If you are familiar with baritoneguitar.org, you may be aware that the Alvarez ABT60 is one of my favorite acoustic baritones. An excellent option for the budget-minded guitarist, the ABT60 (and the pickup-equipped ABT60e) should be on the list of anyone looking for a reliable, great-sounding, workhorse baritone. You can check out the full review here.
Well, the folks at Alvarez have expanded their line of baritones. Introducing the ABT60CE! This guitar feels more like an update on the classic ABT60 than an entirely new baritone. Still, the differences are noteworthy and should only encourage you to check out the offerings from Alvarez before making your final selection on your next acoustic baritone.
What Stayed the Same
Most of the raw materials are the same between the ABT60 and the newer ABT60CE. And this is a good thing. Both guitars come with quality tonewoods and materials that you’d expect to find on a more expensive ax. These baritone cousins even share the same bracing structure under the hood and the same body and neck dimensions. Here is a complete list of features shared in common between the Alvarez baritones:
New on the ABT60CE: A Cutaway
The ABT60CE’s most readily noticeable new feature is its cutaway. The cutaway offers unrestricted access to about the 15th or 16th fret. With a little stretching, you might be able to access the 17th or 18th fret. Of course, when dealing with a large-bodied acoustic guitar “unrestricted” means navigating a neck joint.
Depending on your playing style, ABT60CE’s cutaway will either be a necessary feature or a “don’t know when I will use it, but it's nice to know it's there” attribute. I suspect most baritone players will fall somewhere in the middle, welcoming the expanded access while using it infrequently.
New on the ABT60CE: LL Baggs Pickup and Stage Pro EQ
Though the cutaway is the most immediately notable difference between the ABT60 and the ABT60CE, the addition of the LL Bags Element Pickup and Stage Pro EQ is the most exciting. LL Baggs is one of the preeminent names in acoustic amplification and the Ellement Pickup is an excellent example of the brand’s craftsmanship.
The Element Pickup is an under-saddle transducer pickup that is placed inside the body of the guitar. The placement and design capture the movement and acoustics of the whole guitar. The result is a pickup that captures the earthy woody tone of the acoustic guitar while simultaneously reducing the dreaded “quack” of traditional piezo pickups.
The older ABT60E features an SYS550 pickup designed by B-Band. While the SYS550 is also an under-saddle transducer pickup, I believe the LL Bags set up is the superior option. Part of this is based on the superior reputation of the LL Bags brand and part of this is based on the exceptional active EQ featured with the LL Bags system.
If you are having feedback problems, you slowly move the nob until you find the frequency causing the feedback. Similarly, the phase button is another noise reduction tool for use with live amplification.
The final feature of note on Alvarez ABT60CE baritone’s electronics is the tuner. That’s right, the Stage Pro EQ features a chromatic tuner! Again, this can be a lifesaver in a live performance situation for obvious reasons. It's also super convenient when you are sitting in your own living room.
he ABT60E and ABT60CE are both amazing values. In the end, you may need to settle for whichever baritone you can find in stock or on back order. As long as I have written baritone reviews, the Alvarez family of baritones has consistently been in high demand and short supply. Whether you choose the ABT60E or the newer ABT60CE, the searching and waiting will be worth it once you get your hands on one of these exceptional acoustic baritones.
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If you enjoyed this article, you might want to check out our full listing of Acoustic Baritone Reviews or our full list of Electric Baritone Reviews.