First, the punch line: After a month I’ve concluded that this guitar is not a substitute, surrogate, or compromise for that more expensive jazz box that one longs for and cannot afford. This IS the guitar of one’s dreams.
I’ll be as brief as I can. I have many guitars. But no real jazz guitars. I don’t play much jazz, but sometimes want to go there, and somehow my .strandberg* just isn’t right. I try to stay away from retail stores because there is ALWAYS something that catches my eye. But, I needed a set of strings and since I was near a store, I stopped by. As usual, I looked at used wall. There was nothing interesting. Walk away. Quickly. But… what’s that? Needing a ladder to get to it, there was a red wine archtop high on the wall. Conti? What’s a Conti? I’d never heard of them. I suspected that it was some Asian product, à la Cort (Nothing wrong with Cort. I believe they made my .strandberg*.) I found someone to get it down and I played for three minutes. I was meeting someone for lunch in fifteen minutes so I had no time to play much. I put it back.
It was two weeks before I was back in that neighborhood. In that time I did some research and if you are reading this, you’ve done the same and I won’t bore you with the details of Robert Conti’s business model to bypass the middleman. None of his guitars would be sold in stores. No distributors. Instead, he sells direct to player. He asks his prospects to trust that the guitar he gives them will make them exceptionally happy. That’s a big ask. You can’t play one to see if you like it.
Armed with this information and with more time set aside I went back to the store. While every other Conti customer needed to muster faith to buy, I had the luxury of actually playing one. The model is Equity, discontinued after the first production contract ended. The guitar played well and seemed well taken care of, 99% brand new. There were very few scratches, no dings. I copied the serial number and went home.
I went back to the Conti website but could find no serial number reference, nor a support page, but I could chat online with Steve. I asked about the serial number, and he told me the guitar was built in 2013. He also said that from what he knew of the previous owner, it should have been well taken care of. Wow. Steve told me the guitar was solid wood, not laminate. He asked me about the price and told me it was a very good deal. So, I went back the next day and bought it.
The next day I cleaned it and changed strings. It was clean but needed a little detailing. The cleaning process brought me closer to the instrument (LOL the truss rod cover on the headstock still had it’s original protective plastic covering). At every turn I was surprised and impressed by the build.
I love this guitar and I consider myself lucky to have it.
I think you are the only one that explains the magic of chord melody! I admire Conti's method, I think it is the best, a hands on approach and at the same time it teaches the way professionals play. Like we Brazilians say, he doesn't only give the fish, he teaches to fish! I love jazz standards and I hope I will study a lot with Conti's help!! Thank you very much! It's a pleasure for me to recommend a very good teacher and Conti is one!!!
Robert is an entertaining and competent instructor with a wide range of past real-playing experience of the bandstand. Mike provided tech support and sent ZOOM setup instructions before the lesson to avoid wasting time on video-audio snags.
Robert took a few minutes at the start of the ZOOM lesson to review my personal history, music experience, and to assess my technical skills. He came well prepared for my lesson (3 handout documents) with a focus on improvisation, as requested. He “tuned” this first lesson to my level of interest and playing ability.
His approach to improvisation is direct, different, and perhaps unique. He presents a down-to-earth focus on fingering the fretboard rather than using a theoretical approach of pairing various scales/modes to each chord in a progression, one at a time.
Robert demonstrated the wide application of major scale riffs to a surprisingly wide range of chords built from the major scale. This simplification avoid overthinking (my bad habit) which creates lock-up, anxiety, and lag when suddenly called upon to solo on the jazz bandstand. He played these riffs over backing tracks “live” that he called out to Mike who played the audio files on-demand. Both Robert and Mike were attentive to my music lesson. Robert concluded the lesson with additional tips and a clear assignment and challenge to be completed before a future lesson.
To conclude, the “hands-on” Conti method avoids over-complicating the improvisation process and it will re-energize my daily practice routine.
The Precision Techniques has helped me hone my technique tremendously and like every Robert Conti Book with CD it is extremely practical and gets you running in the real world playing while mastering the theory as you go so it is extremely efficient and all-encompassing and frankly, better than the dozens of books and classes that I’ve tried. It is a brilliant approach.
It was a pleasure to spend the two hours with Robert and I must also thank you for the technical assistance and making sure everything went smoothly - I know it’s a team effort on your end.
