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Michael Crean SDNW 0012

Selmer Busato primer... Old-school Dutch style

Bob HoloBob Holo Moderator
edited July 2009 in Welcome Posts: 1,249
People often ask me: "So, what's the difference between a Selmer sound and a Busato sound?"

I typically say something like:

Selmers have a balanced but present lowend, a moderately bright highend, and their main feature is their proud midrange - nearly 'cupped hands' and very focused. They have a shimmery quality that is hard to describe. It shows up when playing two and three note chords high on the neck and so it became part of Django's signature sound. (think of Django's famous intro to J'Attendrai)

Busatos have a deep sonorous lowend, a very bright - almost hard - highend. Their main feature is their range - both dynamic and frequency. They have lowends that are solid in a way that makes even old Favinos envious and a highend reminiscent of a mandola. Busatos also have the shimmery quality in the highend - though to a lesser degree. In that aspect, they tend to sound a little cleaner which I think actually is part of their appeal. The simpler midrange character gives more attention to the lowend and highend that defines the Busato Grande sound.

But hey, why take my imperfect and subjective words when you can have (relatively) objective soundclips. These were the two clips that I found that most nearly compared these two instrument types to help you get the feel for the instruments - they're close enough... just my humble opinion. Oh, and yes, Fijkelie does have his low string dropped to a D, but listen to the character of the instrument, not its tuning.

Thanks Ivan, for your wonderful clips - I don't know who to thank for Fijkelie's clip - his son I think.



You get one chance to enjoy this day, but if you're doing it right, that's enough.
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Comments

  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    Posts: 5,853
    I agree completely with Bob's assessment...Busatos tend to be short on mids with a deep "hollow" bass and bright "hard" trebles. Very clear in sound with little overtone complexity. Usually bone dry, but some have a bit of "wetness" but it's not an annoying like echo like you get on a lot of the Asian guitars. Busatos are impossibly loud to the point that they seem to defy the laws of physics! Overall I'd characterize them as "aggressive" guitars.

    Selmers are more filled out in the mids and have more complex overtones. Loud, but not total cannons like Busatos. They have a tad of "wetness" but just enough to make them sound interesting. Selmers are a bit sweeter in character...

    Of course, every guitar is unique and the setup of any given guitar makes a big difference. Generally speaking, I've found that Selmers can be setup with somewhat lower action and still sound good. I've been surprised to find that overly high action on Busatos often has a muting effect. Most seem to open up with a more medium action setup. Favinos seem to demand the highest action, but there are exceptions.

    We've had so many Busatos come through the shop over the last year...each one different but all share the same basic Busato sound (i.e lack of mids, growly lows, and piercing highs). I've had customers who have played or owned just one and think all the rest are the same...big mistake in my opinion because there are huge differences between each and every one.

    I attached an mp3 of the one we just had for sale which is the loudest I've ever come across!











  • PhilPhil Portland, ORModerator Anastasio
    Posts: 631
    Bob - brilliant clips, wonderful explanation, makes a lot of sense having played a few Busatos. I've still yet to have the honour of playing a Selmer...in the meantime I'll make do with my Gallato! ( That is until you let me know my Holo's ready! :lol: ) Cheers, Phil
  • Michael,
    Great clip of the Busato..extremely dry, high volume, awesome high end and very simple/innocent in character and tone. Nice piece that you played too. Is that something in the Unaccompanied Django book?
  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    Posts: 5,853
    Yes, very "simple" and "clear"...mix that with earth shattering volume and voila, you have a Busato! Not a pretty sound, these guitars are just totally pissed off! That's what I love about them...the have so much attitude.

    I was playing Django's solo arrangement of Nuages....yes, it's in the Unaccompanied Django book.
  • nicksansonenicksansone Amsterdam, The Netherlands✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 247
    How about a Favino assesment with at classic Jaques for a fully rounded comparative look?
  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    Posts: 5,853
    The classic Favino sound is very nasal with a pretty extreme hump in the upper mids....and usually pretty deep in the bass (the Favino body is huge!). Extreme highs are not as brilliant as on a Selmer or Busato. Favinos have a lot of attack but probably have the least sustain of any Selmer style guitar. They also tend to have a bit more wetness or "openness" in the sound then Busatos (usually ultra dry) or Selmers (only a bit wet). Also, the crazy neck angle, extra long scale, and big body make them about the loudest Gypsy guitars out there. Although I think the very loudest Busatos are even louder (maybe because the Busatos are on average 30 years older...you can't beat an aged guitar! 60 years is the magic number for violins...seems to be true for guitars as well).

