It was late 2005 when Fabrizio Paoletti built his first instrument near the West coast of Italy. While proud of his accomplishment, the product his company produces today is both a one-of-a-kind, performance powerhouse and visually stunning, to put it mildly. I’d like to introduce you to Paoletti Guitars.
Inside each Paoletti guitar there is an influence of both family and style. Since the 19th century, the Paoletti family has been making Chianti in the Tuscany region of Italy and to this day it's rumored that Fabrizio’s father still operates a small local vineyard in the area. “My guitars pay reverence to both my passion for the land and my love of all things musical,” Paoletti explains. “The first time I came across this idea about re-purposing wine barrels, I was with Maurizio Solieri, one of the most famous musicians in Italy. He suggested we test the sound of chestnut on his own Paoletti custom guitar. The result was amazing, so I started to recover all the barrels my grandfather had left to my family. I’m talking about 130 to 150 year old chestnut wood from abandoned wine barrels in Tuscany – what we call ‘Leonardo da Vinci land.’”
You heard that right; each Paoletti guitar is made with this history-filled wood and has quickly made a name for itself. While chestnut does have fantastic sound qualities as a tone wood, the use of these barrels is clearly a nod to the repurposing of a large piece of the Paoletti family history. Many aspects of the guitar may be considered to be traditional, following the body styles of household names like the strat and telecaster, but no corners are cut when constructing these guitars. Each guitar created by Paoletti is handmade and custom. They take pride in having no two guitars being identical; another artistic attribute that gives Fabrizio the pride he has for his company.
The first model I’d like to show you is my personal favorite of their collection and it’s the Paoletti Stratospheric Leather Top. The model shown here, available at Heartbreaker Guitars in Las Vegas, a proud Paoletti dealer, is featured in black leather. The body is solid ancient Chestnut, all taken from reclaimed wine barrels. Attached is a Honduras Mahogany neck with a 22 fret Macassar Ebony fretboard on top. The guitar features a 25.5” scale and has a 12” radius. Atop the leather face is an eye-catching Croc-etched brass pickguard. Just below you’ll find three shotgun shell knobs controlling the tone and volume of your two Paoletti Strato 60 pickups and Paoletti Rock II Humbucker.
This next beauty is the Paoletti Guitars Nancy Leather Top in white, also currently available at Heartbreaker. Like all their models, the body is solid Chestnut, giving it that warm and clear sound. Unlike it’s sibling, the Nancy has two Paoletti Tele 7.5K pickups giving this guitar an amazing level of versatility. The two piece pickguard with croc finish matches the brass buttons surrounding the remainder of the white leather. All models of Paoletti at Heartbreaker Guitars come with a beautiful hard shell case.
Seeing these guitars in person is something I’d insist every guitar enthusiast at any level to do. The high level of craftsmanship, art and exclusivity these instruments have is second to none. In looking at the different models and designs that have left their shop in the last couple of decades, it’s no wonder their instruments have found their way into the hands of names such as Richie Sambora, Richard Fortus and Phil X. Early models of the guitar were given to Bruce Springsteen and members of Metallica and the feedback has consistently been a request for additional custom guitars -- a testament to the quality of their product.
Throughout Paoletti’s history they have released some absolutely exquisite instruments. This double-necked beast is a Justin Johnson Hybrid Custom and, as you can see, it screams to be on stage. It follows many of the traditional features of a Paoletti’s Tele design, but has a custom double pickguard, covered in the croc print leather, shotgun tuning knobs, five way switch, and a couple other differences. Justin Johnson himself tells us, “The top neck is a longer scale baritone guitar, which is a lower pitch than a conventional 6-string, So kind of a middle ground between a conventional 6-string and a bass guitar. It’s great for adding a lot of low end without getting low enough to need a bass amp.”
This model was designed for John Norum and is the Paoletti Flying Eagle J. Norum Custom. The most recent model of this series features a new concept of the V shape, made of the traditional ancient wine barrels. You’ll find 6105 Dunlop frets along the neck atop an ebony fretboard just above hand-wired Paoletti pickups with complimentary gold hardware.
And finally, I show you one of my favorites from their private custom collection: The Paoletti Stratospheric Wine B17 Memphis Belle. This edition of the Stratospheric Aircraft series was made in 2016 and quickly became impossible to find. With many of the same features, this series displays a beautiful custom made metal top with classic fighter plane graphics and four Paoletti Strato 60s pickups.
Whether you seek an art piece for your private viewing or an amazing sounding guitar with unbeatable playability, visit Heartbreaker Guitars, a proud Paoletti dealer in Las Vegas Nevada, and they’ll gladly answer any questions you may have and happily share with you their stock of Paoletti guitars.
Contributor for Heartbreaker Guitars