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. 🙂





Alvarez-Yairi Honduran

New release from Alvarez. These guitars feature Honduran mahogany seasoned for minimum 40 years.


DYM60HD pictured above. A look at the seasoned mahogany back below.


The FYM60HD (below) has s shorter 25″ scale.


And the FYM66HD (below) sports an all mahogany construction.


These are all premium models that come with Gotoh 510 tuners and deluxe hardshell cases. Not exactly affordable but one can be sure anything from Alvarez-Yairi are winners.

*photos from Alvarez



New Alvarez MD60BG

Alvarez has added the new MD60BG into their Masterworks Series.


The new guitar features spruce top with khaya mahogany body and should be a direct replacement for the old MD60 which discontinued in the last Masterworks revamp.

Along with the use of pau ferro for fretboard and bridge, Guitarbear is also sad to see the MDA70 being taken off the catalogue. Obviously this is a move forced by the CITES situation. Perhaps we should be coming to terms that rosewood guitars are truly a thing of the past.

Read more:

*photo from Alvarez

Luther Music Deals

The good people at Luther Music have quietly put up some great deals over the past week.

Star buys include MXL mics and Alvarez Guitars.


The new AG60AR (pictured above) is going for $499. Why did they have to change to 1.75inch nut?

Nevertheless, Guitarbear got himself a last minute addition to the family.


Alvarez MD70 Bone Saddle Installation

Did a drop-in bone saddle project on this Alvarez MD70 last week.


This is a previous model from 2013 but this guitar is just stunning in terms of value, quality and tone. While the latest MDA70 gets a wider nut width and abalone bindings, the MD70 still carries attractive appointments like flame maple bindings.


Guitarbear still prefers the older 43mm nut widths over the latest guitars.

Here you can see that the saddle doesn’t have the suitable curve. The thicker strings sit too “straight” and a new saddle with the correct radius is required. While it is easy to simply drop in a saddle, it takes more time and effort to get the best curve for playing comfort.


There are also too many shims being used. Not sure how much tone is lost here, but it is always good to make a new saddle with the correct measurements.


A comparison photo where you can see that the original saddle was way too straight at the thicker strings.


No problems. We got sandpaper from 100 to 2000 grit, as well as the good ol’ jeweler’s file to craft the new saddle.

The wire anchor of the LR Baggs Anthem (previously installed by owner) came off so we need to tape it back. Easy job here.


Remove the anchor, remove the old tape, and clean up the contact. Then, cut some new double-sided tape to reinstall the anchor. Just use a pair scissors to snip off the excess bits.


Okay, all neat and tidy now. Nothing loose or rattling anymore.


Bearclaw Special

Let’s do some TLC for this lovely guitar.

Fretboard wasn’t too dirty in the first place, but all guitars deserve a good massage and moisturising session. Steel wool and Ax Wax are good friends here. Bowie was assistant today.


Bridge was also nourished with Ax Wax, while nut slots were lubricated with pencil lead.


We got a good fit on the new saddle. Restrung with Elixirs in owner’s preferred super light gauge 10-47.

Gave the guitar an overall clean and polish and we’re good to go. Miffy was ready to pose.


It’s a lovely guitar. I asked the owner if he would sell it to me, and I got a flat “NO”.

Nevertheless, my trusted AD30, my No.1, came out to pose with his cousin from the same year (2013).


Giveaway sign would be the fret markers. High end models have only the 12th marker and not the dots.


MD70 has solid rosewood body while the humble AD30 has laminate mahogany. Both just beautiful to me. I love Alvarez.

One more shot of the MD70 that mesmerized me. Sexy back.


Owner was really happy to get back his guitar with the improved playing comfort.