Friday, 25 June 2010


AMAZING BLONDEL - "The Amazing Blondel and a few faces" (Bell, 1970)
This was AB's first LP, and same as it happened for the GILA's album "Bury my heart..." (see entry), the original master tapes of this album got lost, so the official CD reprint was made using the rip of a vinyl copy among the very few available - precisely the one that producer Steve Rowland owns. My copy is also in perfect condition and I guess it sounds even better than the CD one, so maybe I'll post it on this blog soon ;)


John David Gladwyn, the leader of AB, often showed himself on the covers with a very old kind of harp guitar, in many cases named Theorboe, but actually there's a quite narrow Verwandschaft to an instrument named "Kontragitarre" and it's a kind of particular creation of the Austrian lutists, quite popular between 1800 and 1930, circa.  The one you see in this photo belongs to my stepbrother Franz, and it's practically equal to JDG's instrument, except that this one has a complete fingerboard range, while Gladwyn's is more limited, as it reaches only B or C.  In  both cases, there are six plus six strings.  The strings above the keyboards are tuned free, and they serve for open bass notes. I also remember having seen (ca. 40 years ago) a videoclip of "John Barleycorn", where WInwood was playin a Kontragitarre with 3 plus 6 strings.

An EXTRAORDINARY instrument, which unfortunately today the worldwide guitarist population has lost any memory and interest about its spirit and versatility. The Austrian  Kontragitarre proved to be an extremely innovative instrument, even C. F. Martin is demonstrated to having taken ideas and projects that originally belonged to the Kontragitarre construction style for his renowned Martin guitars.


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