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polara

In 30_ years, I've never had an NDG like this. The Ceci Domino

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Posted (edited)

File this under Django49s "I didn't even know these existed" hyper-boo-teek territory. This goes beyond the realm of guitars and into some weird new zone of art and woodcraft.

Somehow I stumbled across Ceci Guitars on Reverb. One of those things where you type in some search and end up down a rabbit hole of stuff you've never seen. Patrik Ceci is from Italy, and has built maybe ten guitars. Each seems to have been different, and each has a name. His designs, to me, seem kind of Art Deco, with a geometric, 1930s Raymond Loewy influence. Even the metal bits he makes (apart from tuners) and he uses Mojo pickups, from England. All were interesting, but one in particular kept me coming back to look at the photos. 

So many reasons not to buy. First, I found only one YouTube review, and one review on his site. Even the Gear Page geeks had not a mention of this guitar. And did I really want to chance international shipping, and who knows what as far as customs duties, and if I didn't't like it, the return process could be horrifying. But nothing ventured, nothing gained... and even with shipping it was a smidge over $1000... I hit it.

Patrik was a prince as far as communication. Answered every communication and kept me up to date on every little thing. Italian authorities were a little slow to release it, but it still arrived in about a week. Very well packed, and the case was a cool (Italian-looking) sort of jumbo briefcase, very sleek. Inside was... a lot more packing material. Patrik packs well. I got it out, and my wife and daughter even were going "Wow!"

Meet Domino.

The body is one piece of mahogany, with the back entirely cut away, leaving a solid center block and hollow sides with a pair of round sound holes on the front. The back is then covered with aluminum plates, with edges smooth as silk, finished in a nitrocellulose white. He uses this same painted aluminum for the "poker chips" behind the volume and tone knobs and the pickup mount. I think also the output jack plate. (If you don't like plastic.. this guitar is almost plastic-free. Just the knobs, I think.)

Then the construction gets weird(er). The back also has two strips of maple, that are, from what he described, over a pair of channels that contain solid brass bars that run from the tail of the guitar (and are secured by polished brass nuts) along the length, through a polished aluminum block that serves to mount the bridge, and finally to the heel of the neck, where they meet another aluminum black that secures the neck. The guitar is kind of a mahogany block with a metal spine, with components mounted to the spine via aluminum blocks, with acoustic chambers on either side which are covered by aluminum plates.

The neck is there pieces of mahogany with the most insane woodwork I've ever seen along the edges of the fingerboard. It's somehow a maple fingerboard (9.5" radius) with an edge of mahogany, and inlayed bone blocks, while at the end, the mahogany is cleanly radiusd away to leave just maple. The end of the fingerboard is round, and floats over the body. The frets, incidentally, are domed, not flat on top, with perfect ends, and are so level the guitar came with action too low for me (which is saying something). The truss rod is double-action and very sensitive, needing only a 1/16 turn to get it level as a railway track. Size is on the larger side of medium, getting to "chunky" and a very neutral round, that doesn't swell much as it goes up. Not weird at all: I was somehow expecting it to feel awkward. The only quirk, and I asked Patrik about it, is that the high "E" is well in (probably 5mm) from the edge of the fingerboard. He says it's deliberate, as you can use a pretty heavy vibrato or bend and not go off the edge. You don't feel it at all, but it looks odd.

Has Kluson tuners which I have not seen before, a bone nut and zero fret, a really unique looking Mojo custom-made gold foil pickup, handmade brass strap buttons, handmade brass bridge, handmade aluminum tailpiece. It really was almost intimidating to hold, there was so much detail work in it, and there is NOTHING about it that says "Oh, like a Telecaster, like a Les Paul, like a Gretsch." It's completely its own thing.

Unplugged, it sounds more like a flat top acoustic guitar than an arch top with F holes. You could probably bring this to an open mic and no one would give you dirty looks for bringing an "electric" (gasp!) Perfectly easy to play, though 11s on a 25.5" scale take some effort to bend. Well, I thought, time to plug in. I may hate it now.

First thought? Kind of a high-octane Gretsch. Pretty powerful, kind of a "woody" thing, not as much treble as I'd expected considering the amount of metal in this guitar. Knobs are very useful: you don't lose high-end when you ease off on the volume, and it doesn't go too dull when you roll the tone off. Shocked that it doesn't feed back like a banshee with high gain. It doesn't do shimmering or quacking or zingy... no Fender sounds at all. Somewhere in the Gretsch meets a Les Paul land. This would make a good raunchy blues guitar, and with the tone down, surprisingly nice jazzy sounds.

