With its beveled armrest and cutaway design, the AGW77ce-AR is a thoughtfully designed guitar with a big sound that songwriters and stage performers will like–at a very affordable price. As part of the Alvarez Artist Series, this model features solid construction and great tone along with a good preamp and tuner combination. While an attractive guitar, it gives the sense that it could also be a workhorse on stage; for example, as an acoustic alternative for rock players.
In addition to its comfortable grand auditorium body style, the AGW77ce-AR has some features that make it stand out from other guitars in its price range. Its solid dark walnut top and walnut back and sides contribute to a big sound, somewhere between mahogany and rosewood-styled acoustics. Fingerpicked lines were nice and clear. When strummed aggressively, the guitar produces a direct, tight sound, due in part to the density of the walnut. A Pau Ferro rosewood bi-level bridge and fingerboard with modest, but stylish, inlays at the 12th fret, around the sound hole and centered in the bridge pins, give it a sophisticated look. The natural flame maple binding nicely offsets that deep, dark finish of the rest of the instrument accenting the guitar’s cutaway shape. Not just attractive, the cutaway gets lead players right up to the guitar’s 21st fret. A compensated bone saddle and nut add to both the looks and tonal reproduction of the instrument.
The AGW77ce comes with the LR Baggs StagePro EQ tuned to work with an undersaddle Element pickup. The preamp includes volume, treble, midrange, bass, notch filter and phase inversion controls that are all clearly laid out and visible. For stage performance, both the phase inversion and notching capability can help avoid feedback and get you a better sound when the venue changes. Another feature of interest to working guitarists is that LR Baggs claims the average life of the nine-volt battery required to reproduce great sound from its preamp exceeds 100 hours.
After unboxing our AGW77ce, the undersaddle pickup needed to be realigned, possibly due to being jostled around during shipping. The typically even string-to-string balance of the pickup didn’t seem right. Removing the saddle and realigning the pickup, then returning the saddle to its normal position fixed the problem. My first opportunity to use the AGW77ce-AR was for an informal performance at a house concert, which gave me a chance hear it both acoustically and through a small sound system. From that point, it EQ’ed nicely and the red and green LED indicators of the StagePro’s chromatic tuner worked well for keeping the instrument in tune on stage. An output impedance of 10 megohms guarantees that the pickup system and preamp will work well with all common sound equipment and acoustic amplifiers.
The Alvarez AGW77ce‑AR with beveled armrest and cut-away body features is a solid acoustic guitar, sounds good on stage and is comfortable to play. It offers a good balance of the full sound from treble through the bass registers and responds well when strummed hard or played lightly. The built-in preamp and clearly readable tuner make it a great choice for acoustic performers or acoustic alternative for electric guitar players. It ships with D’Addario EXP16 coated phosphor bronze strings, but without a case. Maybe that is not a problem, since with its affordable street price you can afford a good hard-shell case to keep it safe.
Street price: $569.99