Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Yairi Alvarez DY58 Nine String


Uh, yes, that DOES say nine string. Kind of like half a 12-string. Sort of.

When I first moved to California in 1987 I didn’t have a lot of money and I didn’t have much for guitars. I did have a 1984 Ovation Collector’s Series guitar which, at the time, I was pretty proud of. I didn’t know too much about the guitar stores in my area, so one day on my day off I decided to drive around and see what was within driving distance. I ended up in Escondido, which is about 20 minutes from where I lived. There was an okay looking music store on the corner downtown and I parked and walked in. I quickly spied something I had never seen before and then didn’t see again for about 17 years. A nine-string guitar. WHAT YOU SAY? It looked like a normal dreadnought at first glance, then I saw the extra tuners. I thought, “Oh, a 12-string. I’ll check it out.”

When I picked it up I realized that the top 3 bass side strings were single, like a six-string, but the bottom three treble side strings were doubled, like a 12-string. What a great idea! Why wasn’t this more popular? For a rhythm player like myself it makes perfect sense...you can get that nice ringing strum on the highs, but can still dig in a bit on the low end without the doubled effect.

That guitar was always in the back of my mind, but I never saw one again. Then one day I decided to Google for “9-string” and came across a posting in a forum from 3 or 4 years previous. I decided to email the address on the post and see if anyone answered. Believe it or not, the guy wrote back and said he had JUST decided to consider selling it so he could buy a nice Martin. He said he’d take $500 for it, which was what he had paid years ago. Deal. When I got it, the pickguard was about to fall off, and the top was banged up a lot more than his description indicated, but all in all it was in fine condition. And it sounded really nice. I have only played a few Yairis in my time, but they all have sounded very nice and probably deserve more attention than they get. I added a pickup to the guitar so I could use it live and I always got asked after a gig what the deal is with the 9-string. Plus I had added a vintage water decal from the Oklahoma Flying Farmers association...not sure what it was, but I THINK it was a group of farmers who enjoyed parachuting. Really.

Despite it’s uniqueness, I ended up selling it to buy something else...it seemed to be most expendable at the time. But I have always kept the thought of a nine-string in my head and have thought that it would be fun to commission a nine-string from my trusted personal luthier Mike Franks some day. Of course I’d have to ask real nice for such an oddity. In the meantime, I have to admit, man, I wish I had that one back!

18 comments:

Big Dog said...

I also had DY58 9 string back in the day and regret ever parting with it. I let mine go to help pay for a divorce and have wanted to replace it for a long time. A few months ago I found a very sweet Seagull 12 string. I turned it into a 9 string and very satisfied with the results. The Seagull S12 turned 9 string has become my go to gigging guitar and complements playing with other guitarists nicely....

Doug Cox "Big Dog Productions"

Anonymous said...

I had one back in the mid-80's as well, and while I loved it, I think I sold it just in time; the bridge was starting to pull and warp the face of the guitar. Took it to a luthier who indicated that the guitar was built using a neck that was really suited for 6 strings and not more (should've used a 12 string neck i guess), and the extra string tension was problematic. *shrug*

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NTWS Jon said...

I have a DY58 I bought in Japan when I was stationed there in the US Navy back in 1982. Bought it at a guitar shop called "Three Sisters" just outside the gate of Yokota Air Base (the USAF's major hub just outside of Tokyo) for about USD$170.

I was told it was a factory second (very minor production flaws -- barely noticable nicks on the neck and body), so it doesn't have the A-Y logo on the headstock, nor a name label inside the body -- thus the price. The shop also sold other factory second guitars made by Yamaha and Ibanez (Greco & Diamond rebadges).

Still have it to this day -- 2010. Still sounds great after several string changes and truss rod adjustments. I'd never part with it!

W M Dave said...

I have one, bought it in Houston brand new for $285 in 1982.

It has never failed me, and I have had very little work done on it. In the early 90s a crack head came through my front door and used my coat rack as a battering ram, knocking it out of my hands as I played it. This created a small hole in the bottom, so a small 1/4 jack plate was added; I think one truss rod adjustment was done at this time, too. It now has a pickup connected to that jack, and I play it every day. It's a great guitar. I love it. You can see me playing it in my Facebook profile photos.

