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In photographs of Aleman, after his return to Argentina around '40, he is playing what appears to be a Selmer with a large oval soundhole. Does anyone have information about that guitar? Is it actually a Selmer, or? Just curious!
I've read that it's selmer #475, but if it was ever a selmer macaferri then the top has been heavily modified (perhaps replaced entirely). So, a Frankenselmer :)
Bingo! That's the one. Wouldn't we love to know the backstory, of how and why it came to be modified?
While I know those pearloid pickguards aren't helping the sound, I kinda like the way they look.
Thanks Wim, for the photo and the link.
More info here:
It was indeed a Selmer guitar, #475.
François Charle listed it in his Selmer book as bought by Casa America in Buenos Aires on April 20th 1939.
Earlier photos of Alemán show him with what looks like a standard grande bouche short scale Selmer which may have been the same guitar (see below).
The other label inside is from Antigua Casa Nuñez another music shop in Buenos Aires possibly responsible for the changes but there was also a luthier named Sergio Rapiso who was known to have fitted the DeArmond Rythmn Chief pickup in about 1954 and who may have made the alterations at the same time. The pickup was mounted on two metal strips across the soundhole, hence the four small screw holes top and bottom. Note it also has no zero fret and the decoration to the bridge.
Another story claims Rapiso made Alemán a copy of the Selmer when he returned to Argentina in 1940 which might explain the differences except the old Selmer label is clearly visible in the photo above.
From available photos of the two guitars it would seem the shading of the grain on the top is not the same so if they are both #475 it may well be that the entire top was replaced, just a guess.
Found these 2 pictures of the guitar with what appears to be a DeArmond rhythm chief.
There is a really great documentary about Oscar Aleman called "Vida Con Swing", absolutely worth a view.