A Full-Bodied Tonal Bouquet: Paoletti Guitars Uses Century-Old Wood from Wine Barrels

By Bienstock, Richard | Guitar Player, April 2018 | Go to article overview

A Full-Bodied Tonal Bouquet: Paoletti Guitars Uses Century-Old Wood from Wine Barrels


Bienstock, Richard, Guitar Player


FABRIZIO PAOLETTI BEGAN BUILDING guitars in the Tuscany region of Italy in 2005. He constructed his first instrument--a triple-single-coil solidbody with an alder body and a sunburst finish--at the request of a friend. The finished product, he recalls, was "not so bad."

Today, he continues to build instruments under the name Paoletti Guitars, with results that are not only quite stunning, but also wholly unique. In an innovative twist, his guitars and basses feature bodies constructed from the wood of century-old chestnut wine barrels--a nod to his family history, as the Paolettis have been producing Chianti in the region since the 19th century (Fabrizio's father still operates a small local vineyard).

"My guitars pay reverence to both my passion for the land and my love of all things musical," says Paoletti. "The first time I came across this idea about repurposing wine barrels, I was with Maurizio Solieri, one of the most famous musicians in Italy. He suggested we test the sound of chestnut on his own Paoletti custom guitar. The result was amazing, so I started to recover all the barrels my grandfather had left to my family. I'm talking about 130- to 150-year-old chestnut wood from abandoned wine barrels in Tuscany--what we call 'Leonardo da Vinci land.'"

Paoletti employs this ancient wood in all his builds, most notably for his flagship Stratospheric Wine Series.

"Chestnut is alive--it breathes," he says. "It's a wood that brings a high number of harmonics, which I think is something that is very important, and it is also the king of sustain. There is a focus on middle-bass frequencies, but the tone is also malleable, depending on the other woods used in the guitar."

In the case of the HSS model shown here, these other woods include a Honduras mahogany neck and a Macassar ebony fretboard, each of which Paoletti says is matched to the specific piece of chestnut used for the guitar's body. Other features include Gotoh tuners, an original Floyd Rose tremolo, two custom-wound Paoletti Strato 60s single-coils, and a Rock II humbucker.

"The pickups are completely handmade here in the factory, using components that work perfectly with chestnut wood," says Paoletti. "We also use Alnico V magnets, as well as a double-waxing process to prevent 'bad' noises."

The pickups are controlled by a 5-way selector switch, as well as a trio of knobs (one Volume, two Tone) that have been fashioned from shotgun shells from the Italian ammunition company, Fiocchi. …

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