Jazz Guitar Life would like to thank Philly Jazz Guitarist Larry Tamanini for his thoughtful contribution/review and time.
Hello Jazz guitar friends! Over the years I have found the process of buying a new guitar to be exciting and daunting. My most recent endeavor proved to be the most successful acquisition in my time playing jazz guitar and I would like to tell you all about the Westville Unity model.
In this article, I’d like to share some tips for prospective archtop buyers.
I believe that the only comparable situation to finding the perfect guitar would be akin to buying a suit off the rack without needing any alterations or tailoring. This has only happened to me twice in my 25 years of playing and buying guitars. The first time it happened was when a purchased an Ibanez AF125 in 2009 and then again with the Westville.
Since 2009 I have purchased several other archtop guitars, a 2001 Victor Baker VB-17 (now belonging to Quintin Zoto) a 1984 GB-10, and a 97 L-5 Studio. All three of these aforementioned guitars had much better sonic properties than my AF-125 but I kept returning to the Ibanez, but why????
I decided to do a little jazz guitar CSI and concluded that the physical specs of the guitar made a great deal of difference to me, all of the jazz goldilocks moments I was having were making tons of sense. I had to find an archtop with very specific measurements instead of complaining about my porridge being too hot or too cold.
The magic numbers for me were a 16-inch body, 2 and 3 quarter inch depth, and a 24 and 3 quarter scale length fretboard. The other requirement I had was an archtop with 1 inset pick-up, no floaters! As you can imagine this whittled down the choices quite a bit but there were still many options.
Enter the Westville Unity.
I was lucky enough to happen upon this guitar while searching through one pick-up 175’s and Hofner Jazzica’s I was immediately taken aback by the striking good lucks of the Westy. I hadn’t known that much about the company except I knew Kurt Rosenwinkel played one and my friend Flavio Silva was raving about one of the 17 inchers he had in his possession. The guitar met all the physical specs I had plus the spruce top and ebony board enhanced the sonic properties I was looking for. And while I wasn’t too keen on dropping 4k on a guitar I had never played I was feeling confident in my guitar sleuthing and pulled the trigger.
Upon the arrival of the guitar to say I was excited would be an understatement. This Westville Unity is a complete joy to play and a revelation! The sonic properties were quite evident even before I plugged into an amp, the playability of the 2 piece ebony board was like being in the EZ-pass lane and the rounded edges made the 16-inch body seem smaller and uniquely comfortable for an archtop. The other detail that stood out immensely was the deep cutaway that allows for some very easy access to the higher frets and makes this guitar extremely playable in all positions. I also dug the clear pick-guard which enhances the already off-the-charts aesthetics for this guitar.
In closing, I can attest that this Westville is a marvellous guitar and I’m happy to sing(pick) the praises of my Westville Unity. They are a little tough to find on the east coast but well worth the trouble.
Keep Swingin’ LT
Larry Tamanini is one of the most accomplished jazz guitarists to emerge from the Philadelphia area in the last 20 years.
While still in high-school Larry found himself developing a unique guitar pedigree from lessons with Jazz guitar legend Pat Martino and noted instructor Dennis Sandole.
Please consider spreading the word about Larry’s Westville Unity model and Jazz Guitar Life by sharing this review amongst your social media pals and please feel free to leave a comment. We’d love to hear from you 🙂