Fraulini Francesca Decal Model 12 String Flat Top Acoustic Guitar

Fraulini  Francesca Decal Model 12 String Flat Top Acoustic Guitar
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Item # 9463
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Fraulini Francesca Decal Model Model 12 String Flat Top Acoustic Guitar, made in Madison, Wisconsin, serial # F-239, natural finish, poplar body and neck, original black hard shell case.

This instrument is an absolutely beautiful Fraulini guitars re-creation of the version of the classic "decal" jumbo Stella 12-string type most associated with Blind Willie McTell. Fraulini is a very small dedicated operation that specializes in unique and superbly built instruments inspired by the Oscar Schmidt Stella instruments and Italian-American New York guitar makers of the 1910's and '20's. Fraulini guitars are made in small batches, in many variations on a selection of body sizes and styles. This guitar is the special "Decal" version of the "Francesca" model crafted in exacting detail, from by far the finest line of Stella-inspired 12-strings currently available.

Here is a digest of Fraulini maestro Todd Cambio's thoughts on this model:

"The Francesca is a copy of the Stella Auditorium guitar made by the Oscar Schmidt Company. This iconic 12 string was played by such blues greats as Leadbelly. I also make a decal version of the Francesca, similar to the model played by Willie McTell, with a pin bridge. The Francesca is ladder braced, 16" in the lower bout, with a long 26 1/2" scale. The 12 string is generally tuned down to C or B. Leadbelly and McTell tuned in that ballpark, going down to Ab toward the end of their careers. I use either pin bridges or tailpieces on the Francesca 12 string. The pin bridge gives a slightly fuller sound, while the tailpiece is a drier.

"In the early 1900's decorative decals were often used to add a little pizzazz to household objects. I don't think that any (guitar) company did this to greater effect than Oscar Schmidt, who used decals to imitate fancy rosettes and backstrips and add a touch of class, whether it was with ivy, musical instruments or beautiful ladies. I've thought for some time about making some copies of these instruments; recently a confluence of events caused me to act and make a few. I couldn't be more pleased with the results.

What it really boils down to for me is chasing a sound; a sound that was put down on record in the 1920's and 30's, by some poor guy or gal who may have been a blind street musician, a barber, a sharecropper, a mill worker, a coal miner or a housewife who played at night and on weekends to pass the time. They played what they could afford, which usually wasn't much, and played the hell out of it. The decal guitars sum it all up beautifully, built quickly from lightweight materials with a time saving, eye catching detail that allowed them to be some of the first mass produced budget guitars.

My approach was to try to stay close to originals. I wanted to use poplar for all the parts of the instrument, build them with the same bracing patterns, use hide glue and finish them with varnish. The guitars came together fairly smoothly. They are a little louder than the old ones, with a more dynamic sound, I likely take a little more away from the braces.

The frets are modern, medium sized, more comfortable and more forgiving than what was used on the old guitars. The saddle is compensated so it plays in tune better and it is made of bone, rather than fret material or celluloid. They are extremely light in weight, have lots of volume and a very distinct old time tone. They are well made, no frills instruments which have an old soul. They are perfect for people who play old style blues or hillbilly music who are looking for that sound, but don't want to deal with the maintenance of an old guitar."

The full piece can be read here, and it's worth the time:

All we can add is we couldn't be more impressed with all of Todd's instruments, which are far and away the finest "1920's" guitars made since Hoover was president. We are always thrilled to have one in stock and this is simply a stunner, with all the majesty of sound one could wish for -- especially for a guitar made of much-maligned poplar wood. A really fine and unique 12-string, with a sound that echoes back 100 years and the playability of a modern guitar rolled into one.
Overall length is 43 in. (109.2 cm.), 16 in. (40.6 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 4 1/16 in. (10.3 cm.) in depth at side, taken at the end block. Scale length is 26 1/4 in. (667 mm.). Width of nut is 1 15/16 in. (49 mm.).

This guitar is of recent build and shows some very light play wear, but is basically in showroom condition. There are a few shallow dents in the back, one small dink in the back of the neck and that's about it. The guitar is set up with heavy strings for the authentic tuning down to B or C, but that can be customized for whatever style the instrument will be used for. And we'd like to note it is set up with the authentic 1920's doubled 3rd string, not the more modern octave stringing. Even many classic blues fans miss that touch, which has a noticeable impact on the sound. This is a wonderful 12-string made by the one true expert builder of this style of instrument, complete in its original black Tolex HSC Excellent + Condition.