2000s Alvarez Masterworks MD90 Dreadnought Guitar

This Chinese-made Alvarez (made 2005? 2006?) was picked up by a jam buddy of mine brand new... and despite its being a hot-sounding instrument, he simply hasn't put much time into it. I'm guessing the long scale doesn't agree with his hands as I've seen him toting only Gibson-esque instruments about. This has thus survived in near-mint condition with only one minor ding that I can spy. Apparently they ran about $850-900 when new and that got you all-solid Indian rosewood back and sides and an Engelmann spruce top.

Alvarez guits have always been popular and they, indeed, seem to be built with a populist mentality in mind because the necks are very "electric guitar" in feel while the bodies are very much the oft-reiterated Martin-style x-braced norm. Refinements from the Yairi branch of the Alvarez family show up on this in the understated classiness of the trim and the faux-Yairi bridge style (which I think is awful practical for an alternative bridge shape, myself).

This handles pretty much like a Martin D save the super-quick neck. The sound is what you'd want out of a D-28-ish rig -- big, full, and rumbly but with a bit of sparkle on the top end to keep it clean.

The nut is standard 1 11/16" in width.

Bound rosewood board... and a rosewood bridge, too.

I leveled and dressed the frets lightly as there was a small bit of wear from frets 1-7.

I'm pretty sure this has maple binding and is rocking a set of regular 12s.

I always liked the Alvarez 12th fret inlay. I remember being in high school and lusting vaguely after nice Alvarez products in the music stores. They're off my radar these days but when something like this drops by for a visit it reminds you that import companies can do it right if they get their act together.

On the flipside, though, I've seen plenty of time-trashed lower-end Alvarez products that aren't worth a second glance.


I can't tell you how smart this bridge design is over most conventional glued bridges... break angle, break angle, break angle! You're guaranteed to have some left even after the obligatory shave or two of the "top deck."

The sun came out just in time to brighten up that rosewood.

Sealed, Schaller-y tuners are accurate and smooth. The mahogany neck is also good quality stock.

Here's that ding in the lower-bout side I mentioned. Tiny.

The finish is glossy in the same way a new gloss Martin is: thin and well-sprayed. It's not the thick glop that I find on Blue Ridge, Morgan Monroe, and Recording King products that might be in the same price range.

It comes with a grey-tan original Alvarez "featherlight" hard case with hydrometer. Not bad.


Anonymous said…
I think those were made in 2003 - 2004. I have an MD 85 that is very similar.
I love it! It's pretty much a bluegrass cannon, but can be clean and sweet too.

The 85 has Ovangkol for the back.
The 85 has maple for the binding, so it may be the same on the 90.