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Dr. Von Zuko's Best Guitars for the Money



Great Guitars, the Best on a Limited Budget

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Acoustic Guitars

Alvarez AJ60SC
Artist Series 12 String

For the quality and awesome tone, this
12 string guitar is an absolute great deal,
even at list price!


Alvarez AJ60SC
Artist Series  Specifications:

  • Jumbo Body Style

  • Solid Spruce top

  • Maple back & sides

  • Rosewood Fretboard

  • Fully bound

  • Enclosed Tuners

  • System 600T MK II electronics

  • Equalizer

Made in China, but in my opinion, the quality is amazing and makes this guitar a steal at the $600 to $700 price level.

Alvarez AJ60SC
Artist Series 12 String

The best 12 string guitar money can buy under $1000! ($630 - $650 street price)

I was in a local guitar store to buy strings when I first heard this Alvarez Artist Series 12 string.  My first thought was wow . . . that sounds incredible!  Obviously I had to forget about the strings and check out what this manner of guitar this was. 

Now the guitar was in the hands of a store employee who was simply tuning it up, but he is a very capable guitarist, and his expert melodies simply added to my appreciation of the beautiful tones coming out of this instrument.

In talking to the guy, he commented that it "if you think it sounds awesome, you should try playing it, it plays every bit as good as it sounds," and he handed it over to me.  After just a few minutes of play I'd have to say this is one extremely nice 12 string guitar.   As any of you with 12 string experience may agree . . . most 12 strings are mediocre at best when it comes to playability.  It's tough, if not impossible, to find a truly great 12 string, especially under a thousand dollars.

This 12 string is special! The quality, for a guitar at this price point is nothing short of outstanding!  It plays as smooth as any guitar you can imagine, acoustic or electric (way better than any 12 string I've ever played).  Since this is an acoustic electric, I should point out that the preamp and tone while playing amplified is superb.    And yes,  I had to buy it!

The one I bought at the store was about $650 (with a suggested retail of  $949.99) On line, I have found the
Alvarez AJ60SC Artist Series
 @Musician's Friend for about $630 (with free shipping).

Best features:
As mentioned, I think this is a great 12 string guitar on many dimensions, however if I had to pick my favorite feature about this guitar it is in its construction.  I really appreciate the fact that it has maple sides and back.  The properties of the Maple hard wood gives this 12 string guitar a brighter, more lively sound than Mahogany would have provided.  

Playing it:

At the risk of sounding redundant, this guitar is simply a marvelous playing experience!  (Especially when you consider the price).  The action is perfect, and it is very comfortable to hold for a jumbo body.  Under amplification, the electronics are first rate!  I experienced no feedback or noise nor any electronic issue for that matter. The guitar holds tune extremely well . . . for days, in my experience. 


This guitar produces a superb tonal range. It has that rich, warm, and full sound to it that you would expect from a high-end 12 string.

It sounds amazing in straight acoustic mode and equally good (but slightly different) in electric mode.

As mentioned at the beginning of the review, the sound quality is noteworthy!  It's awesome!

I bought this acoustic electric based almost solely on it's incredible sound. The fact that it plays like melted butter and looks great doesn't suck either!

Looking to Buy a Alvarez AJ60SC   from a trusted source?  

Click on the link below.

Musician's Friend

Dean Exotica FM
Tiger Eye 12 String

 An artistically stunning 12 string guitar that also has an amazing timbre and fantastic playability!

Dean Exotica FM
Tiger Eye 12 String Specifications:

  • Flame Maple top

  • Flame Maple back

  • Flame Maple sides

  • Rosewood Fretboard

  • 25.5" scale

  • Abalone inlay (soundhole)

  • Grover Tuners

  • Dean electronics

  • onboard digital tuner


Dean Exotica FM Tiger Eye 12 String

A 12 string guitar that is a true work of art for under $1000!  ($519 - $550 street price)

This guitar is nothing short of a "work of art." It is simply beautiful and the photographs can't possibly capture the incredible depth and beauty of it's most striking attribute, the "Tiger Eye" finish.  The Dean Exotica FM 12 String should be hanging in an art gallery!

There is yet another bonus attribute to the Dean Exotica FM 12 String, its incredible timbre (sound quality)! 

This is an exceptional acoustic electric 12 string for the price.  I would have expected to pay twice as much after playing it and hearing it's beautiful output!
Available from several retailers between $519 and $549 (with a suggested retail of  $845)
Dean Exotica FM Tiger Eye 12 String (currently) sells @Musician's Friend for $519 (with free shipping).

Best features:
Without question it's best attribute is the guitar's stunning appearance, the Flame Maple Tiger Eye finish is incredible.  With a body composed entirely of Maple, the harder wood gives the Dean Exotica FM 12 String a noticeably bright and robust sound, that projects very well.    

Playing it:

The action is near perfect, and is nice and low.  The Dean Exotica FM 12 String plays very comfortably for a 12 string.  In my opinion, it plays as easy and as well (or better) than some very high-end six strings.  This guitar has great intonation up and down the fretboard and holds tune very well. 


The Dean Exotica FM 12 String's sound quality is most definitely 'first rate' it has superb tonal range and a sweet output.  This guitar has a chiming bright, rich sound with plenty of fullness.  It sounds marvelous unplugged and when played electrified . . . its down right magical. 

The Dean Exotica FM 12 String would be a great instrument in any venue from intimate cafe to an orchestral presentation . . . it would hold its own well with the other instruments!  

Awesome great looks, a great player, and fantastic sound, not much more to be said!

Looking to Buy a Dean Exotica FM Tiger Eye 12 String  from a trusted source?  

Click on the link below.

Musician's Friend


Articles by: Von Zuko 2008©          . . . so who is Dr. Von Zuko?

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