Bob Holo Guitars: How Good? - Vintage Gypsy Guitars - Busato- Favino-Di Mauro-Castelluccia

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Bob Holo Guitars: How Good?

Modern Luthiers

Bob Holo guitars: How good are they?

Are you playing a vintage guitar, or one made by modern luthiers? Most vintage gypsy guitars have a vibe, a warm sound signature and are treasured by their owners, for good reasons. Some modern guitars are really good also. They share in common two things: they were made by artisans and not through an industrial or semi-industrial process, and genuine luthiers made them.

I have heard good things about some Bob Holo guitars. Not all of them, but some. I have played some, and neither I nor the genuine luthiers I discussed with like them. They have qualities, but something is lacking. One of the reasons, amongst others, is that Bob Holo, an engineer, designs them and they are not genuine luthier instruments. M. Holo learnt basics of luthiery, likes to show off what he knows in that matter, preferably on DjangoBooks forum, and Michael Horowitz praises his knowledge in that field. But, with all the due respect, Horowitz is only a merchant and not a luthier or an expert. Is his opinion flawed by the fact they are in business together and one has the exclusivity of the production of the other?

Busato was a wood worker, a real luthier, like Castelluccia, Joseph the Elder, and Antoine Di Mauro, or Bucolo. These guys were anything but engineers. Most of the Sicilian-French luthiers could hardly speak or write in French and they had callous hands. The instruments they made were so alive that players are bonding with them.
Nowadays there are many genuine luthiers, like Stephan Hahl, Ari from AJL, Martin Tremblay, Killy Nonis, Alain Mazaud, to name a few. They make great instruments and you can feel the same personality in them. There is a lot of love content. Call it soul or anything but they are much more than the wood used to make them.

You remember engineer-made guitars? What is left of the reputation of Ovation today? What is the resale value of an ovation? Who wants an Ovation guitar? Do you remember the Kasha guitars made at Gibson? You can buy one of these for close to nothing. Why? Once the hype has gone, people see there is no soul in these instruments. There was no alchemy between the wood, the craftsmanship and the person who made the guitar. And the sound has an artificial tinge to it. A kind of a fake taste.

Bob Holo guitars fate is likely to be similar to Ovation and Kasha guitars. You will find people who praise Holo’s guitars like there were people who were praising Ovation guitars. I bought a Gibson from Marcel Dadi and I discussed with him then. Should I buy an Ovation or a Gibson? Marcel recognized in me a musician and put back the ovation in its rack and handed me over a mid 60’s Gibson. True value, you see…

I would buy a Bob Holo instead of a Dupont. I would buy a Bob Holo instead of a cheap guitar. But there are so many excellent genuine luthiers made guitars that I would not buy an engineer-designed or made instrument. Ovation, Kasha and Holos are in the same league. To me, they were and remain poor investment.

You can still buy vintage instruments for a cheap price. Many genuine modern luthiers sell their guitars at a reasonable price. I have seen some Holo guitars in French newspapers and on the Internet in Europe. Their owners cannot get the price they are asking and they take a loss. If this trend shows already, what can you expect in the years ahead?

Look at the price of Favinos. They keep their value and they are excellent sounding and playing instruments, made by a true master. Why would you pick a Holo guitar for the same price?
Take your time and try a Favino, a Hahl, a Nonis, an AJL and compare it with a Bob Holo.
My intention is not to publish opinions of players who have made this test, as I have no interest in speaking ill of Bob Holo instruments. I am just a free journalist and many players listen to my humble opinions in matters related to gypsy guitars.
I have a very clear email from someone who plays a good Sicilian made guitar and compared it with a Bob Holo belonging to a guy in his band. His words are rather harsh for the engineer made guitar. To be perfectly fair I also have an email from someone in France, who is fully trustable as a collector and a player, and he just loves the two Bob Holo guitars he owns. Go figure!
Well, just do your own due diligence as it’s your money and you will have to live with what you will buy. I stick to my Busatos, which Bob Holo desperately wants to copy. He has not been really successful so far, but, Bob, keep trying. Who knows? You might put aside your engineering and purely intellectual mind and let emotions and love speak. This is probably the missing ingredient in your elaborate mathematical formulas…

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