In the late 1960’s, St. Louis Music's founder, Gene Kornblum, met Kazuo Yairi, a Master Luthier in Japan who produced handmade concert classical guitars. Together, St. Louis Music and the Yairi factory started to design and develop steel string acoustic guitars and imported them into the United States. The guitars took the brand name of St. Louis Music's Spanish guitar line “Alvarez”. Similar instruments were also sold under the factory brand of “K. Yairi” in Europe and other parts of the world.[2]

While many of its models are produced in China, the top-tier Alvarez-Yairi instruments are handmade at the Yairi factory in Kani, Gifu-Japan, part of the legacy of Kazuo Yairi, the late master luthier.[8] Every Alvarez guitar undergoes a full set up and inspection in their guitar shop in St. Louis, Missouri. [9]