Montuoro Guitar Co.
Montuoro guitars are handcrafted from the finest available materials. Each guitar is priced in accordance to its specific design, ornamentation etc. These are exclusive instruments built to your specifications, built in accordance to the construction techniques used by the Larson Brothers of Chicago. It is hard to nail down a standard price since no two instruments are alike. Please contact me for specific pricing information.
To inquire about an instrument please contact Frankie Montuoro at email@example.com
I am pleased to offer 8 different styling’s of guitar that can be matched to 7 different lower bout dimensions and 10 different body silhouettes (i.e. Larson, Gibson, Martin etc) and sizes, in either a 12-fret slotted headstock or a 14-fret solid headstock If there is a specific body shape from a specific guitar you would like, just ask. All styles are "Built Under Tension" with a 650mm scale length. I can help you to find a guitar that fits your needs, and custom orders are always welcome. I am a "maker" rather than "manufacturer".
(Lower bout widths)
A note about the bodies listed below: I am offering 10 different body shapes that coincide with these dimensions, meaning that the molds of the guitars listed below are based off of a variety of historic instruments I have come across. Most of the body shapes that are commonly used have been standardized. Your basic varieties of sizes are 0 / 00/ 000 / 0000 / Dreadnought / Slope and Jumbo for 12 and 14 fret guitars. I offer a variety of these, including the not so commonly seen 16" or 17" Euphonons. Please be clear as to what body shape you desire.
1) Grand Concert: 14-5/8"
2) Auditorium 12 Fret: 15-1/8"
3) Auditorium 14 Fret: 15-1/8"
4) Dreadnought 12 or 14 Fret: 15-5/8"
5) Slope Shoulder 12 or 14 Fret: 15-5/8"
6) Jumbo 14 Fret: 16-1/8"
7) Grand Jumbo 14 Fret: 17-1/8"
Body Depth Neck to Tail
I build two different body depths. The first depth is what is commonly seen in most 00- or 000-sized guitars. The second is just shy of what you will find in most Dreadnought- or Jumbo-sized guitars. For instruments based off the Larson school of design the body is most often body depth #1, listed below. This depth can be found on Larson instruments with a lower bout width as large as 17". It is after all an aspect of the design. Building at this depth is vital to the character of Larson-inspired guitars. It is important to note this if you are expecting your guitar to be built as close as possible to these historic instruments.
Generally the shallower depth #1 is most suitable for finger style playing, whereas the depth #2 is most suitable to attain the driving power of a Dreadnought or for that darker, deeper sound. Depth #2 is rare in a Larson-style guitar, seen only on a few of their Dreadnoughts and Euphonon-made guitars, creating a gigantic and brilliant-sounding instrument and making the guitar larger overall. This depth may not appeal to the finger stylist. The guitar's depth is a very important aspect to your build and will be solidified at the time of the order.
Body Depth #1: 3.313" to 4.125" or 3-5/16" to 4-1/8"
Body Depth #2: 3.750" to 4.750" or 3-3/4" to 4-3/4"
I offer three different nut widths, listed from narrow to wide below.
Nut Width #1: 1.688" or 1-11/16" Narrow ( Normally found on mid to late
1930's Larson made guitars )
Nut Width #2: 1.750" or 1-3/4" Finger-style ( Normally found on many great
pre-war 12 fret guitars )
Nut Width #3: 1.813" or 1-13/16" Wide ( Normally found on many of the
earliest made gut or steel string guitars )
Bridge String Spacing
I use three different bridge spacing listed from narrow to wide below.
Bridge Spacing #1: 1.130" or 2-1/8" ( Used on 14 fret necks only that have
nut width #1 )
Bridge Spacing #2: 2.313" or 2-5/16" ( Used on 12 &14 fret necks that have
nut widths #2 or #3 )
Bridge Spacing #3: 2.375" or 2-3/8" ( Used on 12 fret necks that have
nut width #3 )
Please Note: The styles that are listed below represent instruments built in the same cosmetic fashion as Larson built guitars, i.e. assortments of colorful wood marquetry and pearl purflings. As an example, 14 fret guitars get the Euphonon style headstock shape rather than the square C.F. Martin & Co. style paddle headstock. The marquetry that goes into a Larson fashioned guitar is generally far more ornate than most of the pre-war flat tops. Even on what might be considered a basic model, the purflings are almost always multi-colored wood bound with ivroid and include a fancy back strip. The rosettes are far more ornate, including sound holes bound with ivroid.
