I am afraid this story has all the sad similarities to the demise of my Gordon-Smith guitars account - Maybe it IS me after all....
It has been a tough couple of years working with Alvarez but the supplier (Goto Guitars) have been very supportive in trying to help me help my customers. However, it seems that its been too big a problem for the UK distributor to handle - the cost of rectifying guitars in order to make them sell able made the line unprofitable commercially as well as a massive drain on their resources.
Although I knew the distribution was changing hands I thought I would find out what the new distributor could tell me and whether there was any light at the end of the tunnel.
Wow what a massive mistake that was...
I didn't get past first base - I kid you not. The sales managers decision after talking to me and receiving emails etc. was that I would be "too high maintenance" for him to work with. I lost my temper with him (who me?) and presumed this was just a power hungry sales agent who needs a good kick up the backside - so I contacted the Director of Blackstar.
Well... I was told in no uncertain terms that whilst they don't know who will be representing Alvarez in my area, it won't be me!
Of course I didn't need to lower myself to beg a valid reason but I did.... and didn't get one other than they need to make decisions based on what they believe is the right direction for the brand... Now call me cynical but when you tell a distributor that you know all about the quality issues, you are prepared to work with them to overcome the problems but in return you are told you are "too high maintenance" and they are not even interested in supplying the guitars to you...... it doesn't take too much working out where their priorities lie.
I will continue to promote guitars I believe to be benchmarks in the industry but it shows I will always be fighting against what goes on at the production line in any one given period of time. It also shows that I will always have a fight in finding like minded Distributors that give a damn about working with specialists.
Things to look out for...Bi-Level bridge design which seems almost inherently compromised. It was designed to allow for when you do not have enough saddle height to ensure you always get enough downward pressure. However the geometry tends to be SO out that you end up with no saddle at all and the string rubbing along the lower tier of wood. Keep your eye out for that, the most prevalent issue and would always be a "reject" when found in our quality control.
Poor finishing - especially around the sound hole. Big drips of lacquer in the sound hole and often felt pen is used to mask where the lacquer has missed its target in the burst around the sound hole.
Lifting saddle - Just pop your eye at board level and see if there any gaps under the saddle. If there are - don't touch it.
Now you may ask why did I sell them if they had all these problems!!? The reality is every brand has its issues but it has to get to a point where you realise this isn't a bad batch but an inherent problem. The distributor did their best but it got to breaking point for them and they just wanted out. I appreciated the brands value enough to chase it and see what the next chapter would bring - I put a lot of energy into Alvarez and didn't want to just throw away all the hard work.
On a personal level it will be sad not to see the next chapter - I will look forward to testing one at "my local dealer" when the new shipments arrive in June!!!!
PS.... OK I admit it.... I AM high maintenance but its all for YOU I promise!