When grown and sewn. decided to leave Lower Manhattan earlier this year and relocate the offices a good customer of ours caught wind of it and told us that he had a storefront space open in Brooklyns beautiful Columbia St Waterfront neighborhood.
We came over to the space and fell absolutely in love immediately.
In addition to loving the new space more than anything, our old customers / new landlords very quickly became our new best friends. I realized that him and I share the same level of passion for all different types of music and we've spent (almost) every day since listening to records and talking about music.
About a month in I brought in my guitars and amplifier so I we could do some singalongs when the beers come out on the weekends. He mentioned to me that he had a crappy old guitar that was given to him a long time ago and he never learned how to play it, so the next day I gifted him a nice Acoustic/Electric Yamaha nylon string Spanish guitar that I bought a few years ago and told him I'd show him some basics to get him going.
He seemed to genuinely appreciate the gift and told me to wait while he went upstairs and came back his "crappy old guitar". He handed me a fairly high quality hard-shell acoustic guitar case which I then opened to reveal and fairly indistinct, small bodied, mahogany steel string guitar with a name on the headstock that I'd never heard of before. I pulled the guitar out the case, strummed a random chord expecting this guitar to be: out-of-tune, difficult to play and an aural catastrophe.
The facts on the other-hand were that all three of this instruments afore mentioned characteristics were literally the exact opposite. It was almost perfectly in-tune, played like a dream, and sounded arguably better than any similar looking Martin or Gibson that I've ever heard or played in my life. I was immediately obsessed this seemed like the best acoustic guitar that I've ever had the pleasure of playing in my entire life, no exaggeration.
I had to figure out what on earth this thing is so we dug into the internet to figure this out.
Here are a few of the things I learned about the guitar immediately it has a solid Honduran mahogany body and neck with a Brazilian rosewood bridge and fretboard, plus this one still seems to have the original bone saddle / nut AND the original tortoise shell pick guard. Also, one of the more interesting things about this particular guitar is that it was put together with a fan bracing typically seen on classical guitars and pretty uncommon for a steel string.
This is what wikipedia had to say about the company.
"Brothers John (ca. 1871-1956) and Joseph Favilla, after having emigrated from Italy to New York City, formed Favilla Bros. (or Favilla Brothers, predecessor to Favilla Guitars, Inc.) either in 1890 or 1894. By the 1920s, the company had expanded to over 50 employees. The company produced instruments in various New York locations, but around 1930 settled into the West 16th Street location where it would remain until 1959. At that time, Hercules (“Herk”) Favilla, son of John Favilla and a former vaudeville performer, took over the business and renamed it Favilla Guitars, Inc. Herk’s older brother Frank had been running administrative affairs for the company since the late 1940s. John Favilla died in 1956, and when his son Herk took over in 1959, the company was moved to a larger facility in Brooklyn.
In 1965 the company relocated again, this time to Long Island. Around this time, guitar production peaked at 3,000-3,500 per year. Herk’s son Tom (b. 1942) worked for the company, and in 1970 began importing guitars from Japan under the Favilla name. (These instruments can be distinguished by their having the Favilla name in script on the guitar, instead of the full Favilla crest.)
Due to a shift in the guitar market from acoustic instruments to electric instruments, the Favilla company ceased production in 1973. However Herk and his son Tom continued building custom instruments until their retirements, in 1980 and 1986, respectively."
So, Long story even longer He left the guitar downstairs in the showroom for me to play for a few weeks and I couldn't stop playing it / talking about it with literally anyone who would listen. After seeing this the owner decided that the guitar just belonged to me now. He said how happy he was that I loved it so much and that he wanted me to have it.
So I am happy to say that I am now the very proud owner of what is not only an absolutely incredible instrument that has stood the test of time ( the serial number suggests it's from the late 50's or very early 60's) but an amazing piece of NYC and more specifically Brooklyn history.
Come in and play it or listen to me play it if you're in the neighborhood.
November 01, 2022
Great story—you’re a lucky guy.