If you’re after a sound that’s deeper and darker, then a baritone guitar might be for you. The Alvarez ABT60 is a high-quality, yet inexpensive acoustic baritone guitar. Check out Kevin’s Alvarez ABT60 review and see If it’s for you!
|🛠️ Build quality||/5|
|💰 Value for Money||/5|
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Sometimes you need something different. Sometimes you want to try something new but still familiar. Sometimes you just want to breathe some form of new life into what’s become stuck.
Well, my friend. Have you tried a baritone guitar?
That’s what I did when I walked into Steve’s Music looking for a fine instrument to review. Seeing an Alvarez acoustic on the stand, I figured I’d give it a swing. When my friend (and store manager) Daniel told me: “It’s also a baritone”, that caught my attention.
What exactly is a baritone guitar?
Before we dive into my review, let’s talk about what this instrument is.
For starters, it looks like a guitar, smells like a guitar, feels like a guitar, and has six strings like a guitar. So, it’s a guitar, albeit with some differences.
The first difference is the tuning. A baritone guitar takes your standard tuning (E-A-D-G-B-E) and drops it down a perfect fourth (B-E-A-D-F#-B). The intervallic relationships between the strings mean that all your standard chord voicings and barred chords will work, but you’ll need to do some mental calculations for the chord names since those have changed. Play your standard E chord (022100 – E-B-E-G#-B-E) and the shape will work. However, that chord will now be a B chord (B-F#-B-D#-F#-B) with a much lower pitch.
The second is the scale length (the distance between the saddle and the nut). We’re typically used to two different scale lengths for the most part: 25.5” (Fender scale) and 24.75” (Gibson scale). This guitar has a scale length of 27 23/32”. This is needed to accommodate the lower tuning, adding tension to the strings so they don’t flap around as they would on a more typical scale length.
Speaking of strings, this is the third difference. The strings on a baritone are noticeably heavier than you may be used to. This is, again, to accommodate the lower tuning and ensure a good tone. While the string gauges may be frightening to some (the Alvarez comes with D’Addario EXP23 strings – 16 to 70), the fact that they are tuned lower means that they will still have the same sort of “feel” as regular acoustic strings.
Alvarez ABT60E Review: The Specs
The Alvarez ABT60 comes with a solid Sitka spruce top with African mahogany back and sides with a glossy finish. The fretboard and bridge come in either Indian Laurel or Rosewood (unfortunately there was no way of knowing on the guitar I tested). The nut and saddle are made of bone.
The neck is made of mahogany and features die-cast tuners. There are no fret markers on the neck, save for the decorative marker at the 12th fret. The guitar also features a cream-coloured binding that is featured on the body, as well as where the neck and fretboard meet.
The guitar is not equipped with a pickup, though an under-saddle piezo could easily be installed if that’s what you prefer instead of a soundhole pickup.
|– Sitka Spruce top|
– Mahogany back and sides
– Gloss finish
|– Mahogany 50/50 Semi-Gloss|
– Indian Laurel/Rosewood fretboard
– 21 frets
– Real Bone nut and saddle
|– Premium Die Cast tuners|
– LR Baggs StagePro EQ and Element Pick Up
Alvarez ABT60 Review: Test Results
Let’s see how the Alvarez ABT60 performs
The guitar does look like any other standard spruce-top acoustic with a bit of flare to make things interesting.
The pickguard is not your typical shape and is more ornamental in its appearance. The same goes for the bridge, with its two “wings” flanking the sides.
The cream-coloured binding on the guitar is particularly striking against the light and dark shades of spruce and mahogany. It also looks particularly classy on the neck.
The lack of fret markers makes for an interesting choice. I like it, though some may prefer to have them for reference (granted there are markers at the fretboard’s edge). The decorative inlay at the 12th fret is quite lovely and adds a sharp aesthetic touch.
Build quality: 4/5
The guitar was very well put together. Everything was solid on the instrument as far as joints and construction went. The fretwork was also very well done with no spouts to be found.
The guitar did have a noticeable bow in the neck when I tried to play it, resulting in higher action than I prefer. Thankfully Daniel was kind enough to adjust the truss rod before testing, and it made a marked improvement. While this is a minor fix, it is something to look out for when shopping for any guitar.
The guitar itself will feel a bit foreign to a lot of players on the first go. The longer scale length and thicker strings will need a bit of adjusting both physically and mentally. The frets do feel wider and the strings almost feel like bass strings on the lower registers. Your technique will also need a slight adjustment to get the guitar to react as a normal acoustic would.
Once you get used to it though, it’s a fun instrument to play.
Chords were easy to form and I had little trouble getting open-positioned and barred chords to sound. Fingerpicked passages also came through nicely.
Playing single-note lines was different because of the strings’ thicknesses, but the tension felt like a regular acoustic thanks to the longer scale length. Bending notes, I found, was a little more difficult though.
A bit of a disclaimer; the strings on the guitar I tried were old, so they were lacking a bit of top end and responsiveness.
One thing you’ll notice is that this guitar is deep. The low-end coming out of this guitar is something else! The heavy strings and lower tuning make for a very deep sound that is still responsive in the mids and highs. It’s a very rich sound.
Strumming chords made for a very different experience. You’ll find yourself playing things a bit differently to enjoy that deep tone.
Fingerpicked passages had a nice definition, along with single-note lines. Admittedly, I found myself trying to cop some Don Ross or Andy McKee-style licks on the guitar thanks to the register.
I’m also certain that the definition will certainly be even better with fresh strings on the guitar, though I found myself quite happy with what I was getting.
Value for Money 5/5
For the price, you are getting great value for this guitar. The materials are top-notch, the construction is fantastic and an affordable option if you want to explore the world of baritone guitars.
The low price point also means that a pickup is within reach if you want to retrofit the guitar for a live performance.
Alvarez ABT60 review overall rating: 21/25
Alvarez has turned out a quality instrument for the price. With a few small tweaks (the neck and new strings), this will certainly be a quality standout in any collection. If you’re looking to get into baritone guitar, the ABT60 is a great place to start!
Thanks for reading this Alvarez ABT60 review. And a big thank you as always to Dan Sauvé at Steve’s Music in Ottawa, Ontario (Canada) for letting me take these instruments for a spin!