Friday, October 16, 2009

Wandre Guitars - The First Metal Necks?

Antony Wandre Pioli, who describes himself as an "Artist of Life," was born in Cavriago in the central northern Italian province of Reggio Emilia in 1926, the son of violin maker Roberto Pioli. During World War II, he served in the underground resistance. Following the war he made a living by supervising masonry projects.

In the mid '50s Pioli became interested in new technologies to build guitars.

He originally hooked with Italian guitar manufacturer Framez which was run by the Fratelli Meazzi (the Meazzi Brothers - which begs the question, are they related to Click & Clack [Tom & Ray]?) with pickups made by Abel Naldi. Wandre produced 57 to 61 per Meazzi’s records.

Davoli Guitar
Starting in 1959 he moved his production to Cavriago and hooked up with electronics expert Athos Davoli. Davoli’s company at the time was part of a conglomerate known as Radio Elettromeccanica Krundaal, located in Parma, Italy. The two worked on developing the electronics that eventually appeared in Wandré guitars. By '62 or '63 Wandré Pioli's guitar ideas had pretty much come together, and the primary shapes for which he's best known had been introduced.



Pioli's guitars were musical sculptures. The pickups made by the Athos Davoli company were large, trapezoid-shaped pickups with stamped metal covers that said “Davoli/Made In Italy.” The Davoli pickup cover imprint was often the only identification found on Wandré guitars, contributing to the misinformation that they are “Davoli” guitars.



As a sculptor, Pioli fabricated his guitars using a bakelite top with a wood back and sides. As his production was very limited, Wandre guitars are very rare and according to "the illustrated encyclopedia of electric guitars" the are "the most eccentric European guitars of any period in guitar history".


Wandré was attracted early on to aluminum and it’s structural material. He was a motorcycle enthusiast and restored motorcycles. He was often seen riding the Italian countryside. His interest in motorcycles was reflected in the design and workmanship of his guitar vibrato system. The same could be said of motorcylce enthusiast Paul Bigsby, who in the United States invented his famous version of the guitar vibrato made by using a motorcycle spring. However on some of Wandre’s vibrato was either a triangular or diamond-shaped affair was attached to the aluminum core and faced outward with a cast metal “W”… it looked very much like a motorcycle medallion of the day.




A common occurrence in many guitars of this era was neck warpage. Wandre solved that with an aluminum neck that featured and adjustment that allows for placing the neck at a suitable angle for your playing style - maybe 6 degrees each way parallel of the top. It also has a neck-through-tailpiece design and the headstock is also wood framed with aluminunum.


The intonation and string height adjustments are made with an overhead suspension type looking like an upside-down tune-o-matic which you can rest your palm on it smoothly. As were many guitars of the day, the neck is very narrow but kind of like half a baseball bat. The necks were straight as an arrow, .006 of an inch off over its length.


Many of his guitars featured a neat pushbutton pickup selector switch system that looks like the old Chrysler automatic transmission pushbuttons of the 60's. He sold his guitars under the names - Jennings UK, noble USA, Dallas UK, wander ITALY, Krandall, Avalon, Orpheum - Krandall may have been the parent company of the davoli pickup company.


Wandre guitars were exported throughout Europe and the Americas. Concentrations of specimens can be seen in the Netherlands and Argentina. In England and was released by Dallas in the U.S. with Don E. First with Maurice Noble Lipsky and his trademark Orpheum, later. In France, the main distributor was Doris.


The collaboration with Davoli lasted until 1970 when Pioli sold his guitar factory to start a leather clothing business. Wandre guitars production shows around 70,000 instruments being produced and sold around the world. Pioli passed away in 2004.


The most notable player of Wandres is Buddy Miller. Buddy tells a story about buying his first Wandre from a pawnshop for $50. There are some Wandres selling now for $40,000.


Thanks to Eastwood Guitars you can own a reproduction of the French Wandre at a more reasonable price. Alas the metal necks are gone, replaced with Maple. Eastwood first named the model Doris, but recently changed the name to the Wandre STD ($899) and Wandre DLX with Bigsby ($1029) with Wandre's signature on the headstock.






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15 comments:

Anonymous said...

It is not the first time that I read it , 40.000 for an italian guitar.
What models???

Fred said...

Well, people pay millions for Italian violins.

johoan said...

Hi, I have one of those Wandres...
It's a 608 Spazial from -68 I believe.
100% orginal and in good shape too.
It looks like this one except that mine has a tremolo.
http://www.fetishguitars.com/html/wandre/spazial/spazialugo.html

Johan /Sweden

James said...

