Alvarez: History Of A Guitar Brand

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  May 3, 2022

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Alvarez is one of the most popular guitar brands in the world, but HOW did it all start? The company’s story is quite interesting, and it involves a lot of ups and downs.

Alvarez is an acoustic guitar manufacturer based in St. Louis, Missouri, founded in 1965, originally known as Westone. Owned by LOUD Technologies (2005 to 2009) until Mark Ragin brought it back to St. Louis Music. Most are produced in China, but top-tier instruments are handmade by Kazuo Yairi in Japan.

Let’s look at the turbulent history of this amazing guitar brand.

Alvarez guitars logo

The Alvarez Story: From Japan to the US

The Beginning

In the late ’60s, Gene Kornblum was hangin’ out in Japan and met Kazuo Yairi, a master luthier who made handmade concert classical guitars. They decided to team up and design some steel string acoustic guitars, which they then imported to the US and called ‘Alvarez’.

The Middle

From 2005 to 2009, the Alvarez brand was owned by LOUD Technologies, which also owned Mackie, Ampeg, Crate and other music-related brands. In 2009, Mark Ragin (owner of US Band & Orchestra and St. Louis Music) took back the management and distribution of the guitars.

The Present

Nowadays, Alvarez guitars are produced in China, but the top-tier Alvarez-Yairi instruments are still made at the Yairi factory in Kani, Gifu-Japan. Plus, every Alvarez guitar gets a full set up and inspection in St. Louis, Missouri. They’ve even released a few new lines, like the:

  • 2014 Masterworks Series
  • Alvarez 50th anniversary 1965 Series
  • Alvarez-Yairi Honduran Series
  • Grateful Dead Series

So if you’re lookin’ for a guitar that’s been lovingly crafted and inspected, then you can’t go wrong with an Alvarez.

Discover the Different Alvarez Guitar Series

Regent Series

If you’re looking for a guitar that won’t break the bank, the Regent series is the way to go. These guitars are super affordable, but don’t let that fool you – they still have the same quality as the more expensive models.

Cadiz Series

The Cadiz series is perfect for classical and flamenco players. It’s designed with a unique bracing system that produces a balanced sound across all frequencies. Plus, they’re crafted to feel smooth and deliver an expressive sound.

Artist Series

The Artist series is designed with musicians in mind. It has all the features you need to unlock your full songwriting and performance potential. Plus, they have solid tops with a natural glossy finish.

Artist Elite Series

If you’re looking for a guitar that looks and sounds like a custom model, the Artist Elite series is for you. These guitars are made with cherry-picked tonewoods, so they look and sound amazing.

Masterworks Series

The Masterworks series is for the serious musician. These guitars are made with solid wood and provide all the features you need to take your music to the next level.

Masterworks Elite Series

If you’re looking for the best of the best, the Masterworks Elite series is it. These guitars are made with top-grade woods by skilled luthiers and have an incredible tone and look.

Yairi Series

The Yairi series is for the discerning musician. These handmade guitars are made in Japan with vintage wood, so they sound and feel unique. They come at a high price, but you get a bespoke guitar with the highest quality materials.

What Makes Alvarez Guitars So Special?

Quality Construction

Alvarez takes their time to craft each guitar with care and precision. They use a variety of bracing systems to ensure each guitar has its own unique sound. Plus, every guitar goes through a rigorous inspection process, so you can rest assured that your Alvarez will look and sound amazing.

A Dedication to Quality

Alvarez doesn’t mess around when it comes to quality. They inspect each guitar for any cosmetic flaws or inconsistencies. And their quality assurance team makes sure that every guitar looks and sounds its best. So you know that when you buy an Alvarez, you’re getting a guitar that’s built to last.

The Perfect Sound

Alvarez guitars are designed to give you the perfect sound. Whether you’re playing rock, jazz, or country, you’ll be able to find the perfect sound with an Alvarez. Plus, their bracing systems are designed to give each guitar its own unique sound, so you can be sure that your Alvarez will stand out from the crowd.

What’s the Deal with Where Alvarez Guitars are Made?

The Quality of a Guitar Depends on Where it’s Made

When it comes to guitars, it’s all about where it’s made. Generally, the best guitars are crafted in the USA or Japan, since the production and labor costs are higher. On the other hand, if you want to get a guitar on the cheap, you can get one mass-produced in countries like China, Indonesia, or South Korea.

The Quality of Budget Guitars is Improving

Thanks to advances in technology and the skill of labor, budget guitars are getting better and better. Nowadays, it’s hard to tell the difference between a high-end Chinese-made guitar and a Japanese guitar.

Where Does Alvarez Fit In?

Alvarez guitars are made in the same places as other major guitar brands. That means you can get a top-of-the-line Alvarez guitar made in the USA or Japan, or you can get a budget Alvarez guitar made in China, Indonesia, or South Korea.

So, Does Where a Guitar is Made Matter?