I build all guitars "under tension". I want to remark that building guitars "under tension" is not a Larson invention. It is a character that has been alive and well throughout the history of building musical instruments and furniture. This includes an X brace pattern using premium Red Spruce. The tops on all guitars except Styles 3 & 4 are always Red Spruce. If you want a guitar that has that "Larson" sound, but you are not concerned with too much ornamentation consider my Style 3 and Style 4 guitars. The Style 3 is Mahogany and the Style 4 is Indian Rosewood. These guitars will not have fancy wood or pearl marquetry and inlay. They are similar in ornamentation to what you would find on many fine pre-war built guitars. Also, the 14 fret guitars have the Euphonon style headstock without binding. Slotted headstocks will remain the same. Rest assured that the overall construction (i.e. bracing design etc) will not change on any instrument. Everything is finely crafted, one at a time.
Style 3: Mahogany back & sides, mahogany neck with ebony veneer, Sitka top, Adirondack bracing, front and back edges bound with ivroid, end graft of ivroid, unbound ebony fingerboard with pearl dots, ebony bridge with ivroid or ebony pins, no back stripe, Waverly tuners and custom case:
Style 4: Indian Rosewood back & sides, mahogany neck with ebony veneer, Sitka top, Adirondack bracing, front and back edges bound with ivroid, end graft of ivroid, unbound ebony fingerboard with pearl dots, ebony bridge with ivroid or ebony pins, no back stripe, Waverly tuners and custom case:
Style 5: Select mahogany body, mahogany neck with ebony veneer, Adirondack top, wood purfling and ivroid bound sound hole, front and back edges bound with ivroid, top edges inlaid with fancy wood purfling, ebony fingerboard with pearl dots, ebony bridge with ivroid pins, inlaid fancy wood back stripe, Waverly tuners and custom case.
Style 6: Select Indian Rosewood body, mahogany neck with ebony veneer, Adirondack top, wood purfling and ivroid bound sound hole, front and back edges bound with ivroid, top edges inlaid with fancy wood purfling, ebony fingerboard bound with ivroid, fancier group #2 of pearl fingerboard markers, ebony bridge with ivroid pins, inlaid back stripe, Waverly tuners and custom case.
Style 7: Select Brazilian rosewood body, mahogany neck with ebony veneer, Adirondack top, wood purfling and ivroid bound sound hole, front and back edges bound with ivroid, top edges inlaid with fancy wood purfling, ebony fingerboard bound with ivroid, fancier group #3 pearl fingerboard markers, ebony bridge inlaid with pearl and ivroid pins, inlaid back stripe, Waverly tuners and custom case.
Style 8: Select Brazilian rosewood body, mahogany neck with ebony veneer and "Floral Fall" abalone headstock inlay, Adirondack top with Adirondack bracing, green abalone purfling and ivroid bound sound hole, front and back edges bound with ivroid, top edges inlaid with green abalone purfling, ebony fingerboard bound with ivroid, fancier group #4 pearl fingerboard markers, ebony bridge inlaid with pearl and ivroid pins accented with pearl, inlaid back stripe, select Waverly tuners and custom case.
Style 8 Special Solo: Select Brazilian rosewood body, mahogany neck with ebony veneer and "Floral Fall" abalone headstock inlay, European Spruce Soundboard with laminated Brazilian rosewood X-brace. red abalone purfling and ivroid bound sound hole, front and back edges bound with ivroid, top edges inlaid with red abalone purfling, ebony fingerboard bound with ivroid, fancier group #4 pearl fingerboard markers, ebony bridge inlaid with pearl and ivroid pins accented with pearl, inlaid back stripe, select Waverly tuners and custom case.
Style 9 The Elaborate: Select Brazilian rosewood, mahogany neck with ebony veneer and "Double Floral Fall" abalone headstock inlay, European Spruce Soundboard, All top braces are laminated with Brazilian rosewood, red abalone purfling and ivroid bound sound hole, front and back edges bound with ivroid, top edges inlaid with red abalone purfling, ebony fingerboard bound with ivroid and fanciest inlay group #5 "Tree of Life" in beautiful pearl, ebony bridge inlaid with pearl and ivroid pins accented with pearl, inlaid back stripe, select Wavely tuners and custom case.
I can build whatever you may desire, but these styles represent a line of instruments that I truly cherish, in both aesthetic and design. They are beautiful shadows from the past and some of the most distinctive guitars you will ever see.
