Alvarez AC65 Series Review | Acoustic-Classical Hybrids
Alvarez Guitars, a guitar manufacturer based in St. Louis, Missouri, is fast approaching its 50 year anniversary, and it amazing to consider what it’s accomplished during that time.
They have now become one of North America’s most recognizable guitar brands and as long as they keep manufacturing guitars like the Alvarez AC65 Series, a series that includes the AC65CE and the AC65HCE, that reputation will just continue to grow.
I want to take a moment in this article to walk through the AC65 series – what makes it good vs what might be lacking – and then go into further detail on the three guitars that make up this series. Hopefully this can be helpful to you as you search for your next guitar!
Review of the Alvarez AC65 Series
The Alvarez AC65 Series of classical guitars is comprised of three distinct guitars that share certain specs. These three guitars are:
- AC65 – the base model in the series that has no electronics or cutaway
- AC65CE – same as above but comes with electronics and a cutaway
- AC65HCE – the “H” stands for “Hybrid”, which I’ll dive into more later.
Each of the guitars in the AC65 series are produced with a solid Western Red Cedar top, a wood that not only has a beautifully distinct look but also has a gorgeous tone to match. The back and sides use mahogany wood and the rest of the guitar, including the bridge, binding and fretboard use Rosewood.
The combination of Cedar and Rosewood is nothing new with guitars – it is a proven combination of tone woods that work well for the Alvarez guitars. The result is a tone that is warm and open when played acoustically.
The feel of the Alvarez AC65 series differs based on the guitar that you choose. Whereas the AC65 and the AC65CE have a very traditional classical guitar feel – wide neck and a shorter fretboard – the AC65HCE feels more like an acoustic guitar with a thin neck and longer fretboard.
What remains the same is the quality construction and smooth feel of the semi-gloss finish. These guitars are an excellent addition to any guitar collection or a fabulous start for a beginner guitarist.
Alvarez AC65 Classical Guitar
The first guitar in the series is the AC65, a simple but very beautifully designed classical guitar. The traditional body shape means that you won’t have a cutaway but it feels comfortable in your lap.
I love picking up and playing this guitar just because I always know it will sound beautiful. My only complaint is that I’ve seen a couple of these guitars come from the factory with a high action (strings are far from the fretboard) but this is something that can be easily fixed.
The Alvarez AC65 doesn’t come with electronics but this basically means that you can get a high-quality guitar for a lower price.
Alvarez AC65CE Classical Guitar
The Alvarez AC65CE is basically the same same guitar as the AC65 with two exceptions: it comes with both a cutaway and on-board electronics.
Everything else between the two guitars is identical, from the length of the fretboard to the width of the body. If you like the feel of a classical guitar but you feel you need the cutaway and the ability to plug the guitar into a sound system, the Alvarez AC65CE is a great option.
Alvarez AC65HCE Hybrid Classical Guitar
The “H” stands for “hybrid”, which is what makes this guitar so unique and cool. Essentially, the guitar acts and plays like a classical guitar (it uses nylon strings) but feels like an acoustic guitar.
How does this happen? Alvarez has taken the classical guitar, thinned out the neck a bit (the nut width is 48cm instead of 52cm) and lengthened the fretboard (22 frets instead of only 19). The difference is subtle to the eye but drastic in the hands.
The Alvarez AC65HCE also comes with a cutaway and on-board electronics, so it’s the closest thing you can get to a full-fledged acoustic-electric guitar without losing the classical style.
Final Thoughts on the Alvarez Classical
I’ve never been a huge fan of the Alvarez guitar until recently. For the most part because I hadn’t had a chance to play them much. Now that I have, however, they’ve won me over.
The guitar is manufactured in China, but most guitars under $1,000 are manufactured in China so that’s par for the course. Even still, the production standards are good and the guitar feels like it will last for decades.
If you’re looking for a good classical guitar OR if you can’t quite decide between a classical guitar and an acoustic guitar, this Alvarez hybrid will be right up your alley.
For the price, it’s an excellent value. I give it a high recommendation.