Shop Spotlight: Tuscany's Paoletti Guitars Makes Instruments out of Old Wine Barrels

Back in 2005, Fabrizio Paoletti founded Paoletti Guitars—a special guitar company that pays homage to both Italian craftsmanship and Paoletti's family history by way of the build materials it uses. The Paoletti family once produced Chianti red wine in the Tuscany region of Italy, and now, the 130- to 170-year-old chestnut from the wine barrels it was made in is being repurposed and used to make beautifully handcrafted instruments.

We here at Reverb had a chance to talk with Fabrizio Paoletti to learn a bit more about his company, how it got started, and how the old chestnut from the wine barrels affect his guitar models' tones.

For someone unfamiliar with Paoletti Guitars, which model would you show them to best showcases your work?

I really like all the models we are doing right now. We have four different series in our production line: Wine, Loft, Leather, Lounge. We’ve spent the last years getting all the models into a production system, so I really appreciate the full line we've developed.

All of them are made of the same reclaimed wood—an 150-year-old chestnut, recovered around Italy from wine barrels no longer used to make wine. In the front line, the guitar that brings that spirit around the world it is the Wine series, definitely, but even the Leather, with the Italian leather top on it, showcases Italian craftsmanship and the spirit of Italy.

What kind of tone does the chestnut wood you’re using lend itself to?

Chestnut wood has a lot of layers of tone, with a high number of harmonics, which I think is something very important to a guitarist’s sound. It offers a flat and malleable tone that’s a bit focused on middle-bass frequencies, which can be changed fast when paired with a different neck wood. We offer mahogany/blackwood teak for rock and players of heavier music and a roasted maple neck for more blues and blues-rock-oriented guitarists.

Another important feature of the wood is its high sustain, chestnut is king of this. I can honestly say that chestnut is alive—it breathes, and it is ready to follow your musical needs.

In addition to the wood, what else makes Paoletti guitars special?

The passion and Italian craftsmanship we put into each guitar makes them very unique and special. All of the main parts of a Paoletti are made here in-house by a great team of dedicated builders. We build and age pickguards on our own, hand-wire pickups, and create bridges for every guitar.

You've been building these guitars since 2005. How has your process or style evolved over the last 14 years?

The Wine series has been (and is still today) an innovation—the use of a wood that nobody in the world had ever used on musical instruments.

The first time I came across this idea, I was with Mr. Maurizio Solieri, the main Italian guitarist of Vasco Rossi. He suggested that I test the sound of chestnut wood on his own Paoletti custom made guitar, and the result was amazing! I started to recover all the barrels that my grandfather has left to my family. I’m talking about 130- to 150-year-old chestnut wood taken from abandoned wine barrels from Tuscany, well-known as “Leonardo da Vinci land.”

Each guitar has a story to tell, and the basic idea here was to let this wood, with all of its marks and characteristics and signs of time, tell that story. Nowadays, we produce many series in addition to the Wine series, a unique design that stands out among the many existing custom shop guitar brands.

What are some of the most interesting or unique instruments you've built recently?

Some of the latest creations have been made for this year’s NAMM show in Anaheim back in January, working for artists like Richard Fortus and Phil X. Anytime we get to create guitars for an artist, it’s inspiring.

One of the latest and most unique instruments is a kind of cigar box guitar created for Christopher Ameruoso—a very famous photographer in the USA who has worked with Johnny Depp, Robert Plant, Priscilla Presley, Mike Tyson, and many more.

We called it Rooster because of the cool USA Rooster painted on the body with a no-fade UV paint. It’s a signature model, and you can find all the specifications on our website. One will go directly to Mr. Depp very soon, as you know he plays with Hollywood Vampires.

Are there any new designs or series you are especially excited about?

New designs are in the secret “work-in-progress office,” and this year will see us working for some cool rock bands. Our website is always up to date, and we share all the news on our social channels, so make sure to follow them and discover all the new lines there!

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