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Buying guitars from Europe

Andrew UlleAndrew Ulle Cleveland, OH✭✭✭ Antoine DiMauro modele Django
Has anyone had any experience buying guitars (vintage or new) from Europe and having them shipped to the US? I understand there are all kinds of potential problems involving customs, CITE, and the Lacey Act. Is it worth the hassle? Any advice would be appreciated!


  • new mexico (current)✭✭
    edited March 2016 Posts: 91
    If you want to buy a guitar from Europe book a cheap flight, find a good used guitar deal, buy a guitar, take a lesson with one of your favourite players, and fly home. If, for any long list of reasons this is not possible for you, then be grateful for one of the worlds largest selections, and some of the most efficient, knowledgeable and consistent service you will find either side of the pond...right here at djangobooks.

    I travel frequently to Europe and while "deals" do exist, they generally come to the players who are out jamming and playing in the community by word of mouth.
    Transporting a guitar over the pond, plus the convience of service, taxes (often higher than here) will raise the price of purchase here..but it is insignificant relative to doing it yourself, & you can return the instrument if you don't like it, & warranty it through a retailer who due to his relationship and reputation will likely get a much quicker response than a single individual. There are a few luthiers who will go to great lengths for a single long distance sale, but those with strong reputations generally are very consistent with their offerings. If you are considering a high end guitar there are several on this site that will cost the same as europe eg. Barault for 5250usd which i believe is not any less than you would pay direct. In addition some luthiers sell on this site for lower prices then a direct order in order to establish a new market. Check out Mordeglia...bad ass builder for a song and a dance.
    Good luck in your search.
  • Andrew UlleAndrew Ulle Cleveland, OH✭✭✭ Antoine DiMauro modele Django
    Posts: 527
    I have seen some inexpensive Di Mauros on various European ebay sites, for around $750 and up. Customs tax is 8.7% on any guitar over $800. I was mainly nervous about CITE regulations.
  • new mexico (current)✭✭
    Posts: 91
    You get what you pay for...real life experience is more reliable than any internet deal or
  • BonesBones Moderator
    Posts: 3,286
    I bought a Gallato a number of years ago from Norman at (Michael doesn't carry Gallatos) and he shipped it NP. Can't remember what the tax was but didn't seem too steep as I recall. I think the guitar itself was like $15-1700US back then.
  • wimwim ChicagoModerator Barault #503 replica
    Posts: 1,360
    Second the recommendation to book a cheap flight to Europe and do it in person (Paris, in particular). There are always some great deals at guitare village.

    You need to be able to try a lot of instruments on the same day, when you're in the same mood, and in the same room, to really find one that chooses you
  • BonesBones Moderator
    edited March 2016 Posts: 3,286
    Yes, obviously I should say that I was going on faith based on emails to Norman that the guitar had the right sound and thankfully it worked out but there is no substitute for 'road testing' before you buy for sure...
  • Andrew UlleAndrew Ulle Cleveland, OH✭✭✭ Antoine DiMauro modele Django
    Posts: 527
    I guess I'll just have to suffer through a trip to Europe. LOL. I wish I knew about this stuff 30 years ago - I went to Europe several times and didn't know what I was missing. Paris would have been WAY more interesting to stay in had I known about gypsy jazz back then.
  • new mexico (current)✭✭
    Posts: 91
    Well 30 years ago there would not have been nearly as much selection as compared to now.. Even Dupont (who is my favourite builder) was just starting out....What guitar geek doesn't love perusing guitar shops in Paris or any city for that matter...i sure do?! With that being said, none of the Parisian shops have close to Michaels inventory for gypsy guitars and while I have been there test driving, I never felt like I missed out on a better guitar or deal than the 6 or so Iinstruments I have bought here at Djangobooks....If you want to side-by-side test ride vintage Selmers, Busatos, Castelluccias, Favinos, Du Maurios, VR's or any Dupont, Holo, Hahl's, ALD's a dozen Altimiras, etc. etc....then take a cheap domestic flight to Seattle for the weekend and try out the best selection I have ever played in the world...of course It is springtime in Paris :)
    MichaelHorowitzpickitjohnCharlie AyersMarkADaveyc
  • guitarmikeguitarmike Montreal, Quebec✭✭ Old French Gypsy Guitar
    Posts: 91
    About 4 years ago I ordered an old Gypsy guitar from an antique shop located in Paris. I asked for pictures of the top ( to make sure it was still "arched" And some pictures of the neck to make sure it was straight (no truss rod!)
    The sound? I wasn't expecting a Martin.
    It was delivered at my door in Quebec.
    I got what I paid for and I still play this guitar and I love it.

    I went down the stairs and it was there.
    Andrew Ulle
  • woodamandwoodamand Portland, OR✭✭✭ 2015 JWC Favino replica
    Posts: 227
    Or have one built for you; not as fun but what I could sort of afford...Really happy with my JWC, but it was scary buying without trying. Of course, if you can afford to fly to Paris, well, you are way above my pay grade :))
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