Modern "Contra-guitar" for steel strings
Entry level instrument by king of the "kontragitarre,"
Benoît Meulle-Stef!

Belgium luthier Benoît Meulle-Stef has created another great instrument designed for players in the States.  It is built for silk & steel strings (or silk & bronze) but can also be fully strung with low tension phosphor bronze strings if desired.

Ben spends as much time designing at the drafting table as he does building in the workshop, and everything about this new design is deliberate.  Large, deep body, original headstock designs, bridge, bracing, string layout, and construction - all are designed to yield maximum tone and volume for the lowest possible price.

For this reason, features and appointments are simple, finish is minimal, and the occasional imperfection is allowed to pass.

This specimen is also priced slightly lower than normal as the heel was cracked during shipping.  it has been repaired to near-invisibility, and is, of course, fully warranted (for life of guitar for original owner).

It has a "double action truss rod" along with two graphite bars in each neck, a 10mm graphite rod in the body, and the bolt-on neck is adjustable with a metric allen key.

No holes are drilled through the top, as it uses the Jeffrey Elliot pinless bridge system.

Playability is fine - about average for a professional instrument I would say.  Tone of the sub-basses is distinctly "Meulle-Stef" - loud, and somehow simultaneously punchy yet soft.  Compared to the lower priced and lower quality Lark in the Morning (made in Mexico), I would use one of Ben's own phrases and say that "it kicks the LIM's basses' ass" (grammar unimportant).  Treble strings are a tad quiet and thin - definitely not as loud as on the slightly harsh LIM, but the whole instrument certainly has much more sophisticated musical subtlety.

A B-Band pickup system (model A-4 with 2 under-saddle pickups) is used, the levels of sub-bass strings and neck strings completely isolated from each other and controllable from the side-mounted pre-amp.    It's a pretty clean, versatile, natural-sounding system, though an external EQ will likely be needed.

I would consider this a "B-grade" instrument in quality (again, affordable tone is the goal here).  There are a few defects in workmanship, such as tiny dings and imperfections in the wood, and the French polish top finish is uneven (a bit "splotchy" in certain light), while the back and sides have a simple oil finish.

Bottom line: One of the most affordable harp guitars available today!



  • Italian spruce top
  • Mahogany back & sides
  • Mahogany necks with 4 graphite reinforcement bars (2 in each neck)
  • Tortoiseshell (celluloid) binding
  • Rosewood bridge, with Jeffrey Elliot pinless bridge system (reinforced)
  • Finish: oil back, sides and necks; French polish top
  • Tuners: Rubner, custom made in Germany
  • Pickup: B-band A-4 AST-UST, with blend between basses and guitar, mono output
  • Silk & steel strings on neck, silk & phosphor bronze sub-bass strings, tuned descending DCBAGFE
  • 25-1/2" scale, longest bass 35"
  • 48mm nut width
  • Dimensions: 16-7/8" lower bout, 4-1/2" depth at tail block, 47" total length
  • Soft case

    Price: SOLD $2495 (Paypal)
    (cash or check discount price $2425)


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