It's beastly heavy though. 10.36 pounds. It's well balanced, but all the brass and aluminum add up. I don't think I'd play it more than 45 minutes at a time. The only other quirk (aside from the aforementioned high "E") is that I can just feel where two of the three pieces of the neck are laminated. Its finished in Tru-Oil, so nothing is covered by lacquer, and it's not an issue, so much as an observation.

Bottom line is this is a genuinely unique guitar, build to please the builder, with no compromises, but also takes some getting used to. As a tool for gigging, I'm not sure it would be the only guitar for many people, but it's a great example of lutherie, and honestly really nice to  play.

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Edited by polara
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The construction with metal in the body sounds interesting.  Your new toy is odd, but attracting more interest just because of all the "quirks."

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9 minutes ago, Steve Haynie said:

The construction with metal in the body sounds interesting.  Your new toy is odd, but attracting more interest just because of all the "quirks."

It certainly is quirky, but none of it feels (to me) like being weird for weird's sake. I can't think of an analogy, but it's very "pure." The guy has a very definite, consistent idea of what he likes and it has not been watered down. 

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Congratulations!  And thanks for the review and education.  Good on ya for coloring outside the lines.  I hope it works out.

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Nice!!  It's good to see builders thinking outside the box more often. Some really interesting designs!

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That's simply byooootiful.

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17 minutes ago, Toadroller said:

That's simply byooootiful.

Love the creative spelling LOL!

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Posted (edited)

I like it.  It's got a 'Modern Art' Jazz thing going. You need to play it at old style coffee houses, where everybody wears berets and snaps their fingers instead of applauding.

Edited by crunchee
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Posted (edited)

Congrats on the unique find, It reminds me, a bit, of the Bunker guitars, which I think were also related somehow to a PBC company (NOT PBG)

Years ago, I had one of their guitars and a similar bass that had the "wishbone" system that linked the neck through the bridge with a metal bar. This was designed to have a "tension free" neck and body to allow the woods to resonate unimpeded.......Well, I forget their exact marketing spiel, but it looked like this.....

http://davebunkerguitars.com/at_200jerrimy.html

Nice guitar. And I appreciate the detailed description.

ETA.....I should probably cobble up a review of the Rick Turner Model One. That is another one that, while not really being as adventurous design-wise, can be way more than what a person expects from a guitar. Not that I in anyway attempt to do Buckingham material, but it makes me appreciate how he gets his sound.

Edited by django49
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15 minutes ago, crunchee said:

I like it.  It's got a 'Modern Art' Jazz thing going. You need to play it at old style coffee houses, where everybody wears berets and snaps their fingers instead of applauding.

Do they tip?

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16 minutes ago, crunchee said:

I like it.  It's got a 'Modern Art' Jazz thing going. You need to play it at old style coffee houses, where everybody wears berets and snaps their fingers instead of applauding.

You laugh, but I think we're gonna play an open mic at a coffee house tonight with this. :D

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Posted (edited)
4 minutes ago, gtrdaddy said:

Do they tip?

Of course they do! It usually sounds something like this:

"Mon dieu! Don't do that!"

...thanks for the tip...

Edited by joshoowah
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1 minute ago, joshoowah said:

"Mon dieu! Don't do that!"

“Hey! Who’s there? This shit ain’t funny!”

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Posted (edited)

Very unconventionally cool!!! I like how the fretboard is rounded off!! Just looks...mmm...retro jetsonish....

Edited by Dutchman
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2 hours ago, polara said:

You laugh, but I think we're gonna play an open mic at a coffee house tonight with this. :D

What time & where?  Kavarna?

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There are many things I love about that design.  It would be even better if the builder had recessed the front and back plates into the wood.  He obviously has the skill to do so, I wonder why he didn't?

Regardless, it's beautifully done and perfectly odd.

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44 minutes ago, soli'd said:

What time & where?  Kavarna?

Waller’s about 730 or 8. It’s where Ponce and DeKalb Industrial meet. Come play a song! 

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That's really cool. Please post a clip when you get a chance! I'd love to hear it. 

And even with shipping from Italy, that guitar only cost a little more than $1K??? That's pretty surprising. 

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53 minutes ago, Kurt L said:

That's really cool. Please post a clip when you get a chance! I'd love to hear it. 

And even with shipping from Italy, that guitar only cost a little more than $1K??? That's pretty surprising. 

Yeah, he said at this stage he's just building them, playing them a bit, and selling to get exposure. A known builder would probably charge several multiples of that. One even halfway established would probably need to clear $3500 in labor and materials. Seems like he's just a guy who loves making these in the evenings instead of watching TV.

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