There is no reason to go into the details surrounding Brazilian Rosewood. Anyone reading this is well aware of it. Be aware that I only have a limited supply of this material. As of 2008 I will only be making guitars out of Brazilian Rosewood that are a Style 8, Style 8 Special Solo & Style 9, in either 12 or 14 frets. If you are looking to substitute Brazilian Rosewood, you have the option of Indian Rosewood. Indian Rosewood is a marvelous sounding material. However, it sounds nothing like Brazilian Rosewood in my opinion. If you are looking for the sound of Brazilian Rosewood, look no further than Honduran Rosewood. In many ways it can be far superior to Brazilian Rosewood, especially in its stability. Honduran is a bit denser than Brazilian Rosewood. Sonically you would have a very hard time differentiating between the two. The sound that Honduran Rosewood delivers is the same quality that causes us to love guitars made out of Brazilian Rosewood. Many of the finest guitar makers in the world claim Honduran superior to Brazilian Rosewood. If you have never heard or played a finely made Honduran Rosewood guitar, you will be astonished when you do. Both Indian Rosewood & Honduran Rosewood guitars have a reduced price point. Please email me for information.
Quarter sawn Honduran Mahogany is used for the necks, for back and side material and for neck and tail blocks. Mahogany offers the most universally accepted sound of an acoustic guitar. It can be really warm and bright at the same time, with a distinctive snap to its sound. Many even prefer it over Brazilian Rosewood. Although not as robust as Rosewood, the mellow alternative is quite nice. Most Doc Watson and Clarence White records were cut with Mahogany guitars. Also, Mahogany is the most cost effective material for a traditionally made guitar.
Premium Hawaiian Koa is used for back & sides. Koa exhibits a tonal quality that reminds me of a combination between Mahogany and Maple. It is porous, like Mahogany, but has a more reflective tonal quality. Koa can be used for the soundboard material as well. They make truly stunning guitars in every way. Interest in a Koa made guitar please emails me for info.
Premium European Maple is used for back & sides, bridge plates, necks or, at special request, as brace material. Maple is the traditional choice for the violin family of instruments, as well as for arch top guitars. Maple has a highly reflective sound. It's no mystery as to why violin makers use it. It makes amazing sounding guitars too. Think of huge sounding J-200's. High flame on Maple also makes it visually stunning. Interest in a Maple made guitar please emails me for info.
African Ebony is used for fingerboards, head-plates, bridges & bridge pins. Ebony is becoming more expensive every day especially for high quality Madagascar material. I prefer the sound of ebony over Rosewood for fingerboards and bridges. Ebony is most often seen in high end traditional guitars. It can also be used for nuts. An ebony nut will mellow the guitar's tone.
Style 3 & Style 4 guitars - Sitka Spruce is used. "Bear Claw Sitka" at request.
Style 5, Style 6, Style 7 & Style 8 - Adirondack Red Spruce is used.
Style 8 Special Solo 16 & Style 9 - European White Spruce is used.
Please note that most builders charge an upwards of $750 to $1000 extra for an Adirondack Spruce soundboard, and even higher prices for European Spruce soundboards. The material used by the Montuoro Guitar Co. is premium aged stock, and you won't have to pay extra for Red Spruce on Style 5 through Style 9 guitars!
Spruce Brace Wood
Premium quarter sawn Adirondack Red Spruce on each and every guitar.
Rosewood or Maple is sandwiched between Adirondack Red Spruce. You will find laminated braces on the Style 8 Special Solo and Style 9 guitars only. Laminating anything makes it stronger. It is a personal preference, whether or not you feel laminated braces have a superior tonal quality over non laminated braces. I feel it adds something different to the guitar, creating more power and sustain. Some deeper low-end frequencies are removed, while increasing the middle and higher frequencies.
Five piece necks laminated with Rosewood, Maple & Mahogany. Laminated necks are included on Style 8 Special Solo or Style 9 guitars only, in either 12 or 14 fret configurations. The laminations are a thin center line of Maple sandwiched between two slightly thicker Rosewood lines, with the outsides being made of Mahogany.
Single Piece Necks
Premium quarter sawn Honduran Mahogany.
This is always a great point of contention. I will not go into boring diatribe. This is my feeling: when trying to capture the sound of a vintage guitar in a modern build, the only way to get as close as possible is to not change anything from the original recipe! The end… If you want an adjustable truss rod in your guitar I will gladly oblige. The truss rod will be installed for adjustment through the sound hole. It is a double action rod that works very well. I have made finding the truss rod nut incredibly easy.
If you want the closest interpretation to a historic build as possible, the guitar should not have an adjustable truss rod. Choose instead a non adjustable truss rod or neck stabilizer. Throughout history, the three materials listed below have been the most widely accepted and used. To preserve antiquity, graphite and the likes are not listed.
#1: Ebony ( C.F. Martin & Co. )
#2: Maple ( Larson Bros. )
#3: Steel ( C.F. Martin & Co. or Larson Bros. ) The Larson Bros rarely
used steel in the neck except in the early to late 1930's Euphonon,
Prairie State guitars etc.
