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Django's Classical Guitar

PayneJonPayneJon New
edited June 2008 in History Posts: 20
I was wondering if anyone could tell me which kind of classical guitar was used by Django? For example, the one that he was playing in a photograph sitting in front of a fire. I suppose that the Gypsies adopted whatever instruments that were accessable to them from the surrounding area in which they lived. I have seen two photographs of Django and Baro Ferret using guitars made by Julian Gomez Ramirez. Could he be the maker of Django's guitar?
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Comments

  • waldenjazzwaldenjazz Thoreau, NMNew
    Posts: 70
    I've seen a photo of Django playing what appears to be a Maccaferri "Concert" which looks very much like an Orchestre but has a flat top and more conventional classical guitar fan bracing. I am also aware that Manouche Guitars produces a "Concert" model although I've never played one so have no idea what it sounds like.
  • PayneJonPayneJon New
    Posts: 20
    waldenjazz wrote:
    I've seen a photo of Django playing what appears to be a Maccaferri "Concert" which looks very much like an Orchestre but has a flat top and more conventional classical guitar fan bracing. I am also aware that Manouche Guitars produces a "Concert" model although I've never played one so have no idea what it sounds like.
    Ah yes! I've been meaning to get the blueprints of this nylon string guitar from Gypsy Guitars. From the pictures on the internet it seems as though the bracing is in some ways similar to what one might see on a Kohno or a Matsuoka guitar where the fan struts begin further down the body under a lower transverse strut. Of couse! These pictures of Django were promotional and I presume that he did play them. Yet when I see pictures of Django in front of the fireplace or of Roger Chaput's rendition of Django playing a classical guitar the instrument is always a more traditional, rounded, hour-glass shaped guitar. I ask this question because I have been practicing music from the Unaccompanied book on my classical guitar and have been struck by how well the music is suited for the Spanish classical guitar. Actually, my guitar is from Barcelona. Then I am to learn that Django had a good friend in Ida Presti who was very much a classical guitarist and whom would give Django advice about the music and the guitar. Coupled with what I have learned about Julian Gomez Ramirez, Robert Bouchet, and Andre Marin and the Gypsy culture in Paris during those times it would seem to me the guitars made by Gomez Ramirez would have been the ones adopted and played more fully.In other words, these names are all connected in some ways. For instance an article in the Djangobooks forum which, if I'm not mistaken, discusses the possible exploitation of the Gypsies and their use of the guitar by Andre Marin. Andre Marin the protogee of Robert Bouchet. Robert Bouchet the protogee of Julian Gomez Ramirez who was supplying France with guitars during Django's time and whose guitars were played by Baro Ferret and Django(but not the rounded classical guitar).Robert Bouchet whose guitars were played by Ida Presti. Who knows? Django may have owned a Herman Hauser whose guitars were also around at this time and quite popular.
  • PayneJonPayneJon New
    Posts: 20
    Well, I'd better be carefull before I enter into some kind of controversy about exploiting the French Gypsies. I'm trying to find the post in the forums where it describes a guitar made using the bracing system of Robert Bouchet. When i find it I'll post it.
  • PayneJonPayneJon New
    Posts: 20
    Well, okay. A quick search has me empty through the Django Forums and any way I should have said Antonio Marin. Not Andre. And certainly not Olivier. But I did find the scrap of paper that I used to write down from the site information about a classical Castellucia guitar being made using Bouchet's system of bracing. Along with pictures. Castellucia...a guitar used by Django and as such if one were to make a classical guitar today why not use Bouchet bracing to play wonderful Django music on? More on how the gypsies are being exploited in Granada later. Forced to play seven-strut guitars instead of the usual eight as produced by Gomez Ramirez?
  • PayneJonPayneJon New
    Posts: 20
    Well,okay.Upon closer inspection the painting by Roger Chaput of Django playing what I thought may be his classical guitar was probably a D-hole. The soundhole looks roundish in the picture and Django's leg hides the cutaway.Anyway. Yes! The Concert model! The Hot Club band used and endorsed the Maccaferri guitar.Naturally it would logically follow that they would use the nylon string model. And there is that photo of Joseph Reinhardt playing that guitar at The Hauge (10/9/37). And yet the nylon string was not for them. Perhaps an occaisional strum on a classical guitar is what we see when we look at the picture of Django in front of the fireplace. And how can this be no less a promotional picture? Great suggestion. And it is J. Castellucia who makes a version of the Concert model(is it the A2 ?) also as well as a traditional, "Torres" style classical guitar. And in addition the Giambatista, the student offshoot of Castellucia. Which brings me to the subject of Bouchet bracing, as it is this bracing