Scott and Jennifer Naylor... said...

I had a 1979 model DY58; owned it from about 1989 to 2005. Paid $375 for it in '87 and sold it on Ebay for around $1100 in '05.

LOVED that guitar, but like many of us, needed the funds to buy something else (in this case,a master class cedar-top Breedlove C-25, which I also love. And the $1100 only made a dent in the price of THAT one...)

The bridge was starting to seperate on mine too. I've probably seen 3 of the original issue DY58s, and they all do that.
The re-issued ones they made later in the 80s have a different tailpiece design that probably doesn't do that.

If I hadn't had to sell it, though, it would still be hanging on the wall.

Ronnie said...

I purchased my 9 string (Alvarez) in 1990 and still have it. I love it more than any guitar I have ever played. I found it in a music store in Branson, Missouri.

R Mann

Donman said...

I got a DY58 9 string back in the mid-80's ... a birthday present from my mom. Played it a lot back in the day, but it ended up in a closet for years. Just recently pulled it out and had it tweaked up, some fret work done, and a nice acoustic bridge pickup installed. I'd forgotten how sweet it sounded! This is one I'm glad didn't get away ;-)

One American said...

My 9-Sting started as a second hand sell at the local music store in Stillwater, OK in 1984/85. The girl I was seeing at the time had asked that I teach her to play, and she found this unit, and asked my opinion. Of coarse I encouraged her to buy it.

That summer after she ran off with the bartender I had left her in company with - I thought I'd never see that guitar again.

In 1998, I thought of her again (the guitar that is) and search the internet for the girl. Wow, I found her - and of coarse she never learned to play it. I arranged a purchase, and made the five hour drive. I had my wife and kids with me, and she had married the bartender. Nice reunion, but the fact that she agreed to sell the ax for $300 was priceless.

Thanks 'Yo for the memories.....

Jaimie Muehlhausen said...

Hey I went to school in Stillwater just before that in the early '80s. I probably knew the bartender. Cause that's where I spent my time. Damn wish I had a coney right about now.

Anonymous said...

I have an Alvarez 5058, appears to be the same thing only a different inlay on the headstock. Got it in the early 80's at a local music store. Don't play much now, though my son is a player & uses it frequently. Got it because a friend had one, when I saw it in the music store I decided to get it, didn't really know how unique it was until the past few years. Still sounds good & plays great!

Anonymous said...

i have one for sale.great condition .contact me joemillwood75@yahoo for details.it should go quick if anyone is interested

The Odell Family said...

I bought my DY58 9 string in Tulsa,OK back in the fall of 1979...I used the heck out of it for ten years. My college roommate loved mine so much he purchased one the next day after I brought mine back to the dorm room. I obtained his 20 years later and still have both of them to this day...mine is beat to heck but still sounds great...his is in perfect condition!

Anonymous said...

I was intrigued by the Alvarez 9 string that was in the guitar shop I frequented as a kid in the early '80's. I picked it off the wall and played it many times, but realized it would be a great second acoustic- I really needed a six string since I could afford only one.

Same shop had the rare Alvarez Yairi 12 over 6 double neck acoustic, which my band mate ended up buying. I played it during band practice and on stage a few times.

Both were really cool guitars, I wish I had both of them around now!

Nancy Chandler said...

I have a 1983 DY58 that I bought new while working at a music store after college. It's only seen studio work and the bottom side of the lid. Thinking of selling it but don't know the going price. From the day I got it the pick guard and the bridge came from the factory trying to pull up but I had that repaired. I paid $1500 for it and it's in it's original case.

Nancy Chandler
GypsyHoodoo@aol.com

Anonymous said...

I picked up one of these a few years back. Absolutely love the was this thing plays. I hope I can keep it around for awhile.

Anonymous said...

I have a DY58 that I bought in the 80's with the original case in mint shape and the sound is beautiful. I have 2 other guitars but this has got to be my favorite. I enjoy it and I never thought about selling. No one has ever heard of one around here and they are surprised when I pull it out and play it.

Anonymous said...

Have a 1980 on my workbench right. It came in as a wreck but will leave as a beauty. I LOVE these guitars. Don't know why...I hate 12 strings...