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Django's Selmer

Probably as close as most of us will get!

Wonderful video of 503

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WeSo66p7 ... ture=feedu

Bob
«13

Comments

  • Jeff MooreJeff Moore Minneapolis✭✭✭✭ Lebreton 2
    Posts: 476
    All those very round holes half way and all the way through the top with grey matter in some: buck shot?
    The neck looks thicker than the thickest neck I've ever come across, and quite squarish. I'd heard this but its nice to really see it.
    The fret wear on the high E almost bisects the frets in a vertical cut , where the B is just worn as if he used vibrato on the B but hit the high E straight down, yet the ebony is barely touched. Can't imagine.
    "We need a radical redistribution of wealth and power" MLK
  • ElliotElliot Madison, WisconsinNew
    Posts: 551
    I'm kinda interested in how thick the varnish is on the back and sides. I wonder if the top was like that too, originally, having been worn down and eventually getting the dry tone so many guitars' makers try to achieve right off the bench nowadays. Or not. Regardless, it looks like it was applied with a heavy brush to me instead of the lovingly rubbed on and polished technique, or perhaps that was saved for the top where a thinner layer was necessary? Don't know...
  • WColsherWColsher PhiladelphiaNew
    Posts: 53
    Jeff Moore wrote:
    All those very round holes half way and all the way through the top with grey matter in some: buck shot?
    At least a couple of those holes look sort of like pickup mounting scars that were filled with glue and sawdust. The pair on the bridge side of the soundhole are visible in at least one picture of Django playing it with the Stimer installed in the usual location: http://www.paulvernonchester.com/Acoust ... ickups.htm

    Big shim under the nut too.

    bill
  • ShawnShawn Valley Center, Kansas✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 325
    WColsher wrote:
    Big shim under the nut too.

    I was wondering if anyone else noticed that as well. What's really baffling about this is Selmer's don't really have a nut as it were, as it actually only functions as a string guide, with the zero fret serving in the "nut" role. Why, therefore, would anyone shim a string guide?

    Also, those holes are from Django's Stimer and as I've been told he mounded a DeArmond pickup on there too, which would account for the different placement of holes.
  • Michael BauerMichael Bauer Chicago, ILProdigy Selmers, Busatos and more…oh my!
    Posts: 1,002
    Shawn,, I wonder if the shim under the nut might not have been to keep the strings from running afoul of the headstock. In some Selmers I've seeen, the recess into the slots isn't broad/deep enough, and the strings actaully dig into the wood on their way to the tuning peg.

    I would trust Bob Holo to have a more authoritative explanation, but it occurs to me that raising the nut might solve the problem. I wonder if 503 has an extra high zero fret to compensate.
    I've never been a guitar player, but I've played one on stage.
  • ShawnShawn Valley Center, Kansas✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 325
    That's an excellent thought Michael...it didn't even cross my mind. I'd also be curious to get Bob's impression of this feature, as I'd like to know if most of the tension on an original Selmer was on the zero fret or on the string guide. I was under the impression that the zero fret is what really determined string clearance in the headstock, rather than the alternative. In the same breath I would also like to know if the zero fret was typically higher to compensate as you say.

    Wow...I also just realized how geeky we Selmer lovers get about these guitars. I just had a conversation with my wife about the small differences between a Dupont MD-50 and a Vielle Reserve. Needless to say I received this face: :? as a reply.
  • Michael BauerMichael Bauer Chicago, ILProdigy Selmers, Busatos and more…oh my!
    Posts: 1,002
    Nice to know mine is not the only wife who makes that face when guitars are discussed! :)

    I would think if the nut were raised (unless it was just cut too low and shimmed at the factory), the frets would have to be taller as well, but I am not a Bob Holo, so I am only guessing. if Bob doesn't find the time to weigh in, I'll try to call Rodrigo over the weekend and see what thoughts he may have.
    I've never been a guitar player, but I've played one on stage.
  • StevearenoSteveareno ✭✭✭
    edited March 2011 Posts: 349
    Thanks for posting. That's awesome. Anyone know what kind of prices original Selmers were going for in the late 60's and early 70's, before the current revival of interest gathered steam? Seem to remember seeing them floating around at the time, but were not on my radar. :?
    Swang on,
  • Bob HoloBob Holo Moderator
    Posts: 1,242
    Shawn,, I wonder if the shim under the nut might not have been to keep the strings from running afoul of the headstock. In some Selmers I've seeen, the recess into the slots isn't broad/deep enough, and the strings actaully dig into the wood on their way to the tuning peg.

    I would trust Bob Holo to have a more authoritative explanation, but it occurs to me that raising the nut might solve the problem. I wonder if 503 has an extra high zero fret to compensate.

    Haha... I just saw the bottom part of your quote. That was my first guess - to raise the strings up over the headstock a bit. The other time you sometimes see a string-guide shim is if the fretboard is replaced. I suppose it's possible the guitar had its fretboard replaced at some point. The lacquer on the side of the neck looks as though it has sunken into the joint between the fingerboard and neck... it would do that over 60+ years anyway, but could be a sign of a very well done replacement (factory) Just speculation.

    Hellaciously beautiful guitar though and not sunken much if at all - a treasure and sort of unusual for the early Selmers which were not built as bullet-proof as the later ones. So, not only is it a special guitar, but it's a wonderfully intact guitar. Amazing. Yes the top looks like the original lacquer of that era - just a tiny little bit of toner and two coats of lacquer and a padding topcoat of shellac/lacquer mix - probably with something added to it to slow its evaporation enough to allow it to be padded. (AKA true padding lacquer '40's style) Sure... I guess it makes sense that the back was likely finished thicker as it takes more abuse... most builders do that... (Well, they did that before the invention of impenetrable finishes like UV/MEKP cured Polyester resin, that is) It's tough to say for sure what's original and not without being there and getting a very close look because Selmer changed things up a bit throughout their production. Selmer was a small shop - not a big production house, so they actually evolved many aspects of their guitars throughout their production more than people probably realize. That used to confuse me... But now that I understand (in gory detail) all the things that cause builders to evolve their designs, the variations / evolutions in Selmers make perfect sense.

    Ugg. that was long and rambling... :-0 that's why I don't post anymore. I'm not a "sum it up in 10 words" guy - never have been.
    You get one chance to enjoy this day, but if you're doing it right, that's enough.
  • nicksansonenicksansone Amsterdam, The Netherlands✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 240
    Ugg. that was long and rambling... :-0 that's why I don't post anymore. I'm not a "sum it up in 10 words" guy - never have been.

    Hey Bob,
    Anytime I see you've posted something I make sure to read it; usually something insightful about these instruments that the rest of us don't have the knowledge or hands on experience to have figured ourselves. Keep it up. :D
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