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  • juanderer 10:31AM

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How many playable Selmers remain?

Craig BumgarnerCraig Bumgarner Drayden, MarylandVirtuoso Bumgarner S/N 001
Reading about Django's 503 and guitars being burned in funeral pyre's makes me wonder how many playable Henri Selmer guitars remain in existence. My definition of "playable" is pretty loose, I'm just using it to distinguish a guitar that is in one piece and can still stand to be strung up from one that is a box full of pieces.

I've wondered about this for some time. My guess is less than a hundred, but I really have no idea.

Anyone want to take a stab at it?

Edit: Well, maybe more than a hundred. Jacques Mazzoleni's website shows 40 distinct Selmers having passed though his store alone. Course that includes some tenor, classical, and Hawaiian guitars. I was thinking the styles Django used, petite and gran bouche models, but no need to be so picky.



  • redbluesredblues ✭✭
    Posts: 456
    Difficult question to ascertain by one individual, so all you could really do is ask people if they can account for any Selmers that are not documented on Jacques's site.
    So in that vein, #181 is alive and well
  • Craig BumgarnerCraig Bumgarner Drayden, MarylandVirtuoso Bumgarner S/N 001
    Posts: 794
    redblues wrote:
    Difficult question to ascertain by one individual....

    Oh, certainly. I'm not proposing to try to account for them all, just an educated guess. My point there was just that if 40 passed through one shop alone, quite likely there are considerably more out there. Over 800 made originally. There were and still are other shops that specialize in Selmers like Francois Charle in Paris and Djangobooks through which a number have passed. I site because Jacques has a ready list of formerly sold Selmer's.

    There are also a fair number of 2nd and 3rd generation players who bought used Selmers before the market went out of reach for most players. Fapy, Stochelo, Christophe Lartilleux, John Jorgenson, for instance, and many others I'm sure, have Selmers. There are a number in the hands of collectors but I have no feel at all for that side of the equation.

    But it still seems like a fairly small number. There was a Selmer registry page going for a while, but I can't find it now.

    As to #181, who has that? You?

  • Michael BauerMichael Bauer Chicago, ILProdigy Selmers, Busatos and more…oh my!
    Posts: 1,002
    Jacques has sold several Selmers that were never listed on his site at all, including at least two in the past year that he mentioned to me (both d-holes). He also told me that pre-war Selmers are fairly scarce, ravages of war being what they were (That seems to be true of Busatos as well). I'll take his word for that.

    Beyond that, I have no idea. I have come face-to-face with numbers 103 (Incorrectly logged as a Hawaiian, but really a d-hole Modele Jazz), 233 (tenor), 520 (four-brace oval), 763 and 862. I have also compared notes with the former owner of 863. I'd be tempted to guess a couple hundred are out there somewhere, but we may never know.
    I've never been a guitar player, but I've played one on stage.
  • redbluesredblues ✭✭
    Posts: 456
    As to #181, who has that?

    Not me, a collector. This is the unknown variable i would imagine on getting an accurate guess.
  • Michael BauerMichael Bauer Chicago, ILProdigy Selmers, Busatos and more…oh my!
    Posts: 1,002
    Didn't the Hot Club of Dublin record #181? I seem to remember them doing "Over the Rainbow" or somee such tune on it. It was a really nice arrangement.
    I've never been a guitar player, but I've played one on stage.
  • Archtop EddyArchtop Eddy Manitou Springs, ColoradoModerator
    Posts: 589
    The only one I know I'd be really interested in is #451. He he... AE

    (If you haven't figured out what I mean, see page 126 of Francois Charle's The Story of Selmer Maccaferri Guitars for the answer.)
  • tommydavytommydavy ✭✭
    Posts: 25
    I own a rather odd 39' which is a spider bridge metal guitar. Body made in the Sax shop and the neck is a early Mac 12 fr neck. There are more than a few odd guitars special made for artists in the era which never retained serials. So +1 on another playable one.
  • Joli GadjoJoli Gadjo Cardiff, UK✭✭✭✭ Derecho, Bumgarner - VSOP, AJL
    Posts: 542
    According to Jacques, there must be quite a few Selmers waiting in someone's attic to be found one day... If you bought one in your 20s in the 1940s, you must be in your 90s now...
    So a lot of those guitars should change owners within the next 10 ~ 15 years, and maybe show up on the market.
    Of couse, that's also valid for all types of gypsy guitars of the time that might be not as good as a real Selmer.... sometimes old doesn't mean good... but just old.
    So there is still a chance to find a Selmer at the flea marker for $20 !
    - JG
  • StevearenoSteveareno ✭✭✭
    Posts: 349
    When did Selmers take off in the vintage guitar market? I remember seeing the occasional one listed in mags, etc in the 70's, but I think they were below the radar at that time.
    Swang on,
  • scotscot Virtuoso
    Posts: 547
    This image came from "Djangology" magazine, in 1986. $2800 wasn't cheap in those days - if I recall, you could get a pretty nice Banner SJ for around $1200. Mando bros always got top dollar back then, too. I'd say it was a fair price for the times.

    I know for certain (or could have said for certain a few years ago, anyway) that there are a couple collectors in Europe with 20+ guitars. There are also more than a few guitars in the hands of people in the USA who are not part of any "gypsy jazz" community. I think that quite a few of these guitars survived.
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