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DixieMenke benphan1987 Gypsealeo

The original builders of Gypsy Jazz Guitars

Of the original builders of Gypsy Jazz Guitars. Who were the good ones and who were the dogs? I've noticed Patenotte Guitars are often a lot less expensive than others. Were there builders from Mirecourt with better reputations? Are there some good sounding old work horses that a player could find without draining the bank account and if so what were the names of the builders?


  • Michael BauerMichael Bauer Chicago, ILProdigy Selmers, Busatos and more…oh my!
    edited November 2013 Posts: 1,002

    It has little to do with builders. The lower-end guitars were often made quickly, without the fit and finish of more expensive guitars. I have played (and owned) some really good Patenottes, and I have played some that weren't all that great. Last year about this time, I visited my friend, Jacques Mazzoleni, and tried every guitar he had at his house, plus six of mine I brought along for comparison purposes. Amid Selmers, Busato, Favinos, and di Mauros, the guitar that really grabbed me by the ears was a little Couesnon f-hole from Mirecort. It needed a lot of work, but in the end has become a special guitar with a very unique voice. That doesn't mean the next Couesnon will be equally amazing.

    Some of the very best old guitars I have played had no name on them at all, and no one has any idea who made them. They just sound great, and are usually quite cheap because they have no known provenance. More and more guys are showing up at Django in June with vintage guitars, most of them quite anonymous. Most of them seem to stop by the Hot Club of Room 101, and I have really enjoyed playing them. One thing, though: if you are willing to live with a 12-fret guitar, you can pick up a phenomenal vintage guitar for the price of a better Chinese axe. Personally, for pure tone, I find 12-fret guitars almost always sound better than 14-fret guitars (there's a long explanation for why), but are less desirable because of the more limited access to the higher frets.

    I am fortunate to have a number of outstanding vintage guitars, but of all the ones I have, the guitar a plurality of people come away liking best is a Joseph di Mauro (the elder) heart-hole that cost no more than the average Dupont does these days. I don't know what your budget is, but you can get a really good gypsy guitar for $1,200-$5,000, depending on your budget. It might need work; most of them do. But put the money and effort into it, and you'll have something really special.

    Patenottes, Couesnons, Sonoras, Millers, Castelluccias, di Mauros, Beuschers (France's version of Silvertones) are all names that generally can be good. But trust your ears. Never pass on a great sounding guitar because you've never heard of it. Play every one you can, and yours will find you.
    I've never been a guitar player, but I've played one on stage.
  • pickitjohnpickitjohn South Texas Corpus, San Antonio, AustinVirtuoso Patenotte 260
    Posts: 936
    Hey Ben,

    Some great advice from Michael as usual, where are you located, what have you tried, what have you liked? If like most folks theres not a lot around MOST PLACES so the answer to your question with Michael''s Trust your ears advice is don't know.

    You can think because someone else has a Patenotte he loves one will be right for you. Maybe, maybe not. The way the guitar plays and is set up may not be right for you. I have bought some guitars, from ebay but always want some kind of return policy, in which case you could be spending $100.00 or more just on shipping just to try a guitar. I definitely think you need to play the guitar first if at all possible..

    The Patonotte I got from ebay I almost sent back until I did some bridge work to it. I now love it however I got a Altamira M01D from Michael and I can't put it down. I did an upgrade to the tuners and put a Dupont bridge on it, now it just blows me away.
    heres a link to the page:

    Michael also has a return policy.

    Hope you find a great guitar.

    pick on

  • pickitjohnpickitjohn South Texas Corpus, San Antonio, AustinVirtuoso Patenotte 260
    Posts: 936
    There are two guitars on ebay right now that you may like to check.

    One is a Vintage Sicilian-French Gypsy Jazz Guitar - Paris Musical Instruments with about 7 hours left it has a return policy and is at $1200.00 ... 1423.l2649

    The other is a Gypsy D-hole acoustic Guitar (2003) handmade by Pierre Fontaine
    Who's that? I don't know. It does not have a return policy and will need some repair and its at $500.00 and ends tomorrow.
    By the way it is in Chicago, Illinois, ... 1423.l2649

    M.B. may know something about the Pierre Fontaine,

    I believe this is the same guitar which sold form Michaels friend Jacques Mazzoleni he visited.
    this is from his web site:

    three piece back and sides of Exotic German origin three piece mahogany neck, ebony fingerboard, and solid spruce top.. Pierre Fontaine continues in retirement to build lovely gypsy guitars with excellent playability and sound, for quite a bit less than other makers

    pick on
  • Craig BumgarnerCraig Bumgarner Drayden, MarylandVirtuoso Bumgarner S/N 001
    Posts: 795
    Just to follow up on what Michael said, if you are looking for bargin vintage, 12 fret to the body guitars are worth considering. If they are no name gypsy mysteries they can sometimes be had for even less.

    Just finished up a neck reset and fingerboard replacement on this one last week. Sounds terrific.

    A little more detail on my blog.
    BG1.jpg 422.7K
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