Pictured in this post of our feature are some of the more obscure makers producing guitars during the 30’s. Siro Burgassi and Gino Papri began producing for Chevin/Busato at their workshop located at 56 Rue de Reuilly in Paris. Siro and Gino and their importance to later “Busato” production will be detailed in our next article.
These two makers were well known for their work on American style banjo necks and guitars. They produced very few guitars under the name “Siro et Gino” and, to this day very little information is available about either of these innovators. In 1935 Django Reinhardt himself was photographed playing a Siro and Gino Guitar.
Around 1946 Gino Papri (At that time repairing Accordions) asked his son in law Jacques Favino to work at the Busato atelier. Gino Papiri would continue making guitars with Jacques Favino until 1978. Siro would produce his instruments well into the late 40’s producing everything from distinct pressed back tenor guitars to aluminum resonator models in the Selmer style.
Aluminum Dobro C. 1937 built especially for “Othon Raymond”
Gino Papiri worked for Mario Maccaferri while he was still with the company and rumor has it he would often make his own instruments with overrun necks, tone wood or veneers.
Gino Papiri playing a Busato branded accordion made by Fratelli Crosio
What could be the most interesting twist about Gino was his alternate identity as an Accordionist and Composer. He had multiple editions of his compositions published in Paris.
This particular model is estimated to have been produced sometime in the early thirties. The guitar was built with a unique Spanish heel design, fan bracing and thick lateral braces in the lower bout.
The cutaway and design of this guitar was inspired after Mario Maccaferri’s classical guitar from 1923.
The engraved headstock and rosette are decorated with cotton backed Nacrolaque which was a special feature of the grand models. This type of engraving was found on the ornate accordeons, banjos, drums and guitars sold by the firms of B. Busato and his luthiers. Fratelli Crosio (Paris) who produced a great deal of accordions for many retailers in France such as Busato used the same artisans to engrave their instruments. This guitar is fitted with an set of early Salvatore Bilardi machines most likely added after a set of prewar Delaruelle tuners were removed.
The first documented photos of this guitar date back to 1956 to the film “Anastasia” with Yul Brynner. In a cabaret scene the Russian guitarist Victor Novsky accompanies the gypsy band in a rousing version of “Gari Gari”. What can been seen in the frames of this film was the original appearance of the guitar. Ornate block inlays had been covered over when a replacement fingerboard was added much later in its life.
Victor owned a famous Russian cabaret in Pigalle called “Etoile de Moscou” just steps away from the former location of “Chez Django Reinhardt/ La Roulotte”.
This instrument also had a floating pick-guard which was a feature that Siro Burgassi constructed of either aluminum or acetate. These two features were removed sometime in the mid 1970’s. What you notice most when playing this guitar is the unique bass response. Huge volume, punchy and focused high end make this guitars one of the most interesting guitars we have ever heard or seen. Special thanks to: J.P. Favino, J.P. Karcz and Frank Anastasio for their generous help with research on this constantly growing compilation of information.