I'm an experienced guitar and mandolin player, mostly playing bluegrass. I've been fortunate to own some really nice vintage and modern instruments, so I understand the importance of a quality guitar. I am selling some of my other instruments so I will have several thousand dollars available.
I started listening to Django several years ago and right away I loved the music. I always thought I would like to learn some of that, and I have finally decided the time has come. I bought Denis Chang's Art of Accompaniment DVD and have started working on the rhythm part and it's coming along. I'm currently playing on a vintage Martin D-18. Since I have some money available I've started looking at getting a new guitar. Here are some more considerations. I like some non-Gypsy jazz, but it mostly tends to be acoustic: I love Frank Vignola's stuff, some of Martin Taylor's acoustic stuff, Eddie Lang, etc. I love Joe Pass's Virtuoso recordings. I do like John Pizzarelli, and I'm a fan of Charlie Christian. At this point I'm not a huge fan of people like Metheny or fusion sounding stuff.
I've spent a lot of time on the Djangobooks site looking at guitars and videos. I have to say the La Fee really speaks to me. I love the looks, the sound, and the whole concept of it. My concern with an instrument like this would be resale value if I ever decided it wasn't for me. First, it's a small shop that's not as well known as someone like Dupont. Second, it's non-traditional. People getting into Gypsy Jazz tend to want a guitar that looks like Django's. So part of me says I should go for something like a Dupont Nomade, MD-100, or even MD-50. I think I could easily sell something like that in the future. The downside is that it may not be quite as versatile for non-Gypsy Jazz as the La Fee.
The other thing I would consider is getting an F hole archtop modeled after something like an early Gibson L5. I have seen a Gibson reissue in the same price range as the above guitars. I know it's not the traditional Gypsy Jazz guitar but it seems that music would sound pretty good on it and it would be right at home with other jazz styles. I love the youtube videos with Julian Lage playing his.
I'm realistic enough to know that this may just be a fad and not something I stick with, so I don't want to be stuck with an expensive niche instrument that I can't sell. I may just take what I can learn and throw it in the next time Sweet Georgia Brown, Lady Be Good, or Minor Swing come up in our bluegrass jam!
Thanks for your time reading my long and rambling thoughts!
otherwise, i'd just get an entry level guitar like the gitane dg 255 which is one of the best you can get for the price, and easy to sell when you finally find your dream guitar!
Thanks for the response! That's certainly the most practical advice. Do you have any thoughts on playing Gypsy Jazz on a non-traditional guitar like a Gibson f5 acoustic archtop? Have you played the La Fee or heard it in person? I particularly like this YouTube clip:
It is the mechanic, not the tool. Amplified, Gypsy jazz can be played well on any guitar you like. Choose a guitar that inspires your playing. Where Selmacs rule, IMO, is the pure acoustic gig or Djam. Older arch tops compete well in this arena too.
Denis gives excellent advice regarding the Gitane. It is the right place to start to see if a Selmac is a good fit. If you find a Selmac is your thing after trying a Gitane ( or Cigano), get a higher end Selmac.
For resale consideration, and for a top notch instrument, I would recommend a DuPont or Favino. Both luthiers work have stood the test of time.
My 2 cents to this thread...
He gave that guitar to me as a gift a few days ago! It's an Ibanez guitar that he modded himself; he put vintage gibson pickups on em.
The reason he plays electric guitars is because of his car accident many years ago that nearly took his life, he still has health problems because of it; these days it's harder and harder for him to play acoustic instruments so he mainly plays electric
i know i've tried lafee guitars, i dont remember anything about em though; my friend who tried em loves em if that helps.
I personally think a DG-255 will last you many years until you find the guitar of your dreams...
That Ibanez sounded great in Dorado's hands ( what guitar wouldn't?) and I am sure it sounds great in yours.
I agree with you 100% about the DG 255. I think they are the best entry level Selmac out there.
pas encore, j'erre toujours.
In Spain We have a good builder like Geronimo Mateos, and the fact is I can easily go to his lutherie and try his guitars.
But just for ask, What to choose with a 2500 euros top?
- Geronimo Mateos jazz A.
- JWC Selmer or Favino.
Stuart - I'm not generally a fan of modern language hybrids and mutants - "Refi," used by my restaurant's building owner, used to send me into paroxysms of righteous anger, something like the word "foodie" in most contexts (I've since lost my preciousness about the latter term). Though the term doesn't bother me at all, I honor the obvious care you feel for these truly beautiful instruments.
pas encore, j'erre toujours.