Paoletti Guitars: An HBG Exclusive Interview with the Great Italian Guitar Makers
August 15, 20207 min read
The Paoletti Interview
Occasionally a company sets itself apart from its competition by offering exemplary customer service, an extraordinary attention to detail or a new and unique product. Owning an Italian made guitar from Paoletti Guitars will land you all of these experiences and then some. We’re going to give you an up close and personal look at some of Paoletti’s latest innovations and let you listen in on our interview with their General Manager along the way.
While we’d love to have the element of surprise, you’ve likely already seen some of what Paoletti has to offer. From our inventory alone their resume is already quite impressive, but a few minutes into their website and you’ll see their collection is not just amazing; it’s fantastic. Their story starts back in 2005 in the city of Montemurlo, Italy, just 30km or so from Florence.
We had the pleasure of sitting with Filippo Martini, General Manager and Key Account Manager for Paoletti Guitars. “The company started… with just a man: Mr. Paoletti and the natural evolution of his guitar luthier and amplifer tech activities,” Mr. Martini tells us. “All began with a gift from his Father. One day, Paoletti Senior gave a guitar to Fabrizio. Each day he was more and more fascinated about the soul of the instrument and less interested in the simple playing the guitar. He was curious about the connection of all the parts on the guitar, how the neck is related to the body, and how each string vibrates at the different frequencies, and so on. He started to work on a guitar from ground zero, creating one from his hands to understand all the small pieces necessary in composing the instrument. As an electric technician, he was able to look at all the pieces inside the guitar and quickly gained interest as to what was happening, what could be developed, and was soon creating his own. He started with hand wound pickups, then to the pots, and from there, it’s history.”
While the first models that displayed the Paoletti name were mere replicas, the sight of a modern day Paoletti is an entirely new experience. I asked Filippo if he could tell us more about the Wine Series. “This series has been (and is still today) an innovation – the use of wood that nobody in the world had ever used on musical instruments. The first time I came across this idea, I was with Mr. Maurizio Solieri, the main Italian guitarist of Vasco Rossi. He suggested that I test the sound of Chestnut wood on his own Paoletti… It was hard to start making musicians interested about this rare wood, and the first years were not easy. Many challenges were in front of Fabrizio.”
To hear that the introduction of a Chestnut body was a struggle is no surprise. In our current decade, it’s incredibly easy to get almost an immediate reaction to new ideas as musicians and their voices have taken to the internet. The idea of Chestnut being used as not just a veneer, but as the solid body of a guitar has mixed reviews, to put it modestly. A common thought is that Chestnut is only appropriate for aesthetics and not as a tone wood for electric guitars. Just as frequent is the opinion that Chestnut doesn’t maintain it’s tonal qualities and will change over time. What may be a surprise to hear is that these opinions…are likely facts. Harvested Chestnut would result in some of these issues, undoubtedly. However, with the family-reserved Chestnut having aged for over a century, this wood has had ample time to dry, to flex, to bend…to mature.
“[The first] custom-made, Chestnut guitar … the result was amazing! I started to recover all the barrels that my Grandfather had left to my family. I’m talking about 130 to 150 year old Chestnut wood taken from abandoned wine barrels out of Tuscany, well-known as “Leonardo da Vinci Land.” Each guitar has a story to tell and the basic idea here was to let this wood, with all of its marks and characteristics and signs of time, tell that story.”
It didn’t take long for these stories to catch the attention of some big names in the industry. Paoletti was fortunate to cross paths with the living legend, Richie Sambora while in Amsterdam. After giving a guitar to Sambora’s crew of technicians, love was found and Richie quickly escorted the Paoletti to it’s debut “rock star” live show. An incredible day for the Paoletti team, to say the least. Check out the video! https://youtu.be/fM1CC1-pBR4
More recently, Paoletti has made headlines with another world famous name. Filippo tells us about their first introduction to the Guns N’ Roses great. “The first time we connected with Richard Fortus was 3 years ago. We met him at the NAMM show and after sharing some thoughts about how a custom guitar for him could turn out, he was determined to add an aged Chestnut guitar to his rig. The first guitar we created for his rig was black, and the second for his rig was white. Every bit of the guitar is completely as Richard requested, from the custom pickups to the electronics, and a bit of a ‘secret custom circuit’ I am sure he revealed a little something about during the great clinic at Heartbreaker Guitars. Also, stay tuned 2021 – there’s more on the way!”
Take a look at this guitar! These are the white and black versions of the Paoletti Richard Fortus Signature Custom Guitars. Both guitars begin with the solid Chestnut body, are faced with crocodile themed Italian leather tops, shotgun shell knobs, custom hand-wound pickups and beautiful custom brass across the guitar. Attached is a beautifully caramel-roasted, Curly Maple neck imported from Canada. You’ll have to take our word for it that the pictures only get you half way through experiencing how unique and fascinating these guitars are.
It’s no mystery how Paoletti catches the eye of such talented artists. They’ve proven over the years, even to masters of their craft, that their products are unmatched due to their combination of creativity and quality. These guitars may look stage-ready out of the box, but they’re not just for the big show. Paoletti is a custom guitar outfit and with the number of options they have available, they’re perfect for anyone between the professional musician all the way down to the entry level player. “You can customize our guitars in many aspects, starting from the neck woods that can be changed to have the sound you are looking for. You can customize the color of the guitar with more than 200 available colors. Also, the pickup configuration. All these aspects, without any additional charges at all. We offer the opportunity to have custom names or logos engraved on the guitar. A logo can be placed in the fret markers as well. One of our latest custom creations is the Western Maryland guitar, which is available exclusively at Heartbreaker Guitars in Vegas!” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.
Custom guitar orders are said to typically take 4 to 6 weeks to complete from start to finish. After seeing the many incredible designs and layouts Paoletti has produced over the years, we asked who they brought in to assist with the incredible designs. “No one created these for us,” Martini says with a smile. “Mr. Paoletti does that. He is a really important figure here. He is close to us every single day, following the creation of EVERY Paoletti, ensuring the care taken from the wood cut to the painting, all the way to the setup. He supervises and works with the guys regularly. He designs all the inlays and customizations for our instruments. When our clients call, I coordinate the request, first do a sketch with Mr. Paoletti, and then we are ready to do a “test on the field.” Mr. Paoletti does that ON the guitars.”
It’s impossible to not emphasize what a treat that is, to have the man who’s name is on the guitar still insist on being a part of every design, every guitar that carries his name. This is just one of many reasons to expect to see Paoletti remain a name among the greats of the electric guitar world. We asked Filippo what impression they expect their guitar to make upon a player who experiences a Paoletti for the first time. “A musician, most of the time, is completely impressed by the Chestnut’s sustain. After a couple of minutes of playing, they end in playing just a note, impressing themselves with how long the sustain is, grabbing the headstock with a hand a playing just a note. It is unbelievable how long it lasts! If you stop at HBG, try that and feel the frequency vibrating trough a Paoletti! What makes them like that is all the components and study put into the properties of our woods and handmade pickups. Also, creating everything inside, from the OEM parts like bridges, pickguards and so on. It helps to identify any issue with an item and adjust it right away having all the parts in harmony between each other.”
Paoletti Guitars are, without a doubt, unlike any other. They have proven themselves in the showroom, and they have proven themselves on the stage. If you’d like a one of kind experience with an electric guitar in its own class, we insist you make your way to the shop and test drive one for yourself. Our collection is ever-growing and some of the models you see in stock today may be the last of their kind. Come take look and a listen.
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