The land where the Blues was born. It all goes down to this 16,200 square km (6,250 square miles) piece of land laying between the Mississippi and Yazoo rivers in the souther-most part of the United States: the Mississippi Delta that, despite the name, it’s not where the great river meets the Gulf of Mexico. This is where it all began.
Take a 10 minutes trip throught the Delta with journalist and author Richard Grant reporting for the London based The Guardian.
This is a recent acquisition: a really sweet Framus model 5/15 acoustic guitar. It’s a classic 3/4 guitar, slightly larger than a normal Parlor and it’s part of the “Wander”-guitars series that were manufactured by Framus since the founding of the company in 1946.
I haven’t been able to exactly date the instrument, although these models were mostly build circa from 1950 to 1960.
“Wander”-guitars was the company denomination for the beginner series Framus models such as Spanish models, lady and youth models, etc. Solid fir tops and set mahogany necks are a testament of the early quality work and proven instrument manufacturing traditions.
Among the characteristics of this guitar are:
spruce top, back gold-brown varnished and laminated;
a sturdy built and chuncky neck to compensate the absence of the truss-rod;
Although an entry-model guitar, I’ve been struck by the quality of the building materials that are far better then the same-era italian made Eko and Crucianelli guitars available in the same market segment: this is a SERIOUS guitar, with great resonance and a robust and solid construction.
Parlor – or parlour – guitar usually refers to a type of acoustic guitar smaller than a concert guitar. Emerging in the late 1800s, these small instruments were popular among women, blues and folk musicians (cit. Wikipedia).
Nowadays vintage guitars come in many form. And this is not your typical vintage electric by famous brands like Fender or Gibson. Actually, it’s not an electric at all.
In its infancy, the Blues was played strictly acoustically mostly by travelling musicians that couldn’t but appreciate the easy portability – let alone the affordability – of these special breed of guitars whose midrangery tone (alongside with those of other small-bodied acoustics) most likely helped the player to project the sound of the guitar during noisy and crowded dances and outdoor parties.
Anyway, I recently set off on a hunt for my first Parlor. I kinda was on a budget and given my love for italian guitars from the ’60s I was thrilled to find (and buy) this Ferrarotti on a local craiglist.
The Ferrarotti brand is one among many italian producer whose guitars became very popular in Italy during the ’60s along with famous brands like Eko, Crucianelli, Wandrè and Galanti, whose then futuristic shaped instruments sparkled the imagination of local youngsters fueling the beat movement that became rather popular in Italy.
The guitar is in almost mint condition and astonishingly well preserved; built with a birch top (just like worldwide renown Parlors like Harmony e Stella were), beechwood sides and back, european beechwood neck, mahogany fretboard and slotted headstock. Scale-length is 64 cm. (25.4 inches) with a 4,5 cm. (1 3/4″ inches) nut-width. A totally cool features are the shiny brass frets (that in those days were all built in-house) and a rather uncommon metal-made nut.
Goes without saying, this baby seems to deliver its best for fingerstyle playing and traditional Blues.
Being the huge Robert Johnson‘s fan that I am, I was quite surprised to realize that this (very well produced, I must admit) 25 minutes movie about the most famous bluesman ever, has remained under my radar until few days ago.
Apparently, director Glenn Marzano shot the movie as a thesis project when he was a student at Loyola Marymount University in 1999.
“Stop breakin’ down” is in my opinion both well written and directed; I totally love the dialogues and how the actors mimic the nuances of the “old” southern african-american drawl. Let alone the fact that they also seem to really know how to play their gittars.
To these days, Robert Johnson still remains, hands down, the most intriguing and mysterious figure in American popular music.