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"Guitar Heroes" Exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum, NYC


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Theare a few Strad Amati and Gofriller(?) violins and a couple of Strad guitars and some early italian mandolins.

They are used to tie in the lineage from violins to archtop guitars and mandolins starting in the 1920's by the Gibson Guitar company under the direction of Loyd Loar and continuing on through

Di'Angelico, Di'Aquisto, Monteleone. I would say it's a major show with 20 or so guitars and mandolins by each of these makers...(more than 60 or 70 instruments).

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  • 2 weeks later...

I finally got over to the Met this weekend and checked out the exhibit. I was so happy to finally get a good view of the Mets Strads in the round (almost completely unobscured in tall glass cases - no pictures allowed since they are selling books. I will ask permission to take photos later in the month).

There was also an awesome Strad guitar... beautiful thing. It was great to see lots of the baroque instruments standing on their own (usually in front view cases only in the instruments section).

While the bulk of the show focuses on NY guitar makers the opening has a nice collection of bowed instruments.

It was really interesting to see an experienced guitar makers number 1 violin (and only one ever made)... could use some touch up. There was also the notorious plastic violin and guitar!

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I just love those old arch tops and jazz boxes. They're guitar equivalents to vintage cars like Duesenbergs and Bugattis.

One of my colleagues who makes cellos and basses during the day makes archtop guitars on the side. I was really surprised at how much better his guitars could be heard in a jam session in comparison with expensive flat tops. Even when just playing rhythm, you can hear every string, and the whole group doesn't have to quiet down for breaks as they have to do with even the best flattop guitars. Archtops were developed to be heard in a jazz band, and they do that very well. I'm becoming an aficionado.

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Rokovak: I am getting the impression they are maybe more like the Lambourghinis and Ferarris of the guitar world.

Iburkard: Fun facts in case you didn't know: I believe it was here in the Maestronet Library that I read that Paganini, along with playing violin, also played guitar. Also John D'Angelico and the later maker in the show, John Monteleone, also built a some violins.

Nonado: I've no doubt what you say is true. I live a couple of blocks from the Met so I've been back a couple of times and am learning more about the whole realm of that particular lineage of Italian makers. Worthy of note is that the later 2 makers D'Aquisto and Monteleone were also building flat tops and incorporating aspects of archtops into them. I think in the "70's and 80's when the archtop guitars weren't popular at all they would laugh about people who asked them: "Are these guitars good for blues, folk, classical, flatpicking etc?" They would just say they are good for playing music, and didn't have it all broken down. They were plainly high functioning instruments capable of many different tonal colors. Interesting...I went back to see guitarist Woody Mann play at one of the demos. He owns a small flat top (smaller than a dreadnought) built by John Monteleone. What was interesting to me was, depending on how he played it, it had all kinds of tonal colors (similar to how people describe great violins). The low strings had a lot of bass that reminded me of a dreadnought (Martin, Gibson etc). When he wanted, the midrange could be sweet, or have some growl and projection like an archtop and then he could also get a very accurate (to me) classical sound. Along with your point about archtops, my question at this point is whether or not these newer high quality flat tops represent an new(?) design technology and are being overlooked by all the guitarists looking for the perfect, specialised, vintage American guitars, when these guitars can do the same thing and then a whole lot more. Then again...I guess some of it has to do with IMAGE....too bad if that's the case.

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