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1960s Wandré Rock Oval Vintage Aluminum Neck Guitar w/ Case, Italy


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Up for sale, a 1960s Wandré Rock Oval in excellent condition and in perfect working order. The Rock Oval, generally considered to be Wandre's most iconic model, is emblematic of Mid Century Italian guitar design, outlandish and surreal. Wandré guitars were the brainchild of self-described “artist of life” Antoni Vandré Pioli. The son of an Italian violin luthier, Pioli (also known himself as Wandré) produced his utterly unique instruments in Cavriago, Reggio Emilia, Italy, from roughly 1958-69.

Pioli himself cuts just as fascinating a figure as his guitars; he fought in the resistance during World War II, later becoming an engineer and building a round factory in his hometown of Cavriago where he began to produce instruments. His guitars featured wonderfully weird, eye-catching shapes and finishes, and utilized pioneering construction techniques. Perhaps most notable of all Pioli’s innovations was his usage of aluminum necks, which predated the introduction of the Travis Bean by more than a decade. The electronics were designed with and produced by Pioli’s friend, fellow engineer Athos Davoli, who had his own line of amplifiers, PA systems, and microphones.

It’s rumored that the choice to use an aluminum neck was inspired by Pioli’s love of motorcycles, and naturally, the aluminum provides a great deal of stability, also significantly increasing sustain. The slender, hollow fiberglass body delivers a distinct resonance, and this guitar has a warm acoustic bark. The Davoli-built single coil pickups are mounted to an aluminum-trimmed tortoise pickguard assembly floating above the body, and these pickups have a complex, round midrange character with a detailed treble range, and notable fullness and lower-midrange heft. Weighing just 6lbs 2oz, this Wandré has been professionally setup here at Mike & Mike’s Guitar Bar with 11-49 strings, low action, and accurate intonation.

The neck shape is unique, and the fretboard extends beyond the edges of the aluminum rod. While unconventional, the shape is surprisingly comfortable and more easy-playing than the neck depth measurements may imply, given the complete lack of “shoulder” on the neck shape. The profile measures .905” deep at the 1st fret and 12th frets. The back of the neck also sports a piece of molded polystyrene plastic, form-fit to the aluminum, to ensure optimal comfort in the palm and to mitigate any unwanted coldness. The bound rosewood fretboard has a 16” radius and dot inlay, and the slender fretwire only exhibits a hint of wear beneath the plain strings on the crowns of frets 1-4. This guitar plays cleanly up the 25” scale with an arrow-straight neck. The fretboard width measures 1 11/16” at the zero fret, forward of the nut. The headstock is engraved with a small Wandré logo, and the original open-gear strip tuning machines are present and function as intended, with the original bright white plastic buttons.

The original electronics include a unique control configuration featuring independent Volume knobs, two-way Tone switches, and a two-way pickup selector switch. The original knobs are present, and both the control plate and floating pickguard are crafted from aluminum topped with a matte tortoise material. The pickguard also has a central Davoli logo and chevron, and the “Made Italy Davoli”-embossed pickup covers are quite clean. The rosewood bridge has a design akin to Hofners of the era, and the chrome-plated tailpiece rounds out the hardware.

The particular finish on this Rock Oval is one of the more visually dynamic examples, and for Wandre, that's a bold statement indeed. The finish exhibits a fair bit of “shattered glass” finish checking, and there are several areas of touch-up on the deeper red extremities of the finish. Cosmetic wear otherwise includes a number of finish chips on the body as a whole.

A modern Gator-brand hardshell case is included.