Fans of boutique guitars will know: few builders and designers can match up to Dennis Fano – founder of Fano Guitars and more recently Novo Guitars. At the Novo headquarters in Nashville, TN, you can find Dennis designing alongside his growing team of builders, matching the perfect materials and design philosophies to output world class examples, well-known by guitarists the world over. Dennis Fano creations walk a perfect line between the nostalgia of 1950s and ‘60s electric-guitar-building traditions and the wonder of cutting-edge innovation in guitar design. Fans the world over wait with baited breath to see what guitar will come out of the Novo headquarters next.
Photo: Dennis Fano checking a Rivolta Combinata VII
In 2015, Eastwood owner Mike Robinson approached Dennis Fano with the opportunity to design a more budget-accessible line of guitars, which Eastwood would manufacture in the interest of cost. The resulting models kicked off the Rivolta product line: budget friendly, and expertly designed by a master of the craft.
Photo: Rivolta Combinata VII in Autunno Burst
The first model was the Combinata VII. The V designates binding, while the II refers to the model’s two pickups. The Combinata VII features a German-carved top and a chambered mahogany body, full of natural resonance. This resonance is complemented by two specially designed “Novanta” P-90 pickups.
Video: Rivolta Combinata XVII demo by RJ Ronquillo
Variations were quick to appear in the roster, including the Duesenberg Les Trem II tremolo-equipped Combinata XVII, the three-pickup Combinata VIII, and the Combinata XVIII, which, if you’ve been paying attention to the letter designations, you’ll know has a tremolo, binding, and three pickups.
Video: Rivolta Combinata Bass VII demo by RJ Ronquillo
Other variations exist as the 12-stringed Combinata 12, the 32”-scale Combinata Bass VII, and the now-discontinued Combinata I – a solid-body, single-pickup workhorse, sans the binding found on other Combinata models.
Photo: Rivolta Mondata VIII in Acero Glow
The second Rivolta body shape to make its debut was the Mondata. The Mondata’s body, like the Combinata’s, is mahogany and chambered to the benefit of the model’s weight and resonance. The Flagship model is the three-pickup Mondata VIII.
To the unfamiliar guitarist, the offset Mondata may resemble the Fender Jazzmaster or Gibson Non-Reverse Firebird – especially considering the Mondata VIII’s three custom “Fumante” Firebird-style mini humbuckers.
Video: Rivolta Mondata XVIII demo by Coleman's Music
While the Mondata takes inspiration from decades of American and European guitar designs, plenty separates it from the competition, including an interresting switching system.
The main three-way toggle switch controls the front and back pickups, ignoring the middle pickup – identical to the three-way switching pattern common to most two-pickup guitars.
The second toggle controls the middle pickup exclusively. It can disable the middle pickup, enable the middle pickup (adding it to the other toggle’s selection), or override the other toggle, activating the middle pickup on its own.
Video: Rivolta Mondata Baritone VII Demo by RJ Ronquillo
Variations of the Mondata include the Bigsby-equipped Mondata XVIII, and the Mondata Baritone VII, which features a 28” scale length, the “Novanta” P-90 pickup in the neck position, and the more recent “Brevetto” humbucker in the bridge position, with phase and coil-tap slider switches.
Photo: Left-Handed Rivolta Regata VII in Rosso Red
While the pressed maple top and back may be the first materials to stand out, the Regata’s frame and weight-relieved center block are made from lightweight, resonant mahogany.
Video: Rivolta Regata VII Demo by RJ Ronquillo
Like the Combinata, the Regata has a chunky, C+ profile neck and 24 frets, making for a comfortable playing experience. The controls are kept simple, with one master volume knob and one master tone knob wrangling the two PAF-inspired “Brevetto” humbuckers – perfect for jazz, blues, rock, and beyond.
Photo: Rivolta Mondo Combinata in Camino Burst
More recently still, Rivolta has announced the Rivolta Mondo series – a new take on the Combinata and Mondata using lightweight, all-mahogany construction, rosewood fretboards with dot inlays, and signature Mondo-Series pickups.
The Mondo Combinata features two “Mondobucker” humbucking pickups, giving the model a kick past the P-90 equipped Combinata VII in terms of gain. It also features a tune-o-matic bridge and stop tailpiece, whereas the standard lineup Combinata makes use of a wraparound bridge.
Photo: Rivolta Mondo Mondata in Burgundy Mist Metallic
Both models are set apart visually from the Classico lineup by their black plexi pickguards as well as the unique pickup layouts.