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Lacote Style Romantic Guitars by Chuck Marfione

Marfione Guitars Lacote with 5-piece BackMarfione Guitars Lacote with Walnut Back and SidesMy Lacote style romantic guitars are inspired by the great French guitar maker Rene Lacote. I have strived to adhere to the major building practices of the period, however, I have also taken the liberty to enhance or improve on the overall build by introducing some new methodologies. My goal was not only to get the most sound out of these great guitars but also to make them easier to maintain, tune, and travel with. For instance, Lacote utilized a very shallow V mortise and tenon for his neck joints, and often secured it to the body with nothing more than hide glue. Some other romantic builders employed cut nails to hold the neck in place, or like Stauffer used mechanisms that not only allowed for easy removal, but also for neck angle adjustments. In lieu of these traditional methods, I’m employing a bolt-on neck and am not gluing the fretboard to the top. This approach affords the capability to easily remove the neck and break down the guitar into two pieces (neck and body) and carry it in a much smaller case that can easily be stowed in an overhead baggage compartment of just about any commercial airline. The removable neck also enables easy adjustment of the neck angle, not only during the build but at any point thereafter without resorting to any glue joint release.

BracedTopsI’ve also made a couple of simple bracing modifications to facilitate better response for the top. The ladder bracing and thickness of the top on these types of guitars is paramount in the production of the characteristic “Romantic” sound. However, there is still some latitude to work in shaping that sound to some degree. To that end, I have modified the bracing a bit, changing thickness and height and end scalloping, as well as positioning. I’ve also been experimenting with top wood selections. Sitka spruce produces what I like to characterize as a more “nasal” sound. The sharper or edgy basses are more in line with earlier instruments, perhaps more lute-like. My Alpine spruce tops produce a rounder, sweeter sounding guitar.

Lacote Build-1My guitars are loud. Unlike most of the instruments built, I employ a laminated side. These sides are not plywood, they are two pieces of spruce and hardwood glued together to form a very stiff set of sides. Along with the traditional laminated backs, I believe both contribute to the volume I’m able to get out of such a small sound box. While I can’t claim definitively that any one of these changes is contributing to any specific improvement, in general, my guitars are sounding pretty good. With that in mind I’m going to continue building in this configuration.

Pegheads planetary tuning machinesTuning one of these guitars equipped with Pegheads planetary tuning machines is a dream! Unlike traditional friction pegs where some players need to use both hands to tune, Pegheads make one-hand tuning easy. But more importantly, these machines are very sensitive. Micro tuning is really possible…your guitar stays in tune! There is absolutely no way I would trade these for a friction peg. If you are a traditionalist, I urge you to consider these machines. They look great and give you everything a friction peg gives you except the headaches.

Marfione Lacote RosetteIn spirit, my guitars share some of the same cosmetic appointments of the originals. However, I have deviated some. My rosettes are aesthetically similar in that they are simple, monochromatic and employ lots of alternating black and white. I also embellish the headstock. Most of the simpler Lacotes have a single hardwood front and in some cases front and back plate. I’ve added a natural maple and another dyed black maple layer to achieve that black-white-black sandwich look. It adds a nice touch to the headstock.

Marfione Guitars Lacote topAll of my instruments are French polished. I truly believe that French polish offers the best of everything as far as a finish goes. It protects the guitar, provides just the right amount of dampening to contribute to the instrument’s sound, is easily repairable, and looks absolutely beautiful. From a Green standpoint, French polish is probably the least destructive finish around. The shellac itself is a byproduct of the Lac beetle. I use grain alcohol to cut the shellac. And the lubricant I use is baby oil. I can French polish to my heart’s desire without any health hazard or environmental concerns.

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Marfione Lacote with 5-piece back - overview

Lacote Style Romantic Guitar With 5-Piece Back

Marfione Lacote With 5-Piece Back

Marfione Lacote With 5-Piece Back: Specifications Series Lacote Model 5-piece back / curly maple Size/Type Early Romantic Top Wood Italian Alpine or Sitka spruce (Customer’s choice) Back & Sides Curly maple with Sitka spruce lining Binding Macassar ebony Purfling Natural and black dyed maple Bridge Macassar ebony Rosette Half …

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Marfione Lacote with walnut back - overview

Lacote Style Romantic Guitar With Walnut Back/Sides

Marfione Lacote With Walnut Back/Sides

Marfione Lacote With Walnut Back/Sides: Specifications Series Lacote Model Walnut Size/Type Early Romantic Top Wood Italian Alpine or Sitka spruce (Customer’s choice) Back & Sides Australian curly walnut with Sitka spruce lining Binding Macassar ebony Purfling Natural and black dyed maple Bridge Macassar ebony Rosette Half herringbone natural and …

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