    The only copy that really sounds like this is the Dell Arte Hommage. Other Favino copies tend to have the dimensions but not the nasal, barky sound that is the Favino trademark.

    JP Favinos are different, although there is some of the old Jacques sound in them.

    Again, these are huge generalizations but seem to hold up pretty well.


    The old Bireli recordings from the 70s are a great example of a Jacques. Recordings are interesting, but in the end you really have no idea what these guitars are like until you are in the drivers seat. A guitar that may have sounded harsh on a recording suddenly fills the room once you have it your hands! And the nice warm sounding one on a recording can sound totally dead when you play it in person.

  • B25GibB25Gib Bremerton WA✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 164
    Great Clips of Selmer, Busato, and Favino sound! Thank You Bob and Michael for posting.
    I've found that my Holo Busato is less forgiving of "timing" errors between the subtle upsweep and chord damping of the "La Pompe" rhythm than my Dell 'Arte Hommage which may be due to the "crunchiness" of tone slightly masking timing errors. The Holo has a quicker tone "attack" also. This just means I need more work on my rhythm!
    Congrats Phil on your upcoming Holo arrival! Looking forward to hearing it next DFNW!
    Rocky
  • scotscot Virtuoso
    Posts: 529
    Re Favino, I would also say that these guitars are the ones most responsive to the individual's own attack - they contain the widest variety of possible sounds. Personally, I think that Matelot Ferret's CD "Tziganskaia" is the single recording that displays a Favino played by a musician who really knew how to exploit the possibilities of this guitar. I never found a Favino to be nasal or snippy - my guitar has a clear and dark tone with a lot of growl.
  • Ken BloomKen Bloom Pilot Mountain, North CarolinaNew
    Posts: 164
    I think what Scot says here is right on the mark. You have to know the guitar to get all those sounds out of it. I have played Scot's Favino and I sound horrible on it. I just don;t have the touch for it. He sounds great. You need the right tool and then you have to learn how to use it.
    Ken Bloom
  • Bob HoloBob Holo Moderator
    Posts: 1,249
    Yep. Spot on. I'm a bit of a fanatic about amazing old guitars and have noticed that they give you a lot of options for sound. A dead guitar or a guitar with not a lot of depth or highend - pretty much - "thwak" and that's what it has to give - and it pretty much will give that to you no matter how you're playing it. I've had the opportunity to hear a few old Favinos in different hands. One in particular that I'm thinking of that I heard in Neil Andersson's hands, Michael's hands - Josh's hands, Pete Krebs' hands - completely different sounds. Some of it is setup too though. Favino bridges were different than Selmer. They were biggish, made a lot of contact with the top, outwardly rounded & chopped on the edges - way hollowed out - sort of looked like Quonset huts with chamfered edges and were deceptively light for as big as they were. Bottom line they were very rigid and light and made broad contact with the top and they have a significant effect on the tone. But I've seen any number of atrocious & completely inappropriate bridges on old Favinos (even archtop bridges?!?!) with setups equally horrific. Michael just sort of takes care of stuff before he puts a guitar out there because he understands the difference - but if you just happen to find one in the guitar store on the corner that doesn't know these guitars you never know if it's playing like it should. (well, in the states at any rate - probably better in France/Holland etc. where these guitars have been popular longer) I have heard two Favinos that sounded horribly thin and nasal with good reason... big heavy dead ebony bridges and setup low like fingerstyle guitars. Yuck - the one guitar would fret-out if you even looked at it wrong. It was like: "Hey - where'd the tone go... oh wait... I know... it's slapping against the fretwire..."
    You get one chance to enjoy this day, but if you're doing it right, that's enough.
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