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1930 Tieri Tenor Guitar

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Raffaele Tieri was a member of the community of Italian luthiers who made stringed instruments in New York City in the early to mid 20th century. He started out in Naples, but moved to New York in the 1920s, working in a shop that was a stones-throw from fellow Italian maker John D’Angelico.

According to the label inside many of his instruments, he specialized in Balalaikas, but also created mandolins and unique guitars, such as this unusual find.

Here’s an exquisitely made cutaway tenor that may have started out as a 6 string instrument. There are a few clues to its former life such as the two extra holes in the bridge on either side of the current 4 string arrangement, the peg head that shows that it may have originally had a larger sized set of tuning machines, and the neck that is suddenly thinner than the area where it is attached to the body. However, this may have been a last minute change while still in the hands of Tieri, as the scale length is a typical tenor scale (22 1/2”).

The uniquely shaped peg head sits astride an ebony fret board that ends in a point and is in turn surrounded by a multi colored rosette consisting of many bands of inlaid wood. The Italian spruce top has darkened to an almost mahogany color and is backed by flame maple.

In fine playing condition, with some wear surrounding the white pick guard, and a small patch in the cutaway that formerly held a control knob for a pickup.

Acoustically, the guitar has a lot of volume, with low action, a comfortable neck and frets that seem to be new.

$2995 in contemporary hard case