I wrote earlier this year about being new to Gypsy Jazz after playing folk, pop, blues, rock, and flamenco guitar for almost 50 years. I had purchased a very nice Taylor 314 CE cutaway guitar after an exhausting search into the New Orleans area for a Gypsy Jazz Guitar. Unfortunately, I had not searched far enough and found Djangobooks in time. Needless to say, I had to have one, so early in January this year, I ordered and recently got my new Altamira M10D guitar. (Now I own two nice guitars instead of just one. Poor me!)
Anyway, when I got the Altamira, the action seemed a bit high. I have been reading on the forum for several weeks and researched this topic. But, I called Josh who said that it had gotten high, perhaps because when he set it up, it was very cold and dry, and New Orleans is quite a bit more temperate and humid (hovering at 76% as I write).
After some encouragement from him, I did my own bridge sanding and adjustment, and was get able to get the action quite playable. I did notice, however, that the fretboard has a quite visible curved radius, while the bridge is set up with the much flatter radius for the strings. I'm now doing my final bit of tweaking in this regard and am wondering about this particular observation. I checked the forum, and there were not many entries about this.
So, here's the question:
Is it better to have a flatter radius for the bridge and consequently the string placement over the fretboard, irrespective of what might be a more pronounced radius on the fretboard? Or, is it better to match the radius of the fretboard with the position of the strings over it?
I don't know enough about this topic to know whether this is simply a matter of preference, or whether experienced players find one set up over the other more advantageous. I would appreciate any comments on this topic.
Oh, and by the way, I don't know how many of you remember what it was like at the beginning learning this music. I must say, though, I am quite surprised at how rewarding it has been over the last six months. I began by downloading the Minor Swing lesson from Yakov Hoter's site. I memorized the 1937 version solo and was soon able to play it at near full speed. I then downloaded his ballads coursed and learned how to play Tears. Before getting my new Gypsy Jazz Guitar, I purchased Gypsy picking and Gypsy Rhythm, and also Dennis Chang's gypsy rhythm DVD. I tried to practice at least four nights a week for a couple of hours. My routine includes regular portions of Gypsy rhythm practice and Gypsy picking practice. I then endeavor to learn something new for another 20 or 30 minutes. I usually end my practice session by playing through what I have learned that evening and previously. I use Band in a Box to set up my accompaniment if I'm not playing a solo guitar version.
The first tune I learned on my new Altamira was Nuages as taught by Yakov Hoter. Here I am, as I said, having played guitar for almost 50 years. And yet, I'm just amazed and floored at how beautiful this tune is and how great it makes me feel to be able to play it. Django is long gone, hardly anyone in this area is playing this music. Yet, there's this present he left for me to open, and now I have. It's one thing to hear this music, but quite another to be able to play it. Who's luckier than us.