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Whether a classical guitar, acoustic, or ukulele, Alvarez always keep up with the competition by producing a quality instrument. Their Artist Series (which has now been renamed ‘The Award-Winning Artist Series’ for obvious reasons) is well-represented on Guitar Fella, and for good reason – it rocks! The Artist Series AF30 folk guitar, which sits in our chart on the best acoustics under $300, is very much deserved of its time in the spotlight. Let’s take a closer look at this popular acoustic.
The first thing to get straight is that the AF30 is a folk guitar, so it’s smaller than the dreadnought or concert sizes you may be used to. It’s great for travelling as well as players who struggle to cope with bigger instruments. However, players of all sizes can enjoy this Alvarez as it’s very well-crafted and plays like butter.
Hand-selected from quarter-sawn wood, the grain of the solid Sitka spruce top is lovely. On the back and sides, you’ll find a mahogany laminate as well as a slim mahogany neck. This is all finished in a sleek semi-gloss, with black ABS binding for a little elegance and protection. Finally, the rosewood fretboard features 21 frets and simple dot inlays. While there’s nothing extravagant in terms of design, it just feels like a quality instrument. You can see why Alvarez win so many awards!
There are no electronics on this folk-sized beauty, but the hardware complements the playability and gives consistency to the tone. On the Alvarez-branded headstock you’ll find a set of chrome die-cast tuners, which are smooth to use and hold tuning well. There’s also a rosewood ‘mustache’ bridge, a real bone nut and saddle, and a set of good-quality D’Addario EXP-16 strings.
Sitka spruce and mahogany go together like pizza and beer – a great match. This is why the AF30 sounds sweet, with a warm and mellow tone that’s tight and responsive. While you don’t get the volume that you would with a similarly constructed dreadnought, the solid wood and advanced bracing ensures the projection remains decent but not overpowering, meaning it’s an excellent guitar to accompany vocals.
The AF30 impresses when it comes to ease of use, playability and quality. Even though it’s a mass-produced guitar, it still feels like it could have been put together by an experienced luthier, and – for that – it’s a winner in our eyes. Alvarez rarely put out a bad model and this introduction to their solid wood series is an excellent choice for vocalists, or experienced players wanting a second guitar.