John Monteleone–Rocket Convertible

“There are very few names that consistently top the list of archtop luthiers and John Monteleone is invariably among them. His instruments are breathtaking and awe-inspiring. John was born in Manhattan in 1947 to a family of craftsmen that traces their roots to Palermo. Monteleone’s father was a skilled artist and sculptor. John also learned woodworking from his father as well as the ability to understand a variety of materials and designs.

As did so many of his present-day peers, John’s introduction to lutherie was through the repair and restoration of vintage high quality archtops, and his early instruments reflected those experiences. Although influenced by the great luthiers of the day, he responded to the need for a more advanced approach to designing the sound, look and feel of his archtops. His designs are at the pinnacle of archtop lutherie. John has introduced many innovations, both acoustic and aesthetic. His work continues to evolve, expanding the boundaries of archtop instrument making.”

When John Monteleone originally received the commission from Scott Chinery to build a blue guitar, he intended to build his Radio Flyer model. Independently and simultaneously, he was experimenting with this “convertible” model, his first essay into sound ports. Upon reflection, he correctly deduced that almost all of the other blue guitars would feature some variation of the traditional f-holes, which had become standard after they were adopted by Lloyd Loar of Gibson. When John approached Scott to do an oval hole guitar–which had seen virtually zero development in the previous 50 years–Scott gave the go ahead to switch to this from the Radio Flyer; hence, the Rocket Convertible was born.

This guitar is one of the most versatile guitars in the Blue Collection with three ebony bordered sound holes with individual sliding doors installed for the dual purpose of directing the sound response to either the player or audience, or both at the same time. The entire guitar has a very distinct look that can be felt in the carving of the ebony pickguard, bridge and tailpiece. While the guitar is revolutionary, the choice of woods is classic, using a spruce top with flamed maple back, sides, and neck. The body is bound with flamed maple and the neck is bound with ebony. The only ornamentation on the guitar is the ivory inlays on the tailpiece and truss rod cover, which were recycled from Monteleone’s Steinway piano. Ebony is also used on the fingerboard as well as the headstock overlay. The final touch to this masterpiece are the chrome Schaller tuners with custom M tuning buttons.

For more on John Monteleone, see: