Monteleone Instruments, USA
by Stan Jay & Larry Wexer
What sets John Monteleone apart from other artisans working today is his refined sense of aesthetics which reveals itself in designs of great artistic beauty. He maintains the highest musical and sonic standards while exploring new ideas which express his vision as he captures and executes (but without malice) their own concepts of tone and playability for his paying customers. Every guitar and mandolin is designed as an entity, each with its own thematic decorative motifs, with little overlap.
John Monteleone's reputation was initially made with his mandolin family instruments. He has approached the making of both flat and arch top guitars in a completely fresh and original way, beginning with the ECLIPSE and HOT CLUB models. In addition we now have the RADIO CITY and the RADIO FLYER which embody the sophistication of the city for which they are named and incorporate the acoustic attributes of the great arch top guitars of the past.
Every time that we visit John's shop we see the miracle of creation anew (no, really). He takes a tree - the ordinary kind that you see every day - cuts it into wood, and then from planks he makes amazing instruments that you play and make music with. He even makes the metal parts himself. How does he do it? How can one person, and a relatively young one at that, be this creative and have such a unwavering standard of excellence? It's certainly a mystery to us. Yet we still believe that it is John Monteleone himself, who does all this.
JOHN MONTELEONE BIO
My first childhood encounters with a guitar began with a horrible excuse for a guitar which stood in a corner in our family dining room; a cheap Harmony acoustic archtop model, It had three or four of the blackest, rustiest, and nastiest strings ever seen on any guitar. It was dangerous enough that it could have sent its victims to the hospital for tetanus shots. Since it was of no use to anyone I took it downstairs into my laboratory where I conducted an experiment which tool, only a minute or two. I was only twelve. I wound up with a round house swing and smashed it to bits around a lally-colum. It was perhaps the best sound that it ever made. It produced a pile of interesting splinters of spruce and maple and at the same time revealed the inside of this lousy guitar. I then realized that there was a reason for all of these things and the inside and that it was somehow important to the sound of any guitar. This was an enlightening experience for this curios twelve year old boy.
I met the Mandolin Brothers in 1973 and began repairing and restoring vintage instruments for them until about 1980. My first workshop was a kitchen table and the next shop appeared in my bedroom where I shared space with a workbench and a table saw. I opened my first real shop in 1976 at the waters edge in the town of Bayshore, New York where I remained until I built my current shop in 1989.
My early instruments reflected my experiences with many fine (and otherwise) examples of vintage guitars, mandolins, and banjos encountered during the Mandolin Brothers years. Although influenced by the greatest luthiers, I responded to the need for a better and more advanced approach to designing the sound, look, and feel of my instruments. I therefore began building with my own evolutionary concepts at a time when new ideas and designs were discouraged by those musicians who had more traditional expectations.
As the guitar market went soft in the 1980's the reputation for my mandolins was reaching new highs. I continued refining my, guitar designs during this period and was ready for the renewed interest in vintage archtop, and flattop guitars at the end of the 80's. More importantly, the recent acceptance of the "new" luthiers has opened doors to the possible realization of finer guitars from John Monteleone.
I am consciously working toward broadening the Musicians' interest in both archtop and flattop guitars. The weakening lines of division between the various classifications of music have made it possible for a great melding of music. These influences have generated a need for inspirational instruments of greater versatility for the musician. The music itself has always been the driving force behind the success of all musical instruments and the artisans who make them. There has always been a supply and demand for fine musical instruments. The demand for guitars and mandolins of extremely fine performance quality has never been greater than now.
P.0 Box 52, Islip, N.Y. 11751
International 001 631 277-3620