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Sicilian gypsy folk guitar

1568101122

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  • billyshakesbillyshakes NoVA✭✭✭ Park Avance - Dupont Nomade - Dupont DM-50E
    Posts: 1,344

    Same lyre armrest decoration. I was looking at your SVG graphics from the earlier post and wondering where the round circle design was supposed to go, since it didn't show on the black guitar pictures. Now I know.

    AndyW
  • AndyWAndyW Glasgow Scotland UK✭✭✭ Clarinets & Saxes- Selmer, Conn, Buescher, Leblanc et.al. // Guitars: Gerome, Caponnetto, Napoli, Musicalia, Bucolo, Sanchez et. al.
    Posts: 603

    the trick, I guess, is not to have it *too* perfect & machine-made looking, they were relatively quickly & cheaply hand-cut....

    BillDaCostaWilliamsBucobillyshakes
  • ChrisMartinChrisMartin Shellharbour NSW Australia✭✭ Di Mauro x2, Petrarca, Genovesi, Burns, Kremona Zornitsa & Paul Beuscher resonator.
    Posts: 959

    Ok, thats enough, I have serious guitar envy now.

    So why do these turn up in Glasgow? I know the history of the Italian immigrants who settled there, could it be they often had a taste for Italian guitars too?

    Certainly I am not having much luck finding any like that in Australia.

    AndyWBillDaCostaWilliams
  • AndyWAndyW Glasgow Scotland UK✭✭✭ Clarinets & Saxes- Selmer, Conn, Buescher, Leblanc et.al. // Guitars: Gerome, Caponnetto, Napoli, Musicalia, Bucolo, Sanchez et. al.
    edited September 2021 Posts: 603

    my “new” pre-war Stefano Caponnetto is up and playing. Stole some vintage small-spacing tuners from my Bucolo project & added some new collets, lots of work oiling & cleaning up the (olivewood ?) fingerboard, de-sprouting and polishing frets and re-fitting the plastic “mount Etna” fretboard inlays. (I might need to ask @crookedpinky to give it the once-over with his fret-crowning file). a new-old-stock italian tailpiece, set of argentine 11s and a cheap eBay bridge and it’s playing nicely.


    first impressions? it’s big, ugly, loud, and huge!! - scale length 680mm. Never mind DiMauro, the neck is thick enough for Joe DiMaggio. Luckily I have big farmer’s hands, petite Parisian players might struggle. To my ears, the sound doesn’t really have as much manouche-mojo as my Rene Gerome, for e.g., but I’ll need to decide what changes I can make.


    I thought I might be able to flatten and patch the original armrest and pickguard, but gave up and remade them alongside 2 new soundhole rosettes.First time with a jeweller’s saw, I’m fairly pleased with the results, so far. I’ll probably lightly sand down the high-gloss finish on the plastic, it’s far too “new” looking, but the colour is a good match. I’ve not fitted these new parts yet as I’m still seeking best way to stabilise dozens of small loose body inlays. Varnish? Superglue?? Diluted Titebond??? 🤔.


    Video demo soon, here’s a few pics of the remade parts & the state-of-play.



    p.s. I offered the nearby owner up to £400-£500 for his sunburst Caponnetto, based on that one photo I shared earlier in this thread. I thought that seemed reasonable offer for an unknown quantity, but he’s not for telling me what he wants for it or what condition it’s in.

    I might get in contact again, might not. I don’t need two.


    p.p.s. I cannot find a guitar or bass guitar case that will fit it’s 46.5” length and 17.5” lower bout, I’m now considering 4/4 full-size cello bags & cases!

    BillDaCostaWilliamsChrisMartinBucoDigby
  • ChrisMartinChrisMartin Shellharbour NSW Australia✭✭ Di Mauro x2, Petrarca, Genovesi, Burns, Kremona Zornitsa & Paul Beuscher resonator.
    edited September 2021 Posts: 959

    Love that thing and I am impressed with the skill required for making repro parts. That is going to be something special when you get it all finished and no, you do not NEED two, but if I were you I would find it hard to pass up another once you know where it is.

