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To Castagnari Or Not To Castagnari...

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Andy Simpson:
I'll shortly be selling one of my guitars and the proceeds will be sufficient to propel me into the dreamed-of world of Castagnari ownership. The problem is tha unless I want a Lilly, (sounds a bit too concertina-ish), a Tommy, (a bit strident and rather small and fiddly), or a Mory, (sounds magnificent but a bit more than I need), it's unlikely that I'll find one in a shop I can try out so if I want to join the Costalotti Club I'm going to have to order one. I'm aware of how such things can turn out because I'd never played a Lowden guitar I didn't like until I custom ordered one two years ago and after 8 months it finally arrived with poor fretwork, several cosmetic blemishes and a most uncomfortable neck, I wouldn't have bought it if I'd tried it in a shop but I was stuck with it.

I have heard of people ordering direct from Castagnari and I assume that it's the same situation as with other small instrument makers, such as the aforementioned Lowden Guitars, that do accept orders from the public but don't go out of their way to let people know that they do but I just have to ask if anyone knows if that's still the case?. If so, has anyone had any relatively recent experience, (what are they like to deal with, etc), and is there any advantage to going direct instead of through a shop?.

Don Roberts:
Hi, I ordered a Castagnari DinnII through a dealer in late March. I have contacted Castagnari directly via email to follow up on the details. Although they answer back, I'm not real sure we are communicating well.
They give me a lead time of two to three months ARO. Since the dealer speaks their lingo, I'm hoping all goes well and I get the instrument and tuning I requested.
Good Luck

I believe that Castagnari will still accept orders from individuals - why don't you ask them?  Be warned though they are not particularly quick at answering emails.  What they won't do is send them to a UK address because they have made sole importer agreements with UK dealers, so you would have to include a trip to Italy to collect.

I do urge you to try as many example as you can before you buy, you will have a wait of several months anyway for a special order.  I've heard many cases of people (myself included) who have ordered a box sight unseen, and been disappointed when it arrives. This does noy just apply to castagnari. Individual examples of the same model do vary in sound and playability, so make every effort to try before you buy. 

I visited the Castagnari workshop about two and a half years ago.  Got a cheap flight, hired a car and four nights in a hotel.  Okay the euro was a lot weaker then but it was a very reasonable short break holiday.  Castagnari were quite happy for me to play boxes and seemed more than willing to sell a box to me there and then.  As I wasn't in the market for a new box at the time I can't recall what sort of prices they were asking.

I'd certainly say that if you can stretch to a short break there, go for it.  There's other makers you can vist too and I'm sure they'd be willing to let you try boxes and buy (might struggle to buy a DG off the shelf though).

Although I've successfully bought two melodeons, sight unseen from Italy (Giustozzi) that was out of necessity and wouldn't normally buy without trying first.

Edited to add:  Surprisingly, I was only able to find one shop in Castelfidardo that sold melodeons and they were bottom end organettos rather than good quality two rows.

I have owned 6 Castagnaris 

Bought form dealers,  Euro dealers, private parties and direct

Disappointed twice

I have owned 2 Lilly's ,  Melodeon, Tommy and Mory and a Hascy

Lillys are all but unplayable due to the tight button spacing but I like them
The Melodeons other than the odd air button placement are outstanding
I got burned on a Mory by a German dealer cost me a lot of time money and aggravation to get it right.. then offed it in disgust
The Tommy is the only acoordeon I ever owned I could run out of air.. I know lots of folks who own and love them, I thik they are wimpy and the latest ones arenl;t near the quality of 10 years ago

The best of the bunch and I stupidly sold mine    the Hascy... this is an adult sized  pro box with no unneceesary bits...simply outstanding... like a BMW bike or a Chrysler slant six or Levis ( before they cheapened them)  or Irish made Clarks shoes    just right

Best way to buy is from a dealer who has one in stock if you must buy new
I would look for one that is 2000 or older
Or order direct from castagnari  and expect to have it fiddled once you get it

Thought for the day

Know thy dealer


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