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Mystery Pierre Fontaine Guitar?

Hello all, new member of the forum community here. I recently acquired a Pierre Fontaine D-hole that is (very clearly) used. Despite all the physical/aesthetic issues with the instrument and the warping of the top, it still plays surprisingly well and delivers a very full tone. It is even supposedly signed by Frank Vignola on the back of the headstock (no way to confirm this, but I can't imagine why someone would fake his signature, especially on a Gypsy guitar). There is one issue with it: I have no clue what it is. I know it is a Pierre Fontaine model, but I have no clue of the age of the instrument or if there is any way to figure it out. I've researched his guitars and have not been able to find anything similar to the color of this one, and this leads me to believe it may have been re-stained which is a shame. The bridge doesn't appear to be original either as I can see the slight silhouette of a larger bridge that used to be above the new one. Likewise, the black tail-piece seems a bit odd as it is not the traditional brass. It has no truss rod (not sure if they are a standard feature on this type of guitar anyway). The fret board is 14 frets at the body, and it has a zero fret. Again, no clue if there is any way to figure out when this was made or if the top stain is original, but it has a lot of character and I quite like the roughness of it. It makes it seem a lot older than it probably is, but it's a welcome aesthetic. If anybody has any way of aiding me in figuring out when this guitar was made or the model, I would be very thankful. Thanks everybody!

-Tim


Buco
«1

Comments

  • Chris MartinChris Martin Shellharbour NSW Australia✭✭ Petrarca, Catelluccia, Bucolo, Martino, Hofner, Hoyer, Burns
    edited June 12 Posts: 535

    I had posted a story about Fontaine in the past, here is the link;

    That was translated literally from the French article by Arnaud Legrand and I deliberately left it that way so while some of the English may seem clumsy I prefer to let the reader decide on the exact meaning of some of it. Having said that from what I could find although Fontaine did indeed make many guitars for various brands it seems only after he set up the Rome Instruments shop on rue de Rome in Paris in 1988 did he start making and selling guitars with his own label, same as on yours. He made his last few guitars in 2011 at the age of 80 (I don't know if he is still with us) but his son Alain carried on the business, also now trading online as guitare-webstore.com. Strangely, although a search for Fontaine on their website shows nothing, they have one listed on their ebay store and it is listed as 'new'. Although it has the typical Fontaine three-piece back other details look a bit cheap and I wonder if they are just using the label now on something made cheap (possibly Asian) and imported similar to the Gallato pretence.

    Yours certainly looks like it has had a hard time, the three-piece back and the label would confirm it as a Pierre Fontaine from between the years 1988 and 2011 but yes, the tailpiece, bridge, repaired patch on the back and the stain all look to have been later modifications, presumably at the hands of a not very sympathetic amateur.

    Still, it all could be repaired and improved, bridges and tailpieces are not hard to come by, but whether you can tackle the rest, or can justify the cost of professional repairs is up to you; bear in mind used Fontaine guitars sell for under $1,000 in Europe.

    Looks like a fun guitar all the same. Good luck.

    Buco
  • tim_dorntim_dorn New
    Posts: 4

    Thanks for the comments, Chris. Yes, your speculations about the guitar only confirm what I believed upon first impression. Glad I got it at a bargain! Still sounds fairly nice regardless. Thanks for the plethora of information, I appreciate the history!

  • juandererjuanderer HoustonNew Manouche Latcho Drom Djangology Koa
    Posts: 96

    Love the figuring on the back and sides!

  • BonesBones Moderator
    Posts: 2,882

    Cool tailpiece. Can you post some more pictures of the tailpiece from other angles? thx

  • crookedpinkycrookedpinky Glasgow✭✭✭✭ Alex Bishop D Hole, Altamira MF01, Godefroy Maruejouls
    Posts: 742

    Personally speaking I hate the tailpiece. Here's some pics from Ebay. They cost about $9 from China.


    Wim Glennconstantine
    always learning
  • tim_dorntim_dorn New
    Posts: 4

    i agree, the tailpiece is personally pretty basic and bland compared to the typical brass tailpiece. It pretty much looks like the one @crookedpinky posted except it is black. Such an odd specimen, its a shame the previous owner didn't give it much love. There was even specks of blue paint on parts of the body that I was able to remove. I got the guitar very cheap and mainly wanted a project guitar so i'm planning on swapping the tailpiece with a more traditional brass piece as well as investing in a larger bridge (its so tiny on this one haha). Thanks for the comments everybody, very active community!

  • crookedpinkycrookedpinky Glasgow✭✭✭✭ Alex Bishop D Hole, Altamira MF01, Godefroy Maruejouls
    Posts: 742

    I have to say the guitar looks like it's got 'mojo'. Can't wait to see it after you've restored it.

    always learning
  • BonesBones Moderator
    Posts: 2,882

    I think the tailpiece would look cool with a wood veneer of some sort in the middle.

    Crooked, can you post a like to where they get them from? thx

  • vanmalmsteenvanmalmsteen Diamond Springs ,CANew Latch Drom F, Paris swing, Altamira m30d , Altimira Mod M
    Posts: 214

    Ahhhh, I kept seeing that on eBay and wondering the same questions myself. Looks like The gypsy sister of Willie Nelson‘s guitar.

    pretty dang awesome!

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