I'm on the fence and would appreciate any advice since I can't seem to find these guitars to try for myself here in Boston.
I had a D-500. Not bad. But way too thick and round sounding for me. I'm looking for a dry snappy guitar under $1000. Would that be the Cigano GJ10 or the higher end Gitane's?
In all honesty I play the DG-255 the most, and when I fitted a new ebony bridge on it, jacked the string height up to 4mm, and installed new tuners and a tailpiece it really sings with all the brightness and minor bass response of a Dupont. Now, I'm not trying to compare my little 255 to a Dupont, but after having played numerous Dupont's it would be hard to give up on my 255, if that tells you anything. I don't know whether I just happened to buy a one-off from this Gitane line or not, but it seems to have the exact dimensions of a DG-300. That is, when compared side by side my 255 has the same fingerboard thickness, top arch, and thicker neck like the 300. In fact, I'm starting to believe that my 255 is actually a 300 that got mixed up in the factory and had the wrong label, tuners, bindings and tailpiece put on it. Who knows, maybe they redesigned 255's within the last few years, because based upon other 255's I have tried, mine appears to be a completely different beast.
The D-500 is just a good rhythm guitar, but I can't squeeze out the brightness that the 255 has. I have also tried very low budget Selmers like Cigano's and Cordoba's and neither one holds a candle to the Gitane line as far as budget guitars go. The Manouche is a little more expensive, and I quite like it, but again my 255 is just more bright and responsive.
All in all, I would say either find a really really good 255 like mine, or go with the 300, 330, or 340 as Michael suggested.
I actually wouldn't recommend the DG-300 as much as the others. It has a flatter top and neck angle so it's more bass heavy then the newer DG-320,330,340. Still nice though...but I like the more traditional sound of the 340.
The DG-255 can be good sometimes, I'm glad you have a good one. But the neck is just so straight on those. they feel really really strange to play if you're use to a more standard Selmer type guitar. I also find them to be very bass heavy in general. But with the right mods they can improve somewhat.
If you don't mind me asking Michael...I had the chance to try the 330 Tuxedo model, but haven't yet been able to try out the 340. How do the two compare as far as build quality and brightness?
Josh could tell you more about the details...but they seemed to be very similar guitars. Mostly aesthetic differences....most people don't like the black finish so I've seen way more 340s. I actually didn't like the first 340 I played, but everyone since then has been nice.
I really am drawn towards getting the model with the best neck set and top arch, but I was just listening to a fella on Youtube (it's a shame I can't just go play these things in person and choose for myself)with a stock model of a DG-255 as well, and it really sounded good. Great highs, mids and toneful warm but not muffled lows. Can a Josh Hegg Ebony bridge dry out a DG-255?
Listen to this DG-255! :
I think in most of the youtube clips Wrembel is playing his original Diele (sp?) guitar. Also, he plays with very. very low action. Every note buzzes...his guitar feels almost like an electric.
Believe me, the DG-340 with normal action sounds really nice.