Busato Guitar Construction - Vintage Gypsy Guitars - Busato- Favino-Di Mauro-Castelluccia

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Busato Guitar Construction

Technical Info

Busato guitars construction:

You will find on this website a special section (Technical Info/Luthier’s Stuff) with a lot of information gathered by luthiers who have repaired and analyzed Busatos, true experts, amongst which Martin Tremblay who is undeniably one of the best luthiers who can intervene on a high quality gypsy guitar and namely Busatos or Selmers. There are hundreds of photographs and detailed explanations in the luthier’s special section.

The following is the minimum you should know about the main technical features of Busato guitars:

- The braces are usually pointy (triangle) or have a triangle shape with a flat top.
- Busatos, like many vintage gypsy guitars, have a thick top of 125 thou of an inch and are underbraced with 3 top braces.
- If you gently feel with your hand the player’s side at the lower bout level you will feel some irregularities due to worn moulds. Most Busatos I owned or played, lets say at least 80%, were showing this defect. I asked three of the most experienced luthiers in France who repaired dozens of Busatos or collect them, and they all reported to me the same phenomenon. The same remarks apply to Sonoras, Symphonia, Beuscher and Paris Musicals made by Busato and other non-labeled Busato identified as Busato by an experienced luthier.
- On many Busatos the sound hole (rosacea) is reinforced below the top with a thin wooden layer. (Busato style beech sound hole support).
- The back is arched
- The top is moderately or strongly arched.
- The moustaches of the bridge have a particular shape
- Necks of the majority of grand models are in 3 parts with a center spline.
- Neck heels can be tapered or, less often, not tapered.
- Quite often the tops do not have an even or beautiful grain.
- Quite often the top are made of many pieces.
- Fret boards of vintage guitars made in the Paris area (Busatos and Sicilian-French luthiers guitars) are often made of tinted pear wood (if you cut them the wood is white), while in the Mirecourt school of luthiery fret boards are also made of tinted pear wood, what they called then “Mirecourt ebony” and was used for violins as well. Tinted pear wood is cheap but it is soft for fingers. With time it dries out and is a problem for refretting. I could often lift the frets with my fingers as pear wood is not the best bed for frets. Rarely fret boards were made back then with rosewood or ebony.
- The neck is simply glued flat on the body block. Of course you can only see this it if your luthier resets the neck. You will find pictures in the luthier info.
- The braces are huge and trimmed in the Busato fashion, completely unlike anything Selmer did.
- Small Busato style tone bars.
- Multi-piece top (quite often three pieces...Selmer sometimes did this but not that often)
- There's no heat bent pliage.
- Casein glue was used by Busato.
- Sides on Busatos are more fragile than on other guitars, as they were made with two ply laminate instead of three.

Every true expert of Busato will tell you something which might sound weird but which is absolutely true. Do not seek perfection to spot a Busato but, on the contrary, imperfection. The headstock is not perfectly aligned with the neck more often than normal, the neck might not align with the body centerline, it can be cockeyed, one slot on the head stock can be longer than the other, etc. I know some Busato owners who had to use bigger guitar cases than normal as the tilt of the neck would be half and inch offset and the guitar would not fit in the case. Also a lot of guitar tops are not very beautiful, some are pretty ugly with super wide and irregular grain patterns in the spruce. The golden years for Busato were the hard years when World War II was destroying Europe and the world and made supplies difficult. Even large companies like Gibson in the US had this problem so you can imagine the difficulties that a small size French artisan like Busato could have. Some tops are made of “pichepin”, a rough pinewood used to make low-cost pieces of furniture.

Still, in spite of these defects, Busato guitars are great instruments. Busato had undeniably a secret, or more likely a couple of secrets, as his guitars have a very specific sound signature. Some modern luthiers are trying to copy Busatos and make many efforts to get the Busato sound. Some individual luthiers artisans are doing a decent job, even if it seems (personal opinion shared by many) that none has ever produced a guitar that Busato would endorse; some have only of Busato the name, even if they own it (Dupont)…


 

I had in my hands, and the most prominent luthiers who collect, trade and repair Busatos in Europe came across many Busatos with the same flaw. It is also true of most Symphonia, Sonora, Paris Musical and some Beuscher made by Busato. There is a wave in the player side of these guitars, which is a distinctive sign of the Busato production. It is shown on the picture. As shown, it happen always at the lower bout.

Even pseudo experts on Busato (there are many including some well known brokers) are not aware that Busato did not use dovetail connection. The neck heel is glued flat on the neck block. Castelluccia did the same but there is a 15 mm approx. hole in the flat neck block. When you have to do a neck reset on a gypsy guitar which looks like Busato, if the joint is flat, investigate further, you might have a Busato.

 
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