6/30/2016

1970s Augustino AR-40 Dreadnought Guitar





Update: Please see the bottom of the post for some detailed shots disclosing a few minor condition issues that can't be seen in the normal photos.

Augustino LoPrinzi is fairly well-known for his ukes and classical guitars these days, though his steel strings are what made his name "back in the day." In fact, he was successful enough that his LoPrinzi brand and workshop was bought-out in the early 70s and, when he no longer wanted to be associated with the company (quality was suffering), he set out on his own under the Augustino brand (c.1973).

This guitar is one from that era (mid-late 70s) and is, basically, a lot like a Martin D-35, save its truss-rodded neck (at the time Martin was using non-adjustable rods) and full 16" lower bout width. The neck is also a bit different, with what appears to be a compound radius (14" to 12") fretboard and a slim-medium C-shaped neck profile that makes it handle a bit faster than your average period Martin.

My own work included a neck reset, fret level/dress, new bone saddle, and general setup. There are no cracks on the guitar and it's in overall excellent condition. It also plays on-the-dot at 1/16" DGBE and 3/32" EA action at th 12th fret. The tone is big, full, and round and it sounds, basically, like... a good D-35! I've heard plenty of period D-35s that leave a lot to be desired, but this one has the muscle you want from a guitar like this.


The top is solid spruce and the back and sides are solid Indian rosewood. The neck is mahogany and the fretboard and bridge are ebony. Make no mistake -- this was, more or less, a "small shop fancy build" when it was made -- and it still feels like it.


The nut is bone and 1 13/16" in width. The Grover Rotomatics are still going strong.


Pearl dots adorn the bound, ebony fretboard and the fret size is somewhere between medium and jumbo. Even after the level/dress, they've still got plenty of life.


I have this strung with straight-up "12s" at 54w, 42w, 32w, 24w, 16, 12. The long Martin-style scale gives this plenty of oomph to drive the top.

The fretboard extension dips gently "down" (as opposed to "ski-jump" up) after the neck joint, though I think most folks will admit to not doing a lot of acrobatics at the 15th fret on a non-cutaway box.




Everything on the guitar is original except for that new, tall, saddle.



Isn't that rosewood gorgeous? I've always liked the 3-panel look of D-35s.




While the binding is plastic, the heel cap, divider strips for the back, and endstrip near the endpin are all maple.




As you can see, the finish is nice and gleaming.







The only real flaws are the cuts in the binding at the neck joint.


It's more noticeable on the "player's" side, but still a minor issue.


Here you can see some of the mild pickwear on the top from strumming and also how you need to adjust the truss! There's a big 3/8" nut buried in the neck block that's easiest to turn with a socket wrench. Thankfully, it functions well.


An original, hard case comes with the guitar.

Update, below, with some detailed pics...


There are two finish cracks on the back to the treble side of the center wedge -- one here...


...and one here. They're not in the wood -- just in the finish.


The screws for the tuners also made finish cracks near them. Again -- just in the finish.



Lastly, the headstock angle is cut slightly off and it appears that there is just the tiniest hair of twist in the neck on the treble side. Playability-wise, it's a non-issue, but it's there.

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