The Alvarez

I went over to a friend’s house Sunday for his annual Easter brunch/music jam, and a group of women got up to play, and — holy crap — there was the Alvarez in one of the musician’s hands.

I owned the Alvarez — not this particular guitar but one just like it — in the back half of the 1980s. It had a slim body and a cutaway at the neck and was tobacco sunburst in color and cost me a whole bunch of money that I didn’t have at the time. It was easy to play and had great tone for such a narrow-bodied acoustic guitar, and I played it for hours and hours without getting any better. It was the Alvarez that taught me I would never be a guitarist, even though I enjoyed every minute that it was in my hands. It looked good and I looked good playing it. That counted for something for a guy in his 20s.

I eventually sold the Alvarez. Some unexpected bills came due and the guitar was nice enough to be sold with little effort, but the fact that I remember it so well more than 20 years later is a sure sign that I made the wrong choice. I picked up a cheap used (and dull-looking) Yamaha dreadnought that I still own, although you can count on one hand the times per year that I pull out a guitar now. It seems almost quaint to think that there was a time when nearly everyone I knew owned a guitar, and I had one of the better and cooler guitars of all of my friends even though I never got past the three-dozen-chords stage of playing.

The Alvarez was more of a touchstone than an instrument, the accessory I had with me when some of my most interesting days and nights took place. And I still miss it.


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