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Benedetto Vignola Models at Mandolin Brothers

MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
I just noticed that Mandolin Brothers has two of the very rare Vignola Model Benedetto guitars for sale. These are a very cool archtop/Selmer hybrid. They are very loud acoustic, louder then just about any archtop I've ever heard. They work very well in an acoustic Gypsy jazz setting which is rare for an archtop. They also play like butter and sound fat when plugged in. Although curiously, these ones were built without pickups. Someone added DeArmonds which is sort of cool.

Check it out:

15-6993.jpg


15-6993 Benedetto (used, c. 2006) (hand made in Corona, CA, USA) Frank Vignola Standard, #164, near mint with original TKL 5-ply faux alligator covered deluxe hard shell case
with a thermometer inside (the humidity-testing portion of that device has gone to hygrometer heaven). We have spoken with Bob Benedetto about these two superb Frank Vignola model guitars. According to Bob Benedetto, the Frank Vignola model has a different body shape, different bridge and tailpiece than other Benedetto guitars. For these models the body lines were chosen as homage to the Selmer Maccaferri. Another difference is that, compared to other models, the top and back were both carved – the neck specs were 1 ¾” at the nut with a 25” scale. There were two models offered: a Standard model that had mahogany back and sides and a Sitka top; and the Deluxe that had European maple sides and back and a European spruce top. Interestingly, not many were made. Guild started making them just at the time that Bob ended his contract with Fender. Here are the production totals for the Frank Vignola models that were produced: there are only 13 made total. Eight of those were the Vignola Deluxe (their serial numbers are: 087, 163, 179, 205, 214, 229, 230, 248. Five were the Vignola Standad Model (serial numbers: 086, 164, 201, 234, 231. That’s not a lot of guitars.

This Standard is the simpler of two versions of this short-lived model. Features include solid mahogany sides, carved back and neck with a magnificent, parallel-grained carved spruce top, a jet black headstock overlay tracing the bell-curve at center top, with a raised, gold, modern script “Benedetto” logo and, other than the ebony truss rod cover held in place by a single recessed screw, nothing else. Its tuners are black chrome Schaller minis with ebony buttons. The fingerboard, which measures 1 ¾” at the nut, is jet black, bound in polished ebony, with an inlaid small Benedetto signature flower at the 12th and running down into the top of the 13th fret. Tasteful? Don’t ask. The pickguard is likewise ebony and both abbreviated yet pointed, the bridge is graceful, pointed at each end of the base and carved beautifully of ebony, the tailpiece is an ebony harp inlaid with the words “Frank” and “Vignola.” Side bindings are tortoise shell colored celluloid, top is decorated with a thin black-white four-ply and the back in three-ply. A black chrome strap button is provided in the vertically challenged ebony heel cap, and there’s one also at the bottom side. F-holes are not f-shaped at all but are more “birdie’s wing” and bound in tortoise. This particular guitar is equipped with an actual DeArmond (Reg. US Patent, Howe Industries, Toledo, OH) burgundy-center floating pickup – the pickup jazz guitarists crave beyond all others. There is no jack on the side – the owner chose to leave the guitar whole and intact with no alteration or penetration. This is the DeArmond that attaches to the strings between bridge and tailpiece – so the guitar remains a virgin. This guitar was “final approved” by Bob Benedetto on 8/25/05; the interior label bears his signature. The sound is smooth and mellow, played acoustic or amplified you may qvell with both pride and promise. $7211 or, at our cash discount price, $6995.



15-6994.jpg

Behold the fancier of two versions of the short-lived Benedetto model, a run of only eight Deluxes were produced. This has a 1 ¾” nut width, a 25” scale, and is equipped with a DeArmond burgundy center floating pickup, one of the finest pickups for jazz as has ever been invented – the type that attaches to the strings below the bridge so that there is no penetration of the guitar. This guitar was “final approved” by Bob Benedetto on 12/15/05; the interior label bears his signature. This is a gorgeous instrument having an ebony headstock overlay bordered in white and bearing the “Benedetto” modern gold script logo and an ebony truss rod cover held in place by one countersunk screw. The ebony fingerboard (with the little flower inlaid at frets 12 and 13) is likewise white purfling contained; the pickguard is small but pointed (like the head referred to on that 1969 Jefferson Airplane album), the bridge is pointed on its base and gracefully carved of ebony, the tailpiece is ebony, harp-shaped, and displays Mr. Vignola’s name in abalone. The carved spruce top is close-grained and exceedingly high quality, but as fine as it is cannot surpass the ineffable beauty of the flame-grain, tiger-striped sides and back offset by the reddish-hued tortoise shell celluloid binding, itself buttressed by five-ply purfling on the front, four-ply black-white on the back, and two-ply on the sides. The back of the neck is mahogany; the birds-wing shaped soundholes are bordered in tortoise, the nut is ebony and so are the buttons on the Schaller mini-tuners. The reason that most fine archtop guitars are made of carved maple and spruce is because it is not only gorgeous but it sounds outstanding, and this guitar leaves nothing behind in the Wish List of the professional jazz player. $9274 or, at our cash discount price, $8995.