With all of the patents that the Larson Bros obtained for reinforcement of steel string guitars, it's amazing that their research did not lead them to create even one guitar with an adjustable truss rod imbedded in the neck. I would have to imagine they pondered it. Or maybe they felt that it was unnecessary and that it possibly detrimentally affected the guitar's tone? Old single action rods "ala" Gibson are usually seized and frozen. Last but not least, C.F. Martin & Co. went 152 years before they started using adjustable truss rods...Something to think about.
Spruce Blocks & Kerf Lining
Premium Spruce kerf lining on each guitar.
Premium Spruce kerf lining, neck & tail blocks on Style 8 Special Solo &
Ivroid binding is used to trim the outside edges of the guitar. It is also used to bind the fingerboard, headstock, lip of the sound hole and as end graft & heel cap material. Ivroid represents the closest material available today to the material used on historic guitars. It has a creamy ivory visual appeal to it.
Purflings of Pearl and Wood
Purfling is the material sandwiched between the top's edge and the outside layer of binding. I utilize a combination of wood and pearl around the edges & rosettes of Style 8's and above. I use wood purfling around the edges & rosettes on Styles 7's and lower.
The inlay combinations I offer vary from extremely plain and simple to very ornate representations of historic guitars. On Style 3 & 4 I use pearl dots only. Style 5, 6, 7, 8, 8 Special Solo & 9 the guitars are paired with exact representations of historically used designs. But you can mix and match any combination you would like.
Group 1: "Star" engraved in white pearl.
Group 2: "Clover" in white pearl.
Group 1: Montuoro Guitar Co. pearl dot inlay at 3, 5 & 7th frets.
Group 2: Multi pearl dot inlay at 3, 5, 7, 10, 12 & 15th frets.
Group 3: Combination of fancy pearl markers (i.e "bow ties") and pearl dots at 3, 5, 7, 10, 12, 15 & 17th frets.
Group 4: White pearl squares at 3, 5, 7, 9, 12 & 15th frets.
Group 5: "Tree of Life" in mixed pearl covering entire fingerboard length.
Group 1: No headstock inlay.
Group 2: "Torch" style in white pearl.
Group 3: "Floral Fall" style in abalone.
The finish I use is for the most part my little secret. I can't tell you everything. My finish recipe is based on many years of research - trial and error. I will tell you this much - it is of the evaporative varnish family. It's a historically accurate formula that yields the most striking vintage patina while being thin enough to not interfere with tone. I utilize special pigments to achieve the warmest possible color on soundboards. This effect really adds to the instrument's handmade appeal.
Note* Please keep in mind this type of finish is not like a modern day lacquer finish. It still is of course a high quality finish just an aesthetic variation. Since no vinyl type sealers are utilized during my finish process you will see a bit more grain line and shrinkage especially along wood purflings. The finish will get dull, can wrinkle or become damaged much faster than a lacquer finish. Great care is taken to make sure that just the right amount of finish is applied. Encasing a guitar in lacquer is not protocol for me. When hand building is concerned. And for that reason I do not use lacquer as a base ever. I do however spray two very thin coats of lacquer last to act as a protective barrier supplying the finish with more resistance to you and the elements then a complete French polish would. I have found this works really great. It does not affect tone when used in this fashion. The finish on these instruments is a spirit based varnish and should be cared for as such. Either way the end result is an instrument that may by modern standards have some imperfections and considered inferior. Such as the patina and small amount of exposed grain etc. But that’s based on factory production environments. But on the other hand the trade off for the dynamic range and tonal difference helps make up for it. I have had no complaints yet.
I use two different sizes of T frets. The first frets listed were used in many historic guitars but are on the smaller side - actually the same size used on mandolins. The second sets of frets listed are a bit larger and have been used prominently with many manufacturers since the early 1930's to the present.
Fret-wire 1: .053" wide x .037" tall (Larson Bros. on most everything except mid to late 1930's guitars)
Fret-wire 2: .078" wide x .040" tall (C.F.Martin & Co. since 1934)
This is an important aspect to your build and will be solidified at the
time of the order.
Waverly's are my choice for higher end models Gotoh for the rest with either nickel or ivroid oval button. On slotted headstocks I use 3-on-a-plate either engraved Wavely's with either nickel or ivroid oval button or Blazer & Henkes reproductions. If you prefer gold tuners or would like to select a different style tuner button please email me for info.
They are black tolex with green interior, 7 layer ply, soft leather handle etc. All cases come hand-branded with the Montuoro logo affixed next to the handle, on a piece of leftover spruce from your soundboard material.