The Bionic Gypsy Guitar? Can we (re)build her?

bluemovesbluemoves New
edited September 2020 in Archtop Eddy's Corner Posts: 50

I'm looking for opinions from makers, luthiers, experts (lend me your years..?!)

Let's suppose I have access to a fine violin maker who's willing to have a crack at a 'Hacc'aferri... (my dad, yo!)

(He also has copious experience in taking apart and repairing sensitive instruments)

His having years of experience making extremely fine, sought after and well-loved instruments in the violin family - including ‘cellos - BUT having no moulds or other ‘jig'-type things relevant to 'maccaferri-style' guitar making, caused me to think along the following lines:

Consider the lowly cheap n' nasties: The Stagg, The Aeirsi, The SX etc.

What, EXACTLY, is it that makes them so bad?

My intuitive sense is that it must come down MAINLY to the ’Top’ (poor materials, poor construction, too-heavy bracing that doesn't allow the soundboard to sing properly.. etc.) - and, that things like the back, sides, neck material, headstock style, relative cheapness or expensiveness of the tailpiece and machines, play little (if any) part in the beloved characteristic SOUND of manouche guitars.. 

Am I broadly correct?

Obviously - should it need to be said - my goal is THE SOUND, I couldn't give a rat's a** what it looks like..

(He can make and has made (and fretted and fitted) excellent rosewood fingerboards in the past so that part is not an issue either, nor is the bridge.)

To get to MY QUESTION:

Any reason NOT to just buy an 'El Cheapo’ (for the 'bits' - and to save him having to make tools to make sides etc.) - and hand-craft an excellent Top/Soundboard and fingerboard for her??

Your thoughts please, gurus!


  • BonesBones Moderator
    Posts: 3,320

    Neck angle is really important. If you make a top with a pliage or one with a dome you will need to have the proper neck angle to get the correct bridge height. So if your donor guitar has the wrong neck angle you will have to remove it and reset the angle which is a VERY advanced repair tech skill and a lot of work but doable.

    If you are going to all that work I'd do a pliage.

  • Lango-DjangoLango-Django Niagara-On-The-Lake, ONModerator
    edited September 2020 Posts: 1,858

    This sounds like a fun project, and you can likely get a really customized rosette, if you want... anyway, that’s what I would do, I love cool rosettes.

    Or alternately, you even could go with F-holes like my little 2013 Castellucia...

    Good luck and look forward to hearing the end result...


    Paul Cezanne: "I could paint for a thousand years without stopping and I would still feel as though I knew nothing."

    Edgar Degas: "Only when he no longer knows what he is doing does the painter do good things.... To draw, you must close your eyes and sing."

    Georges Braque: "In art there is only one thing that counts: the bit that can’t be explained."
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