I just bought a new Dell'Arte from Alain Cola down in San Diego. I live in Los Angeles, and while I was tempted many times to buy a guitar online, I wanted to play it before I bought it. I bought a guitar from Alain before and had a great experience, and this was no different. The hardest part is deciding which one to buy. I played a dozen or so Hommages, and really liked a studio model with a cedar top, as it already sounded broken in, but eventually I came home with a Favino size Angelo Debarre model (oval hole, european spruce top, solid koa back and sides, walnut neck, with bigtone pickup).
The bigtone was what sold me on the guitar, as it sounded great through Alain's AER, as well as through my AE/RE combo and my friend's Unico. This is my first bigtone, so I admit I am not experienced with these, but to me it sounds really natural and NON-quacky. Obviously it's still a piezo and can't compare to a good condenser mic but I am really happy with it. I have read some negative comments on this forum about bigtone's and Dell'Artes in general, but Alain told me that they recently switched to a different element in the bigtone. I installed a K&K pure maccaferri in my old guitar which I thought sounded good at low-medium volumes, but would feedback and sound unnatural at higher volumes. Now with the Bigtone I can get good tone at high volumes. I also recently began using the AT Pro 70 in conjunction with the bigtone for more natural highs.
Anyway, I'm really happy with my new guitar which is already starting to open up a bit. It sounds, plays, and looks great. I must admit that the transition from a Selmer to a Favino copy was a little more difficult than I expected, with the wider neck and the difference in sound. It's weird how you get used to a guitar, but I'm really liking the Favino sound.