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Wouldn't treat a dog, baby like you treat me - Ishman Bracey, The Four Day Blues

Author Topic: Dell'Arte Leadbelly 12-string  (Read 4880 times)

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Offline a2tom

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Dell'Arte Leadbelly 12-string
« on: November 09, 2005, 10:33:59 AM »
Anyone know anything about this guitar?

http://www.elderly.com/new_instruments/items/DEL12B.htm

I'm headed up to Elderly on Friday to shop for guitars (one of the nice things about living in SE Michigan!) mostly to play and compare Larrivee, Collings and Martin in the 000 12-fret and OM 14-fret styles, but I am still thinking about 12-strings that are made to pitch low.  This one seems to be that.  Obviously, I will play it, but my skills on the 12-string are non-existent.  Anything else likely to be at Elderly that would have the 26+ scale length?  BTW, I haven't forgotten about my trip to Todd's place next time I'm in Madison to play his Franscesca and Angelina...

tom

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Dell'Arte Leadbelly 12-string
« Reply #1 on: November 09, 2005, 11:22:25 AM »
If you're going to spend that kind of $$, I'd wait before buying to be able to try a Fraulini. Do a search on the IGS forum, where Dell'Artes have been discussed in the past. Mixed reviews as I recall, but I haven't played one. I seem to remember they used to be cheaper as well but could be misremembering (wouldn't be the first time, won't be the last..).

Offline a2tom

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Re: Dell'Arte Leadbelly 12-string
« Reply #2 on: November 09, 2005, 11:40:20 AM »
who said anything about buying?  I said shopping, which I've learned from my mother-in-law is an entirely different activity.   ;)  Seriously, I am just looking this week for future reference, not buying.  Hadn't heard of these before and wondered if anyone here had any experience/opinions.  There wasn't a lot on IGS that I could find - a few mentions, mostly positivie I thought but not enough to tell.  Definitley wouldn't jump at anything in that price range without visiting Fraulini first (I'm from WI with family in Madison, so a trip is definitely in my future...)

tom

Offline a2tom

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Re: Dell'Arte Leadbelly 12-string
« Reply #3 on: November 09, 2005, 03:06:36 PM »
a bit more IGS searching and I found a post in which a certain well-known player was, um, critical of these.  Seem to be plenty of decent vibes out there too, though.  The biggest issue seems to be the neck, which is thin compared to the old style - some like that, some don't it would seem.  I haven't found anything yet that says how its braced. 

It is curious that Dell'Arte is mostly known for their gypsy jazz guitars, and then offer this.  That may reflect the company being a fusion of two co-founders, to some degree. 

I'll take a look at it.  I fear that any report I can give won't be worth too much though - not much I'm gonna be able to compare it to in terms of real vintage 12's, rebuilt 6's into 12's, etc, and I imagine it is going to feel mighty strange to a 12-string newbie.

tom

Offline Cambio

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Re: Dell'Arte Leadbelly 12-string
« Reply #4 on: November 09, 2005, 05:04:03 PM »
I've checked out a couple of them, and while I think it's cool that they are making a long scale 12, I think they missed the mark.  The guitars are very clean and nicely made, but they are heavy, and when I did get a chance to poke a mirror in one, they weren't braced like the old Stellas.  The one that I checked out was technically ladder braced, but they threw a couple other braces in there, which ran perpendicular to the main braces and over the bridge plate, presumably to play it safe.  I didn't think that it needed the extra braces and thought that it caused the tone to suffer.  I would have liked to measure it up and compare the measurements to Leadbelly's guitar because it seemed much bigger than any Stella that I'd seen.
Of course I'm completely biased.  ;D

Offline Mr.Natural

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Re: Dell'Arte Leadbelly 12-string
« Reply #5 on: November 10, 2005, 05:26:24 AM »
Hi Tom
I own some nice guitars but I'm no specialist (like Todd & Alvis are).
I have a Dell'Arte Leadbelly 6-string. I like it a lot, I think it's beautifully made with a superb 'hog' back. I don't have any experience with Stella's so I can't really compare.
Suffice it to say that the L6 plays well and has its own signature sound.
Let us all know what you think of them after your visit to Elderly's.
happy shopping
Ed
don't mess with the Natch - he flosses with razorblades

Offline a2tom

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Re: Dell'Arte Leadbelly 12-string
« Reply #6 on: November 12, 2005, 06:43:59 AM »
OK, time for my Elderly field trip report (see, all that experience in grammar school was worth something...).

