but, I'm a fan.
    Taken in spirit intended, Fatt-dad! Some were much better than others, mine had a better set to the neck in my opinion than the one that came through the shop before it so, QC could have been much better.
    That's how I "taught" mine too Vernon!
    Timothy F. Lewis
    "If brains was lard, that boy couldn't grease a very big skillet" J.D. Clampett

  13. #11
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    Default Re: Alvarez A900 F style

    I have played quite a few and never played one that spoke to me, thick tops and I don`t think they had a good dove tail seat on the neck to the body...Not sure if they had a truss rod or not....If I remember correctly they all had rosewood bridges....

    Willie

  14. #12
    fishing with my mando darrylicshon's Avatar
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    Default Re: Alvarez A900 F style

    I'm a fan of 70's Japanese made mandos but i know they all don't sound as good as mine
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  15. #13
    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Alvarez A900 F style

    Quote Originally Posted by Willie Poole View Post
    I have played quite a few and never played one that spoke to me, thick tops and I don`t think they had a good dove tail seat on the neck to the body...Not sure if they had a truss rod or not....If I remember correctly they all had rosewood bridges....

    Willie
    Truss rod in mine, changed the bridge, not a whisper of problem with neck, have not x-rayed the joint but, if it ain't broke...
    Top measures out quite favorably according to a luthier friend who looked at that right away.
    Mine is pretty darned good, played with lots of folks who have been impressed, no fight here, just opinion.
    I think it's funny that we, generally speaking, tend to compartmentalize mandolins, geographical boundaries equal some sort of good , bad or indifferent qualities, but there are every so often, a few pretty good ones that float to the top. I got a floater, sounds like Fatt-dad has had a couple of them too. Human nature is interesting to say the least.
    You got lucky too, darryl
    Last edited by Timbofood; Aug-05-2015 at 8:11am. Reason: Left out darryl
    Timothy F. Lewis
    "If brains was lard, that boy couldn't grease a very big skillet" J.D. Clampett

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  17. #14

    Default Re: Alvarez A900 F style

    Quote Originally Posted by fatt-dad View Post
    Maybe I just like talking about the made in Japan mandolins of the late 70s and early 80s.

    f-d
    I like 'em too, for the right price. Not a lot of choices back then, besides Gibson and Harmony.....

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    Rush Burkhardt Rush Burkhardt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Alvarez A900 F style

    I'd go to the bank, get 5 or 6 fresh, new $100 bills, and offer them to the owner! Most retail businesses realize that, if it's been there 30 years, it might be there for 30 more...and $500 dollars in the hand is better than $1000 in the bush! You've nothing to lose, unless he takes your offer and you really don't want a solid wood F5 mandolin, that could possibly be a good mandolin with a little work!

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  21. #16
    Rush Burkhardt Rush Burkhardt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Alvarez A900 F style

    PS Didn't Big Mon noodle on an Ibanez occasionally? Probably just for money, but I saw him at Berryville BG Festival in '69 playing one!Click image for larger version. 

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  22. #17
    Rush Burkhardt Rush Burkhardt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Alvarez A900 F style

    PS Didn't Big Mon noodle on an Ibanez occasionally? Probably just for money, but I believe I saw him at Berryville BG Festival in '69 playing one!Click image for larger version. 

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  23. #18
    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Default Re: Alvarez A900 F style

    Now that this is morphing from the Alvarez MIJ F-model to MIJ mandolins in general, sure there were some great MIJ mandolins! Timbo calmed me down a bit, but my biggest MIJ mandolin disappointment was the Alvarez f-model that was just too thick. Aria, Ibanez, Yasuma - I had great success with those. I will never forget just how disappointed I was in that Alvarez though and should not let just that one muddy the whole waters though. . .

    f-d
    ˇpapá gordo ain’t no madre flaca!

    '20 A3, '30 L-1, '97 914, 2012 Cohen A5, 2012 Muth A5, '14 OM28A

  24. #19
    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Alvarez A900 F style

    I probably sold ten or twelve various Alvarez mandolins, the fancier ones almost without exception were not nay better sounding or playing than the original "A-500". At least I think that was the F-5 block inlay model.
    Timothy F. Lewis
    "If brains was lard, that boy couldn't grease a very big skillet" J.D. Clampett

  25. #20
    Registered User John Flynn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Alvarez A900 F style

    I had an A800 as my main mando from about '92 to '01. "Handmade in Japan." The A900 was just the fancier version. Mine sounded OK, but as my ears got more attuned to mandolins in general, I realized the tone was pretty uneven from bass to treble. List price on a new A800 was about $1,250 back then if I recall. I paid $400 for it as a factory second and got $400 for it on a trade in '01.

    I think there are definitely better places to spend $1,000. "The Loar" (although I hate the name) Kentucky, used (see the Classifieds).

  26. #21
    Registered User Vernon Hughes's Avatar
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    Default Re: Alvarez A900 F style

    Here's my A-900 alvarez in action way back about 1980. Just listened to this for the first time in 20 years,good grief it was fast. I don't think I can do it that way anymore!...
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fDGBEZ0oXls
    Hughes F-5 #1
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  28. #22
    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Alvarez A900 F style

    Pretty much haulin' the Mail on that one!
    Timothy F. Lewis
    "If brains was lard, that boy couldn't grease a very big skillet" J.D. Clampett

  29. #23

    Default Re: Alvarez A900 F style

    As far as price goes, usually a "new old stock" instrument would command a premium, but only if it is a highly desired instrument. I think in this case, it doesn't matter. Price would be the same as a clean used one. I think $500-700 is safe money. People on the Classifieds here and also on eBay ask more, but I don't know if they get it.

    Since he is a music store, maybe a trade is possible?

    There is a music store about an hour from me, that has a late 70's (USA) Fender Musicmaster bass that has never been sold--perfect condition and has been on a guitar stand behind and above the cash register for the last 35+ years. Trouble is the guy raises his price every year, thinking he really has a gem. I think I checked about a year ago and it was $1400 or so.......
    I think it would bring $799 to $899 on eBay, then subtract your eBay fees......a great exercise in futility.

    Now, if it was a unsold Stratocaster from 1964.............

  30. #24
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    Default Re: Alvarez A900 F style

    I'll never sell my A-900. Well, not for less than $1500. I just haven't heard a mando in that price range that sounds better and is as playable.

  31. #25

    Default Re: Alvarez A900 F style

    were these alvarez mandolins made at the matsoumoku factory? were ibanez as well? just wondering. some better alvarez fs look like the ibanez f 524. i recently traded for a goya. it also has many characteristics of the inabez f 524. just wondering. the goya sounds pretty good for a japanese f. (if it's not a korean f)

    on another thread someone suggested these were all made at the same factory. .

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