Gigliotti Special

More Than Just Another Classic-Inspired Axe
More Than Just Another Classic-Inspired Axe

The Gigliotti Special is a lot more than just another guitar inspired by a classic design. Rather, it’s a unique-looking custom instrument that sounds as good as it looks.

Builder Patrick Gigliotti’s (pronounced Jill-au’ tee) two variants, the Standard and the Special, share a feature that separates them from other guitars – a metal insert that serves as the guitar’s top. Dubbed the “Gigliotti Voicing System,” the company says the patent-pending insert “…lets these tops resonate like a fine flat-top guitar, giving beautiful tone with or without an amp.”

The top aside, the instruments are semi-hollow, single-cutaway guitars with mahogany or swamp ash bodies, mahogany or maple necks, and top inserts of brass or aluminum. The top on our test unit is brass, with a brushed-look dark cherry sunburst finish that sports a rich, holographic texture. Its body and neck have a deep reddish-brown color with a flawless gloss finish. The gold hardware, including the bridge, dome knobs, Kluson-style tuners, and neck pickup cover top the eye-catching looks of the guitar.

The 9.5″-radius Rosewood fretboard features medium Dunlop 6105 frets that were polished and nicely leveled, along with a bone nut and clay dot inlays. Electronics are a Seymour Duncan ’54 Vintage pickup in the bridge, a Duncan Alnico II in the neck, master volume/tone and three-way pickup selector all neatly wired in a well-shielded control cavity.

In the spirit of the custom guitar concept, Gigliotti offers three nut widths (15/8″, 111/16″, 13/4″), a range of neck radii, and four neck profiles. Our tester had the 111/16″ nut width and Gigliotti’s 1″ “Fatback” neck profile, which is very round and does not taper from the nut to the neck/body joint. Even though we’re more apt to go for a thinner C shape, we found this to be surprisingly comfortable.

The semi-hollow body design is lightweight, and its brass top does indeed proffer a nice acoustic resonance.

Tone Test Time
We tested the tone of the Gigliotti by plugging it into a ’70s Fender Twin Reverb for clean sounds and a Laney VC-30 212 for a crunchier edge. Through the Twin, the bridge pickup had that fat, punchy “Tele” sound with the mids slightly pulled back, allowing the highs to ring clearly. The metal top added a metallic/resonator flavor to the mix, and a degree of snap to the top-end in all pickup positions. The middle pickup position was fairly distinct for this style of instrument. It was more silky-sweet, almost as if it were blended with a piezo.

Through the overdrive channel of the Laney, the bridge pickup delivered a dishful of meaty sound, with good, thumpy low-end. The slightly pulled-back midrange gave the guitar clean note definition and a clear, strong power-chord tone. Both the volume and tone controls were tapered well, allowing us to clean up the sound at the guitar, and soften the tone.

Overall, Gigliotti guitars are another great example of a quality custom instrument in which the parts and materials complement each other very well. And with the dozens of options available with the neck, hardware, wood, pickup, top, and the finish, there’s bound to be a Gigliotti for just about anybody!

Gigliotti Special
Type of Guitar Electric semi-hollowbody
Features High-quality materials, high build/finish quality, array of wood, finish, pickup, and hardware options.
Price $1,995.
Contact Gigliotti Guitars, 2522 N. Proctor St. # 247, Tacoma, WA 98406 , 253-756-7273,

This article originally appeared in VG‘s May. ’03 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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