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Is this custom-made oval-hole GJ guitar a bad Gypsy Jazz guitar?

EDIT 2: Here's a few update I got from the luthier!

- The bridge is completely movable. He mentioned that it's "like a violin's bridge".
- I may also request to have a rosette/binding/ornament to the area around the soundhole applied.

The woods used are as follow:
- Top: Spruce (I have doubts about this, it doesn't have the colour like one)
- Back/Side: Rosewood and Mahogany (Not sure which is which)
- Neck: Maple
- Fingerboard/Fretboard: Rosewood

---

Hello! As I was searching for a store which sells Gypsy Jazz guitar here in Indonesia to avoid buying from abroad (nobody plays Gypsy Jazz here, AFAIK!) I found a luthier who has made an oval-hole Gypsy Jazz guitar. At first, I only asked him if he sells a GJ guitar by showing him the picture of Altamira M01, then he replied by sending me a barrage of pictures of the guitar he has made!

To annoy me a bit more, he asked me which city I lived. I lied it, and he showed me a video of his friend living in the said city, playing fingerstyle Jazz with said guitar.

From my own inspection, it doesn't look (or perhaps play, if I ever touch it!) like a Gypsy Jazz guitar at all! Here's what I found:

1. No zero fret exists on it
2. The "moustache" style on the bridge, like in typical GJ guitars, doesn't exist
3. It seemed like the bridge isn't the same wood as on typical GJ guitars
4. And lastly, the tailpiece has a heart on it! (More of a personal input hahaha)

As of yet, the luthier hasn't answered my question about the bridge. I really hope he didn't glue the bridge onto the body -- that would be really, really terrible!

It would be lovely if you put your opinion on this guitars; And perhaps help me weigh my choice whether I should buy it or avoid it at all cost.

---

EDIT: I forgot to add the video of the person playing it. Added alongside the photos of the guitar.
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Comments

  • AndhiPAndhiP New
    Posts: 7
    stuart wrote: »
    Those are mainly superficial details that can easily be replaced. The real question is what it sounds like and how it plays. Gypsy guitars are very varied anyway. If you can sit down and play it, that would be your best option, if not post the video and let's see what it sounds like. You don't have many options if you're not going to import so maybe this is the one for you. How much is he charging?

    Roughly it's about $299 USD (converted from IDR), which is quite cheap -- even cheaper than the flat-top guitar I'm currently using to learn Gypsy Jazz

    And oh right, I forgot about the video!

    From my own observation, it sounds good enough to play Gypsy Jazz on it, which I believe comes from the size and shape of the body -- but I'm afraid if there's something wrong (such as the intonation), I won't be able to find the how-to on the internet because of how different it is from standard GJ guitars.
  • juandererjuanderer HoustonNew Manouche Latcho Drom Djangology Koa
    Posts: 68
    The only "wrong" thing I see is that there is no 0 fret, the bridge wood, and the lack of mustache pieces. The bridge doesn't seem like a huge deal as it looks like it's resting on shims (which suggests it's not glued onto the body).
  • BonesBones Moderator
    edited May 2016 Posts: 2,723
    No big deal about the moustaches or bridge as long as it's not glued down. Replacements available online. Info on how to fit the bridge in other thread on this forum somewhere.

    $299US is really cheap by US standards. If it looks well built (hard to tell by pics and vid) and you like the way the neck feels and how it sounds what the heck if that is cheap for you. If you get a better one later just sell it or keep it as a backup guitar.
  • Russell LetsonRussell Letson Prodigy
    Posts: 212
    A rather pretty instrument with what looks like an arched top and general Selmerish shape*, but the sound in the video (perhaps seriously compromised by the recording device) is clanky and thin, and I wonder whether even a different setup and strings would change that. I've encountered any number of handbuilt guitars that were very nice pieces of wood sculpture but that didn't sound as good as a budget Seagull.