As for my comments on the lesson : Robert gave me plenty to think about and I’ll be putting the ideas into practice in the woodshed. It was particularly enlightening to hear how he approaches improvisation over certain chord changes and this is something I look forward to picking his brains about in future sessions too on other standards. Roberts teaching approach is something that stands out - he has a way of making you feel comfortable and engaged whilst also being very to the point. I particularly appreciated that he didn’t waste precious time just having me play things over and over as from experience a lot of ‘teachers’ seem to do that instead using the time to impart as much advise and information they can on the student - often a means to get more money out of students and not give too much away in terms of valuable information. As Robert said - he’s not here to teach someone how to play, he’s there to show you what to play and why etc. this is exactly what I need. He had me play the lines to get them under my fingers and ensure I understood the concepts and knew that I am to take them away to practice in my own time. This allowed Robert to use all the time available to feed me more and more ideas and pearls of wisdom.
I will most certainly be booking another lesson after I’ve got some more practice in as there are many more things I’d like to ask Robert and certainly a lot for me to learn!
So much easier for me to practice and learn all of the valuable information Robert has shared on these videos! This is without question the best and most efficient way to learn jazz guitar and I plan on ordering more around Thanksgiving! I totally stand behind Mr. Conti's teaching methods 100 percent as they really work! He truly understands what he is talking about and knows how to teach it to others in the most comprehensive and applicable ways possible! It also helps that he is one of the best Jazz guitarists I have ever heard!
Thanks for providing practical and common sense approach to learning jazz, I am excited to begin this journey with the right tools.
I would like to thank Robert Conti for sharing his knowledge, I have learned a lot from "The Formula" and his chord melody arrangements that I already acquired all of them. I spend hours reading the songs, absorbing the sounds and it inspires me a lot to find "The Formula" in them and find my own paths. His method has opened up a universe of sounds and harmonic pleasures that I didn't know existed. Thank you very much again and I hope to find you happy and in good health.
Just received my new Robert Conti Entrada via FedEx, a day ahead of schedule, within four days from America; great service and beautifully packed, perfect condition - real credit to Robert and his boys. It's an absolute beauty! For a slimline, the acoustic sound is amazing in terms of clarity and tone. Very playable and highly recommended; wonderful value for money.
Dear good – sorry: BEST – people at Conti Guitars, I would like to thank you all very much again – the Entrada guitar was delivered today in best order, shape & form. Sincere thanks for all your advice, support and time. Thank you also very much, Mr. Conti, for the splendid video – I don’t match your heights in expertise but am making up for it with a loving touch! The guitar indeed plays like a dream, the reviews did not lie, not a single bit! You have a new fan across the Atlantic in Switzerland and I will make sure to spread your name & artful work here. Warm regards, I‘ll stay in touch hopefully.
“The guitar plays effortlessly, the slim neck and articulate Kent Armstrong pickup make for a guitar that practically plays itself. All this is nothing without the insane set up and action on this model – Mr. Conti wasn’t lying when he said this is as good as it gets! I couldn’t be more pleased with this guitar and the service! Ordering American guitars to the UK can be a lot of stress, especially when it’s a guitar you haven’t tried out, but the whole Conti team treats you like family and the family feel alongside the quality of their instruments and extremely reasonable prices is something really special!”
– Alfie Dean, United Kingdom
idéale pour le jazz, on a l'impression de la connaître depuis toujours, peu de réglages à faire, vraiment facile à prendre en main, action basse, beau sustain, ne pas hésiter à l'acquérir..
Robert, thanks for the time you spent with my new guitar. I really like what you played, and the introduction to the instrument is really appreciated. The guitar arrived today and it is simply beautiful. Fit and finish outstanding. It really sounds good and plays amazing. Tone through my Fishman Loudbox 100 with all EQ at 12:00 is classic, and with a very nice slight edge. The combination of design and sonic engineering on the tail piece is genius on both counts. A beautiful instrument. My mandolin and 000 model guitar are lifetime instruments, and out of the box the Conti immediately earned the same designation. I’ll be leaving this to a child or grandchild.
I think a comparison to xxx and xxx is certain to find the Conti on top. I think it is very favorably comparable to the xxx priced over $7,000. My very nice L5 copy is going on the market soon. I doubt I’ll play it again except on the way out the door. Thanks for everything. My wife likes the tone and noticed the tailpiece.
And yes, Beverly listened to it and was highly complimentary. She also noticed and commented on the tailpiece. We have been married 35 years, and she has put up with a lot. I’m a lucky guy.
