I've been noticing over the last several years that the standards for Gypsy guitar set ups have been changing. It used to be that most players were playing with fairly high action, 3.5mm or higher. That set up produces incredible tone, but takes a lot more technique to play well. Many of the younger players seem to be forsaking tone for speed. I've seen pretty low setups on the guitars of Samson Schmitt, Moses Rosenberg, etc. Even many of the greatest tonemeisters seem to be going with lower action these days: Stochelo Rosenberg, Angelo Debarre, Bireli, Boulou Ferre etc.
The lower action has definitely allowed many of the players to break the previous speed barrier...but in many cases it's come at the cost of tone. In my opinion, the best Gypsy tone on record is on this CD:
Stochelo's Selmer just sounds so fat on this recording...you can also here it on this classic CD:
But in recent years Stochelo, like many players, has gone with a lower set up. I think this is partially due to the physical demands required of playing a high action guitar. Technically, I think Stochelo was at his prime in the previous recordings which were done in the early 90s. My guess is that he was practicing and playing constantly back then....but he probably has a more relaxed attitude these days which probably makes it hard to play fast on a high action guitar. Bireli seems to have also gone the same route....Bireli has a great tone on the Gypsy project CDs, but it's still not ideal for me.
Anyway, I started this poll to see what people think. What really matters? Tone or speed? Would many of today's players be better off playing a little slower but with a high action set up?