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Gypsy Rhythm: How loud should it be?

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  • wimwim ChicagoModerator Barault #503 replica
    Posts: 1,459
    In that video, Bireli is playing a selmer and Thomas appears to be playing some sort of matchbox strung up with rubber bands ..
  • anthon_74anthon_74 Marin county, CA✭✭✭✭ Alta Mira M 01
    Posts: 561
    That video may be primarily responsible for me choosing to purchase my Alta Mira over the other option I was considering, which was the Gitane DG 370 Dorado schmidt model.

    Basically I thought D holes weren't as loud because of how drowned out Dutronic was.

    Then I found out he was playing on a nylon string gypsy Jazz guitar.

    Frankly I don't for the life of me understand the Nylon string Sel-mac guitar. Gypsy strings already have the supple-ness and flexibility of Nylon strings, but with the louder tone AND you can bend them effectively.
    In other words, Gypsy strings combine the best qualities of steel AND Nylon strings without the downsides of each respectively.
    So why make a gypsy guitar with Nylon strings anyhow ??
    i guess this would be a topic for an entirely different thread but there you go.
  • PassacagliaPassacaglia Madison, WI✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 1,471
    Anthon, right off the bat, I'd venture, a physical benefit, possibly. For some folks, playing steel can hurt like hell - neuropathics, for instance. I got diagnosed with small fiber neuropathy awhile back, and am grateful as hell it just hasn't followed the typical pattern, from the feet and hands creeping upwards (I'm the opposite, back and spine creeping outwards/up/down). But I suspect you can still get some of the benefits of the Sel-Mac shape (cutaway, for one), with the suppleness and ease on the fingers of nylon. I'd also suspect it's a much, much mellower tone - no issues with "plinky treble" machines.

    Completely off the cuff guesses.

    -Paul
    -Paul

    pas encore, j'erre toujours.
  • Michael BauerMichael Bauer Chicago, ILProdigy Selmers, Busatos and more…oh my!
    Posts: 1,002
    Anthony--

    Two things: first, Selmers started out as nylon (or gut) string guitars, conceptually. If it weren't for them, there would have been no Selmers as we know them. The steel string was an adaptation, nothing more, as far as Maccaferri was concerned. No Maccaferri = no Selmers. It wouldn't have stopped Django, of course, but we all be playing Carbonells or Couesnons right now.

    Second, nylon string guitars don't have to be weak-sounding. I have a nylon string J.P. Favino with a floating bridge (!) that may not be as loud as a Busato, but is at least as loud as an average steel-string Selmer copy. It can hold its own in a jam. It has a very brittle, cutting sound...like gypsy jazz meets flamenco.

    I agree with you in a way. Steel string Sel-Mac copies aren't that tough to play, but get up to 675mm scale, like a Busato or some Favinos, and they get a little more demanding. I played a Busato that was 680 once, and that was a workout! Nylon strings don't cut into the fingers as much, either, because the string tension is much reduced.

    So why would anyone want one? Django's unaccompanied stuff, for one. They are better for finger-style playing, but frankly, I think Django's solo pieces ALL sound better on nylon strings. It makes sense, since he was going for a classical style in most of them. Plus, I am not find of classical guitars so much, and I can play classical stuff on any of the nylon strings.

    I do respectfully disagree about GJ guitar strings. I think they sound like absolute shit when played with fingers. Too thin and reedy for my taste. With picks, they are the best, though!

    I do see your point, but I actually love the sound of nylon strings, especially those Savarez strings with wound Bs and Gs. I think they work really well with gypsy music. Alfonso Ponticelli has been playing nylon strings almost exclusively of late, and it was hearing him a few years ago that first convinced me that gypsy jazz can sound great on nylon strings. Lulo Reinhardt sounded wonderful last fall at the Fermi Labs concert on nylon strings. And when Tcha came to my room to try all my vintage stuff at Django in June, the guitar he picked to regale us with a private concert on was the '24 Mac nylon string. Ask anyone who was there ho great it sounded. It made me wish I hadn't left the other nylon-string guitars at home.
    I've never been a guitar player, but I've played one on stage.
  • Michael BauerMichael Bauer Chicago, ILProdigy Selmers, Busatos and more…oh my!
    Posts: 1,002
    I can't find the "edit" button, but make that "not FOND of classical guitars" in paragraph 4...
    I've never been a guitar player, but I've played one on stage.
  • anthon_74anthon_74 Marin county, CA✭✭✭✭ Alta Mira M 01
    Posts: 561
    Touche' Michael.

    Well put.

    honestly i wasn't even considering the idea of finger picking, as I am a pick only player. You make total sense there.

    My other issue with them is I thought, apparently incorrectly, that they aren't as loud. FYI - I based this, not just on the video of Bireli drowning out Dutronic, but also I remember at 2012 Django in June when we had the wine tasting party and we were blessed to see up close that concert where all the players used one of your guitars. Emmett was playing the nylon string guitar, and I couldn't hear him too well when he solo'd.

    Maybe that was a quieter model, but it definitely didn't cut through like the steel stringers.

    I'll have to play one sometime.

    cheers !
    Anthony
  • Michael BauerMichael Bauer Chicago, ILProdigy Selmers, Busatos and more…oh my!
    Posts: 1,002
    Anthony, I don't remember which nylon string that was, but if it was the Favino, I'd be surprised. Make no mistake, it's not as loud as my vintage stuff, nor is it as loud as most of the higher end gypsy guitars, but it's about as loud as an average modern Selmer copy. Maybe it was head to head with something really loud.

    To be fair, I'd also want to add that the Favino is the only "gypsy" guitar with nylon strings that is anywhere near that loud. The Maccaferri and the Shopis are good-classical-guitar loud. Not sure what it is, but I'm guessing the floating bridge has something to do with it. Totally different sound than a classical, too.

    Anyway, you are right that most nylon strings aren't loud enough to hang in a jam. I still think steel strings are the way to go, but for someone wanting a unique sound, a good nylon string can sound great with a mic, and it's a sound that works really well in the context of gypsy jazz. Alfonso plays whole shows using a flamenco guitar, played with both pick and fingers, and it sounds great to my ears. Ottorino Galli of Germany gets a really nice rhythm sound out of a 14-fret, oval hole Selmer copy with nylon strings (classical bridge). Go figure...
    I've never been a guitar player, but I've played one on stage.
  • for those who like finger style but find nylon to be a bit lacking in something...try the Thomastic Classic S steel classic guitar strings. all strin gs but the !st are beautifully flat wound and they have an evenness and balance that I have not found in nylon stings

    My Dunn classic guitar 14 fret Dholefixed bridge sounds amazing with them and in a pinch they can be played with a pick,
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • PassacagliaPassacaglia Madison, WI✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 1,471
    So - maybe I'm just whining, or otherwise bemoaning my fate - but does anyone just feel nylon is simply easier on the digits, so perhaps for some age- or otherwise-challenged guys (grey hair, when there is hair, kind of give a wan smile during summertime beach walks, relentlessly talk about former athletic accomplishments, er, um, you know the type) it gives a longer playing life, perhaps? Have to admit, been decades since I've touched anything but steel, so I'm not talking from experience, just surmising...
    -Paul

    pas encore, j'erre toujours.
  • I find that the callus on my fingers is thick enough that I am fine with either

    I try to use as little pressure as I can and on good days my fingers often hardly touch the fretboard at all.
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
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