Hands-On Review:Alvarez Regent, Masterworks, and Fusion Acoustic-Electric Guitars

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Expressive acoustic-electric tone for every need and budget

By Ara Ajizian,
Musician’s Friend Staff Writer

Earlier this year, Alvarez extended their Regent, Fusion, and Masterworks Series with several new guitars that highlight the company's commitment to building high-quality guitars at all price ranges and for players of every stripe. I received an example from each series to evaluate, and was more than happy to oblige.

Crowd control

If you've ever shopped for an entry-level guitar, you know the selection can be staggering. With high-end guitars there are fewer options to wade through and you're guaranteed a high standard of quality, whereas with less-expensive instruments you may find that a cheap price equals, well, a cheap guitar.

Alvarez has traditionally delivered affordable entry-level guitars with quality workmanship through their Regent Series, and the RD210C cutaway dreadnought I received certainly lives up to that standard. Boasting a gorgeous select spruce top with a mahogany back and sides and a rosewood bridge inspired by Alvarez's top-of-the-line Yairi guitars, it projects gracefully with a rich bottom end and plenty of shimmer in the upper registers. Right out of its hardshell case, the RD210C played magnificently with smooth, responsive action across its rosewood fretboard, with the cutaway providing loads of room to dig in on leads. The electronics are nothing fancy, but are perfect for an entry-level instrument, delivering the guitar's natural tone accurately with a two-band EQ allows for easy tone tweaking.

Electric feel, acoustic warmth

Of the three guitars I received, the FCF7103 folk guitar from the Fusion Series garnered the most questions and comments. Its slim, chambered design feels more like an electric in your hands and gives it a different look than a traditional acoustic guitar. I received the black-top version, with a minimalist look aside from a white multi-ply binding and a shimmering abalone inlay around the top's contours. There's no soundhole, adding to its mystique . . . you've got to plug it in to hear what it can do.

When amplified, this guitar is all about superb acoustic tone. The Fishman Aura Image Casting (IC) system gives you an array of tones you might not hear unless you were miked in a professional studio. Four legendary mics were imaged to give you the legendary sounds of a Neumann U87 condenser, a Shure SM57 dynamic, a DPA 4011 condenser, and a Schoeps CMC64G condenser. On nylon-string Fusion guitars, different mics were chosen: a Neumann M147, a Soundelux EF7 (both close-miked and miked from a distance), and a DPA4011.

Most people don't have the money and/or guts to take an assortment of high-end condenser mics to a gig, but with the Aura IC system, you can go from the warm, airy sound of a large-diaphragm condenser to the punchy delivery of a dynamic, to the rich overtones of a small-diaphragm condenser in an instant. The IC system makes recording incredibly easy too. There are no mics to place and fuss with, you just plug it in, find the sound you want, and hit record. Aura IC offers an unmatched level of sonic versatility that any performer will appreciate.

Masterful Masterworks

Here at Musician's Friend, we set up company jam nights at local venues, where employees put together bands and perform for the community. Days before our last Acoustic Jam Night, I had a dilemma: I don't own an acoustic-electric guitar! I had originally planned to mic my acoustic, but since we were covering some up-tempo '90s rock, I wanted the freedom to move around a bit. A friend offered up his acoustic-electric beater, but lucky for me the Masterworks MD711C dreadnought had arrived. All Alvarez guitars, from the Regent Series RD4102C and up, receive a 10-step inspection/setup by techs in the U.S. before shipping out, ensuring you'll be ready to play right away. Their care was evident, and after strumming it a bit and looking over the 600T MK II preamp, I knew it would be perfect for the gig.

Masterworks acoustic-electrics come equipped with the diverse and functional 600T MK II electronics system, giving you complete control over your amplified sound. It uses an under-saddle piezo pickup, but also has an auxiliary input with its own level control for the optional ASP50 MK II soundhole pickup or ACM50 condenser mic. Come gig night, finding the right sound was simple with the 3-band EQ. Feedback wasn't an issue thanks to the post-EQ notch filter, which instantly targeted the source of feedback and crushed it quickly and effectively. Additional controls like the Mid Freq knob give any player the tools to hone the perfect sound, whether you're playing live or laying down tracks in the studio.

Masterworks guitars are all about great solid-wood tone, but it doesn't stop there. Abalone inlays around the soundhole and on the 12th fret and headstock, along with the rosewood bridge inspired by the Yairi Direct-Coupled Bridge add understated visual appeal.

At the gig, it performed to my highest expectations. Having the EQ at my fingertips was awesome, as I was able to quickly make adjustments depending on what the song called for. The action was superb—when I launched into my solo on Pearl Jam's "Black," it felt as natural and easy as it does on my electric, with the cutaway giving me all the room I needed to explore the upper registers.

Something for everyone

With the new Regency, Fusion, and Masterworks guitars, Alvarez has high-quality, amplified acoustic tone for players of all levels and budgets: functional, affordable entry-level guitars in the Regent Series, rich studio sound from the Fusion Series, and Masterworks guitars for the gigging professional. Whatever your needs as a player, Alvarez has an acoustic-electric that's right for you.

Features & Specs

Regent Series RD210C Acoustic-Electric

  • Dreadnought body style
  • Select spruce top
  • Mahogany back/sides
  • Preamp/2-band EQ
  • Rosewood bridge/fretboard
  • Chrome die-cast tuners

Fusion Series FCF7103 Chambered Guitar

  • Chambered, folk-style, thin-body design
  • Spruce top
  • Mahogany body
  • Rosewood fretboard/bridge
  • Fishman AURA IC electronics
  • Models of 4 classic mics
  • Rosewood fretboard
  • White multi-ply binding
  • Abalone top inlay
  • Nickel die-cast tuners

Masterworks Series MD711C Acoustic-Electric

  • Solid spruce top
  • Solid rosewood back/sides
  • System 600T MK II electronics
  • Rosewood bridge/fretboard
  • Abalone rosette
  • Maple body binding
  • Abalone rosette
  • Nickel die-cast tuners