10 Questions We Ask Everyone

Enrico Di Donato (Italy)

In Guitars Exchange two years of existence, we have had the pleasure and great honour, of getting in touch with luthiers from every corner of the world. We interviewed many, we learned a lot, and from the best. The most essential date we had was from the first edition, at the Holy Grail Guitar Show (HGGS) in Berlin, where in a two-day fair, the city becomes the great showcase to see and touch the excellence and the contemporary art of making these instruments. In the last edition of HGGS, we had the chance to chat with Enrico Di Donato, father of DiDonato Guitars, such a kind person, sincere and pragmatic with whom it was very easy to get in sync right away. A luthier for 10 years, Enrico took part in the fair and he showed us the “Hasaki” (a Japanese term which means “the edge of the sword”), his new creation. Among all the guitars that we got to see, - by no means few -, DiDonato’s was without a doubt the one that caught our attention. The Hasaki is a mix between the past and the future, a cross between wood and metal in a unique aesthetic design, of classic lines, simple and fluid where even the moulded aluminium body transmits the feeling of heat, no longer an exclusive feature of wood. Dozens of tests and mistakes have resulted in the birth of an instrument capable of shining with its own light: no matter if we talk about the wall of a collector, or on stage, in the hands of an expert guitarist. When you consider his career, Enrico is one of the luthiers not to lose sight of, not only for the boldness of his creations, but his unwavering capacity to surprise all those who love the 6-string.      



1. GUITARS EXCHANGE: How did you end up (or begin) being a luthier?
Enrico Di Donato: Like nearly everyone, from a passion for music and guitars as an instrument. And with my brother’s experience from studying classic construction of instruments, until he ‘turned’ to more modern things. I began by helping him and found my own road in 2007.  

GUITARS EXCHANGE: What inspires you to design and make a new guitar?
Enrico Di Donato: It’s that moment when you have a vision, the moment you want an idea to materialize. The same thing happens with other creative processes. From the idea to the guitar itself, the road is long with many tests. After the idea comes the search: before anything, we must find out if something similar exists. And then you get to work. The Hasaki case, for instance, was a process of trial and error.  

GUITARS EXCHANGE: Do you look for a certain sound for any particular reason?

Enrico Di Donato: The sound has to have a base, it has to be open and organic. The important thing is how the guitar responds: it has to sound good. A while back I was a ‘fender man’, I liked those sounds. Over time I learned to value the Gibson sphere, especially the first models. As for finding ‘its own voice’, I think that’s bullshit: our brain is programmed with those sounds, those are ‘the sounds.  Anyway, my guitars put together pickups that I make myself.    

GUITARS EXCHANGE: Choose and explain: soul, jazz, blues, rock, pop.. or what?
Enrico Di Donato: I was born with rock, especially out of love for the guitar. There were the ’classics’ like Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix (but for me, Jimi came later: at the start you think ‘this guy makes so much noise’ , and then you get what he’s doing.) Then I went through the ‘jazz phase’, in line with other types of instruments. Now I’ll say ‘pop’, although I don’t listen to much of it. We’re talking about popular songs that reach the multitudes with simple melodies. Behind this, there are real geniuses. Mozart is pop!  

GUITARS EXCHANGE: Are you an artist by assignment, or a solitary loner?

Enrico Di Donato: If I didn’t have two children, I’d be a solitary loner, doing whatever I wanted...but it’s all a question of compromise: people, deep down, don’t know what they want.  

GUITARS EXCHANGE: What was the last record you bought? And the last you listened to?
Enrico Di Donato: The last one I bought was Interstellar Space by John Coltrane and the last one I listened to was, after a long time, Blood Sugar Sex Magik by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.    

...A BODY…

GUITARS EXCHANGE: Electric or acoustic?

Enrico Di Donato: Both. The guitar is electric, but you can’t do without acoustic elements. The electric guitar isn’t a piece of wood with pickups that make sound. There are guitars that sound bad even with the best pickups on the market. So you change the neck, and it’s a whole other thing.  

...A NECK…

GUITARS EXCHANGE: What is the secret of your woods?

Enrico Di Donato: I started on the traditional path, with mahogany, maple, and redwood. Now I’m testing with local wood: walnut for example, it’s proving very satisfying. The availability of some woods is getting smaller. And then there’s the cost, at times inflated. There are many more types of wood that sound good.  


GUITARS EXCHANGE: Why should we think of luthier guitars as an alternative to the big manufacturers?
Enrico Di Donato: Who says that? It depends. The difference is that a luthier will never get rich, though there is always a smart ass and other exceptions. Generally, those who are luthiers do it out of passion. Even though you make guitar ‘copies’ already seen, you see the difference with luthier guitars. We don’t have assembly lines: each one puts a part of himself, his personality into what he makes...and it’s not an easy thing.  

GUITARS EXCHANGE: Who plays your guitars? Who would you like playing your guitars?

Enrico Di Donato: Various musicians and collectors play my guitars. Tony Remy, for instance, who plays with the best. Among living guitarists that I would like to see playing my instruments - although I have Jimmy Page in mind - I will say Jeff Beck: I would be overjoyed to give him a guitar!

Di Donato Guitars for sale on Guitars Exchange
Official Website: www.didonatoguitars.it