1970s Alvarez 5055 Jumbo Flattop Guitar

A number of these big old Japan-made Alvarez J-200-clones have come and gone through these doors. They all sound good, play excellently after service, and look the biz. The bodies may be ply throughout (though check the flamed maple veneer on the back and sides...!), but that doesn't seem to slow them down. They've got the correct, curvy shape and the bling to go with it. This one is all-original save a later bone nut. Tone is balanced, clean, and full -- though from the player's position it sounds thinner than it does out front. 

Work included: a fret level/dress, minor compensation to the saddle, string-ramping at the bridge, and a good setup with 54w-12 gauges. It plays bang-on at 3/32" EA and 1/16" DGBE at the 12th fret and has a straight neck and working truss-rod.

Scale length: 25 3/4"
Nut width: 1 11/16"
String spacing at nut: 1 7/16"
String spacing at bridge: 2 1/8"
Body length: 20 3/4"
Lower bout width: 17 1/8"
Upper bout width: 12 5/8"
Side depth at endpin: 4 3/4"
Top wood: ply spruce
Back/sides wood: ply flamed maple
Bracing type: x-braced
Fretboard: rosewood
Bridge: rosewood w/adjustable saddle
Neck feel: medium C-shaped w/~12-14" radius board

Condition notes: replaced nut (upgraded to bone), one small crunch of the binding on the back-lower-bout, minor usewear throughout, but otherwise very good overall.

It comes with: a chip case.

I love the faux-pearl behind the flower on the pickguard.

I think the adjustable bridge is a nice feature to have in a pinch so you can set it up on the fly depending on how it suits you for a given event/recording/whatever. Note that I've elongated the worn string-slots in front of the pins into actual "string ramps" so that back-angle on the saddle is always good no matter how high or low you crank it.

The flamed maple on the back and sides sure is eye-catching.

The neck is 3-piece maple and the center section has some lovely birdseye figure in it.


tim gueguen said…
This reminds me of an El Degas brand J200 copy that was in a Saskatoon store years ago that I played a bit. It's possible it came from the same factory as this one. El Degas was a label owned by American distributor Buegeleisen and Jacobson, which seem to have been mainly sold in Canada. It hung around long enough to go through the transition from Japanese made to Korean made instruments in the late '80s.
-db said…
Ah...Jake. Perusing this post brings back a flood of memories. The 5055 was my first "real" guitar. My mom drove me to Columbus in 1974 to shop for it and made it a gift for my 16th birthday. I named it "Alice" and toted it everywhere through high school and a few years into college. Added a Barcus-Berry to it and played maybe 70-80 gigs with it until I could afford a Guild. It schooled me in how to get a lot out of a little and it was, pardon the pun, instrumental in helping me bootstrap my way into adulthood. Thanks for sharing what for me is a bittersweet reminder of what a guitar can do beyond what it was built for.