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Gypsy Guitars Dealers in USA and the Gypsy Tone

TerenceTerence Bloomington, Indiana, USANew
I have been a blues/jazz player for 30 years—strictly amateur.

Recently, I have become interested in Gypsy Jazz and I have been using my Martin 000C-16GTE (a cutaway model and my all-around practice instrument), which has been fine, but it does not have the gypsy tone.

Since I am extremely concerned with tone, most of my guitars are vintage instruments. From instruments to strings to set-up, blues tone is a complex and seemingly life long quest. But now I am starting from scratch seeking the “gypsy tone.”

So, I need an actual gypsy guitar to begin the process.

1) In blues, I feel there is better “blues” tone in vintage instruments. Even though, for example, the new National Resonators are better instruments than say my 1931 Style O, mine has the tone I need. Is this true for Gypsy guitars? Do vintage gypsy guitars have superior tone than new guitars?

2) Is there a place I can find a listing of guitar dealers who specialize in or at least carry new and vintage gypsy guitars in the USA?

The only gypsy guitars dealer I can find so far is Jacques Mazzoleni in Maryland at Gypsyguitars.com.

I have poured over this forum and learned very, very much. If I have missed a section that answers these questions, could you please point me to those posts.

Many thanks,
Terence

Comments

  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    Posts: 5,770
  • Josh HeggJosh Hegg Tacoma, WAModerator
    Posts: 622
    Terence,

    Welcome!

    The main difference between the Selmer style guitar and say a Martin style is the bracing. Martin style guitars use an X brace that (for a simplistic explanation) gives it it's tone. Modern X, Forward shifted X bracing and the like give different tones that, new or vintage, some would call "THAT" tone for a given style. The Selmer style guitar uses latter bracing that give is it's tone. There are many new Selmer guitars that sound amazing as with old. I have had the opportunity to play many guitars as they come through my shop. The best I have had my hands on (not in my shop as it turns out) is a Busato. However I have played many great sounding Selmer styles that are not vintage. Even some of factory made guitars are nice. The Gitane DG-300 comes to mind.

    As for dealers other then builders Michael has a good selection on the site. If you are set on spending the money there are many great builders that you can choose from. As with any high priced guitar I would urge you try as many as you can. For many that is not an option as these guitars are not on the wall at most music stores. Even high end guitar shops. Since you have been a player for years I would suggest that if you are going to start with a guitar like a Gitane to not go for a starter like the DG-255 or D-500 but rather for a DG-300 - about $900. The next step would be something like the Manouche guitar. They are new to the market and hit the $1600 range. I hear good things about them but have not played one yet. I hope to soon! Then you have DellArte' that ranges from about $2300 up. At that point you have to start thinking about many makers and guitar specifications. DellArte' is one in a wide range of options in the upper range.

    The main thing to remember is that if it sounds good to you when you are playing then that is the "right" sound.

    If you have the chance to make it to Djangofest North West (next week!) that would be the place to try out and hear many Selmer style guitars.

    Cheers,
    Josh
  • Bob HoloBob Holo Moderator
    Posts: 1,240
    Definitely. Because there aren't anywhere near as many Gypsy Jazz guitars around - it's not like you can go play a bunch - so there are basically 3 ways to increase the liklihood of getting something good that you can play and grow with till you're happy with it or ready to upgrade to a really top instrument.

    1.) Buy it from someone who specializes (like Michael)
    2.) Buy it from someone at a festival so that you can have some experienced players play it and let you know what they think.
    3.) Buy it from someone who has done one of the above and is now willing to pass it on to you as they upgrade.

    Josh actually played my first guitar (Gitane) at Djangofest and said: "This is great - it is a little tight but it will open up." Well - it did - and I played it hard for a year or two and I just sold it to a guy who joined our jam group because I wanted to move up to a kilobuck instrument. Buying Gypsy Jazz guitars is not like buying most guitars. Most guitars have varying palates of tone and a player chooses the one that fits him/her. With GJ guitars - you need an axe that has the heart of a Lion. If it can't roar - you can't roar. The topend handmade instruments have purer tone - but all GJ guitars must have a barking voice. In Gypsy Jazz, if the guitar can't speak up for itself - there is no point in owning it because you're pretty much always playing on the street or among groups of people. Participants play tastfully and respect one another - but you have to be able to step on the gas when it's called for.
    You get one chance to enjoy this day, but if you're doing it right, that's enough.
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