Price paid: $ 170
Purchased from: Private Seller
Sound — 8
As nice as this guitar looks, who would care if it sounded awful? Fortunately, this is not the case and I was able to get some great sounds out of her. Strung with some lite phosphor bronzes', the mids and highs were what made this guitar really stand out. It really "shimmers" when playing major 7ths or other chords of that ilk. This guitar is also LOUD, but versatile. For comparison, I would put this more on the Taylor side of the spectrum. Yet, it doesn't sound exactly like the aforementioned brand, and has a unique tone to it. Unfortunately, this guitar takes hits on its absence of bass presence. I found myself strumming an E minor and just not really hearing the resonance that I expected from a dread. It all comes down to your personal preference though. Considering my other guitars are a Martin D-15 and a D-28, maybe I'm just used to big, booming, bass in my acoustics.
Overall Impression — 8
For a mid-level instrument, I must say I was pretty impressed with the AD80. The looks and feel of this guitar make it worth considering, but its the sound that may make you want to take it home. This, and other artist series Alvarez's, can be found used relatively cheap. I originally bought it as a junk guitar to take to parties and gigs, but now I may hold off on taking it anywhere it can get beer spilled on it. Still, it has some of the limitations you might expect from a $400-$500 guitar. Its no Martin or Taylor, but its not trying to be and has a unique, if somewhat uneven, tone. I play a variety of acoustic genres and it handles them all. It can do a pretty faithful recreation on some Jack Johnson songs and I've been using it as my main songwriting guitar. If it were lost or stolen I would probably look for another, and profusely beat whoever stole it in the first place. In closing, this guitar gets high marks for looks, appointments, feel, and sound. Those longing for big bass may want to look elsewhere, but if your in the market for a relatively cheap, good sounding/looking acoustic, I couldn't make a better recommendation.
Reliability & Durability — 8
This guitar is over 8 years old and the previous owner used it as a gigging instrument. I couldn't find a single scratch on it. With proper care I think this guitar and its stock components could last for decades. Since it does have a solid top, it will only sound better with regular playing and age. I don't think I would gig without a backup though, just in case. It seems to be pretty resistant to bumps and dings, which means the finish and binding can take a beating all while looking great at the same time. Still, this guitar looks too nice to be a beater.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
On my AD80, the craftsmanship was impeccable. Trust me, if you can find one in good shape, they are put together quite well. Binding was on properly, pick guard secure, etc. The previous owner never adjusted the action and I'm glad he didn't. This Alvarez has a fast neck with low action. It's completely different than my baseball bat necked Martins. The finish on my AD80 is near flawless, even at the brink of being a little too flashy with all the abalone on the binding and rosette. The dark sunburst is a great fit, yet I've heard some complaints that the topcoat is too thick and tacky on other models.
Features — 9
This Alvarez dreadnought was made in 2004 and features a solid, grade A spruce top, rosewood laminate back and sides, a thin electric-esque neck, and a gorgeous sunburst finish. I found the appointments pretty impressive for a guitar that retails $450 new. As to be expected, it was made in China, but the craftsmanship on my particular instrument is superb. It really is a great looking/sounding instrument for the price. However, it is still an intermediate level guitar and won't have some of the sheen of a higher end Martin or Taylor. Also disappointing is the lack of any electronics or on board pickup system, as seems to be the trend even among lower priced guitars.