In summary, “Wow. Just Wow.”
*xxx=Loar, Eastman, Collings
-David Martin – Santa Fe, New Mexico
P.S. I am working with the Chord Melody Assembly Line course and like what I see. With the meds and back recovery, it’s a bit hard to practice more than 10 minutes at a time, but the logic of the approach is appealing.
Review Translated From French to English:
Guitar delivered to Var, France, in just one week after ordering, without any damage or unpleasant surprises.
It only took a few days for me to get used to it. I adjusted it to my liking, removed the pickguard for aesthetic reasons since I play without a pick, and put on flat wound strings that I am accustomed to using.
I own several guitars, and this one is by far the easiest and most enjoyable to play, especially for jazz. Very low action, fast neck, surprising sustain, beautiful aesthetics, and lightweight - you can play it at home without an amplifier.
The exclusivity of the marketing made me apprehensive about buying a guitar online from the USA without trying it, but I am convinced that I made a good choice and hope to keep it for a long time.
The guitar was accompanied by a very informative video from Mr. Conti. If you want a beautiful guitar, don't hesitate to do as I did (I want to emphasize that this comment is free from any commercial interest on my part.)
My Conti Entrada archtop will most likely be the finest guitar I’ve played in all the years I’ve been playing. Left handed guitars are a scarce commodity; I’ve had my Gibsons, D’Angelicos, Epiphones, etc etc,… but NONE play better than my Robert Conti Entrada right out of the box, I’ve never set it up – it’s “perfect” as it is. No need to get technical, I’m just enjoying to play it.
Grazii mille mille signore Conti! Ottima chitarra questa è! (Thank you very much Mr. Conti! This is a great guitar!)
I had the luck of coming across a video of Robert playing at one of the NAMM events which instantly got my attention. His speed, agility and great note choices. I started searching for anything I could find about him and first found the Conti line of guitars, beautiful! That led me to his instructional materials; I looked all through them and started watching the preview videos and realised - this guy speaks my language. I bought The Jazz Lines which instantly opened a bunch of musical doors that I thought I’d never be able to walk through as I’m also an auto-didact. Everything started to become clear with his “nuts and bolts” method of communicating. This purchase was followed by Chord Melody Assembly Line, The Formula and The Just Jazz Guitar arrangements.
Thanks to what I’m learning from Robert Conti, I’m preparing to start doing solo Jazz Guitar gigs, something I never would’ve dreamed of doing previously despite my 30+ years of playing professionally.
I want to thank Robert for putting me on the path to realise my dream of becoming a Hard Bop player.
My brother and I each bought one of these gold finger tailpieces from you recently. This is a custom made guitar and I’m proud of it with your tailpiece; they are really hardware!
Have a big debt with Mr. Conti and his methods. After 35 years I find a method that has exactly what I want, the way I think it is adequate for me. Unfortunately, I don't find it earlier and now with my age, all things look more difficult. But I persevere and I'm sure it will give the result I want.. Thank you Mr. Conti.
I love the gold finger tailpiece. I installed it on my Conti Equity and it really dresses it up. It's a great guitar and even classier now.
I've just begun to delve into the material. However Robert's explanations on how he sees the best approach is easily understandable. I will be getting into this very soon. Again thank you.
really enjoying it. havent made enough time to study but am working through it. robert's teaching is very clear and straight forward
Thanks for the nice comments William; 'the real deal' - like that one!!
Over the years I've learned, memorized and performed many songs but it was only after reading your Harmonic Protocol that I now understand how to approach reharmonizing a song in a harmonically rich jazz idiom. Incredible breakthrough for me -- thanks again to you. Of course, still a long way to go in that direction, but I believe by learning to fluidly play several of your chord arrangements I will build my chord vocabulary and eventually get to where I can cycle through and play those chords as you say -- "as easy as writing my own
Thought I'd drop you a line, because in your video you said you enjoyed getting e-mail. I own all Three Videos plus Two of your books. If anyone who buys your videos does not improve their level of playing, it's only because their level of ability will not allow them. Big City Blues was very easy to understand and duplicate (however, it did take a little
time getting the timing down) I also got all the lines to The Sound of Rio. However, the timing was difficult along with sweep picking and speed. But in time I'm sure will be just fine. I prefer the videos simply because all you have to do is copy exactly what your doing, then practice the lines till you have the results you're looking for.