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FabriceS Silvano

Getting more affordable European guitars in America?

I've been trying for years to find a decent Selmer copy in America. There seems to be no shortage of good guitars being made in Europe within my budget. Unfortunately they are not sold in the U.S. Our only options here are either an Asian made guitar with all it's quality control issues and design flaws, or a luthier made guitar starting at three thousand dollars. In Europe however there seems to be dozens of models around the $2,000 range (new and used). Walnut necks, pliage, ebony, and french polish absolutely do not exist in this price range in America. (if I'm wrong please correct me)

So my question is: how difficult is it to order one of these guitars and have it shipped to America? I have nightmares of it being confiscated in customs. Has anyone tried it?

I have seen several offerings by JWC, J.B Castelluccia, and Geronimo Mateos for sale in Europe that I can afford. It's unbelievable what can be found on a european ebay site. Does anybody have suggestions? Experiences?

Thanks

Comments

  • Archtop EddyArchtop Eddy Manitou Springs, ColoradoModerator
    Posts: 589
    The info in the FretBoard article is dated from Fall 2008. Since then, there have been some changes allowing for travel with guitars. Ck this thread from June 2013.

    viewtopic.php?f=1&t=11949&p=63842&hilit=lacey#p63842
  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    Posts: 5,818
    Yes, the sub $3K range is lacking in good choices. However, if you do the conversions, the good handmade guitars available in Europe are mostly above $3k as well. I have been importing Castelluccias but am currently sold out. Keep an eye on the site for more in the future. Many of the other brands you're seeing for sale in the sub $3K range are actually partially or wholly Asian made, so be careful as just because its sold in Europe doesn't mean it was made by a skilled European luthier.

    M
  • kw3rdkw3rd New
    Posts: 22
    Thanks for all the replies,

    @ Archtop Eddy: The new addendum to the law make allowances for traveling but they are still vague on importing and going through customs.

    @Michael: I've spent hours browsing French, English, and European websites/stores and have managed to find several guitars under my $2100 price range (after the exchange rate is accounted for) I'm sure they are not handmade by European luthiers but I really don't expect or need them to be. After all professional musicians around the world make their living with $2000 factory made Martin or Taylor guitars and no one ever accused them of looking like amateurs or playing a cheap instrument :-). In America that level of quality doesn't exist with Selmer copies. I either have to buy a luthier made guitar or an asian made guitar dipped in polyurethane and missing the key ingredients of a good Selmer. It's either one extreme or the other.

    For Instance: The cheapest J.B. Casteluccia in France has a solid spruce top, Brazilian rosewood B&S, ebony fingerboard, walnut neck, and nitro-cellulose lacquer. Its price after the exchange rate? $1440.94! (excluding taxes, shipping, and customs) It may not be a Dupont or a Bob Holo but it has to be better than a Gitane, an Altamira, a Paris Swing, or any other factory made GJ guitar available in the U.S.

    Don't get me wrong. I'm not complaining about Django Books. I love this place and value the products, service, and expertise you provide.
  • kw3rdkw3rd New
    Posts: 22
    Well I got the price off of casteluccia's website. The prices might not be current and I'm sure they don't reflect the taxes. I'm also sure it's not the price for their handmade models. Regardless, it's a GJ guitar with a walnut neck, ebony fingerboard, and nitro finish for under 2k US dollars!

    Yes guitar shopping in Samois is a dream. My fear is that when I declare it in customs it will be confiscated because of the LACEY act. Not to mention the creative ways airlines have found to completely destroy or lose a guitar in the baggage system. :-)

    Guitar shopping in Europe is definitely on my bucket list though.
  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    Posts: 5,818
    kw3rd wrote:

    @Michael: I've spent hours browsing French, English, and European websites/stores and have managed to find several guitars under my $2100 price range (after the exchange rate is accounted for) I'm sure they are not handmade by European luthiers but I really don't expect or need them to be.

    In most cases those inexpensive guitars you're seeing in Europe are just rebranded Altamira guitars...why not just buy an Altamira instead of paying an upcharge for the rebranding?
    For Instance: The cheapest J.B. Casteluccia in France has a solid spruce top, Brazilian rosewood B&S, ebony fingerboard, walnut neck, and nitro-cellulose lacquer. Its price after the exchange rate? $1440.94! (excluding taxes, shipping, and customs)

    I don't see that....he has the Gypsy Serie G which is 1250 Euro before taxes and shipping (over $1700) and would be much more once you either paid taxes in France and/or paid customs duties and shipping to the US. So it's basically a $2K plus guitar which is what most of the lower end Castelluccias have sold for on DjangoBooks. Also, it's not "Brazilian" in the truest sense, but rather Palo Leo which is much less expensive wood from Brazil and not the Jacaranda de Bahia which is what people pay big bucks for.

    Thanks!

    Michael
  • PhilPhil Portland, ORModerator Gallato 452 & Anastasio
    Posts: 624
    You could also consider a used US made Dell'Arte Hommage...as they regularly appear below $2K and they are excellent GJ guitars...Angelo played one for a time; both Angelo and the Ferret Bros have played Dell'Arte's for quite a while....also Kruno played a Dell'Arte Minor Swing for a long time and got a great tone out of it.
    Cheers
    Phil
  • How about the Dupont Nomade?
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