Ribbecke Monterey 17 Preowned
Price: $12,500 - NEW PRICE!!
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hardshell case included
If you have even a passing interest in archtop guitars you will have run across California luthier Tom Ribbecke, who has garnered world-wide renown as a builder of flawless archtops in the Jimmy D’Aquisto tradition. This guitar was built in 2002 for the current owner, a collector who ordered the instrument as a showpiece for his collection. The guitar is largely unplayed and essentially as new.
If you have even a passing interest in archtop guitars you will have run across California luthier Tom Ribbecke, who has garnered world-wide renown as a builder of flawless archtops in the Jimmy D’Aquisto tradition. After finishing a music degree in upstate New York, Ribbecke moved to San Francisco in the early '70s and started working on guitars, repairing countless instruments and eventually building his own. Over the years, his archtop instruments have gained a devoted following and Tom is now among a rarified group of archtop builders (also think Linda Manzer and John Monteleone) who are the torch-bearers of the D’Aquisto/D’Angelico tradition.
This guitar was built in 2002 for the current owner, a collector who ordered the instrument as a showpiece for his collection. The guitar is largely unplayed and essentially as new. Too, this is a particularly good vintage for a Ribbecke guitar because in 2003 Tom moved in a slightly different direction with his Halfling guitar design (a model with an arched treble side of the top and a flat bass side). The Halfling was a successful design, but many archtop connoisseurs consider Tom’s earlier archtops to be his finest work. By the way, Tom has gone into “semi” retirement now, and only builds high end archtops—like this one—but a new one can cost you between $30,000 and $50,000, making this guitar an especially good value.
Ribbecke is a well-known perfectionist, and he simply hates to settle for anything in his instruments that doesn’t reach the zenith of the art. Such passion and devotion is clearly evident in this guitar, with stellar wood choices, satisfying lines and perfection where wood meets wood.
The focus of the Monterey is pure acoustic archtop tone. The linage of archtop guitar design has two streams. One is the factory made instruments, which had either solid or pressed tops, and were made in factories alongside other guitars starting in early 1900s. The original charter for the design was that the instruments had to be loud and have ample projection because such guitars were very often played un-amplified in an orchestra setting. The first guitar pickups showed up in the late 1920s, making the quality of acoustic tone even less important. But in the 1930s John D’Angelico started the second stream when he recognized that the design could be refined to produce a beautiful, balanced and unique acoustic tone, and started to hand make archtop instruments in his small shop in in New York. Later, his apprentice, Jimmy D’Aquisto, carried on this tradition, and Tom followed in their footsteps.
This Monterey has an absolute premium sitka spruce top, which is a wonderful wood for an archtop instrument because it is very stiff and very light. The back and sides are big leaf maple from the west coast, also an excellent choice because the wood is strong and stiff, but lighter than hard rock maple. Also of note is the absolutely stunning book-matched quilted figure on the back, which is three dimensional and just shimmers. Tom really pulled out all the stops on the selection of materials for this guitar.
The work, as expected, is impeccable. Very much in Tom’s style, the guitar is not ostentations in any way. The figured woods are given no competition for visual appeal with showy inlay work, and the warm character of wood itself is showcased. One small nod to inlay work is the subtle but lovely tulip on the headstock. A simple and elegant touch to the overall refined aesthetic of the guitar. The guitar plays very well, with a comfortable medium C neck that feels great in your hand. There are also a couple unique features specific to this Monterey. One is that the neck wood came right from Jimmy D’Aquisto’s shop. Second is that it is the very first archtop Ribbecke made with with double sound holes on each side.
Tom Ribbecke is well established as one of the preeminent builders of archtop guitars, and this is a very special premium instrument that is in perfect condition, making this a pretty rare find.
If you'd like to find out more about this item, just call or e-mail me. It would be my pleasure to talk to you about it.
|Back & sides||premium uber-quilted big leaf maple|
|Top||premium hand carved sitka spruce|
|Neck profile||medium C, 1 3/4” at nut|
|Fingerboard||ebony, with figured maple binding|
|Finish||apricot violin lacquer|
|Tuners||gold Schallar with ebony buttons|
|Tailpiece||Ribbecke premium rosewood|