HINTERLAND LUTHIER, Anthony Pizzica has designed the 4552 Series guitar and put Maleny on the guitar players’ map.
Anthony Pizzica has a simple philosophy of life but a practical one. After all, he’s a married man with a child, who spends most of his time crafting and repairing musical instruments. Anthony is an artist and he says with quiet confidence that he has no interest in being a poor artist.
The Pizzica family home overlooks the green fields of Maleny and it is in Anthony’s workshop that he has found a way of making guitars whilst earning a consistent family income at the same time. For Anthony it’s all about producing a high quality product that doesn’t cost the earth.
Fortunately, Anthony has two special skills that greatly assist the skilled luthier, or maker of stringed instruments. He has been a professional guitarist for 15 years, and he is a trained carpenter and joiner.
While working as a professional guitarist, Anthony supplemented his income in early days by working in retail guitar sales then evolving to repairs. He also picked up a wealth of knowledge from helping the dying breed of old- time luthiers. Eventually, seven years ago he decided to back himself and form his own boutique guitar company.
While the guitar-making business is a busy one, world- wide, it was impossible for Anthony to compete with established guitar makers like Fender, Gibson and Maton who produce guitars in the thousands, or with cheap imports from China.
The first turning point for Anthony came a couple of years ago when he formed a friendship with fine furniture maker and fellow Maleny resident, David Linton. David told him that he could assist in devising jigs to streamline his production as well as supply the beautiful wood that he sources and mills locally.
The second turning point was deciding to make his very own guitar model which he has named the 4552 – after Maleny’s postcode. The David Linton link has meant production of 20 guitars at a time in a range of amazing local timbers.
“ No-one else does this,” says Anthony. “The big manufacturers mostly source their wood and materials including plywoods, from China. We use all non-toxic finishes. All the wood is sourced sustainably. For example, the African mahogany comes out of Conondale. The camphor laurel came out of town. The bunya was struck by lightning in town and we managed to rescue some pieces. So each one has its own story.”
“The best compliment I can get is when a musician comes in and gets excited because he knows the guitar has been made by a human being. All my guitars are different. They’ve all got different grain and they each sound, smell and feel different.”
As well as the 4552, Anthony makes versions of traditional electric guitar models made famous by Fender and Gibson.
“ A custom guitar will cost between $2-3000 dollars,” says Anthony. “whereas my production models hit the market from $1199 which is much more achievable for most musicians. And they’re selling really well.
“I proudly have a relationship with every musician who buys one of my guitars,” adds Anthony. “They come into my workshop, we chat for an hour and I set up the guitar the way they want it. It’s service that you just can’t get from a factory,” he adds. “Try ringing Fender and talk to the actual guy who built your guitar. It’s not going to happen because they are churning out 10,000 guitars a year.”
Anthony is delighted with his new 4552 series because it is keeping up with sales of other models. So what makes it unique?
“I guess perfect balance,” he replies.” Second, the contour is designed to sit on your leg so that the neck actually feels closer to you and feels really comfortable, if you’re playing over a long time. So they’ve been really popular with smaller guys and women players. I have also simplified a lot of the electronics and hardware,” he adds. “So rather than having a floating tremolo which can be difficult to maintain on the road, we’ve developed this very simple bridge which anchors the string as well as being the tail piece. The pick- up system is also simple, while being incredibly versatile.
“So it’s like the neck of a Stratocaster, the body feels more like a Telecaster and the pick-up configuration is more like a Les Paul or a Gibson. It doesn’t drop tune. It produces a wide array of sounds that no other guitar will produce. And believe me I have used and abused every type of guitar known to man!”
Anthony is pleased to have found a formula that allows him to be creative, making several customs per year, and yet able to earn a great living from selling up to 40 locally-made production guitars a year. He sells them through stores and to musicians from Los Angeles to New Zealand and throughout all parts of Australia.
“It’s bridging that gap between business and art,” affirms Anthony, keen to stress his philosophy. “It’s still being true to your ideals and your passion. After all, we all need money, but, more importantly, you’ve got to enjoy what you do, he says with a smile.