10 Questions We Ask Everyone

Claudio Pagelli (Switzerland)

Claudio Pagelli may is one of the most interesting and distinguished contemporary maestros in guitar making. We can consider his arch-tops among the best in the whole world. A visionary, an inventor and an artist capable of giving strong shapes to the wood that bends to his will. Decades of experience have led him to the perfect balance between sound and design. Once again, The Holy Grail Guitar Show was the opportunity to admire his new creations. And to have a nice chat with Claudio Pagelli and his wife and business partner Claudia. Two adorable people with whom it’s always a pleasure to talk about guitars, music and more.      


1. GUITARS EXCHANGE: How did you end up becoming, or start out as, a luthier?

Claudio Pagelli: I was 8-10 years old when I felt in love with electric guitar…hippie time. We had a local guitar hero who cut the horns of his Stratocaster to have a unique look…and I guess that impressed me. I made my first guitar when I was 12…it was not working, but it was a start.  

2. GUITARS EXCHANGE: What inspires you to design and manufacture a new guitar?

Claudio Pagelli: Since we make custom guitars it’s also a combination of clients’ wishes and our own ideas. When we make guitars for us, for example for fairs we take part to, we fool around. We have thousands of ideas…just not enough time. Inspiration comes from everywhere when you keep your mind open.    

3. GUITARS EXCHANGE: Do you look for a given sound for any particular reason?

Claudio Pagelli: Like before: when we are building for customers we try to fulfill their wishes. When we are building for our own stock, especially on acoustics, I try to achieve a unique sound. Something unique you can only find in a Pagelli. It’s a surround sound and not made to fill a hall. It’s made for the player, to surround him in a sound cloud. The new parlor style guitar and our 36 anniversary model with kasha bracing are good examples. Both presented during the last edition of The Holy Grail Guitar Show in Berlin.   

4. GUITARS EXCHANGE: Select one and talk about: soul, jazz, blues, rock, pop…or other.

Claudio Pagelli: I could talk on every topic for long time…  

5. GUITARS EXCHANGE: Are you a jobbing artist or a solitary artisan?

Claudio Pagelli: Solitary artisan. But I had a band called Gringobeat until 2 months ago. Ally songs and singing…check it out on YouTube or iTunes…you may like it. ;)  

6. GUITARS EXCHANGE: What was the last record or CD you bought? And listened to?

Claudio Pagelli: Rober Glasper and Pops Staples        

...ONE BODY...

7. GUITARS EXCHANGE: Electric or acoustic?

Claudio Pagelli: Both!    

...ONE NECK...

8. GUITARS EXCHANGE: What is the secret behind your choice of wood?

Claudio Pagelli: The sound it has.    


9. GUITARS EXCHANGE: Why should we consider luthier-crafted guitars as a viable option to guitars made by the large manufacturers?

Claudio Pagelli: Personality. We build exactly to the need of the musician. Industry works with parameters that have to fit every region of the world. So it seems obvious that they are overbuilt to stay stable in every circumstance. We build in a different way when we know where the guitar will have its home.  

10. GUITARS EXCHANGE: Who plays your guitars? Who would you like to have play your guitars?

Claudio Pagelli: From professionals to beginners, people with a special feeling for extraordinary design. We have -for example- many architects as clients. The one I would love that would have played our guitars died more than 10 years ago: Chris Whitley. John Scofield would be another one I'd love to play our guitars. I know him well and appreciate him as a musician and human being. But he has a contract with Ibanez…            

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