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Customer review: Music Link Dell’Arte Pigalle

First, a disclaimer: Though I am a fairly experienced jazz musician, I have NEVER had my hands on a Selmer-style guitar prior to this and have been actively studying jazz Manouche technique for only a few months, so you may take this with a grain of salt. As many forum members have indicated an interest in the Asian Dell’Artes, I offer my humble opinion here, for what it is worth.

I was the guy who snapped one of the two DjangoBooks.com had in stock (the other one being the Robin Nolan model.) I had previously ordered the Gitane DG-340, but, as they had none available, opted to change the order when it was announced that the Pigalle had come in. Michael had suggested that the DG-340 would be a better deal, as the earlier Asian Dell’Artes had neck issues, but I liked the traditional Selmer look of the Pigalle and didn’t want to wait any longer. Josh assured me that this Pigalle was much better than the ones in the earlier batch that they had sent back. He had it on the bench and said that, with the custom set-up, fret level and bridge upgrade, I’d have a really good guitar. (This is one of the reasons why doing business with DjangoBooks is a good idea, when buying a non-luthier shop guitar.)

It was, however, with a certain trepidation that I took the new axe out of the box, tuned her up and started to play. At first, I was disappointed- though the guitar is absolutely gorgeous, the action was high, the sound seemed overly boomy and foggy, and the overall feel stiff and uncomfortable. But, right out of the box, this is not unexpected; the question was, would she eventually open up and could I get the feel and action where I wanted it; or, did I have a ‘dud’? I spoke to Josh and he addressed these issues. I resolved to play her to death over the weekend, while slowly adjusting the action. Whipping out my trusty Swiss Army knife (horrors!!) and some extra fine sandpaper, I started shaving away at the top of the bridge, taking the action down to just below 3 mm at the 12th fret, where it now feels fast and comfortable. Still no buzzing and the fretboard remains true. Since the initial unveiling. tonal issues have improved dramatically as well, which may be in part to my getting used to playing the wider fretboard (well, wider than my D’Angelico, anyway) but I believe she is actually improving and drying out after being played for a few days.

So, after several days of adjusting and playing, here’s my overall impression: this is a really good guitar and, with time, may even be a great guitar, especially for the money. Intonation is flawless and the tone is increasingly brilliant and clear. In the lower register, it has a rich, crisp classical timbre. There is ample evidence of the Selmer ‘bark’ in the upper register. And, as I said earlier, she is a beautiful instrument. I believe the setup work and quality assessment from Josh and Michael are essential and I would hesitate to buy one of these from eBay or some other online retailer. Having said all that, at this juncture I am a very happy camper. Not ever having the opportunity to play a Dupont, Favino or Ald, I can only assume that this guitar is probably not in that league; but, for an overall cost of around $1,000, I believe that this was a really good choice. My thanks to the folks at DjangoBooks!
:D
Bill
www.billbarnestrio.com
"Listen to this, it speaks like a cathedral!"- Django, on the Selmer (from Michael Dregni's Django, the Life and Music of a Gypsy Legend)

Comments

  • Posts: 597
    Cool review. Thanks for the details!!!

    Happy pickin'! 8)
  • Bill BarnesBill Barnes New HampshireNew
    Posts: 63
    Thanks, Chris!
    Bill
    www.billbarnestrio.com
    "Listen to this, it speaks like a cathedral!"- Django, on the Selmer (from Michael Dregni's Django, the Life and Music of a Gypsy Legend)
  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    Posts: 5,827
    Hey Bill.I'm glad this worked out well for you! Like i said, I was a little nervous after that fist batch of Music Link Dell Artes. But they seem to be a lot better now..

    'm
  • BluesBop HarryBluesBop Harry Mexico city, MexicoVirtuoso
    Posts: 1,378
    Congrats on your new guitar!!

    The new imported Dell artes look great, I love the natural (not orange) finish and they come with the good hardware too!
  • Bill BarnesBill Barnes New HampshireNew
    Posts: 63
    Thanks, Enrique! Over time, I'm hoping the spruce will develope a deeper natural patina. I should have mentioned that the classic Selmer lines are all there, in the subtle arch of the top and back.

    This is beginning to sound like guitar porn...
    Bill
    www.billbarnestrio.com
    "Listen to this, it speaks like a cathedral!"- Django, on the Selmer (from Michael Dregni's Django, the Life and Music of a Gypsy Legend)
  • zeitblomzeitblom Prescott, AZNew
    Posts: 6
    Hey Bill,
    Good to hear you got the Dell' Arte. I was waiting for your review
    of the DG340!
    Listening to your MySpace Jams. Hope to hear a recording of your new guitar.
    Good stuff.
  • Bill BarnesBill Barnes New HampshireNew
    Posts: 63
    Thanks for the kind words, zeitblom! (Where and who are you on mySpace? Could you send me an add request?) It will be a while before I record anything on the Dell'Arte. I still sound very much like a bebop cat trying to play Django. Every day I hear a little improvement, both in my chops and in the tone of the Pigalle. But, at this stage of the jazz Manouche learning curve, my playing resembles a construction site- debris and piles of dirt everywhere, with a big dumpster in the front.

    One thing I should add concerning the Dell'Arte- the neck is wide, but probably not as thick as some of the other Selmer types. This is probably a good thing for me, but may be awkward for some Gypsy players. As I said, it is feeling better every day. :)
    Bill
    www.billbarnestrio.com
    "Listen to this, it speaks like a cathedral!"- Django, on the Selmer (from Michael Dregni's Django, the Life and Music of a Gypsy Legend)
  • BluesBop HarryBluesBop Harry Mexico city, MexicoVirtuoso
    Posts: 1,378
    Hi Bill,
    I bet you already have THE "must have" Gypsy Picking book by Horowitz.
    One thing that could really speed up the learning process and help you clean up that "debris" is this:
    Denis Chang's Technique and Improvisation
    He'll really help you get more into the jazz manouche sound and it's a lot of fun too.

    Another cool tutorial is "Gypsy fire" by Andreas Oberg, helped me a lot! You really need to have the gypsy picking down for that one, though.

    Anyway, forgive me for giving unrequested advice, just trying to help.


    BTW I listened to the songs on your website... I really liked them, Man! you're a big jazz cat!!
  • Bill BarnesBill Barnes New HampshireNew
    Posts: 63
    Thanks so much, Enrique- yes, I have both Gypsy Picking and Gypsy Fire, which I had gotten months before ordering the Michael Horowitz book. I should have ordered Michael's book first, but it was Andreas' playing which led me to this style to begin with. At the time I didn't know about Dennis Chang (Hell, until a few months ago I didn't know about any of these guys) but his DVD/books do look enticing. And not to worry, your comments are always very much appreciated! (Boy, have we drifted off-topic...)
    Bill
    www.billbarnestrio.com
    "Listen to this, it speaks like a cathedral!"- Django, on the Selmer (from Michael Dregni's Django, the Life and Music of a Gypsy Legend)
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