Whether it's cars, clothing or - in this case - guitars, there's something instantly appealing about Italian design. Combining the well-known tonal properties of aluminum and hardwoods like mahogany and rosewood, the hand-crafted Di Donato guitar is the brainchild of Edoardo DiDonato, who has applied traditional luthier skills used to craft violins, violas and cellos to create an instrument that is both modern and classic at the same time.

As I write, I am listening to Haydn Symphony No.88 Finale by Paul Gilbert (from his 2006 album Get Out of My Yard) and can't help thinking that the classic lines and modern feel of the Di Donato guitar would sit very nicely with this track. Less visually brutal than, but of a similar design to, Michael Spalt's Apex guitars - while also tipping a nod in the direction of ancient Venetian craftsmen - the Di Donato guitar has a cast aluminum alloy skeletal body frame at its heart, upon which the instrument's wooden components are positioned. DiDonato says that the hand-finished metal body is contoured like the soundboard of a violin, which acts to transfer vibrations to and from other parts of the instrument and is of a thickness precisely calculated to enhance specific frequencies.

The body-based wooden elements are also shaped by hand and are made from kaya mahogany, korina, alder, or maple that have been chosen - like the aluminum alloy - for their tonal qualities. Like Ulrich Teuffel's Tesla Prodigy creations featured recently, the hand-wound, single-coil pickups - which are said to fall somewhere between a P90 and Jazzmaster and are tuned by ear - are encased in wood. DiDonato is also currently working on a new dual blade humbucker.

The 25-inch scale neck is fashioned from quarter-sawn kaya mahogany, maple or Spanish cedar and topped by a rosewood, maple or pauferro fingerboard that's been "tap-tested" for quality. Ebony dots face upwards and leave the fingerboard blank, except for the frets of course - which have naturally been worked and polished by hand. The neck ends in a small headstock, noticeably lacking in protruding machine heads thanks to ABM headless bridge tuners.

The guitar's volume and tone controls are made from resin, and are joined by a 3-way pickup selector on the lower wooden element. Each instrument is supplied with Elixir Nanoweb (.010 - .046) strings but the beauty of being hand-crafted to order means that each one is not only unique, but can be customized to individual player preferences.

The Di Donato guitar is available direct from the manufacturer and is priced at US$5,500.

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