The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

April 22, 2009

Romeo Di Giorgio guitar solos

I'm writing an article for Signal to Noise magazine on the 1949 Romeo Di
Giorgio guitar I own and have used for decades now; it's always been my
main instrument. As a way of preparing, I recorded the following four solo
(songs) with it; I was in an odd state and able to actually able to play
complexly without too much difficulty. This is unusual - it allowed me to
inhabit the music in a different way than unusual. I've also included
notes on the instrument - images will follow, at least for the magazine.
Thanks for listening - Alan

1949 Di Giorgio classical guitar. I bought this instrument in Cambridge,
Mass, around 1967, and I've had it ever since. I started playing music
after a disastrous relationship; this was 1962, and I was influenced by
Lightning Hopkins. I learned chords in alphabetic order, A,B,C,D,E,F,G,
and the sharps/flats in due order. I went through a number of guitars,
settling on a Gibson electric and the Di Giorgio. In the Cambridge scene,
Al Wilson considered me a 'city blues player' because I played fast, but I
was more John Fahey than Charlie Patton. Other instruments came and went,
but the Di Giorgio has stayed with me. When I bought it, the clerk at the
music store cried; he'd been using it himself in concerts. It cost $75. It
came with 17 cracks and still has 17 cracks. It's gone through two floods,
one in a closet in Providence, Rhode Island, and one in a warehouse in Los
Angeles, after having traveled back from Tasmania.

The guitar is remarkable: inside the soundhole, there's a hyperboloid
surface extending to within an inch of the back. This is from eighteenth-
century guitar experiments, but I haven't seen any other contemporary
guitar with the device. This device is also found in the current Di
Giorgio Tarrega model (which however has an oval soundhole).

< description of the bridge, purfling, label, neck, frets, heel
< description of the sonority
< idea of an older instrument, tending
< inequivalence of the instrument as opposed to digital or mass-produced
< thinness of the wood Serie Artistica - 1950 around $4500 minimal
< no bracing under the bridge
< neck movement, tuned low
< Romeo Di Giorgio, Brazilian Rosewood, Swedish Pine

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