The Castelluccia family has constructed Gypsy guitars for three generations, making them the oldest continually running Gypsy guitar manufacturer in France. The shop was founded by Jean-Baptiste Castelluccia, an Italian immigrant who was one of many of the skilled Italian luthiers to arrive in Paris during the early 20th Century. The shop is now lead by Jean-Baptiste's grandson, who is also named Jean-Baptiste, and continues to build the unique Gypsy models of his grandfather as well as more conventional Selmer copies. With nearly a century of collective experience, the Castelluccia shop continues to build some of the best sounding and most affordable Gypsy guitars made in France. As the market for Castelluccias built in the 50s and 60s has heated up over the years, it's wonderful to have the option of buying a brand new Castelluccia at almost half the cost of what the vintage ones goes for.
The Menilmontant D hole model is JB Castellucia's hommage to the distinctive D hole design of his grandfather. It features a high grade European spruce top, unusually highly figured Indian rosewood back and sides (looks more like Brazilian than Indian!), and a walnut neck with a Selmer style grafted headstock. This instrument is fitted with a set of Schaller tuners and Castelluccia's own JC tailpiece. The high grade woods and hardware found on this instrument are rarely found on French made guitars under $3K, making this instrument an exceptional deal for someone looking for luxurious features at a budget price.
Notable design features include gently rounded binding which adds additional comfort by not pressing into your body like more conventional binding does as well as a four brace top (a design feature made famous by Django's own Selmer 503 which also had only four top braces.) The #1 brace is particularly wide and sturdy, a design feature found in the vintage instruments built by Jacques Castelluccia. Additionally, the bridge includes a replaceable ebony saddle, a feature rarely found on Selmer style bridges which are normally fashioned from one piece of solid wood.
The sound of this instrument is quite remarkable, especially considering the price! Castelluccia's deep experience in building Gypsy guitars is most evident in the strong voiced, traditional tone that his guitars produce. This instrument has the very dry, clear, chimey tone that is so reminiscent of the best instruments of the "Golden Age" of French luthiery. Unlike many other contemporary builders, Castelluccia cuts to the chase by giving you the classic, crisp, Gypsy tone without any unnecessary sonic fluff. Lead lines project nicely with plenty of bite and a nice bit of attitude. Chords are crunchy and powerful, just the way the Gypsies like it! Jean-Baptiste did a wonderful job of avoiding the overly bass heavy and reverby sound that plagues so many D hole guitars. This instrument does have some of the thicker bass and fuller mids you'd expect from a D hole, but is still very well balanced with excellent projection and definition.
This superb instrument is one of the rare opportunities to buy a French made Gypsy guitar from a notable luthier for under $3K. This beautiful, yet very practical instrument is a dream come true for the hardworking player who needs an exceptional instrument at an affordable price. We can all thank Jean-Baptiste for making these fabulous guitars available at good prices!
|Sound Hole||D Hole|
|Fret Neck||14 Fret|
|Nut Width||1 3/4"|
|Back and Sides||Indian Rosewood|
|Tuners||Schaller Three on a Plate|