Selmer Guitars (background and observations)



  • Frank WekenmannFrank Wekenmann Germany✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 81
    Thank you Michael and Bob! I was hoping that maybe one of you had seen one of this batch (according to Frater No. 611 - 645) and could tell me if the special features of 645 were consistent in the complete batch. As for a replaced fretboard: that is very likely. My friend Rudie Blazer, who is one of the world's best luthiers for flattop guitars, told me that he thought it might be not original. At least it was reattatched and has (as a result?) a break in it. This may have been the reason for the instability of the neck, which reacted very strongly to changes in temperatures.

    Nevertheless I was wondering, even if these guitars were only an experiment after WWII, why they didn't keep up the changes they implemented, if all those guitars sounded as strong. I would think that the differnt soundhole position and the resulting difference in brace position would make quite a difference? On the gallery of there is a description of 645 and also of 625 which appears to have the same soundhole position and is described as "one of the best Selmer guitars I've ever had." Add to this Larttilleux's guitar and Nousche's 629, then 4 guitars of this small batch are accounted for and all seem to sound very strong.

    Well, in the not so far away future, there will be a prototype of a 645-replica and I will be able to see, if a new guitar with these special features will have a similar sound :)

    (Bob, just to clarify, 645 never belonged to me, it was sold on assignment by Rudie Blazer and Willi Henkes who kindly let me use it for a day in the studio. However, it was hanging in their shop for over a year, so I was able, as I live very close, to play it over an extended period of time. Unfortunately, it is since gone :cry: so I won't be able to directly compare the replica with it's template. Also, there seems to be a misunderstanding as the jam with the 1947 Selmer I mentioned was not with Stochelo's old guitar and the the jam-partner was not Christophe. Still, it was a hell of a day, to be able to play with two Selmers and a great Sinti guitarist!)
  • wimwim ChicagoModerator Barault #503 replica
    edited January 2014 Posts: 1,459
    My new barault omits the bottom brace. It sounds fantastic, it really pops I like the sound better than my previous barault. But it is noticably more fragile there, you can push down on the top (between the bridge and the tailpiece) quite gently with your thumb and see it bending an alarming amount! For Selmer, if there was some trade-off between decreased durability and a bit "different" sound , then I think I know which direction management would have preferred ...
  • Craig BumgarnerCraig Bumgarner Drayden, MarylandVirtuoso Bumgarner S/N 001
    Posts: 795
    Moving the sound hole up allows more top area below the sound hole and it is this area that is most active sound wise. It allows from more space between the braces, if the builder chooses to do so. Personally, I think these are both good things. I was unaware of Selmer's efforts in this regard, thanks for pointing this out Frank, but, I was aware of the efforts of others in this regard.

    The 1940s gypsy mystery guitar on my blog entry dated July 15th , that some believe came for the Bustato workshop, has the sound hole placed much higher than Selmer and it is a great sounding guitar.

    The J. Castelluccia style medium size D sound hole is not as "tall" as the Selmer petite bouche by 15mm, allowing the brace below to be moved "up", something JC frequently exploited. In my most recent Derecho (Coco Derecho, October 2013 on the blog), I moved the sound hole up as well, the combination yields even more top area below the sound hole.

    On the petite bouche guitar I am finishing up now, I moved the small oval hole up about 15mm to a position very similar to Selmers 645 & 625 that Frank points out, slightly above the narrowest part of the body waist. See picture below (excuse the blue tape on the fingerboard, still varnishing).

    Modern acoustic guitar builders are moving traditional sound holes around in a variety of ways: Australian guitar builder Trevor Gore moves the waist of the body and the sound hole up considerably on his steel string guitars. Some builders do away w/ the conventional sound hole all together and put openings of various shapes in the upper bout either side of the fingerboard. Most of this is to enlarge the active portion of the top in an effort to increase the volume and affect tone (for better or worse).

    All of this also helps center the bridge in the active portion of the top, something a 12 fret guitar accomplishes with more ease and may be why many 12 fret guitars sound so good.
  • Interestingly, when Michael Dunn made my ultrafox he turned the oval hole sideways. A little more of that active area
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • Jeff MooreJeff Moore Minneapolis✭✭✭✭ Lebreton 2
    edited January 2017 Posts: 476
    Thanks for posting the vids of 103. Even channeled through a vid 103 kicks ass.

    I often go back to my Cigano short scale. It rarely fails to please in its own peculiar way. The woody - dull bottom, can be dealt with somewhat using brighter strings. That done, there is an intimate (very close to the ear) and very dynamic (changing the attack) sound.
    "We need a radical redistribution of wealth and power" MLK
  • crookedpinkycrookedpinky Glasgow✭✭✭✭ Alex Bishop D Hole, Altamira M & JWC D hole
    Posts: 922
    On a slightly different tack I would also highlight the fantastic work being done by Alex Bishop here in the UK with his fan fret guitars and the use of a sound port in the upper bout.
    always learning
  • GouchGouch FennarioNew ALD Originale D, Zentech Proto, ‘50 D28
    edited September 2023 Posts: 121

    “So, was it simply an inaccurate fret template? Perhaps - but I doubt it. Those guys were too good to make that kind of mistake. More likely an experiment”

    It possibly was a “tempering” experiment. I’ve seen similar in a fancy banjo I measured (the maker was alive at the time and said he tempered the fret spacing).

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