c. 1840 D.&A. Roudhloff

London, England

The brothers Dominique (1798–?) and Arnould (c. 1804–?) Roudhloff traveled to London in the 1830s from Mirecourt in Northeastern France. London trade directories show that by 1839, the Roudhloffs were working at 81 Charlotte Street in the Marylebone district, and later moved to number 87 sometime during 1848.

The Roudhloffs soon became Panormo’s biggest rival in London and could boast the young guitar prodigy Giulio Regondi as a devoted client. Regondi had made London his home and famously played duets with another young child star, Catharina Pelzer, later known by her married name, Madame Sidney Pratten. Madame Pratten was the foremost late-Victorian era guitar luminary. From her surviving collection of guitars, it is clear that D. & A. Roudhloff was one of Madame Pratten’s favorite makers.

Date 1827
Location Turin, Italy
Length of Guitar 928mm
String Length 640mm
Upper Bout Width 274mm
Waist Width 205mm
Lower Bout Width 343mm
Side Depth at Waist 66mm
Soundboard: Spruce | Back: Applewood | Sides: Applewood | Details: Wider body than typical of the period.

Maker Biography

Performance Video

The Roudhloff brothers were known for their experiments with design. They made eight-string guitars for Regondi at his urging, and also developed a radically different guitar called the “Melophonic.” The Melophonic model was larger than its contemporaries and had an angled bridge saddle. Most significantly, the internal soundboard bracing was shaped in the form of an “x.” Ultimately known as x-bracing, this innovation was later cultivated by the American guitar manufacturer, C. F. Martin & Company.

Speculation over the possible Roudhloff-Martin connection deepens with the fortunes of Madame de Goñi, a Spanish guitarist who was fond of Roudhloff guitars. She appeared in a series of concerts throughout Europe during the latter years of the 1830s, and on one occasion performed alongside Regondi. She immigraterd to America with her husband in 1840 and there is speculation that she may have taken a Roudhloff guitar with her. Madame de Goñi met with great success in America and her fame led to a strong working relationship with Martin, who produced a “De Goñi” model. This new-sized guitar, with its distinctive plantilla, became the “Size 1” guitar in the historical repertoire of Martin’s sizes and styles. It is notable that the Size 1 used x-bracing and was very similar in design to Roudhloff’s Melophonic guitar. Ultimately, it is left to historians to decide if the Roudhloff brothers were instrumental in the subsequent development by C. F. Martin & Co. of the “x” brace, used to this day in their iconic steel-string “flat-top” acoustic guitars.

The Roudhloff guitar in the Austin-Marie Collection is in remarkable and original condition. It is built in the French style with a dome shaped head (the opposite to Panormo’s crescent-shaped headstock). The three-point bridge is unique to these makers and appears on select models. (It may have been designed to add more surface area for gluing.) It is French braced and the back is veneered with stunningly figured rosewood with solid rosewood sides. The neck is secured to the body with an ebony dowel which appears through the neck block – a design feature unique to the Roudhloffs. There is a secondary label on the block hidden away, presumably because contemporary makers were forging copies of their guitars.