MD70’s and the Return of Rosewood

Alvarez is celebrating the return of rosewood to our guitars with two special dreadnoughts. 

In 2017, CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna And Flora) threw the guitar industry a curve ball when it restricted the cross border movement of all Dalbergia species woods. This covers all true rosewoods. The international guitar-making community supports the protection and sustainable management of all trees, but the restriction on all Rosewoods was a surprise, as many are managed reputably on plantations, especially Dalbergia Latifolia (East Indian Rosewood) which is famous in guitar-making for generations. However, the illegal trafficking of endangered rosewoods is a growing and dangerous business, and CITES thought best to restrict the trade of all Dalbergias. Virtually overnight, the movement and therefore use of Rosewood became very difficult. The guitar industry panicked.

Many makers and brands turned to replacement woods such as Walnut, Ovangkol or Pau Ferro, and the use of “Tech” wood boomed for guitars at lower price points. This is a manufactured hard wood made from compressing and colouring more readily available woods. However, it’s hard to replicate real rosewood for its feel and tonal qualities and thankfully, after lobbying from governments and industries, including the music industry, CITES reconsidered its decision and eased the movement of some Dalbergias. East Indian Rosewood was one of them, and we’re safely back in business with the tonewood we love.

The first guitar we designed once we knew we could ship rosewood again was the MD70BG. This dreadnought is a classic Sitka and Rosewood configuration with traditional styling and beautiful voicing. 

East Indian Rosewood is known for its clear and powerful bass response and truly glistening trebles—they almost have a kind of sizzle to them. The wood is versatile and can suit virtually any musical style or playing technique. Rosewood also radiates wonderful tonal color with strong and clear fundamental notes and dancing overtones when braced to allow the soundbox to freely resonate, which is exactly what we did with the MD70BG. 

We use AAA grade North American Sitka top underpinned by our FS6 bracing system. This is a forward-shifted style resembling pre-war Martin patterns, but we use lighter gauge struts and scallop the tone bars significantly more. The lighter bracing paired with a very high-quality top is a powerful combination; it is instantly responsive and brings all those wonderful qualities we love out of its solid Rosewood back and sides. 

Although this guitar is powerful, it’s not overly so which keeps it articulate and precise, with lovely separation. But the most endearing quality for us is the clarity and fullness of each note making it a charismatic guitar. 

It’s dressed traditionally with Herringbone purfling and rosette, open gear tuners and a beautiful tortoise shell design pickguard. 

Anyone looking for super responsive and well-spoken Dreadnought will love this guitar and we hope it brings inspiration every time it is embraced.