When we look for a guitar or any other instrument, we don’t usually pay attention to the integrity of the brand (I’m sure some of you do, but I’m talking about the majority). All we look at are specs and features, sometimes forgetting how much difference the background makes. If you check the website of many different manufacturers, you’ll notice that they all tell you their stories – how it all started and what their aim is. I’m sure we all care about those properties more than we do about the stories, yet I feel like it’s important to test the compatibility of the practice and words. What I mean is that from time to time it’s nice to check which brands follow their purpose and aim, and how they bring their aspirations to reality.
There’s one thing I want you to understand – if a manufacturer cares about their customers, there’s no way you won’t feel that in their guitars. Alvarez is a brand that strives to make guitars accessible to everyone. Their goal is to satisfy players and maintain low price points so that nobody is left out. And once you take a look at the guitars they create, you’ll notice that they stick to their purpose and goals. I’ll dedicate this review to their Artist Series AF30 so that you can see better what I’m talking about. Let’s get started!
Before we go any further, I want to tell you briefly why this guitar is so perfect for beginners. You see, the hands, which have never picked, held on or touched the strings before, don’t have the flexibility in them. It does come to you after some practice, but in the very beginning, you need an instrument that will sit comfortable on your body. It shouldn’t strain your muscles and cause you pain – unless you want to hate the guitar, you should get the one that will be really comfortable for you. Artist Series AF30 is a folk guitar, which means its smaller in size. The scale length is 24 13/16 inches, but that’s not the only virtue of this shape – it does also have deeper curves that make it feel like it’s one of your body parts. Once you place it on your knee, you don’t really feel any discomfort – you immediately get the urge to practice interminably.
Body construction is another reason to love this model. Solid A Sitka spruce and mahogany back and sides make it look like a typical deal, yet the interior proves that things aren’t so mainstream after all. Artist Series AF30 features FST2 scalloped X-bracing system. The main thing that distinguishes it from the rest is that the axis of the X is closer to the soundhole. This way the sound is louder and the vibrations are more powerful and lively. Mahogany neck and Techwood fingerboard continue the overall pattern of the guitar and maximize playability.
This bad boy is covered with a thin layer of satin finish, which enhances its looks while protecting the guitar from damage and environmental impact. Speaking of protection, you’ll also find a pickguard that makes sure you don’t scratch the body itself. I dare you to check the price now – oh, I wish I could see your face! You know why? – because I don’t understand how Alvarez managed to fit so much quality into such an affordable guitar. If you figure out the secret, let me know: my curiosity needs to be satisfied.
A guitar with such quality requires complementary hardware. If you thought Alvarez would let us down here, you were utterly wrong (but really, why would anyone think that?). Artist Series AF30 has a real bone nut and saddle, which is quite surprising at this price point. More often than not, we come across plastic nuts and saddles in cheaper guitars, so it’s really nice to see that Alvarez went for better material.
Bi-level Techwood (rosewood) bridge not only looks good, but it also provides the support our beloved strings need in order to sound good. Die-cast chrome tuners do their job perfectly – not that we expected anything less. Artist Series AF30 comes with D’Addario EXP16 strings that are actually quite usable. You’ll see dots on the fretboard, which will guide you through the playing process. That’s extremely important in any guitar, especially the one that’s made for entry-level players. A huge thumbs up, Alvarez!
Alvarez AF30 Sound
There’s a reason why mahogany and spruce are such a common combination. I can’t even tell you how many acoustic manufacturers use these woods for their guitars. The answer is simple – they get on with each other like a house on fire. They speak a common language – some might even say that they resemble a harmonic couple. I’d say they go with each other like popcorn with movies or wine with romance. Thanks to these woods, AF30 sounds crisp, balanced, clear, and dimensional.
There’s nothing too much in there – it’s as if Alvarez used a magic potion or just a perfect recipe. They added a touch of highs, a touch of mids, and a touch of bass – everything to make sure the sound came out beautiful! I’m not afraid to say that saying that this guitar is only for beginners is a huge understatement. It deserves way more than that – this puppy can easily handle intermediate and even advanced players. It might need some adjustments, in the beginning, to tailor it to your liking, but once you do that, you’ll be ready to pursue your guitar-playing goals!
What a guitar, ha? Alvarez came out with Artist Series to cater to novices – those people who can’t afford to pay a lot, but have the enthusiasm and desire to learn. Their AF30 proves that they are all about quality – it has hardly any flaws, but countless virtues. It’s affordable, easy to play and comfortable to hold, plus, it has a beautiful sound. What else could we ask from it? If you want to do yourself a favor, go for this one. Good luck!
Click here to view more from Best Acoustic Guitar for Beginners.