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I am looking to buy a new mandolin (middle-price range).The problem is that I live in small-town, Alabama and don't have access to trying many.I have a Kentucky, super-cheap beginner's model and would like to take the next step up (of course on a college student's budget). The difficulty in answering that question about brands like Alvarez, Kentucky and other importers is that they really aren't builders, so experience doesn't always mean a lot. The quality depends on who they have building it for them in Asia and what specs they are building to, either or both of which may change at any time, without the model # changing.I have an Alvarez guitar which I really like and think the craftmanship is great for a middle-of-the-road price and was wondering if the same is true of their mandolins. I had a decent Alvarez A800 F-style for years and it was a good deal, but if I only had 0 to spend, I would not spend it on that instrument. In that price range, I would buy used and I would buy and "A" style to get more instrument for my money.Boy was I wrong LUCKY me I sold it for what i paid for it...I bought a Kentucky KM-850 and it is a big step from the Alvarez I had.
It has the hand-carved detail to the scroll that some other (pressed? It also appears to have a dovetail joint..at least the detail of a dovetail joint (do people fake this? as a side note, a lot of the cheap F mandolins I see have very poor scroll and head detail, but this one looks properly proportioned all around. ) into the top looks a little soft, compared to others I've seen and know to be fully carved.I really wish that I could try a lot of different options, because I hate to put out any money without knowing what I am dealing with.That is why I wanted to know about Alvarez since I liked my guitar.I have had my Alvarez since 1975, it has been used hard for all that time, I have some top sinking issues but, I have not always been the "kindest" to it. " I really can't say much about the newer ones, not a terribly popular item around Kalamazoo, sad to say.I think it's important for you to consider the fact that the Alvarez mandolins are not built by Alvarez, per se.