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Tonante, initially called Ao Rei dos Violões Limitada (To the King of Acoustic Guitars in English), was started on April 5 of 1954 by the Portuguese brothers Abel and Samuel Tonante who artisanelly built musical instruments, thirteen years after their arrival in Brazil. Tonante is well known for making highly affordable stringed instruments in Brazil, together with companies such as Giannini, Del Vecchio and Di Giorgio.
Relevance to the Brazilian Musical History
Tonante is particularly important to the Brazilian musical history because during the militar dictatorship (1970's) there was a policy of Import substitution which forbade or severely restricted imports. People bought Tonante guitars because they were cheap like nothing else. At the time Giannini, Del Vecchio and Di Giorgio were the brands of choice if you were at least a bit serious about owning a good acoustic guitar. Giannini, Snake and Finch were the main choices for electrics. Tonante was one of the companies who helped popularize stringed instruments in Brazil, and many people began playing on Tonante guitars.
Although early Tonante instruments were often plagued by low quality electronics, relatively rough and uncomfortable shapes, bad finish, they have attained a somewhat cult status because they are historically significant. A vintage Tonante guitar can be worth as much as R$ 170,00 (roughly USD 85,00).
- Tonante Fender, also known as Tonante FInder - a cheap mix between a Stratocaster and a Jazzmaster.
- Various cavaquinhos, mandolins and acoustic guitars.
- Tonante Erton - a somewhat better than the Tonante Finder stratocaster copy.
- Tonante Starlight - a heavy metal guitars with an interesting vibrola system derived from the Floyd Rose and three single coil pickups.
- Tonante Les Paul - a flat top Les Paul copy.
- Various banjos, acoustic guitars and cavaquinhos.