Fabrizio, here at the Fellowship of Acoustics we know and love your guitars through the Boutique Guitar Showcase en Tour. All of these guitars were unique and yet all of them were clearly Paoletti Guitars. How do you create a unique instrument and at the same time make all of them recognizable as a Paoletti Guitar?
"I think that is due to some features that we developed over the years and as a result our style is now recognizable all over the world. The first thing you see, is probably the brass pickguard which is unique for Paoletti Guitars, all components are handmade, such as bridges and pickups. We offer roasted maple necks and the finishing process is also unique. And last but not least, we use well over 100 year old chestnut wood. This has become a huge part of our identity. Together with all these ingredients, we do give the possibility to customize our guitars, so every Paoletti model can become a dream guitar."
This Marco Polo Project takes your guitars to a whole other level and it looks as if you have been involved with this project for some time now. How long? And how many people have been involved?
"The Marco Polo project is so immersive that I could spend days talking about the concept, the project, the experience and the presentation event we will have in Venice in 2024. I have done some limited edition guitars in the past, celebrating famous historical people of our country, like Leonard da Vinci, but this one is different. It is ultimate! It may sound crazy, but I have been working on this for a few years now, being inspired by the Middle Ages and our beloved city of Venice in Northern Italy. It was such a rich period in so many ways. So very, very inspiring and I tried to capture this in just one guitar. To me, Marco Polo is a symbol for that era, and we are lucky that his travels are so beautifully depicted."
The inlaywork on these guitars is incredible. Could you tell us more about this process? How was this design created? And executed?
"The inlayed design on the body is represented on an original small miniature in a book safely stored in the Oxford libraries, and it is about Marco Polo leaving Venice in 1271. The challenge for me was to translate this miniature to an instrument, because this picture is only a few centimetres. So I had to complete the neck and the headstock with designs of my own."
"Creating the prototype #0 took a long, long time. It is all done by hand, starting with the selection of authentic mother of pearl from Venice, working it, colouring it, cutting it in small pieces and finally assembling the artwork on the body, which is of course old chestnut. There are about 2800 small pieces of pearl in every guitar and to give you a rough idea about the labour: it takes about 5 months to make just one guitar."
There appear to be no pickups in the guitar. Are they 'stealth' or is there a piezo? Or some other magic?
"Oh no, it’s not magic, just a piezo down below the bridge. We all know this is a showcase instrument, so there is a small chance these guitars will ever be played on stage. But it ís an instrument, so we wanted to give the guitar a voice. And the result is like an acoustic guitar, which is why we even have them equipped with brass acoustic strings and it sounds and plays extra ordinary! We think of these guitars more like museum pieces and future owners should not worry: they deserve a custom made display glass case, which is actually delivered together with the guitar. Handmade as well here at Paoletti. It is part of the package we offer."
These guitars celebrate the 700 year anniversary of the death of Marco Polo and his historical journey. 700 years from now, where do you hope these Paoletti guitars will be?
"Well, that is a very interesting question. Of course we hope they will be admired by people in a surrounding that suits the instrument. To give every Marco Polo Guitar a start in the right direction we plan to have a celebration event in Venice, never seen before in the guitar industry, where the future owners and our worldwide distributors will be invited.
On that day, on behalf of Paoletti, a Venetian Museum will be exclusively reserved for this Marco Polo Guitar project, resulting in an ultimate experience for everybody involved, surrounded by the unique Venetian atmosphere. We are working very hard to make sure it will be a once in lifetime experience for everybody there, in May 2024."
If anyone wants to know more about these guitars, what should they do?
"We have just started announcing the project in order to have all the 10 limited edition Marco Polo guitars completed by 2024, and through our dealers we are giving acces to preorders. The Fellowship of Acoustics is our exclusive partner in the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg for this project, because we know The Fellowship is a reference point for great service and awesome guitars.
We are overwhelmed by the response, because at present, half of them are already gone. So if you want to know more, do not hesitate to get in touch with one of the Fellows, or as we call them: 'Compagni' in Dedemsvaart. We are sure they will be able to help!"