“The shape of things to come”: Rivolta Guitars unveils the Forma series – three bold, radical, retro electrics that offer Dennis Fano designs at non-boutique prices

Rivolta Guitars Forma Series
(Image credit: Rivolta Guitars)

Rivolta Guitars has unveiled the Forma Series, a line of all original electric guitar designs from acclaimed boutique luthier Dennis Fano that offer some seriously high-end vibes at a more budget-friendly $1,699 price point – and some of the boldest body shapes you will see all year.

This range is classic Fano, with the Sferata, Quadrata and Zenyata all fresh models, newly minted, and yet they look like they’ve been around since the electric’s late ‘50s golden era. 

There’s a hint of the Gibson Moderne in the Zenyata – just look at that split V-shaped headstock profile – but these are very much their own thing, 21st-century retro guitar design for the jobbing musician and serious amateur, shapes with ergonomic curves.

Each model comes in a trio of finish options – Ciliegia Red, Toro Black, and Miele Amber – with all three constructed of the lesser spotted tone wood simarouba, also known as marupa. 

Rivolta says it is “ultra-lightweight and resonant,” and maybe it is the angles of those body shapes but there is something from these pictures that suggests the Forma series would be light.

Rivolta Forma Zenyata

Rivolta Forma Zenyata (Image credit: Rivolta Guitars)

And this series is all about the angles. Just look at the Quadrata for starters. The retro-futuristic shape calls to mind St Vincent’s Ernie Ball Music Man signature guitar crossed with something someone might have sawn up for Bo Diddley back in the day, and it is a shape that opens up the entire fingerboard – and also makes the fingerboards on this series quite bonkers. 

These all have 23 1/2 frets, with that 24th fret only accessible on the top three strings. Crazy, but what not, right? After all, who uses the 24 frets on the lower three strings? Exactly.

That upper-fret access is a quality shared by on its siblings too, and even the positioning of the neck pickup finds it at a complementary angle to the cutaway. These are very aesthetically pleasing designs but surely still radical enough to divide opinion. 

There was a reason why the Gibson Moderne never took off back in the day; but can the Zenyata, which is very different but similarly audacious, find success in 2024? We like the three-way pickup toggle switch mounted on the pickguard. 

Fano has selected simarouba for the beck, too, dark Indian rosewood for the fingerboards, with pearloid dot inlays. As for the pickups, we’ve got a P-90 at the neck, a humbucker at the bridge. All three have three-way pickup toggles, with a poker chip washer. Five-ply black pickguards come as standard, as do the tune-o-matic style bridges and stop-bar tailpieces. 

The hardware is gold on the Miele Amber and Black finishes, nickel on the Ciliegia Red. The scale length for the series measures in at 25” with the fingerboard radius a Gibson-esque 12”. The nuts are bone, the tuners by Wilkinson, and the whole kit and caboodle ships in a hardshell guitar case

Again, at $1,699, for a Dennis Fano designed solidbody electric, built in South Korea, with case included, and all set up and checked in Nashville before shipping, that sounds very much like a good deal, and you can check out the demo video for an idea of how good these sound in action. 

For more details, head over to Rivolta Guitars.

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.