They are listed here: http://www.mandoweb.com/2_Archtop.htm

Prices are actually pretty good considering the MSRP was 18-20K for these...the street price was $12-15K.

BTW, I have no affiliation with Mandolin Brothers. Some folks had asked me about these a while back so I'd thought I'd spread the word.

'm

Comments

  • EmmettRayEmmettRay Honolulu, Hawaii✭✭✭✭ Koa Iseman, AJL XO-503, Holo Busato
    Posts: 89
    I played both of these today at Mandolin Bros, I really can't see how they went for $20,000 originally. These have pickups that have the cords attached and can't be unplugged. Weird.
  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    Posts: 6,061
    Those models were built as acoustics w/out pickups...someone added those Dearmond pickups later. It's an after market addition...

    Dearmond pickups are highly sought after and many feel they are one of the best jazz pickups ever made. They were designed to be fitted on acoustic archtops without having to do any major surgery to the instrument. I've tried them and they are fantastic sounding, but I'm not sure I'd want to deal with the "exoskeleton" required to use them. If you can find one, you'll probably pay well over $300 for one.

    A few Vignola models were built like Frank's with an S6 floating humbucker mounted on the pickguard and volume and tone wheels subtly mounted on the edge of the pickguard. But most, like the ones above, were built as pure acoustics with no electronics.

    Those Benedetto pickups sound amazing....very warm and dark with nice acoustic like detail. You could easily have a guitar tech install the S6 on one of the Vignolas...would only cost a few hundred $ but require a few holes in the guitar.

    'm
  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    Posts: 6,061
    I just took a look to see what Dearmonds are going for....this one sold on eBay last month for $2,550!!!

    http://cgi.ebay.com/DeArmond-Rhythm-Chi ... dZViewItem

    :shock:
  • StringswingerStringswinger Santa Cruz and San Francisco, CA✭✭✭✭ 1993 Dupont MD-20, Shelley Park Encore
    Posts: 464
    Hi Michael,

    That Dearmond was the holiest of holy grails. A gold Super chief. Chrome Super chiefs go for about $600-$1000. (Super chiefs have adjustable pole pieces, so one can compensate the B string). Gold rhythm chiefs go for about $500. Chrome rhythm chiefs go for about $400. Guitar mikes go for $200-300.

    They are not making any more of them and they do sound great. IMO, they sound better than Stimers, original or reissue.

    They can be permanently mounted to a guitar with a neck rod.

    Cheers,

    Marc

    www.hotclubpacific.com
    "When the chord changes, you should change" Joe Pass
  • Bob HoloBob Holo Moderator
    Posts: 1,252
    You guys like archtops - so I thought you'd like this - I had never heard of this guy but stumbled across him one night surfing Youtube for interesting guitar stuff. He is definitely that - very interesting techniques.

    I wonder if he hires himself out as a trio or a solo artist ;)

    You get one chance to enjoy this day, but if you're doing it right, that's enough.
  • bertonebertone Morristown, NJNew
    Posts: 46
    Question about the DeArmond Superchief pickups: are there any differences, mechanical or performance- wise, between the Gold and Chrome models, or is it just the cosmetic/aesthetic difference between the two finishes? TIA.
  • StringswingerStringswinger Santa Cruz and San Francisco, CA✭✭✭✭ 1993 Dupont MD-20, Shelley Park Encore
    Posts: 464
    Just cosmetic. The gold ones look good on an up market model like an
    L-5, Super 400, Artist Award, Emperor, Broadway or Deluxe.

    Also it should be noted that DeArmond used three different cable systems in its manufacturing history. The earliest models through the mid 50's had attached cables (what a pain). Many of these have been converted to some other system, but if you get an older one and the cable is intact and works well, you should leave it alone as the modification diminishes the value. The second system used a screw on, detachable cable and the last DeArmonds uses a mini-plug.

    Cheers,

    Marc

    www.hotclubpacific.com
    "When the chord changes, you should change" Joe Pass
  • bertonebertone Morristown, NJNew
    Posts: 46
    Thanks a lot, Marc, great info!
  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    Posts: 6,061
    Chrome rhythm chiefs go for about $400.

    The Benedetto Vignolas above have Rhythm Chiefs, right?
    They can be permanently mounted to a guitar with a neck rod.

    Yes, I played this guitar built by Mark Lacey which had a Rhythm Chief mounted on it:

    01an_.jpg

    01an_gd.jpg

    01an_pu.jpg

    Sounds awesome....and acoustically that guitar is crazy loud for an archtop. Only weighs in around 5 lbs and really resonates nicely. Would be fun to take it to a Gypsy jam and see what it would do. Although, the 18" body and total lack of a sound hole on the top makes it pretty bass heavy. Still a blast to play though.

    'm
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