Like many of the best creations, Paoletti Guitars grew out of a strong understanding of the past and an artist’s active imagination for the future. Based in Tuscany, Italy, where from the end of the 19th century the Paoletti family once produced Chianti red wine, much of that thirst has been past down to Fabrizio Paoletti.
Having worked for many years as a guitar luthier and amp tech, Paoletti established the company in 2005, taking inspiration from the shapes of many of rock’s most iconic guitars. In the spirit of paying reverence to the past and at the same time making the best use of the materials at hand, Paoletti began to make use of the ancient wine barrels left from the old family business. With many of these being made of 130-170 year old chestnut wood, it was soon realised that this gave the instruments a unique and impressive sound.
“We recovered dozens of barrels and started making guitars out of that dusty wood, suddenly discovering that it had incredible aesthetic and astonishing sonic properties,” said Paoletti. The instruments are all crafted by hand with the utmost care, and the company has since been embraced by the world’s market and some of the biggest names in rock’n’roll, including Keith Richards, Bruce Springsteen, Slash, James Hetfield, Brian May, Luciano Ligabue, Richie Sambora, Laura Pausini and many more.
The company’s Wine Series are one of their signatures, and consist of the ‘Stratospheric’ range, based on Paoletti’s original prototype of a ’57 Fender strat. Also in this series are the double necked ‘Stratospheric Double Trouble’, the Nancy - the bodies of which are made using single pieces of wood – the Gibson-style LP (AKA the Les Paoletti), and the DC, FV and SG ranges – you figure out the references there. Visually the instruments are a mixture of the old and the new, with the Loft series replicating the chipped paint jobs of well-worn rock’n’roll guitars, while the Stratospheric has an oil finish with a thin layer of nitrocellulose. This is then given a modern Italian look courtesy of the 24 brass rivets that run along its top and 26 along its edges.
The strat’s neck is made with a single piece of mahogany, with a nut width of 1 11/16 inches and a scale length of 25 1/2 inches, while the frettboard is made of Macassar Ebony, with 22 medium frets. It has a Gotoh Stratocaster style combined bridge and tremolo, with six individually adjustable saddles, and Kluson style tuners.
As if further proof of the artisan nature of the design was needed, under the hood are two custom, hand-wound Paoletti S-RS single-coil pickups in the neck and middle positions, and one Paoletti H-RS 'Humbucker' in the bridge position. Each guitar comes with a letter of authenticity and serial number signed by Paoletti himself.
Not content to simply make guitars, Paoletti has also branched out to custom made tube amps, made out of that same ancient wood, as well as bass guitars. The four stringed additions to the Wine Series include the Mustang Bass and Skybass designs.
Despite his name travelling worldwide and being commissioned by the likes of Metallica’s Kirk Hammet and John Norum from the band Europe, for whom he created a signature model earlier this year, Fabrizio Paoletti still makes all of the guitars with his own hands. Should you desire to have your own instrument custom made from 150 year old Italian wood, Brisbane’s Quirky Guitars are the Australian distributor and are contactable online. Given that their website lists shipping time as only four weeks, this looks like one of those no brainer situations.
Paoletti Guitars are sold throughout Australia by Quirky Guitars, for more information head to quirkyguitars.com.