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Does anyone know the value of Stringphonic guitars?

I"m researching purchasing a Stringphonic #055 but haven't had luck finding much about them. I'm mostly interested in finding out if $1700 USD is a fair price for one in very good condition with a hard shell case. Thanks in advance for any help.

Charles Bandla
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  • dennisdennis Montreal, QuebecModerator
    They’re consistent guitars made in Japan. Every Stringphonic I’ve tried was consistent. They sound like “modern”/“new” Gypsy Jazz guitars, less of an “old” sound. That’s the best description I can come up with. The Japanase company that makes them really knows what they’re doing and sets up every guitar.

    I’m playing one here. It’s not mine. the festival was sponsored in part by Stringphonic so I played their base model:



    Notice that we’re also playing 100% acoustic so it’s the sound of the guitar you are hearing.

    1700$ seems fair
  • Thank you Denis. BTW, I'm working through your Improving Skills course and it's very helpful.

    Cbandla
  • While I'm at it I'd like to find out how the Stringphonic compares to a Latcho Drom Nuange guitar in quality and price I any one has experience with both.

    cbandla
  • Pompe_ojisanPompe_ojisan Tokyo✭✭ Le Voi '11
    Hi,
    I'm living in Japan and had the chance to play many (~10) of these, all of them played and sounded great to me. As Dennis said, they're nothing if not consistent.
    You should try to figure out which model you're looking at though. They come in two flavors, either 'advanced', with bent top and radiused fingerboard (selling here for 240k¥, ~2150$, w/o case), or 'basic' model, with forced top and flat radius (140k¥/~1250$, also w/o case)
  • Hi,
    I'm living in Japan and had the chance to play many (~10) of these, all of them played and sounded great to me. As Dennis said, they're nothing if not consistent.
    You should try to figure out which model you're looking at though. They come in two flavors, either 'advanced', with bent top and radiused fingerboard (selling here for 240k¥, ~2150$, w/o case), or 'basic' model, with forced top and flat radius (140k¥/~1250$, also w/o case)

    The guitar I'm looking at is listed by the seller as a model #055. I found info on the basic and advanced models but nothing on #055.

    cbandla
  • jonpowljonpowl Santa Cruz, CA✭✭✭ Dupont MD-100, Cigano GJ-10
    Always buy with caution. Gypsy Jazz guitars are a lot easier to buy than sell. $1700 sounds high to me unless it is in "brand new" condition. At $1700 you are close to what a good used Eimers or new Mateos costs at Djangobooks. It never hurts to make an offer....
    t-bird
  • dennisdennis Montreal, QuebecModerator
    edited August 5
    jonpowl wrote: »
    Always buy with caution. Gypsy Jazz guitars are a lot easier to buy than sell. $1700 sounds high to me unless it is in "brand new" condition.

    What? in the USA the basic Stringphonic is over 2000$. They're a fairly new brand ( I think they appeared in the market 3-4 years ago at least in the USA, that's when I started hearing about them) but have been getting rave reviews and brand new they sell very very quickly. So unless the guitar is in bad condition due to the seller mishandling it, 1700$ is reasonable and the seller seems to be adding a hardshell case as well.

    Japanese work ethics and workmanship are no joke and they're really serious people and hardcore fans of the style.

    Of course, it never hurts to make an offer, but 1700$ is reasonable.
  • jonpowljonpowl Santa Cruz, CA✭✭✭ Dupont MD-100, Cigano GJ-10
    In Japan, the basic Stringphonic runs around $1350, or about the same as a Dupont Nomade in France. I'm sure they are a step above Gitane and some Altamiras, but I doubt that a lot of top players are using them for gigs. Click to get an idea of Japanese pricing. Perhaps a few more years of use in the US market might enhance their already good reputation. I do notice the new Eastman DM1 at about the same price. It would be hard for me to spend $1700 on a used one, when I could save a few more hundred and buy a European, luthier built guitar. Here is a clip of Tchavolo playing a Stringphonic.
  • dennisdennis Montreal, QuebecModerator
    edited August 6
    jonpowl wrote: »
    It would be hard for me to spend $1700 on a used one, when I could save a few more hundred and buy a European, luthier built guitar. [/url].

    The idea that luthier made instrument is superior just because it's handmade is not a great argument. It doesn't mean anything. Then also to say that it's from Europe is an even worse argument. What matters is talent, experience.

    In the world of instruments and many other things, people fall for hype above anything else, which is unfortunate. Also since Gypsy Jazz is a very niche market, people often don't criticize luthiers' works publicly. All the negative comments are kept in the private sphere. I know a lot of the stories because people tell me

    There is one famous luthier who built a guitar that a customer commissioned, however, he messed up the construction of the guitar. Rather than start from scratch, he just hid the mistake, and continued the construction of the guitar. The customer only found out when he brought it to another luthier for adjustment.

    One other famous luthier made another guitar with structural flaws , when the customer asked for refund or another guitar, the luthier basically said tough luck.

    On the other hand, another famous luthier also made aguitar with structural flaws, and admitted to his error and offered to replace the guitar for free.

    These are all famous European luthiers. Of course, this can happen with any luthier around the world even the best...

    Then you have luthiers giving free guitars to famous artists to build their name, and the famous artists play them then sell them to their friends.

    I am not a Stringphonic fanboy, far from it. I don't own any of their guitars, I don't owe them anything at all, but I 'm talking from a logical and objective point of view.

    All I'm really saying is not to play the hype game.

    Stringphonic guitars in Japan may cost less, but then you import them to America, you have to extra fees, no matter what. The only way to avoid all this is to have someone in Japan bring it to you and sneak it past customs.

    PompierChris Martin
  • BonesBones Moderator
    edited August 6
    Yeah what Dennis said. "Luthier built" (by that I'm assuming we all mean a one or two person shop) versus "factory built" one is not necessarily "better" than the other. One is more expensive because it is probably necessary to use more touch labor (time) for a luthier built because they don't have access to NC machines. Nothing inherently wrong with NC machines, they work wonderfully for some things and are VERY accurate and repeatable. That said, NCs treat every piece of wood the same (thickness, bracing, etc.) and one piece to the next they are FAR from the same. Hence, the variation in sound. I think one way the factories can try to mitigate that is by trying to select wood with all similar properties but that is tough to do.

    Where the custom specs and/or setup is concerned, that is where there can be a big difference between a hand built instrument versus a factory built. Just more time and care and experience in the setup can make a big difference especially in "playability", and when you are working directly with a luthier you can order exactly the specs that you want.


    As far as 'mistakes', they probably occur to some degree in a lot of instruments and it is up to the builder to 'fix' them. And there is almost no mistake that can't be fixed by an experienced woodworker. Naturally, I'm not talking about someone dropping a lead weight on a guitar top and trying to patch it up or something grossly structurally unsound, but a slip of the chisel or something like that, sure absolutely can be patched and practically invisible. Heck, I'm not going to throw away a $250 AAAA spruce arch top just because I carved into a small pitch pocket. I'll make a little patch piece and glue it in.

    One measure of the skill of a woodworker is how well they can fix their mistakes.

    All that said, if you want an actual Selmer style pliage I think there are not any factory guitars with that feature so you need to go to a luthier for that.
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