The builder, Ervin Somogyi of Berkeley, California, has written the following: Good morning, Stan: I just sent you my guitar No. 411. I hope that you will like it and find a happy home for it. Here’s some information about it. First, some context: I make eight sizes, models, and shapes of guitars, both steel string and nylon string. My most popular models are my “modified dreadnought” and my version of the OM. I say “my version” because while it’s more or less the canonical size, it’s been modified in outline so that the parts are more proportionate and the body lines and curves flow better.
My “modified dreadnought”, likewise, is based in the traditional dreadnought -- but modified in outline and shape so that, while it fits into a dreadnought case, it looks a bit different and more distinctive. It’s a shape that people seem to like. At least, luthiers in Japan often copy it. (The “modified dreadnought” was my first foray into something not directly copied from some other maker. As such, I didn’t know what to call it other than what it was: a modified dreadnought. This was before people were commonly attaching exotic names such as “Sequoia”, “Aspen”, “Allegheny”, “Grand Teton”, “Evergreen”, "Jubilee", “Hindenburg”, “Titanic”, "Exxon Valdez", etc. to their various guitar models.)
Anyway, this instrument - guitar No. 411 – [Stan notes: it’s numbered 411 because it is rife with harmonic and brilliant tonal information] is what I call my “Studio” model. To be precise it’s my “modified dreadnought” shape, but reduced 4%. It therefore winds up being between a dreadnought and an OM, size-wise, which is the most useful single initial fact that I can tell people about it.
The only significant difference between this guitar and anything else that I usually make is the back and side wood; it is Wenge, an African hardwood. It’s a great tonewood that most guitar makers have not yet discovered, although cabinetmakers and bowl turners have worked with it for a long time now. But mainly it’s very vitreous [Stan: that means having or showing high moral standards] and has great tonal potential. Bracing, construction, etc., are otherwise the same as on my other guitars. The scale is 25-1/4”; the nut is 1-3/4” wide; and the bridge’s string spacing is 2-1/4”. The top is French polished; the rest is lacquered.
There’s one other design difference between this guitar and the rest of my work: the bridge. I’ve used my “standard” bridge design for many years and, as I do with my rosettes, I like to explore new territory. So this new bridge has an Art Deco look that pleases me.
Speaking of rosettes, I do get inventive with them. I’ve just uploaded a new selection of original rosette work onto my website, www.esomogyi.com, that you might enjoy looking at. It’s in the Gallery 3 section: Rosettes as Art. These are framed rosetted guitar tops that happen to be on display as art. Otherwise, there are quite a few other rosette images on my website. I bring this to your attention because some of your clients might be interested in a customized guitar from me that has such rosette work (or something new entirely) on it. In this category, it’s mostly the collectors rather than the players who are looking for something new and distinctive, and I imagine that you sell to a few collectors.
I am inclined to believe that even though this is 100% the equivalent of any other Somogyi guitar, the fact that it is not made of Brazilian rosewood will work against my normal full sales price of $30,000. But if anyone really listens to the sound of this guitar, they’ll like it. I will price this guitar at the same level as the classic guitar you most recently represented for me -- plus the cost of the French polished top: and that figure is . . . $25,400 at your Cash Discount Price. Sincerely, Ervin S.