Del Pilar Classical Guitar (1971)

Del Pilar  Classical Guitar  (1971)
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Item # 10629
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Del Pilar Classical Guitar (1971), made in Brooklyn, NY, serial # 516, natural varnish finish, Arfican rosewood back and sides, spruce top, mahogany neck with ebony fingerboard, original black alligator grain hard shell case.

The "Artist of Atlantic Avenue" Guillermo Del Pilar hand crafted very high-grade Spanish-style instruments in the heart of downtown Brooklyn from the 1950's through 1990's. This is a nice example of his mid-period work, hand signed and dated to August 17, 1971. The back and sides are made of lovely and very interestingly figured African rosewood, which is specifically noted on the original receipt. Around this time many makers (including Martin) looked for alternatives to Brazilian rosewood due to that country's increasingly unfriendly export policies. This African variety is a lovely wood if quite different from the familiar Brazilian, with a lighter color and an almost 3-D effect in the grain, particularly on the back.

The spruce top has 5-ply wood binding with a maple outer layer and the bridge is rosewood, as is the headstock face. The rosette is fairly complex. As with many New York immigrant community instrument builders (like Del Pilar's contemporary John D'Angelico) the emphasis was on sound quality more than the sort of obsessive neatness detail that is seen on modern guitars; this guitar looks and feels handmade in the best way.

This is also a great sounding guitar; extremely responsive, even, warm and round sounding, with good volume and surprising projection. This would be an excellent instrument for Bossa Nova stylings as well as the straight classical repertoire. This instrument comes direct from the family of the original owner, who knew "the old man" socially and bought this guitar from him in 1971...when neither of them was that old yet! The original dated receipt is still included in the case. These Del Pilar guitars have become highly prized in recent years and Del Pilar's reputation as one of the finer, if relatively unsung luthiers in postwar America is still growing.
Overall length is 39 1/2 in. (100.3 cm.), 14 1/2 in. (36.8 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 4 1/8 in. (10.5 cm.) in depth at side, taken at the end block. Scale length is 25 5/8 in. (651 mm.). Width of nut is 2 in. (51 mm.).

Overall this guitar is nicely preserved; there is some fairly minor play wear and old repair but nothing too intrusive. The top finish shows some small dings, dents and finger marks, with a couple of longer scratches. The neck, sides and neck are quite clean overall with just light dings and dents. The only notable repair is a long spruce grain crack to the top just off the bass side of the fingerboard. This is solidly sealed but not lined up as cleanly as it might have been, so remains clearly visible.

Beyond than this there are no other cracks or repairs visible, and the guitar appears completely unaltered. This is a lovely and very warm sounding guitar, a fine player and a very nice example of this extremely well-regarded local maker's work. It includes the original hard shell case, with some wear to the outer covering in structurally excellent condition. The guitar has been in Brooklyn since new; the original receipt is still in the case. Excellent - Condition.