We’ve had this guitar for over forty years, in unrestored condition, exactly the way it came in, back in the days when people would bring old instruments they wanted to sell to stores like ours, way before the Internet ever existed. Seemed like it was finally time to look into it and are we ever stunned; we have now got it in 100% condition in every respect, and it is one of the MOST AMAZING and FABULOUS and LOUDEST guitars I have ever played in my life and I am not exaggerating, not one bit. Made by the mysterious and world-famous Bortolo Busato for the French music store Major, in 1944, its tone and volume speak, no, really shout, of all the Gypsy music and Manouche-style of guitar playing of that era that was so unique to our music world. It is of a type often called the “Grand Modele” and is all original, other than the tuning machines and bridge, which were missing when we got it. We were fortunate enough to be able to get replica machines from the wonderful Gypsy-style guitar maker Killy Nonis, of England; we made the exact replica ebony bridge here in our own shop. The frets are original and fine, the walnut neck is perfectly straight, the finish is original, the tailpiece is original, and so is the rest of the guitar; we decided to leave the playing wear and coloration as they were in the interest of preservation of the guitar’s history. We took care of two ancient minor top separations and all is in 100% perfect structural condition. The back and sides are of laminated rosewood in the traditional Selmer-type guitar mode; the fingerboard is rosewood with original gold-sparkle inlays, though we did need to match two of them with the help of Steve Stern, Senior Master Builder of the Gretsch Custom Shop; the top is solid spruce. Those of you who are not quite familiar enough with Busato as one of the three premier builders, ever, of the Manouche-style of guitar, the others being Jaques Favino (one of whose guitars we also have right now) and Selmer, can go to issue #34 of Fretboard Journal, which has a terrific article on Busato. There are two original, intact paper labels inside the guitar. One has beautiful blue and red ink with colors still bright, plainly visible through the oval soundhole, for the store that sold it, MAJOR, with branches in Paris and Nice, and a hand-typed date on it of November 8, 1944, which was just after the liberation of Paris; I can almost feel the joy and exuberance of the French citizens welcoming the Allies into their arms to this day. (For those of you interested in some of the best writing ever on this event, I highly recommend A.J. Liebling’s “World War II Writings”). There is also a hand-typed number of “B/U 108” just above the date. The second label is semi-hidden though also quite visible, glued onto the neck block, and reads “LUTHERIE ARTISTIQUE / T. S. F / B. BUSATO / 4, Cite Griset, / PARIS-XIe”. We are absolutely thrilled to have this important and spectacular instrument here, and I am quite convinced that it was well worth the forty-plus-year wait to bring it back to wonderful life. Comes with new professional-grade hard shell case. $18,000 w/hsc
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