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Hostels in Bariloche

nash / germany said...

hey you guitarplayers out there,I got a wandre, - found it and thought it might be ready for trash because I didnt know anything about it and it was in poor condition, even the unit volume and tone controll is lost.. now after I cleaned it I played it with the pickups directly on the output and I tell you, - I
REALLY LOVE THAT SPECIAL SOUND!!! Maybe some of you folks can help me to get the missing electric parts??

Anonymous said...

Hello Nash ,
Send me photos of your Wandre in order to see what kind of parts you are looking for .
Regards .

robert patrick said...

Hello Nash ,
Send me photos of your Wandre in order to see what kind of parts you are looking for .
Regards .

Anonymous said...

Hello Nash ,
Send me photos of your Wandre in order to see what kind of parts you are looking for .
Regards .

Nathan said...

Hi there, my father owns a Wandré Selene Framez. Any chance I can get some parts for that guitar?

Carl Nielsen said...

The guitar featured in your recent posts I used to own, & have had it for 44 years. It is the one most widely used to show the work of Wandre & is from 1959.
It is painted in white to the right hand side of the body, with detailing to the left hand side in fade which starts with blue at the top, to yellow, which fades into red, back to yellow & then finally into the bottom part by the bridge, which is green.

The guitar in question was stolen from my shop during the recent London riots & I am offering a substantial reward for information on it's whetreabouts.

It has significant sentimental value, as it was given to me by the late Joe Macari, owner of Macari's in Charing Cross Road in 1967.

You can email me on:
Carlukbrit@yahoo.com or

0208 680 1042.

Regards,
Carl

Unknown said...

HI FROM BUENOS AIRES!!! I HAVE A RED VERY NICE WANDRE DORIS GUITAR, MINT, HUNDRED X CENT!!! AND I HAVE INTEREST IN TO SELL MY GUITAR!!! U CAN CONTACT ME TO MY EMAIL ADRESS maritoalbarracin@hotmail.com

Unknown said...


HI FROM BUENOS AIRES!!!
I HAVE THE BEST/NICE RED WANDRE DORIS GUITAR, MINT 100% AND I HAVE INTEREST IN TO SELL IT!!!ALL ORIGINAL!!! U CAN CONTACT ME TO MY EMAIL ADRESS maritoalbarracin@hotmail.com or to nicarrablasa@arnetbiz.com.ar I CAN SEND U PICS OF ALL. ALL IS GOOD!!!My NAME IS MARIO ENRIQUE ALBARRACIN - BUENOS AIRES- ARGENTINA

Unknown said...


HI FROM BUENOS AIRES!!!
I HAVE THE BEST/NICE RED WANDRE DORIS GUITAR, MINT 100% AND I HAVE INTEREST IN TO SELL IT!!!ALL ORIGINAL!!! U CAN CONTACT ME TO MY EMAIL ADRESS maritoalbarracin@hotmail.com or to nicarrablasa@arnetbiz.com.ar I CAN SEND U PICS OF ALL. ALL IS GOOD!!!My NAME IS MARIO ENRIQUE ALBARRACIN - BUENOS AIRES- ARGENTINA

Anonymous said...

Wandre take me in his home when I dont have where to go...of course he was in 1993 already more idealistic than before as life, hard environment destroy his sense of social typically provincial small Cavriago village near Reggio Emilia, Italy. As he change many pacemaker and have huge collection of hearts he lost his heart with familiar problems, constant fights with almost everyone who don't say even one word but think different than him...he was good of course but as every successful businessman especially with Guitars in this time in Italy people from small province was jealous and primitive toward him...few of them understand hard fall in business than lot of fight with local authorities as he place in front of his home in Cavriago, Via Chiloni...a lot of he called this arts and trash from every possible corner...People in clean small village dont like this of course and he was at beginning of 1995 start enormous contradiction to neighbors and others...the most problematic was new renovated homes near his house...His character of constant fighter against politicians, so called Mani Pulite "clean Hands" never ending...His Son Roberto didn't care so much about Wandre mental health and was difficult to understand him of course, when mental health destroy person no one can understand whats going on in his head...at the end I can only say : thank you to accept me in your home, offering me few months roof and people of Cavriago needs to place to you plate as you employ so many people in late 70s that no one made. Thanks. Branko

p.s. I will check one day visit Cavriago and if no one put a plate in town I will. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Hi, my Wandré BB is for sale!

Check https://reverb.com/item/92623-wandre-bb-with-tremolo-very-rare-1960-black-yellow-red-with-smoke-patterns

Greetz