    As an interesting aside to the other thread going right now about differences in sounds between GJ guitars and regular flat tops, these must be closer than most. Yes, historically collectors will argue the merits of Busato v Favino v Selmer and for most GJ players, a modern (and cheaper) copy of either of those from Dupont/Eastman/Eimers/Mazaud or whatever would be the weapon of choice.

    However, remember the original wave of Italian luthiers who migrated to Paris, many of who came from Sicily will have learned their trade from the same basic techniques. But some stayed on the island and these old Sicilians surely are closer to the roots than any modern factory can ever be.

    So whats with Lampedusa's leopard, you are taking your Sicilian history studies seriously then.....

    billyshakesAndyW
  • AndyWAndyW Glasgow Scotland UK✭✭✭ Clarinets & Saxes- Selmer, Conn, Buescher, Leblanc et.al. // Guitars: Gerome, Caponnetto, Napoli, Musicalia, Bucolo, Sanchez et. al.
    edited September 2021 Posts: 603

    The famous realist author Giovanni Verga was born just outside Catania - his mother was Caterina Di Mauro, quite possibly the same family as the luthiers Joseph and Antoine Di Mauro, who’re well-kent names on Djangobooks. :-)

    Another DiMauro is an exponent of the Sicilian baroque tradition, a decorator of the famous “carretti”, the beautiful, ornately decorated donkey & horse carts that are still seen (and illegally raced, to the annoyance of some and profit of others) on the streets of Catania today. The southern versions of the Reinhardt’s gypsy wagons, if you like..

    Here’s Domenico Benadetto Di Mauro, aged 103.

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=1e-xn8lh83c

    BucoWillie
  • ChrisMartinChrisMartin Shellharbour NSW Australia✭✭ Di Mauro x2, Petrarca, Genovesi, Burns, Kremona Zornitsa & Paul Beuscher resonator.
    Posts: 959

    A good chance the families do share some common ancestors then, gee, that old guy is quite an artist; I guess that will be another unique craft that will disappear with the old folks.

    Anyway, an excuse for some gratuitous photos of my Di Mauros.


    BucorudolfochristWillieAndyWBillDaCostaWilliamsbillyshakes
  • AndyWAndyW Glasgow Scotland UK✭✭✭ Clarinets & Saxes- Selmer, Conn, Buescher, Leblanc et.al. // Guitars: Gerome, Caponnetto, Napoli, Musicalia, Bucolo, Sanchez et. al.
    edited September 2021 Posts: 603

    nice collection of DiMauros, Chris. With a house full of vintage 12 fretters, I’m hankering after that 14 fret “Saint Louis Blues”

    .

    I’ve a couple of tidbits on Stefano Caponnetto & Vicenzo Miroglio.

    Firstly, a current italian eBay listing for an attractive Caponnetto guitar being sold in its place of manufacture, Catania in sicily.

    It states that (Stefano) Caponnetto was a student/apprentice of (Francesco) Olivieri. It seems plausible, but I hadn’t seen that info before.

    it’s currently listed under “Chitarra Antica Catanese Caponnetto” & he’s asking 1000 euros. hmmm. here’s a pic.


    secondly, a google search threw up an old trade magazine advert placed by Miroglio

    .........…………

    “Foreign Commerce Weekly - Volume 62 - No 1 - Page 13 - 1959”:

    Musical Instruments Italy 

    Vincenzo MIROGLIO & FIGLI ( manufacturer , exporter ) , 60 Passo di Aci , Catania , Sicily , wishes to export monthly direct or through agent 600 standard and luxury - quality stringed musical instruments including guitars , mandolins , banjos , ukuleles, and violins . WTD 7/13/59 .

    ...............

    that’s a large number of instruments to export per month - the puzzle for me is that it’s rare to see any large workshop premises or addresses for V Miroglio (& Figli) at any point from 1930s - 1960s.

    That Passo di Aci reference in this export trade gazette is the only street address I’ve ever seen for the company.

    in comparison, S Caponnetto had, at one point, 4 adjacent workshop premises,(Via Petriera, 45-51, still visible today) and another two business adresses for storage / offices. I might be tempted to think that Miroglio was mostly involved in export and retail, including some relabelling, while Caponnetto (amongst others) had the workshops where a lot of the exported instruments were made.

