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   Many of the instrument craftsmen who worked in seventeenth-century Italy were transplanted from German-speaking countries, especially from the area near a tiny town called Fussen in the foothills of the Bavarian Alps. Such was the case with Jakob Ertel, who Latinized his Christian name to Giacomo on his labels but retained his surname. Little else is known of Ertel, but he left behind at least one signed guitar and, apparently, this unlabeled instrument, both of which bear the same decorative treatment. Early Italian guitars were often covered with foliate designs, but geometric motifs were another obvious means of adorning large surfaces of an instrument. The sides, back, and neck of this handsome guitar are covered with a fine checkerboard pattern of ebony, fruitwood, ivory, and bone. Pearl squares outline the soundhole and top, creatively entwined into a tulip at the base. Much of the spruce top is left plain, however, as guitar makers generally feel that this acoustically active surface should not be too encumbered by unessential inlay.



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