Terry Gillen – Tring, UK

Left: Conti Heirloom, Right: Conti Equity. Click image for larger

November 20th Update

Last weekend I attended a jazz course run by a small UK company called Guitar Weekends. I took my Heirloom and played Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas from The Special Holiday edition of the Signature Chord Melody Arrangements. Nervous and imperfect though it was, several people said how nice the chords sounded. As the weekend progressed, a couple of people commented on the Heirloom’s nice tone. When they played it, they commented on how easy it was to play. I took the opportunity to describe Robert’s approach, outline the product range, and rave about the Heirloom and also about the service I had received from you.

I had anticipated having to ’sit out’ now and again because of a touch of arthritis in my left hand. However, the Heirloom was so easy to play, I didn’t have to sit out once. Consequently, I’ve just placed an order with you for
12 sets of Robert’s strings (plus Intros, Endings and Turnarounds, which I couldn’t resist).

Conti Learning Products

I checked out Robert Conti’s Ticket to Improv some years ago after a word-of-mouth recommendation and was immediately impressed by the videos students submitted demonstrating their progress. I bought, and worked through, the first volume. It is probably worth pointing out that in my work as a professional management educator, I have studied how people learn. This means that I can spot skilfully structured learning material when I see it. I was immediately struck by how Robert Conti’s teaching is structured to make learning as easy as possible. I also noticed the motivational effect of playing music rather than learning scales, the quality of the video production and, finally, by Robert’s obvious desire to help aspiring players. A good example of this last point is his chord melody books; by providing several choices of chord for every melody note, you can easily create your own arrangements – he does the hard work while you have the fun and the satisfaction of creating something you feel is your own.

My Conti Equity Model

I also liked the look of the Equity archtop and, after trying one in a London store, I bought one. The looks, sound and playability would have been excellent in most guitars but, at the price I paid, they were astonishing. During a year of ownership, I thought of a few features I would ‘fine tune’ and, as if by magic, they all appeared in the new series of Conti archtops.

The idea of buying a guitar mail order and then importing it to the UK, made me very anxious and, had not been for the Conti reputation and customer feedback, I doubt I would have pursued the idea. I exchanged several emails and phone calls with Mike, the Production Manager, that were thoroughly reassuring and convinced me to place an order.

(Incidentally, if anyone else in the UK is thinking of buying a Conti Guitar, I used transferwise.com to make the payment – very efficient and much cheaper than a bank or credit card.)


Conti introduces Terry to his new guitar

Personalised Pre-Ship Video

The next step in the process was receiving a video of Robert playing my guitar. I was told it was coming and expected a video of a couple of minutes duration. Instead, I received more than fifteen minutes of Robert playing a range of tunes on my guitar. When he addressed me through the camera, it was clear from what he said that he and Mike had discussed my experiences and preferences in minute detail. This really is a personalised service second to none. Ending the video with one of my favourite tunes (The Girl from Ipanema) was the cherry on cake.

'Plays like butter’, ‘Low action’, ‘Plays straight out of the box’ are often used too freely but, in relation to this Heirloom, they are totally apt.

Delivery & First Impressions

FedEx delivered the guitar. Their service was impressive. It left on a Monday and was with me in the UK at 10:20 Wednesday morning, import duty and taxes all paid. After such a long journey not only was the guitar in perfect condition (much to my relief), so was the box it came in. How FedEx achieved that, I’ll never know.

As the guitar had traveled so far in trucks, aeroplanes and warehouses, I let it acclimatise for 24 hours. When I took it out of the case, I looked at it. Stunning. I inspected it. Perfect. I tuned it. The strings glided through the nut slots silently. I checked the intonation. Spot on. I played it. The neck is the most comfortable I have ever played; its width, profile and fretboard radius are just right. Clichés such as, ‘Plays like butter’, ‘Low action’, ‘Plays straight out of the box’, etc, are often used too freely but, in relation to this Heirloom, they are totally apt. Whether plugged or unplugged, the sound rings clearly everywhere on the fretboard. I love it. Whoever thought of calling it Heirloom, was absolutely right because that’s what it will become.

In summary, in these days of large corporations, incentivised sales staff and overseas call centres, doing business with the Pinnacle Production Group is a breath of fresh air. I really cannot speak highly enough of Robert Conti’s learning products, my Heirloom guitar and the service I have received from Robert, Mike and their team. I am seriously impressed and truly grateful.

-Terry Gillen –  Tring, United Kingdom


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