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Hybrid acoustic-electric guitars represent a very narrow niche that is starting to attract more and more people. Having the warmth of a classical guitar combined with the sharpness of a steel string acoustic is a great feature for many. Alvarez has a great model which fits this description and represents the better part of the hybrid segment. We are, of course talking about the AC65HCE. So far, it has shown to be one of the most versatile acoustic-electric guitars on the market, which is why we had to add it to our short list of awesome models under $1000. It's that good.
What we have here is a classical body shape with a cutout, which features a solid western red cedar top. Back and sides are made of high-quality mahogany and so is the neck. Speaking of which, the nut width on this guitar is smaller than you would find on your regular classical guitar. The difference significant enough to increase playing comfort while still leaving you with a lot of real estate on that rosewood fretboard. In terms of build quality, Alvarez AC65HCE is built like a tank. Everywhere you look, the quality of craftsmanship is more than obvious.
Alvarez took the proven, traditional route when it comes to hardware. Instead of opting for a Tusq or some other synthetic material, they used genuine bone both for the nut as well as the saddle. Speaking of which, the saddle sits on a good quality rosewood bridge, which ensures that a decent amount of sustain is always at your disposal. tuning machines come in form of your regular open gear strip units. They are chromed and definitely do a good job at retaining that key as you play or practice.
One of the most important aspects of any acoustic electric guitar is the electronics system which comes with it. In this case, we have the LR Baggs StagePro EQ paired with an Element pickup from the same brand. Preamp offers a variety of controls aside from your regular three-band EQ. There's also a small LCD display on there, which allows you to use the onboard tuner more precisely as well as other features. While it's not the most versatile set of electronics on the market, StagePro EQ gets the job done more than well. If you need a good gigging setup, this guitar will work just fine.
As for the grand tone, every component of this guitar comes together in unity to deliver what can only be described as one of the most refined tone colors in this price range. Alvarez AC65HCE pushes the envelope of what is expected of a hybrid classical guitar and enters into some pretty high-end waters. There is warmth, precision, clarity and projection to boot while things only get better once you plug the guitar into an amp. The onboard electronics do an impressive job at rendering the natural sound of the guitar.
Whether or not a classical hybrid such as this one is something you feel strongly about, Alvarez AC65HCE deserves recognition for being one of the best value for the money models on the market at the moment. It's definitely a guitar you can use on stage. Its combination of tonewood and onboard electronics took care of that.