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Review in Guitar Aficionado Magazine

Posted on June 26, 2013

Our very own Alvarez-Yairi Masterworks DYMR70SB was recently reviewed by Harold Steinblatt in Guitar Aficionado magazine. The article is included below.


With its sloped shoulders, slotted headstock, wider neck (1 3/4 inches), and 12th-fret-joint-to-the-body design, the Alvarez-Yairi Masterworks DYMR70SB is a variation on the classic square-shouldered, 14-fret dreadnought that emerged from Pennsylvania to conquer the world. However, this instrument was designed and produced half a world away in Kani, Japan, by Alvarez and Kazuo Yairi, the brilliant Japanese luthier who joined forces with the firm in the late Sixties to create AlvarezYairi, the high-end pride of what is today a guitar-manufacturing giant. Yairi, now 80 years old, personally oversees the small group of luthiers who hand-build the guitars in the Masterworks series.

The master’s touch and craft are plainly evident in the DYMR70SB. This is a dangerous instrument, a siren whose dazzling beauty can lead even the most levelheaded guitarist to reach for his credit card before playing a single note. The most seductive thing about the DYMR70SB is the high-gloss sunburst finish of its AA-grade Sitka spruce top, skillfully buffed so that it appears to glow. Even the translucent pickguard is aesthetically pleasing. Sandwiched between the sealer and finish, it allows the top’s golden rays to shine through while adding its own pretty touch to the guitar. That splendid top is nicely complemented by the guitar’s handsomely grained Indian rosewood back and sides, mahogany neck, and gleaming ebony fingerboard. Also made of ebony are the very distinctive “direct-coupled” bridge (see interview, below) and bridge pins. The inlays—mother-of-pearl for the headstock, and abalone for the signature Alvarez-Yairi diagonal line gracing the 12th fret and the rosette’s outer circle—are understated but elegant, as is the rosette’s rosewood inner circle.

While any guitarist would do well with the DYMR70SB, it is ideally suited to folk- and blues-influenced open-chord strummers and fingerstyle players. I strummed a series of first-position chords and was able to immediately discern a clear difference between this guitar and other square-shouldered dreadnoughts. Where the latter are prized for their hammer-like bass and cutting trebles, the DYMR70SB, while loud, produces a balanced tone; the mids don’t have to fight to be heard. The chords echoed ethereally with lovely sustain, making it perfect, I found, for songs like Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’,” the Eagles’ “Take It Easy”— particularly that regally strummed G-C/G-G-Am7 intro—and Gregg Allman’s rhythm guitar part to “Melissa,” in which he demonstrates the healing power of playing open chords up and down the fretboard. It stood to reason that the DWMR70SB would perform beautifully in open tunings, and it does. I got a little carried away playing “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” “That’s the Way,” and several songs from Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks. Every chord, every string rang true.

Fingerpickers (or hybrid pickers), whose left and right hands are always on the lookout for more space, will appreciate the guitar’s 1 3/4–inchwide fretboard. Whether you’re a singer-songwriter type, a classic rock player, or a would-be English traditionalist, you’ll find yourself navigating songs like “The Boxer,” “Dear Prudence,” and “Black Mountain Side” with the greatest of ease. And that previously much-lauded balanced tone will be music to the ears of every player who’s ever experienced the frustration of hearing his low E string manhandle his D and G.

With its great looks, superior tone, and exquisite construction, the Alvarez-Yairi Masterworks DYMR70SB is one guitar you’ll be proud to bring home to mother. And since it retails for only $3,699—given the price of boutique instruments in its class, only is the appropriate word—you won’t have to pay an arm, leg, and thumb pick to own it.