First, the punch line: After a month I’ve concluded that this guitar is not a substitute, surrogate, or compromise for that more expensive jazz box that one longs for and cannot afford. This IS the guitar of one’s dreams.
I’ll be as brief as I can. I have many guitars. But no real jazz guitars. I don’t play much jazz, but sometimes want to go there, and somehow my .strandberg* just isn’t right. I try to stay away from retail stores because there is ALWAYS something that catches my eye. But, I needed a set of strings and since I was near a store, I stopped by. As usual, I looked at used wall. There was nothing interesting. Walk away. Quickly. But… what’s that? Needing a ladder to get to it, there was a red wine archtop high on the wall. Conti? What’s a Conti? I’d never heard of them. I suspected that it was some Asian product, à la Cort (Nothing wrong with Cort. I believe they made my .strandberg*.) I found someone to get it down and I played for three minutes. I was meeting someone for lunch in fifteen minutes so I had no time to play much. I put it back.
It was two weeks before I was back in that neighborhood. In that time I did some research and if you are reading this, you’ve done the same and I won’t bore you with the details of Robert Conti’s business model to bypass the middleman. None of his guitars would be sold in stores. No distributors. Instead, he sells direct to player. He asks his prospects to trust that the guitar he gives them will make them exceptionally happy. That’s a big ask. You can’t play one to see if you like it.
Armed with this information and with more time set aside I went back to the store. While every other Conti customer needed to muster faith to buy, I had the luxury of actually playing one. The model is Equity, discontinued after the first production contract ended. The guitar played well and seemed well taken care of, 99% brand new. There were very few scratches, no dings. I copied the serial number and went home.
I went back to the Conti website but could find no serial number reference, nor a support page, but I could chat online with Steve. I asked about the serial number, and he told me the guitar was built in 2013. He also said that from what he knew of the previous owner, it should have been well taken care of. Wow. Steve told me the guitar was solid wood, not laminate. He asked me about the price and told me it was a very good deal. So, I went back the next day and bought it.
The next day I cleaned it and changed strings. It was clean but needed a little detailing. The cleaning process brought me closer to the instrument (LOL the truss rod cover on the headstock still had it’s original protective plastic covering). At every turn I was surprised and impressed by the build.
I love this guitar and I consider myself lucky to have it.
Scott Vaughan – Southern California, USA