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 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.
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.