Alvarez MDA70 Setup

This came home last month because I’m a big fan of Alvarez and the MDA70 is just too beautiful to pass.


First launched in 2014, the revamped Masterworks Series features some cool appointments such as gold tuners and abalone body binding.


The MDA70 is the all-solid dread with Sitka top and rosewood body. Here’s a look at the beautiful maple binding with 1.5mm abalone lines. Wow.

Let’s get down to dialing in a good setup.

Nut slots


The thicker strings A & E seem to sit too high so I used a needle file to sand down the slots. How do you determine if the slots are high? Capo on the middle of 3rd fret and check for clearance between string and 1st fretwire. The clearance here should be minimal.

Neck Relief


I also straightened the neck a lil’ on this. Stock relief seem a tad too high. Remember, righty tightey, lefty loosey.

Saddle height


Not sure if its intentional, but the stock saddle is too “straight” at the thicker strings. So I dropped in a generic bone saddle that has a 16″ radius. Of course, further adjustments will be made later to achieve a better setup. That’ll be the last few steps.

Bearclaw Special


The rosewood fretboard got some TLC from steel wool, lemon oil and Ax Wax. Harvey was assistant today. He said the 12th fret inlay looks classy. I agree.


Pencil lead for the nut slots.


Restrung with Elixirs and added new plastic bridge pins. Yes, you read correctly, I have been turning to plastic pins lately. I actually prefer them over the stock ebony pins. I know, strange but true.


Just look at the sexy chocolate grains on the back. Wow. Alvarez will not make anymore guitars with rosewood due to CITES, so I’m just gonna keep this one for collection’s sake.


One more look at the maple/abalone binding.


My humble No.1 came out to pose. I love Alvarez. They make really nice stuff for the money.


Bob was happy to pose with the new kid on the sofa.

Closing notes:

Retailing at $990, the MDA70 really changes the game. For the money, you’re getting similar specs as American-made guitars in the $4-$5k zone. I would say that’s pretty impressive and one wouldn’t be able to hear or feel the big difference in price by playing them.

This guitar is very loud and powerful. Ironically, I find that it lends itself more towards plucking than strumming.

I do wish that it’s more “opened”. Perhaps that can be solved as it gets played more. But that probably won’t happen because I’d very much prefer the guitar to have a narrower 1-11/16 nut instead of the 1-3/4 found here.

Oh well, what to do? Guitars makers need to make what the majority wants.

I’m just glad to have this to accompany my No.1. 🙂





Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s