First the Dell'Arte 12-string - I actually played this used one http://www.elderly.com/vintage/items/26U-1583.htm.  My reaction on approaching it was "my god that's a big guitar".  On picking it up I was rather surprised that it was actually sort of light.  I played around on it for a while trying to make it play the blues as best I could.  It was plenty fun, and I had a few moments where I felt like I coaxed that great thick 12-strings blues sound out of it.  Tuned down that low(don't know what pitch) it played plenty easy - I would've like a bit more tension on the strings, I think.  Anyway, I did feel like there something missing from the tone - I got to feeling there was more for the guitar to give.  But without having played many others, take that with a big grain of salt.  It certainly was a step up from many of the more "modern" 12s that I usually think sound thin and jangly.  Finally, the neck had plenty of meat, I thought, even though it was flattened out with a truss rod. 

I know it's not the topic, but maybe someone will be interested in my other adventure, which was to play some 000s and OMs.  Bottom line, I still think the 000 slothead 12-fretters are superior to the OMs.  I just love the tone, and the 1 13/16" nut spacing is a joy to play.  The Collings are indeed nicest off the rack, but cost quite a bit more.  The Martins I consistently find to have brightness and penetrating quality to their tone which probably works great on stage, but for sitting around picking I often find too harsh.  But they sure play easy.  Finally, the Larrivees.  Their OM was OK, but their 000 12-fret model (I played the Mahogany 000-50 http://www.elderly.com/new_instruments/items/OOO50.htm) was amazing - at ~$1,850  it totally held its own when played side-by-side with the $3,200 Collings.  It didn't have quite the responsiveness, and tone was probably a little bit less complex and rich than the Collings, but I definitely thought that was the best value I played all day.  It was a top-notch country blues box that definitely gets the Stickman seal of approval if anyone is in the market and reading this...  And it's a beautiful instrument with the light mahogany and maple binding. 

Alas, clearly the best guitar I played all day was this 1996 000-28 Golden Era  http://www.elderly.com/vintage/items/10U-3770.htm, but it apparently sold after I left!!  Maybe it's because this has done that mythical "opening up" thing, but this guitar played so easy with such nice tonal balance, and without that somewhat harsh brightness I found in the other Martins.  I could've played this guitar forever.  The only thing wrong was that it has fret glue streaking onto the fretboard!  Even so, I thought this was a steal at $3,250.   If only I had $3,250 to spend yesterday!

Which brings me back home to my 000-15S.  OK, it doesn't have the clarity in tone as the more expensive ones, but for the $750 I payed for it, this still compares very favorably with them.  And the old girl has stayed with me - no, dear, I won't be trading you in... and look, I even bought you some new strings...

tom

Offline a2tom

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Re: Dell'Arte Leadbelly 12-string
« Reply #7 on: November 12, 2005, 06:46:39 AM »
one addendum - the only thing I didn't like as well on the Larrivee 000-50 was the neck profile.  Larrivees seem to always have a flat oval profile, but I really preferred the meatier V-neck that the Martin and Collings 000 12-frets have.

tom

Offline GhostRider

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Re: Dell'Arte Leadbelly 12-string
« Reply #8 on: November 12, 2005, 12:48:25 PM »
Tom:

Thanks for the traveloge. Here in Calgary there are no guitar stores with the selection like this so it is great to get a CB fan's view of the various guitars.

Alex

 


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