2023 Davide Melo (Azores Islands) Viola-Style Guitar

This completely-bizarre guitar was made by Davide Melo in the Azores Islands. The owner had it built for him as a custom job as Mr. Melo normally builds traditional Portuguese island-style instruments -- as might be obvious, because this has the body shape and styling of a viola da terra (a 12-string, 5-course, oddball instrument).

The top is solid spruce (I think) while the back, sides, bridge, and fretboard appear to be lightly-colored purpleheart. It has a short (22") scale length and so we strung it with 56w-13 mediums to make up for the short scale slack in the strings.

As you might expect, it was pretty wonky when it arrived and still has some wonk (the back is currently concave) but at least it's now playing nicely and has a good, woody, mellow sound to it. Jose did the work -- which included a heavy-handed level/dress of the frets as well as a bunch of fret seating, pinhole fill/redrill at the bridge (to move them farther aft and reduce the back-angle on the saddle), and a new bone saddle install. He also added side dots.

It's a quirky instrument and it was fun to introduce Jose to making-up solutions for all of that quirk. This is part of the fun of working on the true oddballs we see day to day over here. If you look closely you can see how far-off the string spacing at the bridge was vs. what it needed to be... there were lots of little challenges everywhere on this box...


Allan Carr said…
Those are nice tuners!