42. Italia Mondial
IT’S hard to know what to say about this guitar which isn’t instantly said by the pictures. I saw a photo of one in a magazine and fell in love with it there and then!
Clever chap, Trevor Wilkinson who designed this and all the other eye-catchingly retro guitars in the Italia range. (He is also the man behind a load of rather nifty aftermarket guitar hardware and, of course the Vintage Lemon Drop Les Paul copy which was a regular standby of mine for quite a few years – see No 37.)
His Italia designs succeeded in capturing the essence of great, weird and funky old guitars from the past by makers such as National, Airline, Silvertone et cetera in a range of modern, playable, usable and affordable instruments. (Which is more than can be said for a lot of the old guitars which inspired them.)
The Mondiale’s body was wood, the same as most guitars, but was encased in a plastic jacket reminiscent of the old plastic bodied National “Map” guitars much beloved of Jack White, he of the White Stripes, among others. The two controls on the top bout recall that old red and white classic, too.
Two humbuckers, plus an acoustic pickup under the wooden jazz guitar-style bridge got the noise out to the amp – it occurred to me that I might be able to use this for the acoustic gigs of which I am perpetually promising myself to do more.
In practice, this guitar truly was all about the looks. It played OK, but not amazingly well. It sounded OK, but not amazing – and the acoustic pick up was, frankly, a bit of a dead loss.
It was the kind of guitar that’s great to hang on the wall and look at – I sort of wish I still had it for that reason alone – but it was never going to be a solid, gigging instrument. Not entirely surprisingly, it didn’t stay with me in Burnham for very long.
To borrow a fishing analogy, having caught it there, I soon threw it back into theBay.