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Jumbo 12 String Flat Top Acoustic Guitar, labeled Galiano , c. 1925
Jumbo Model 12 String Flat Top Acoustic Guitar, labeled Galiano, c. 1925, made in New York City, natural varnish finish, mahogany back and sides, spruce top; mahogany neck with ebonized fingerboard, black hard shell case.
This guitar is simply one of the finest vintage twelve strings we have ever seen, a true connoisseur's piece and a fascinating part of American guitar history. It is labelled "Galiano", a brand name that was shared by several Italian-American luthiers working in the Little Italy section of Manhattan in the first quarter of the 20th Century. What has become referred to recently as The "Italian Guild" consisted of a set of semi-affiliated small musical instrument stores/workshops operated in the city by immigrant luthiers including Antonio Cerrito, Raphael Ciani, J. Nettuno, Nicolai Turturro, Michael Iucci and others. Some of these craftsmen also appear to have had ties to the Oscar Schmidt Company's instrument factory in nearby Jersey City, NJ, builders of the iconic "Stella" and "Sovereign" branded guitars. While often similar in design, the instruments produced in the small Little Italy shops exhibit a much higher level of craftsmanship and original details than Schmidt factory products. Bowlback mandolins were predictably the most popular offering, but the guitars are the prizes today.
Inside the body this guitar carries a label stating "A. Galiano, Fabricante Di Chitarre e Mandolini" which is found on quite a few "Italian Guild" instruments as well as many Oscar Schmidt guitars that these shops often sold. The design and construction details of this instrument suggest strongly it is the product of the Raphael Ciani shop, where the young John D'Angelico learned his craft. The specific shape of the mortised heel, the round neck profile, and the type of purfling used set this instrument apart from similar factory-made Schmidt instruments. The overall fit, finish and materials are all much higher grade, typical of a small shop, custom-built guitar. The Ciani shop made numerous mandolins and guitars in the 1910's and '20's, but relatively few 12-strings.
This guitar's body is built of mahogany, with a tight-grained spruce top. The neck is mahogany, carved to a deep but comfortable "C" profile with a narrow heel typical of Ciani instruments. The fingerboard is ebonized wood inlaid with shaped abalone position markers in a pattern typical of many New York made guitars of this period. The pyramid-end bridge is ebony, of a pattern commonly used on some earlier Schmidt 12-strings employing only 6 pins to hold the strings in pairs and a notched bone saddle. The fingerboard, headstock and body are bound in white; the top is trimmed with the same colored wood purfling commonly found on many fancier Schmidt-made guitars, including the "Leadbelly" model Stella 12-string. The sound hole purfling is even more elaborate, with several rows of contrasting colored woods employed. The back is also bound in white with an inlaid center purfling strip that differs from that found on the top. The original Waverly strip tuners are higher grade model with a shaped plate end.
The guitar is not only a fantastic historical piece but an exceptional player's instrument. It has a tonal character somewhat different from the Stella 'Leadbelly' jumbos, with more brilliance and little less "thump" on the bottom end. While it shares materials and the same ladder bracing as its Oscar Schmidt cousins, the tone produced seems comparatively refined in the highs and mids, with a more pronounced sustain. Currently strung and tuned to "D" pitch, this guitar is very appropriate for ragtime fingerpicking, but when pushed, especially with a thumb pick, can rumble with the best of jumbo 12's. It is not just a historic period piece; it really excels for any style of 12-string playing. This is a extremely rare and historically important guitar, but also an exceptional musical instrument for the discerning player, of a type seldom seen then or now.
Overall length is 43 in. (109.2 cm.), 15 7/8 in. (40.3 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 4 5/8 in. (11.7 cm.) in depth at side, taken at the end block. Scale length is 26 in. (660 mm.). Width of nut is 1 7/8 in. (48 mm.). This instrument is a miraculous survivor; we have never seen another 12-string from the period at this level of preservation. It remains in thoroughly excellent, original condition throughout down to the nut and saddle. There is some general strumming wear to the top on both sides of the soundhole, mostly into but not through the finish. The only non-original pieces are two of the bridge pins and a couple of small sections of the neck binding over the body. It has recently had a neck set, and a back crack and the top center seam below the bridge resealed. The original bridge was reglued at some point in time, with some residue just around the edges. The original frets have been polished but retain good height. Overall the guitar is in better physical and playable condition than any other 12-string of its type we have ever seen, as well as being a practically unique instrument. Includes an old 1960/70's Dreadnought case in good functional condition. Excellent Condition.
Item # 6850
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