The Bluesbox Collection

60's Vitali (German) Parlor Guitar

This instrument has a label on the inside proclaiming that it is made in Germany by a company called "Vitali". The gentleman who sold it to me speculated that Vitali (he pronounced it Vee-tal-ee) was an Italian firm that bought a German guitar company during the folk boom of the 1960's - hence the Italian sounding name. I did a little research on the name Vitali and discovered that, in fact, the name is German (it is pronounced Vit-al-ee) and is quite well known as the name of a German family that produced numerous composers, conductors and musicians throughout the last three centuries! Obviously this guitar manufacturer named his company after this famous family - or else an actual member of the Vitali family started the firm. Whatever. In any case, this is an excellent little guitar and one of my favorites. The fingerboard and bridge are a light colored exotic hardwood, possibly some kind of rosewood, but I am not really sure. The neck joins the body at the 12th fret (instead of the more common 14th), which is what denotes a "parlor" guitar. This means that the guitar is quite small (only 36 inches long) and is therefore a perfect travel instrument - but at the same time has a full size scale, so it can be tuned normally.

The small body, which is shaped like a pigmy dreadnaught, has a two-piece, bookmatched, solid German spruce top and produces a very pleasing "bell tone" with a lot of ring - and it is an amazingly loud guitar. The slightly arched back, is a single piece of stained maple, as is the neck. Interestingly, the body is finely bound on the top, even the soundhole - but the intersection of the sides and back is unbound. It seems like a lot of care was taken in building the top, not so much on the rest of the guitar. I have played this guitar in jam sessions where 5 or 6 people were banging on full size flattops - this guitar's treble range seems to float above the din. Several people who have seen it for the first time ask me, "What model Martin is that?" I do a lot of traveling in my business and I usually take this guitar along if I plan to be gone for more than a day or two. It is also my favorite camping guitar because of its full bodied sound, its size, and the fact that it is already so beat up that I don't mind carrying it around in the woods :-)

Update - June 2002: In December of 2001, I traded this guitar in on the Art & Lutherie Ami parlor guitar shown elsewhere in this collection. I recently received an email from a gentleman in Illinois, who bought this guitar from the Thin Man String Company web site. He was researching the manufacturer and came across my web site. Imagine his surprise when he saw pictures of his guitar!

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