See an exclusive clip from a new documentary on one of the world's top guitar luthiers, John Monteleone

John Monteleone
(Image credit: Vincent Ricardel)

December 15 sees the digital release of a feature-length documentary film on guitar builder John Monteleone, providing an intimate portrait of one of the world's most respected luthiers.

Jazz archtop designer and maker Monteleone's counts Mark Knopfler amongst his fans, with the Dire Straits legend describing meeting him as "like meeting Stradivari.” The new documentary John Monteleone: The Chisels Are Calling gives us an unrivalled insight into the inspirations and creative processes behind his incredible instruments. 

“John’s love for life and passion — whether it be food, music, art or architecture — just all goes into the instrument," says Ben Harper in the new film. "He is as fearless a luthier as hopefully you are as a musician.”

John Monteleone

John Monteleone with one of his creations  (Image credit: Rod Franklin)

The respect and acclaim for Monteleone' s artistry goes beyond the guitar world; examples of his work are on permanent exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Meanwhile his commissioned builds command six-figure sums in the rare instances they emerge on the vintage market. 

In the exclusive clip from the new film below, directed by Trevor Laurence and produced by Laurence and the late guitarist Woody Mann, we see footage from the 'Art Deco' scene, where Monteleone talks in his workshop about the iconic era that has inspired his guitar builds.

In the footage we also see how Manhattan's Chrysler Building inspired Monteleone's stunning designs.

"For me it's always about conforming to the guitar," Monteleone explains in the clip. "You never forget the idea it has to be a guitar, and for musicians it's a tool. So there's a real responsibility to stay within the parameters of the instrument itself. Then you can build on that in a way that the instrument allows you to build, without pushing it too far."

“It is a great privilege and honour to be documented in this very special way,”the largely self-taught  John Monteleone told Guitar World in an interview last year. “I am also deeply humbled by it.”

John Monteleone: The Chisels Are Calling is available to buy digitally on December 15 via iTunesand  Google Play

Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar in the UK. When I'm not rejigging pedalboards I'm usually thinking about rejigging pedalboards.