used for this Castellucia classical. I was wondering why it came about that they used this bracing and what connection it could have to Django. I mean he had a Castellucia in his collection of Selmer proto-types, did he not? And when I clicked on to 615 Music-Production music libraries I found a slew of material connecting Gypsy song titles(Gypsy Way...Vals Gitano,etc.) and Gypsy music with Castellucia guitars specifically. So there is this connection of this brand name of guitars with the Gypsies and that means Django. What great bracing in a classical guitar for them! Then there is this article written by Richard Brune.A description for a flameco guitar, actually which includes this: " Granada is the home to the gypsies of the Sacramonte, the centuries old enclave of gypsy settlement that predates Columbus' voyage to America. It is also home to a plethora of guitar makers who make their living off of the gypsy musicians. Traditionally, the makers of Granada were scorned for this approach and in recent years they have reinvented themselves through the designs of Robert Bouchet as interpreted by Antonio Marin Montero. None the less..." and it goes on to give a description of this flamenco guitar. Then I found this article called Flamenco. The Guitar and the Music by Jeff Foster in which he says when talking about the general exploitation of Gypsy Flamenco: "....none the less, it should be recognized that all music which captures the imagination of a larger public (particularly in this century with the proliferation of mass media means for dissemination and promotion) falls prey to commercialization and exploitation." I have a few minutes left on this commputer so I have to return after I send this.
  • PayneJonPayneJon New
    Posts: 20
    Ida Presti was a friend of Django's. Where did I hear that? I believe that I did read about that somewhere. They had at least one thing in common: Mario Maccaferri. He was her guitar teacher for a couple of years. I read that in the classical guitar book by Maurice Summerfield. She had also requested at one point of the guitar maker Daniel Friederich to construct a guitar for her that had a raised, floating fingerboard. Something, I imagine like what one would see on a Thomas Humphrey or, since he is a more recent maker, an L-5. Perhaps it was as though Django was exploring classical music and its' guitar as Ida Presti was looking at Jazz and its' instruments. Anyway I found this site yester day called Golden Era Cassettes in which they list her as playing in 1957 a guitar made by Julian Gomez Ramirez and not her Robert Bouchet which I knew about. So perhaps they exchanged ideas about guitars and when it came time for Django to experiment with some of the "classical" music of the day such as the Villa-Lobos,Ravel,Debussey, and Bach mentioned in the Unnaccompanied Django book ( I found what I think is an example of Torroba) he listened to Ida Prest's ideas on classical music and classical guitars and got a Julian Gomez Ramirez. The point is not that it really matters what kind of instrument one uses for Django music but I was wondering which guitar it was and why. Bouchets have a long bar under the bridge which gives great sustain to the sound. Great for the music of Debussey and its' great arrpegiations. But for now I think that I will be content with using my $200.00, very small, very Spanish guitar from Barcelona. Its' very effective for this Django music. May the extravagant,exploitive guitar makers of overpriced and underqualitied guitars everywhere: BEWARE!!!
  • PayneJonPayneJon New
    Posts: 20
    Thankyou Walden Jazz and BW. I think that I see more fully now what you mean when you suggest the Concert model. I've been through some notes and see that this model was indeed available without the "D" hole. And also there were the Espagnol and the Classique models, both closer to the traditional classical guitar. Yet when I enlarge the images of photos of Django playing his guitar in front of the fireplace I don't see a split in the saddle which, from my notes in an article written in Vintage Magazine by Michael Wright, these models had. Of course, nothing is definite. Thanks once again!
  • Posts: 597
    This is great stuff, PayneJon!

    Could you break up your future posts into paragraphs ... rather than just endless chunks of prose. It would help my eyes! :wink:

    The Ida Presti possible connection is fascinating!!!

    I'm also interested in Django's music played on nylon strings. It hasn't been explored too much, but there is some of it out there.
  • Teddy DupontTeddy Dupont Deity
    Posts: 1,167
    Here is Django with a Concert model Selmer Maccaferri (photo 1) which he certainly posed with but there is no proof he ever actually played one in earnest. There are, however, photos of Joseph Reinhardt playing such a guitar. This is quite a different model to his "classical" guitar (second photo).

    The last photo is of Django in 1935 playing what looks like a classical guitar which may well have had gut strings on. It could well be the "Classique" model:-
  • Teddy DupontTeddy Dupont Deity
    Posts: 1,167
    A close up of the 1935 guitar from a much better quality photo seems to show it has a tailpiece so I am wrong about it being a "Classique" model unless it had been heavily modified.
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