The term “Holy Grail” gets thrown around a lot in the vintage guitar market, so much so that it ends up losing its meaning. The Holy Grail is an untouchable, ideal instrument that can only be possessed by a lucky few, it immediately becomes the most coveted piece of any collection, it defines its owner and it only comes for sale once in a blue moon. Out of every vintage guitar model there is, the only one truly worthy of the Holy Grail moniker is the ‘Burst. The Les Paul Standard, made from 1958 to 1960 in its sunburst finish, including the Holy Grail of pickups, the famous PAF.
Since they are so rare and hard to come by, every one of them has an individual story and even a name that makes them bona fide personalities of the guitar world. This one was among the three Les Paul Standards sold in Italy in 1960, and therefore it has been named Giotto after the famous Florence painter from the 14th century. The red in the finish, which is still very vibrant, is clearly more of a ‘59 hue than the more aggressive ‘60 shade. In fact, this guitar is closer to a 1959, with typical ‘59 specs, pots from the 50th week of ‘59 and a transition neck, not quite a slim taper yet. The serial number is a very simple 0 1500. It was bought from a piano shop in Florence by a local musician. Since he was using it for his regular gigs and not collecting it, he modified it with a bulky Hagstrom tremolo and ended up breaking the headstock.
It was repaired by luthier Sergio Tomassoni with a slight overspray. In the eighties, its second owner, Franco Tonini, decided to revert it back to its tune o matic specs, therefore he had to put the inlay in the top to hide the hole left by the removal of the Hagstrom tremolo. He used it to put his initials FT in there, which makes this ‘Burst instantly recognizable but doesn’t ruin its superb look. A true work of art from a city that has seen so many of them.
After having been sold to a third owner, Giotto is back on the market and is available for any serious guitar lover who wants to take the big leap. A warning though: once you own a ‘Burst, other vintage guitars don’t look as thrilling to you as they once did. Holy Grail indeed. Comes with a CITES certificate.