Long time lurker, first time poster! I'm based in Italy and Switzerland and have played guitar for longer than I care to admit. These last years have been mostly devoted to American swing: I am lucky enough to play in a big band and old Epi archtops rule my world (along with folks like Dick McDonough, Allan Reuss, Bucky and John Pizzarelli, Barney Kessel…). To give you an idea, these are a couple of pretty shoddy tracks I recorded for friends at home during COVID (with a Loar and a FHC, if you're curious):
Anyway I've always had a fascination for GJ: it's such a great flavour of swing, it's a lot of fun to play, and it promises to make me a better player. So a little on the side, but I'm getting started. Of course I was looking around for my first GJ guitar. I tried a Cigano but it had such a flat, thin neck. Then a Nomade that I quite liked but went before I had made up my mind, and a few other nice, China-made guitars… In the same store as the Nomade there was this old thing hanging there: funny looking, big D hole, 12 frets. Naaaah… all the reading had convinced me: long scale, 14 frets, O-hole – I would not even look at the thing. Then I tried it just for the heck of it: huge neck just as I like it, big voice, very mids-forward, lighter than any other guitar I've held, and playing well. A bit of research showed that it was a working man's guitar, well respected and well-loved in the community, that it was being sold for about half its normal asking price, and that the "short scale" I had so spurned was after all the 25.5" I'm accustomed to. It also came with a nice Dupont case. So today I went back , tried it again against anything that had strings on it and promised to have volume, and after it shredded its contenders to bloody bits I took it home with me.
I like her a lot. She's a low-life: loud, unpolished, with an attitude, but somehow sweet. She's in great shape for her age, seems all original except for the welcome new fretboard and frets as far as I can see, every note rings out loud and is easy to fret (with a little rough spot around the 12th fret on the G and D strings) and all there is to report about the body is a section of the binding that's gone but no cracks that I can see.
I'd be curious to know how old she is – they said "probably '57" but don't ask me how they reached the verdict: from what I've read, absent serial numbers or labels, it's nearly impossible to accurately date Boogie Woogies. No matter: she's just the right guitar to start my journey in GJ, and in this community ;D
I think di Mauros are underrated. Glad you have a nice guitar with a bit of "mojo" in her to help you along your journey. If you have an instrument that inspires you to keep playing, no matter what the reason (sound, look, history, etc.), it is all good in my book!
Those Di Mauro Boogie Woogies are just fine, I had one similar and it did everything I asked of it (should have kept it I guess). You don't say how much you paid but in Europe they should not cost more than 1000Euros; I have seen good ones as low as 500. Bindings on these are quite fragile but easily replaced and that one has the original tuners from Delaruelle which while adding to originality can be a problem with age, but again replacing tuners is easy enough.
As for age, who knows? These were made certainly from the 1940s to the 1960s; Antoine retired in (I think) 1972 when his son Joseph Jr took over. As far as I know Joseph did not make any of this model, and of those I have seen by Antoine, they often used different woods according, I guess, to what was available at the time, but that one could be any age in that period. They never had any serial numbers so unless someone had papers or receipts from new it would be hard to put any date on it.
Here's the one I had.
Thank you both for your feedback!
Chris, it was a lovely family of stringed instruments you had there! As for price I paid 1250€ – a little bit more than fair according to your appraisal, but the market seems to have gone awfully up. Here's a few listings (no affiliations): to be sure asking price is not going price, but negotiating 1250€ from those starting points would be quite the feat ;D
But it matters not in fact. I did not buy it for the price-tag, although it's good to know that I could resell without taking a hit later on… the thing is that it was within the limit of what I wanted to spend and more inspirational than anything else "gypsy" I had laid hands on. Like Billy said, she makes me get up wanting to have some time to do "La Pompe" or hone those minor 6 arpeggios… 😉
And, well, if he smiled, then who am I to scoff at it 😁
Btw, @Radiofm74, thanks for sharing those tracks. Very much enjoyed listening to them. If you haven't heard him, you should check out some of the early Pearl Django recordings with Dudley Hill. Avalon is a good one. So is Under Paris Skies and New Metropolitan Swing. Dudley definitely played in a more big band jazz style (he took lessons from Steve Jordan at one point) on a Gibson L-5. It might give you some ideas in how you can incorporate your normal swing sounds into some of these songs.
Thanks a lot for the suggestion, I'll listen to Pearl Django … including their output with Tim Lerch, whom I like immensely as well!
That's some sweet playing there too!
Those Di Mauros are quite beautiful! They have their own visual aesthetic, a fresh (!) change from the ubiquitous Selmer design.
Sorry, I was not meaning to sound cheap, my valuations were based on private sales particularly in France, rather than full retail on Reverb. For some reason there is a big difference between the two price ranges; I recently advertised my Di Mauro St Louis Blues on here for AU$3,000 (about US$2,200) when the normal dealer retail is between US$4,000 and US$5,000 and yet never even got one enquiry.....maybe it was too cheap?
Anyway, yes, I do think those Boogie Woogies are fine guitars and for anyone that can get over the 12 fret neck they are still bargains compared to the rest of the 'vintage' market.
Besides, you did not sound cheap 😂 and I hope my answer did not come across as in any way upset. I was just trying to explain the thought process behind my statement that it was going for "half" – the question "half of what" being entirely fair.
I share your thought that the vintage market is bananas and I myself only look for "vintage" stuff whose modern counterpart does not exist or is not readily available (say, old Epiphones or old octal amps). For my first GJ, "vintage" was the last of my thoughts. I had given myself a budget of 1000-ish€ and was poking around looking mostly for used Eastmans, Gitanes, Ciganos… perhaps the stray Nomade, and dreamt of Stringphonic, Freschi, Mateos… I have no prejudice towards Chinese guitars: I love my Loar LH-700 next to my old Epi! But the Di Mauro just happened to be the best of the bunch available to me more or less in my price bracket, and seeing some Reverb pricing I just told myself that I would not be losing money in case I'd want to resell. Which I do not plan to do ☺️
By the way, I seem to have noticed that Swiss people in particular write in flawless English. Is this just a coincidence or maybe English language is included in school curriculum?