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The High Value Of Japanese Acoustic Guitars

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 0 0

I fell in love with a used Alvarez Acoustic Guitar.

I'll tell a bit of a story here.  I grew up spending most Saturday's with my late Maternal Grandfather, Argus Troy Coker - everyone called him A.T.  I'd typically spend the night on Friday night, and then we'd wake up early, get into whichever beat up old Chevy he'd decided to stretch the life of, and we'd head to whichever flea market was going on that weekend.

My grandfather was a World War Two veteran, and he'd fought the Japanese, and been on the Island of Guam in the South Pacific theater of war.  One of his brothers was captured in the Philippines on the very day he got off a plane, and then was forced into a horrific march where inhuman war crimes took place the likes of which American servicemen had never imagined - the Bataan Death March.  My great-uncle then survived years of torture at the hands of the Japanese in prison camp, and returned to Kaufman, Texas - a shell of the very young man he'd been.

Basically, my Grandfather struggled with absolute hatred of the Japanese, but as a Christian man who knew that he couldn't go on that way - he over came that hatred.

A.T. and I would pursue the stalls and booths at flea markets, like the world's largest one, in Canton, Texas - called "First Monday," and we'd very often rescue old beaten up guitars, fiddles, mandolins, banjos, dulcimers, hell - you name it;  a country gentleman could sometimes even persuade himself to buy electric instruments on the cheap.  He'd do minor or major repairs to these instruments, and the next week, or maybe the next month - or even the next year, he'd sell them.  I have to admit that I'm rather frustrated at the fact that he'd not kept some of the very fine instruments he'd come across over the years.

I do have at my disposal and use, however, a very old, and no longer manufactured Martin that was left to my Mother - a wonderful guitar purchased for small bills, as it had a bullet hole through it when purchased at the flea market.

Over the course of my youth my Grandfather owned so many instruments that a list of them, were there a record, would startle the mind.  Mostly, I remember the acoustic steel string guitars that were made in Japan, and purchased for very little - as the simple fact that they were not American Made devalued them in the mind of my Grandfather, and he seemed to be able to sell that idea into the minds of the persons that he bought them from.

Poor souls never knew what hit them.

Later in life, as a very lonely young man with no friends to speak of living as a cast off and reject in Dallas, Texas - I'd hit the bar at The Shuck N Jive on Lower Greenville Avenue, get tanked up a bit, and walk on down to the North Dallas Guitar Center.  There, where all manner of guitars and other musical instruments are for sale - I'd always and only head to the very back of the store, my face instantly recognized, and towards the very expensive acoustic guitars.  There are two rooms with expensive acoustic guitars, one of them is very small - and the other several times as large.  I've no idea how they decide which room a guitar should go in; clearly, the decisions weren't based on price or value.

In those two rooms would be many a Martin, Gibson, maybe a Collings or a Santa Cruz, Larrivee guitars, and Breedlove guitars - all the most beautiful American or Canadian made guitars, and all of those companies top models - but I'd often return to a used $600 Alvarez flat top.  Sure, it probably had cost around a thousand bucks new, and sure - that's pretty damn expensive for a Japanese guitar, but the thing was a treasure.  Nearby were spun versions of Martin's D 18, a legendary guitar built from solid mahogany back and sides, and a solid spruce top.  The Alvarez that I loved was the same, but priced well below used American models of the same design, but it sounded BETTER than those, for LESS money.

All acoustic guitars are "hit and miss."  Two guitars could be made exactly the same by the same luthier out of the same trees to the exact same specifications - and those two guitars will still be VERY DIFFERENT INSTRUMENTS with different characteristics.  Someone could play both of them and say, 

"No, this one is clearly superior to the other one."

Another person could do the same and think the exact opposite.  Both persons are right - they probably make music differently, and appreciate the characteristics that fit their personal styles.  All is as it should be with this.  Carry on.

What this all boils down to is this - you can get a great Japanese guitar for less money, new or used, than you can an American guitar.  I won't say that Japanese guitars are "better," because I don't believe that that is true.  What I will say is that for your dollar - assuming that you aren't looking for a top end professional studio guitar (and even if you are - for some high end Japanese brands and models) - you can get a higher quality steel string acoustic guitar made by a Japanese manufacturer like Alvarez, Takamine, or Yamaha.

My Fender F 65 Acoustic

Fender F series Acoustic Guitars are OUTSTANDING Japanese built instruments.

The Fender F Series.

Most everyone knows about Fender brand guitars.  Fender guitars are legendary in America, and the world over - but mostly for their electric guitars.  Despite Fender being an American company that doesn't have a huge reputation in the acoustic guitar market, Fender makes some outstanding acoustic guitars - and these guitars, the "F" series, are made in Japan.

Fender F series guitars are a tremendous value on the used guitar market.  I recently inherited a Fender F 65, and I couldnt' be any more pleased with the guitar.  It's all solid wood construction with East Indian Rosewood back and sides, and a VERY high grade solid spruce top.  The simple fact that this guitar is made in Japan rather than America makes if the bargain that it is for those who find and purchase one.  Anyone can own one of these high value Japanese D 28 style guitars for less than five hundred dollars, typically, when found in a pawn shop.

Alvarez Masterworks MF75CE Folk/OM Acoustic Electric Guitar
Amazon Price: $1,349.00 $874.67 Buy Now
(price as of Nov 9, 2013)
Interested in a all solid wood Alvarez guitar for under a thousand dollars? This is the finger style player's dream guitar, solid rosewood back and sides, solid cedar top, built and priced to last a lifetime!


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