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Couesnon Guitar

Hey guys,

Alright, So my quest for an affordable gypsy jazz instrument has finally come to a temporary end. I won an auction on French ebay for a guitar built by "Couesnon Atlier Mirecourt." The guitar is around 50-60 years old and is a carbon copy of a Di-Mauro chorus. (When I receive the guitar I will post pictures) It was relatively affordable yet it isn't in the greatest shape. I don't expect guitars that are over 50 years old to be in prime physical condition and I realized that there is some work to be done. I have heard an active Couesnon similar to mine and they have a great sound---really loud, dry, barky tone---just what I need! The list of repairs are as follows:

1)Fretboard has a stable crack from around the 10th fret to the end of the fretboard. It doesn't go into the neck, but is pretty deep into the fretboard. I am planning on fixing this first and formost.

2)Tailpiece is kind of ugly :lol: . I just ordered a Dupont Nickel Tailpiece (Ala Busato) from Djangobooks to take care of this issue.

3)Tuners are slightly rusted and old. I plan on ordering a pair of Schaller Deluxe tuners in Nickel once I get a chance. I do not know if they will directly fit on this guitar though, so I will probably take it to the tech.

4) Bridge Looks kind of funky (It's white). I dont know exactly what it is made of...this issue will be taken care of once the guitar is in my possession.

5) The top looks just slightly sunk. I will re-humidify the guitar for a couple of days, hoping to fix this "ailment."

7) Lastly, the finish is kind of dust and worn. Now for me, this gives the guitar a bit of "character." But I might end up giving it a bit of a dusting, and a slight polish to let it shine.


That's it for the bad stuff. Can anyone weigh on with their 2 cents on how they would take care of these issues? Specifically the fingerboard. I don't know if it is best to fix the fingerboard with some rosewood dust and CA glue, or to take the guitar to a tech and have a completely new fingerboard installed. That would be quite expensive probably.

Anyway, I am happy with the purchase and will keep you posted with pictures when the guitar arrives and in updated "refurbished" condition.

-Justin

Comments

  • HarryRHarryR ✭✭
    Posts: 17
    Dontanman, I recently brought back one of these guitars from the dead. On mine the fingerboard was a low grade pearwood board so I decided to replace it. That may not be the biggest problem for you. On mine even though the top was not sunken and otherwise appeared sound the internal braces were partly unglued which generally leads to a sunken top. I could tell they were loose by tapping the top in various spots and you could hear the rattle. Unfortunately I couldn't see the offending braces through the f hole no matter what lights and mirrors I used. As a last desperate course I wound up removing the top to find the braces were loose at the ends close to sides of the guitar were they would have been impossible the glue anyway thru the FF's. I suspect this may be the case with yours. HarryR
  • Michael BauerMichael Bauer Chicago, ILProdigy Selmers, Busatos and more…oh my!
    Posts: 1,002
    Justin--

    Timing is everything... I jsut noticed that Jacques' Patenotte is no longer on hold.

    A few thoughts:

    1. Sunken tops on vintage gypsy guitars are very common, and generally not correctable. They also don't matter much unless the sound is affected. Selmers and Busatos frequently have sunken tops. All you care about is if there is a structural failing inside the guitar. Some of the best sounding vintage guitars I have heard have had sunken tops, and my old 30's Busato's top was almost concave. It still sounded fantastic!

    2. Original tuning keys, bridges and tailpieces generally enhance the value of a vintage guitar, sometimes by a good amount. Forget "ugly" and call it "unique". I wouldn't change the tailpiece, nor would I change the tuning keys if they are functional. A patina of rust can be cleaned off. If they don't work, change them, but 50+ year old guitars with original hardware are rare enough that I'd make every effort to preserve them, and only change them as a last resort (if they are the originals). I can't comment on the bridge without seeing it. They are generally the first original part to be lost, but don't ditch it until you are sure.

    3. I don't know where you live, but be sure your guitar tech has some experience with gypsy guitars if possible. If not, get the best tech in your area.

    Oh, and don't polish it. Let that patina speak for its history. Chinese guitars are shiny; a good vintage box should not reflect too much light!

    Michael
    I've never been a guitar player, but I've played one on stage.
  • dontanmandontanman ✭✭
    Posts: 33
    Thanks for the replies guys

    HarryR- How much did the fretboard replacement cost you? Or did you do it yourself? Do you know on average how much it costs to fully replace one. I was either thinking on bringing it to a tech OR sprinkling some ebony dust in the crack/CA glue and then clamp it. I don't know what the better solution would be. After you put the top back on, was your guitar in playable condition?

    Michael- Yeah the Patenotte was a bummer. I spoke with Jacques and he had told me it was on hold for a Canadian customer so I just said "Screw it," and decided to take guitar hunting elsewhere. Oh well...if you want to snatch it up go for it! So you are saying that sunken tops are pretty common in the vintage french guitars? If so, I guess I'll cross my fingers and hope no bracing is cracked or loose. From the pictures, the tuners looked like they would crack if turned so I'm probably going to put some new ones on and keep the old ones in a safe place. As for the tailpiece...I guess I might leave it, even if it is an ugly trapeze-style little thing. I live in Long Island so there aren't many "gypsy jazz" techs here, but there is a guy 15 minutes from my house who has done some remarkable restoration work.

    Thanks,
    Justin
  • Michael BauerMichael Bauer Chicago, ILProdigy Selmers, Busatos and more…oh my!
    Posts: 1,002
    Justin--

    Rodrigo Shopis is one of the very best luthiers and repairman of these types of guitars in the country and he's right in NYC. He'll be worth the trip. He did all my work until I moved to Chicago. He tries to be minimally invasive with old guitars, and that's what you want. Let him guide you with what does or doesn't need to be done. He does just about everyone's stuff in NYC.

    The bracing is often light in these guitars and many of them have led hard lives, so sone degree of sinking in the top is pretty common. A geometrically perfect vintage gypsy guitar would be a rare thing. I have a few, and have seen a few others, but thin tops/light bracing and hard lives frequently leads to sunken tops. Rodrigo can tell you if the braces are seriously damaged or are collapsing.

    I just had a complex fretboard replacement on a Busato that cost $700. It's unlikely it would be higher than that, and an uncomplicated job might be more like $500. But don't do it until Rodrigo or someone looks at it.

    I hope she turns out to be a good one!

    Michael
    I've never been a guitar player, but I've played one on stage.
  • dontanmandontanman ✭✭
    Posts: 33
    Ok thank you Michael. I'll probably be making a trip out there once my guitar arrives. I'm praying that there aren't some other hidden underlying problems with this guitar that the previous owner is not aware about. Rodrigo makes great guitars as well! I'll give him a call as soon as my current schedule frees up. Thanks for the help!

    -Justin
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