Legendary Italian luthier Antonio Stradivari is generally considered the most significant and greatest artisan in his field, constructing the world’s finest violins that today are sold for millions of dollars.
In his lifetime, he (and the Stradivari family) produced more than 1,000 instruments, of which 960 were violins; however, a small number of guitars also were crafted. Today, only one remains playable.
Stradivari made the “Sabionari” guitar in 1679; however, at the beginning of the 19th century, (like many other baroque guitars) it was augmented to follow the style of more modern instruments of that time.
Daniel Sinier and Francoise de Ridder restored it back to its original baroque configuration (documented in the fall 2014 #119 issue of American Luthier), with four double catgut strings (A D G B) and a single E string. Fellow veteran luthier Lorenzo Frignani maintains the instrument now and keeps in usable condition.
The “Sabionari” is owned by a private collector and could be considered to be a museum piece. But in the clip below, we can hear in action. That's concert guitarist Rolf Lislevand performing Santiago de Murcia’s "Tarantela" using the Stradivarius guitar. Enjoy!
Jonathan Graham is an ACM UK graduate based in London studying under the likes of Guthrie Govan and Pete Friesen. He is the creator of ForgottenGuitar.com, a classic-guitar media website, and is completing his debut album, Protagonist, due for release in 2016. Updates also can be found at Graham's YouTube channel.