In short, yeah, it kinda does. If you’re looking for a top-notch guitar, you’ll want to go for one made in the USA or Japan. But if you’re on a budget, you can still get a decent guitar made in China, Indonesia, or South Korea.

What’s the Deal with Alvarez Guitars?

The Handcrafted Yairi Series

Alvarez guitars have been around since 1965, when they partnered with Kazuo Yairi. Since then, they’ve been handcrafting guitars in Yairi, Japan, and they’ve been doing it for over 50 years. So if you’re looking for a guitar that’s been lovingly crafted by a master luthier, then the Alvarez-Yairi series is for you.

The Mass-Produced Budget-Friendly Options

But what if you don’t have the budget for a handcrafted guitar? Don’t worry, Alvarez has got you covered. They’ve expanded their lineup to include mass-produced guitars made in factories in China. Now, these guitars aren’t quite as fancy as the Yairi series, but they still have a lot of the same design elements. Plus, they’re way cheaper!

What’s the Buzz About Alvarez Guitars?

The Quality is Top-Notch

If you’ve been looking for an acoustic guitar, you’ve probably heard of Alvarez guitars. But what’s all the fuss about? Well, let’s just say that these guitars are the real deal. They’re crafted with precision and attention to detail, so you can rest assured that you’re getting a quality instrument no matter how much you’re spending.

Handcrafted in Japan

When it comes to Alvarez guitars, you can expect the best of the best. Their top-of-the-line guitars are still handcrafted in Japan, which is pretty rare these days. So if you’re looking for a guitar that’s made with care and attention, Alvarez is the way to go.

No Quality Control Issues

One of the best things about Alvarez guitars is that you don’t have to worry about quality control issues. Whether you’re splurging on a fancy guitar or just getting a basic one, you can be sure that you won’t be disappointed. That’s why so many people are singing the praises of Alvarez guitars.

The Verdict?

So, are Alvarez guitars worth the hype? Absolutely! They offer some of the best acoustic guitars in every price range, and they’re made with care and attention. Plus, you don’t have to worry about quality control issues. So if you’re in the market for an acoustic guitar, you can’t go wrong with Alvarez.

A Look at Alvarez Artists Through the Ages

The Legends

Ah, the legends. We all know them, we all love them. Here’s a list of some of the most iconic Alvarez Artists of all time:

  • Jerry Garcia: The man, the myth, the legend. He was the face of the Grateful Dead and a master of the six-string.
  • Raulin Rodriguez: He’s been making waves in the Latin music scene since the early 90s.
  • Antony Santos: He’s been a mainstay in the Dominican Republic’s bachata scene since the late 90s.
  • Devin Townsend: He’s been a metal icon since the early 2000s.
  • Bob Weir: He’s been the backbone of the Grateful Dead since the beginning.
  • Carlos Santana: He’s been a guitar god since the late 60s.
  • Harry Chapin: He’s been a folk-rock icon since the early 70s.

The Modern Masters

The modern music scene is full of Alvarez Artists who are making their mark on the world. Here are some of the most notable:

  • Glen Hansard: He’s been a folk-rock staple since the early 2000s.
  • Ani DiFranco: She’s been a folk-rock powerhouse since the late 90s.
  • David Crosby: He’s been a folk-rock legend since the late 60s.
  • Graham Nash: He’s been a folk-rock mainstay since the early 70s.
  • Roy Muniz: He’s been a Latin music sensation since the early 2000s.
  • Jon Anderson: He’s been a prog-rock icon since the late 70s.
  • Trevor Rabin: He’s been a prog-rock master since the early 80s.
  • Pete Yorn: He’s been a folk-rock star since the late 90s.
  • Jeff Young: He’s been a jazz-fusion master since the early 2000s.
  • G.C. Johnson: He’s been a jazz-fusion genius since the late 90s.
  • Joe Bonamassa: He’s been a blues-rock powerhouse since the early 2000s.
  • Shaun Morgan: He’s been a metal icon since the late 90s.
  • Josh Turner: He’s been a country music star since the early 2000s.
  • Monte Montgomery: He’s been a blues-rock master since the late 90s.
  • Mike Inez: He’s been a metal mainstay since the early 2000s.
  • Miguel Dakota: He’s been a Latin music star since the late 90s.
  • Viktor Tsoi: He’s been a rock icon since the early 80s.
  • Rick Droit: He’s been a jazz-fusion master since the late 90s.
  • Mason Ramsey: He’s been a country music sensation since the early 2000s.
  • Daniel Christian: He’s been a blues-rock legend since the late 90s.


Now you know the two lines of Alvarez guitars. If you want a guitar that’s been crafted with love and care, then go for the Alvarez-Yairi series. But if you’re on a budget, then the mass-produced guitars from China are a great option.

So go ahead, pick up an Alvarez and strum away!

I'm Joost Nusselder, the founder of Neaera and a content marketer, dad, and love trying out new equipment with guitar at the heart of my passion, and together with my team, I've been creating in-depth blog articles since 2020 to help loyal readers with recording and guitar tips.

Check me out on Youtube where I try out all of this gear:

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