Two names you may not yet be familiar with have helped to inspire this issue’s Wishlist choice. Luthier John Buscarino is the creator of this beautiful slice of jazz heritage.
Based in Franklin, North Carolina, he’s unusual even in the rarified world of archtop luthiery for having learned guitar-making from two masters - classical guitar maker Augustino LoPrinzi and, later, the revered archtop maker Robert Benedetto.
"John Buscarino’s unusual even in the rarified world of archtop luthiery for having learned guitar-making from two masters"
While John’s output includes exquisitely crafted solidbody guitars and progressive nylon-string acoustics, his heart clearly belongs to the timeless world of the fine archtop.
This particular instrument was made to meet the needs of lauded US jazz picker Corey Christiansen, and you’ll find intelligent tweaks to the classic hand-made archtop formula made to suit his needs - although rockers such as Steve Morse also number among Buscarino players.
The guitar has a solid carved, aged Sitka spruce top that is married to a carved Big Leaf flame maple back and sides in a generous 16-inch body with an ‘antique violin’ finish.
To make the guitar as well-mannered as possible on stage, Buscarino has incorporated a feedback-suppressing block inside the body, in what he dubs a ‘Lock Top’ design, while the amplified voice is based on an Alnico III pickup wound by Kent Armstrong.
Meanwhile, the flawless three-piece neck is made of rock maple with walnut veneers, and has a custom width “slightly narrower than 1 11/16 inches for a super- fastaction”.
Like many such guitars, it’s a relatively rare bird - but uncompromising jazzers can scope out this magnificent example of the luthier’s art in the showroom of Ivor Mairants’ Musicentre in London, slumbering peacefully in a top-end Ameritage case with built-in humidification system.
Ivor Mairants - 0207 6361481
Narrow stainless steel frets have been fitted to the three-piece rock maple neck for “long life and perfect intonation”.
The 16-inch body features medium-depth 2.25-inch sides of gorgeously figured Big Leaf maple.
The top-drawer spec continues in details such as the solid ebony tailpiece with a brass hinge machined from a solid quarter-inch billet of brass.
The headstock is faced with a solid 0.125-inch ebony veneer, with mother-of-pearl Buscarino logo.
Ebony is the tonewood of choice, from which the fingerboard, bridge, tailpiece and pickguard are all made.