    -A-

    BucoWilliebillyshakes
  • ChrisMartinChrisMartin Shellharbour NSW Australia✭✭ Di Mauro x2, Petrarca, Genovesi, Burns, Kremona Zornitsa & Paul Beuscher resonator.
    Posts: 959

    Thanks AndyW

    I for one appreciate your ongoing research into these Catanian luthiers. There is little known, and much unknown, about who worked for who and where and when.

    Certainly it is easier to find info about Stefano Caponetto violins than guitars, and many violin sources suggest he seems to have been most active between 1920 and 1940 yet there are many guitars known to be from the 1950s; so, do we guess he gave up the former to concentrate on the latter? Or simply supply and demand changed after the war?. The only other addresses I found for Caponetto, and I guess you are referring to, are at via Alfonso Borello and via Castromarino. In Caponetto's case the only name mentioned is Stefano, do you know of any other family, or sons?

    It seems it was common for such luthiers in Catania (or maybe throughout Italy) to pass on the business to their sons, we often see labels Vincenzo Miroglio & Figli and G Puglisi Reale & Figli and of course these could only have been labelled AFTER the succession of the sons. Some were even more specific, Indelicato Contarino handed over to the sons and the labels changed to Fratelli Indelicato probably around the time of WW2. But even Miroglio could not have had the foresight, or arrogance, to presume that one day he would have sons in the future, yet we have seen Miroglio & Figli labels as far back as the 1920s, so it might be the case that Vincenzo goes back to the 19th century and was no longer involved (or even alive) by the 1950s. Another possibility is that although Vincenzo WAS a luthier the sons found it more profitable to wholesale and distribute the work of others. Certainly the history of Catanian luthiery would make a fascinating, and frustrating, research subject for someone - not me ! The only familiar names I could find still active are the Leone Musicalia firm and Rapisarda, although I don't know how many generations along.

    All of which is speculation of course, but I do have first hand experience of Italian record keeping, or lack of. I recently had a book published about a specific Alfa Romeo model and researching sources and records even for the 1970s period was a nightmare.

    At least there is a bit more known about those that did make the move to Paris, the Di Mauros and Castelluccia are well recorded and I have the excellent 'Guitares Jacobacci' and 'Luthiers Guitares d'en France' books which cover a lot of ground.

    Good luck with your ongoing research, I know it must be like trying to push the Queen Mary through a see of Mars bars, but there may yet be the odd piece of info to be dug up.

    AndyWBillDaCostaWilliams
  • AndyWAndyW Glasgow Scotland UK✭✭✭ Clarinets & Saxes- Selmer, Conn, Buescher, Leblanc et.al. // Guitars: Gerome, Caponnetto, Napoli, Musicalia, Bucolo, Sanchez et. al.
    Posts: 603

    cheers, Chris - the other addresses I have for Caponnetto are:

    office: Via Castromarino 50 / 50-52,  and - store: Via Alfonso Borello (sic., actually Borelli) 5-8

    earlier in his career, I think, he had a workshop at Via “Calle” /”Casse” #7 , which I can't find on any map.

    As you say - Rapisarda family still seem to run a music shop at the old workshop address, and Dottore Alfredo Leone's Musikalia company are still making many different instruments.

    Re. Miroglio info, I have this, from some old italian forum somewhere:

    """ The Vincenzo Miroglio Company was founded in 1908 in Catania and continued the business Vincenzo's father, Giuseppe, had founded in 1862. Taking over, the children and grandchildren (the last of whom is Gaetano, born in 1934, no longer active) kept the company alive until a few years ago.

    For nearly 70 years the company was very active commercially, working primarily in the north of Italy and abroad, like dozens and dozens of other Catania-based 'semi-handcraft' luthiers."""

    .....

    Any American readers who might fancy a little winter restoration project could pick up this unlabelled pre-war (?) Caponnetto project currently on eBay US for $90 buy it now: a financially un-viable wreck, but will a new-found Olivieri connection raise interest in the these instruments?? probably not.

    [ listed as "1950s Round Hole Top Jazz Guitar unbranded Italian Import Slot Head " ]

    I'd almost certainly take this on if it was in the UK. That's how the madness starts.

    p.s. Chris, if you come across a Giulietta Spider 750/101 project with a $90 buy-it-now , let me know ;-)

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