    * Lack of a zero fret strikes me as irrelevant--Michael Dunn's guitars don't have them.
  • jonpowljonpowl Santa Cruz, CA✭✭✭ Dupont MD-100, Cigano GJ-10
    Posts: 541
    Be patient and you'll find a decent GJ guitar. I enjoy playing my Cigano CJ-10 and it was less than $300 used. Did you see this video of Brad Brose and Sebastian Giniaux, with Seb playing a Martin?
    HCQ
  • Posts: 2,463
    Sounds like it's tuned lower than standard E tuning which would explain slightly out of tune sound. And this style of playing will not tell you much about how would it sound in gypsy jazz guitar style.
    Can you sell it if it doesn't work out for you?
    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • crookedpinkycrookedpinky Glasgow✭✭✭✭ Alex Bishop D Hole, Anastasio, Godefroy Maruejouls
    Posts: 706
    I've got an Alex Bishop guitar and it doesn't have a zero fret. I think it looks like a reasonable instrument and with any guitar - especially a Gypsy one - it's always a risk buying without trying. Good luck.
    always learning
  • Andrew UlleAndrew Ulle Cleveland, OH✭✭✭ Antoine DiMauro modele Django
    edited May 2016 Posts: 481
    What woods are used? The top doesn't look like spruce or cedar - the grain looks more like some kind of hardwood (or maybe a different cut through the grain). Plywood guitars can sound thin like this one does, at least in the recording.
  • AndhiPAndhiP New
    edited May 2016 Posts: 7
    Whoa, this thread blew up! Thanks for all the responses! I'll reply some of the questions here.
    stuart wrote: »
    Difficult to tell from the video - it looks like a solid guitar but it doesn't have that characteristic gypsy jazz sound, but that might be just because of the way it's strung (they sound like regular strings to me) and the way it's being played. It's a bit out of tune which is surprising as the player can clearly play so you would think he would know how to tune the guitar, so maybe the intonation is a bit off. The luthier should be able to set it up right if he knows what he is doing - minor intonation problems are usually solved by shifting the bridge.

    Ah yes, the strings -- there's no way the luthier could get Gypsy Jazz strings, as no place sells it. I'd assume it's a standard phosphor bronze strings.

    And from how I looked at his websites, I'm still not sure if the luthier knows what he's doing. There are some pictures of his works and a few reviews by players who ordered from him, but I still doubt his skills, to be extremely honest. He has the pictures of his work on his Instagram, if that helps https://www.instagram.com/gitarmedia/
    * Lack of a zero fret strikes me as irrelevant--Michael Dunn's guitars don't have them.

    I've thought about how easier it might be for me later if the strings has no zero fret. I may easily be able to replace the nuts like common acoustic guitars. I don't know about zero fretted guitars, though.

    I've just looked at Michael Dunn's website -- you're right, his Gypsy Jazz guitars has no zero fret! I was afraid this guitar is the only one that has none!
    jonpowl wrote: »
    Be patient and you'll find a decent GJ guitar. I enjoy playing my Cigano CJ-10 and it was less than $300 used. Did you see this video of Brad Brose and Sebastian Giniaux, with Seb playing a Martin

    I'm afraid to say that I'm still quite new to the genres, so forgive me for not knowing the artists you mentioned. So far the names I recognise in this genre other than Django Reinhardt himself are Gonzalo Bergara, Rosenberg Trio, and Robin Nolan.

    And thank you for the video, it gives me quite a useful insight on how nice a standard acoustic guitar sounds if played next to a GJ guitar! To me, the standard guitar sounds like a hybrid of the oval-hole and the D-hole, albeit the size!
    Buco wrote: »
    Sounds like it's tuned lower than standard E tuning which would explain slightly out of tune sound. And this style of playing will not tell you much about how would it sound in gypsy jazz guitar style.
    Can you sell it if it doesn't work out for you?

    I might not be able to sell it -- the interest of playing Gypsy Jazz guitar in my country is definitely lower than playing electric Jazz guitar. But of course, it's always worth a try.
    I've got an Alex Bishop guitar and it doesn't have a zero fret. I think it looks like a reasonable instrument and with any guitar - especially a Gypsy one - it's always a risk buying without trying. Good luck.

    I would try it were his location is not really far away from mine!
    What woods are used? The top doesn't look like spruce or cedar - the grain looks more like some kind of hardwood (or maybe a different cut through the grain). Plywood guitars can sound thin like this one does, at least in the recording.

    I am completely sure that it is plywood. I think the luthier used whatever wood he has used on his previous works, so probably he has used the same wood as in acoustic guitars and electric guitars.

    And how inexpensive the guitar is, (roughly) $299 USD, has made me sure of it.
  • AndhiPAndhiP New
    edited May 2016 Posts: 7
    Here's a few update I got from the luthier!

    - The bridge is completely movable. He mentioned that it's "like a violin's bridge".
    - I may also request to have a rosette/binding/ornament to the area around the soundhole applied.

    The woods used are as follow:
    - Top: Spruce (I have doubts about this, it doesn't have the colour like one)
    - Back/Side: Rosewood and Mahogany (Not sure which is which)
    - Neck: Maple
    - Fingerboard/Fretboard: Rosewood
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