LBenito Alerce-topped Grand Auditorium

Hot Stuff from Chile
Hot Stuff from Chile

How much more vintage can you get? If you’re talking about guitar tone woods, not much more vintage than the tops on guitars by LBenito.

Built in Chile, using alerce trees that date back 3,000 to 4,000 years, the wood that makes up the top of LBenito’s guitars was 1,000 years old when Pythagoras (d. 500 B.C.) was devising his string theory!

Old-growth alerce trees were aggressively harvested in Chile prior to 1976, before many endangered varieties became protected under the international CITES agreement. The wood, which is highly moisture-resistant, became popular as a building material. LBenito has secured all available stock of aged alerce and makes a variety of models with traditional and innovative features.

We recently sampled two top-of-the-line Grand Auditorium cutaway models. This is a typical body size for a steel-string guitar, but is unusual for a nylon-string model.

Introduced to the U.S. at last month’s NAMM show, the alerce tops on our review guitars were complemented by Indian rosewood back and sides. Other similarities between the steel-string and nylong-string models include the tapered 4