Catch of the Day: 1984 Yanuziello Thinline Archtop

It’s true: this probably isn’t what comes to mind when you think of Joe Yanuziello and the instruments he builds. However, we have several very good reasons for choosing this unusual archtop for our latest “ripped from the pages of the Fretboard Journal” Catch of the Day. Firstly, we were struck by its cursory resemblance to the Ken Parker archtop we featured a few catches back. Secondly, it’s being offered by The Music Emporium, a shop that was profiled in issue 38 (Joe was featured in issue 37). Thirdly (and finally), there aren’t many Yanuziellos out there from which to choose.

So, what do we have here? Well, it’s a vaguely Gibsonian thinline archtop, fully carved with a maple top and mahogany back and sides, sporting a rich, almost blood-red sunburst, a single (non-original) Seymour Duncan ’59 humbucker and a stoptail bridge (pre-dating the age of Joe’s handmade bridges). Joe shared some of the quirkier details with The Music Emporium for their listing; we cannot help quoting him here:

The construction is interesting on these. The sides had an integral solid mahogany block about 3 1/2″ wide running from the headblock to the tailblock. The block, with the side frame, was glued to the top – I carved the underside of the top on either side of the block. The mahogany back was carved completely so there was no attachment of the back to the center block. There is a complete air cavity inside except where the block hung from the top.

This unusual design is probably responsible for the “staggering amount of sustain” that TME mentions in their own comments. They also describe the guitar as “an ES-175 melded with an ES-330,” which has some merit, given the cutaway and shallow body, but doesn’t quite jibe with solid woods, and its slightly thicker waist gives the guitar a look that makes you cock your head a bit to one side and say, “Something’s not quite right here…” because that’s how much we’ve been conditioned by Gibson over the years. Still, we’ll definitely give TME the benefit of the doubt in their assessment of the instrument’s tone, and we’re not surprised by their caveat re: the neck carve–Joe’s necks will never be described as chunky.

Like Joe’s more recent instruments, we’re drawn to the unusual construction–the way he introduces air in seemingly solid designs–and the details: the vaguely mandolin-like design of the pickguard, the graceful volute, the disconcertingly different script “Yanuziello” logo on the headstock. And the $5,650 price tag is also appealing, all things (including a “very well done” refret) considered.