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Stunning Di Donato guitar has beautifully classic lines, modern feel

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November 5, 2011

The Di Donato guitar is hand-crafted in aluminum alloy and tonewoods and features custom p...

The Di Donato guitar is hand-crafted in aluminum alloy and tonewoods and features custom pickups, tap-tested neck and hand-wired electronics

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Whether it's cars, clothing or - in this case - guitars, there's something instantly appealing about Italian design. Combining the well-known tonal properties of aluminum and hardwoods like mahogany and rosewood, the hand-crafted Di Donato guitar is the brainchild of Edoardo DiDonato, who has applied traditional luthier skills used to craft violins, violas and cellos to create an instrument that is both modern and classic at the same time.

As I write, I am listening to Haydn Symphony No.88 Finale by Paul Gilbert (from his 2006 album Get Out of My Yard) and can't help thinking that the classic lines and modern feel of the Di Donato guitar would sit very nicely with this track. Less visually brutal than, but of a similar design to, Michael Spalt's Apex guitars - while also tipping a nod in the direction of ancient Venetian craftsmen - the Di Donato guitar has a cast aluminum alloy skeletal body frame at its heart, upon which the instrument's wooden components are positioned. DiDonato says that the hand-finished metal body is contoured like the soundboard of a violin, which acts to transfer vibrations to and from other parts of the instrument and is of a thickness precisely calculated to enhance specific frequencies.

Guitarist Massimo Varini trying out a Di Donato guitar at the Musica A Fiorano Guitar Fest...

The body-based wooden elements are also shaped by hand and are made from kaya mahogany, korina, alder, or maple that have been chosen - like the aluminum alloy - for their tonal qualities. Like Ulrich Teuffel's Tesla Prodigy creations featured recently, the hand-wound, single-coil pickups - which are said to fall somewhere between a P90 and Jazzmaster and are tuned by ear - are encased in wood. DiDonato is also currently working on a new dual blade humbucker.

The 25-inch scale neck is fashioned from quarter-sawn kaya mahogany, maple or Spanish cedar and topped by a rosewood, maple or pauferro fingerboard that's been "tap-tested" for quality. Ebony dots face upwards and leave the fingerboard blank, except for the frets of course - which have naturally been worked and polished by hand. The neck ends in a small headstock, noticeably lacking in protruding machine heads thanks to ABM headless bridge tuners.

The guitar's volume and tone controls are made from resin, and are joined by a 3-way pickup selector on the lower wooden element. Each instrument is supplied with Elixir Nanoweb (.010 - .046) strings but the beauty of being hand-crafted to order means that each one is not only unique, but can be customized to individual player preferences.

The Di Donato guitar is available direct from the manufacturer and is priced at US$5,500.

About the Author
Paul Ridden While Paul is loath to reveal his age, he will admit to cutting his IT teeth on a TRS-80 (although he won't say which version). An obsessive fascination with computer technology blossomed from hobby into career before the desire for sunnier climes saw him wave a fond farewell to his native Blighty in favor of Bordeaux, France. He's now a dedicated newshound pursuing the latest bleeding edge tech for Gizmag.   All articles by Paul Ridden
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11 Comments

I am not that sure that the resonant qualities of electric guitars actually count for that much, since it is the steel strings vibrating in a magnetic field that actually produce the sound.

The timber can only be graded in terms of acoustically bright - kind of like a drum, or dead kind of like putty - in terms of pulling the vibration energy from the string, some will soak it out quickly and others not so much.

In an accoustic guitar this is VERY important - an electric? - not so much.

There is more magical mystical bullshit like most things surrounding construction materials in electric guitars, than practical reality.

However the finess of a beautifully built instrument, with quality construction and certain characteristics (i.e. the pick ups) has more to do with the playability and sound than which side of the valley the tree was grown upon.

Mr Stiffy
6th November, 2011 @ 07:29 pm PST

Agree with Stiffy. I'll still buy design (and this guitar is brilliant) but its the engineering that makes or breaks the product. Also many guitarists will want somewhere to rest their strumming/picking hand and I fear that the air space below the pickups is it.

Mirmillion
7th November, 2011 @ 07:49 am PST

@ Mr Stiffy,

Different kinds of materials absorb and reflect vibrations differently. And the waves that are reflected by the wood (or other material), have an effect on the strings when they travel back to them. This makes the same electric instrument, sound differently depending on the material that has been used. This behaviour isn't exclusive to the material. The shape of the electric instrument can effect the sound too.

If you where 100% correct, swapping the standard "Squire by Fender" pickups for the Gibson ones, would make my Squire sound like a Gibson. Guess what... Didn't happen. The sound came really close but still it lacked the volume of the Standard Gibson.

Nitrozzy7
7th November, 2011 @ 08:18 am PST

The headline to this piece uses the word "stunning." Yeah, stunningly ugly.

Alan Mudd
7th November, 2011 @ 08:33 am PST

A modern version of Prince's guitar in Purple Rain? No thanks.

Thomas Roberts
7th November, 2011 @ 09:05 am PST

re; Mr Stiffy

It depends on the type of sound pickup that is used.

Slowburn
7th November, 2011 @ 11:30 am PST

THe cord is still in a silly place, and will knocked and bumped and over time crackle and pop with ware, However, a visually stunning guitar. AS We musos know, if we a good, we have our guitars set up as we like, what gauge string, and the effects we love then comes the amp, and that is just personal. The guitar is just one part of the process before we hear the sound.

Paul Perkins
7th November, 2011 @ 12:36 pm PST

Stunning! A masterpiece! This is a true work of art that will also change the face of guitars to come. Hope it sounds as great at it looks. I love the Wood encased pickups. Wish i had not given up learning to play the guitar. IMHO this guitar will make many people just want to pick up a guitar & learn. And should make many want to stow away those gadgets that connect to play stations and get the real thing.

Ooo, this guitar is to make music a sensual private afair, maybe a friend or two. No live show needed. This has made my Monday become a friday. Thanks, now i know why i look to Gizmag for inspiration.

Nantha
7th November, 2011 @ 07:13 pm PST

Just perfect for Si.

Ash Ward
7th November, 2011 @ 08:40 pm PST

As the former Guitar Doctor for Stars Guitars in San Francisco, I'm afraid I must disagree with some of the comments I find here - Material (like size) does matter; especially when it comes to timber (pronounced "tambour") i.e.: "Tonality". The type of materials, their density, mass, location and amount of of them used all make a difference in the sound of the instrument. It is why some players can hear a choral piece being sung in unison as harmony. It's the unique overtones produced by the unique voice boxes of the singers that causes the effect. It's the same with luthier constructs - Material (like size) matters.

Myron J. Poltroonian
6th December, 2011 @ 11:35 am PST

Further to the discussion about different materials having different acoustic properties, the age of the materials makes a big difference too. A 1965 Fender Strat, made with exactly the same materials as a 2010 strat, will sound a lot better, because the sound waves have caused slight changes in the structure of the wood.

goldbugruffid
18th March, 2012 @ 08:11 pm PDT
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