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When did Django made the switch to the oval hole??

BluesBop HarryBluesBop Harry Mexico city, MexicoVirtuoso
Does anybody know?

I read here http://www.lutherie.net/is_a_mac.htm that the oval hole model was produced as early as 1934, but I always thought Django didn't start playing one until after 1937, perhaps meaning that year's version of "Minor Swing", for example, was still played on a 12 fret D- hole...

On a picture that seems to come from the May 4th, 1936 session (Oriental shuffle, Limehouse blues, and the tunes done with Freddie Taylor on vocals) Django still appears with a D-hole.

What's the earliest know photograph of him playing the Selmer?

I just love the early Django stuff so much, and was thinking most of it might have been done on a Macaferri which would lead me to rethink my whole view of these guitars...
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Comments

  • JackJack western Massachusetts✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 1,911
    Dregni writes "Later in 1936 or 1937" with regard to the switch to the oval hole. (Django, p.110)

    One thing to note is that the site you mention says that the oval hole was 1934, but it doesn't specify when the scale length changed; that would have more effect on the sound than the shape of the soundhole. I wonder too if much of the first ovals were made for the export market (specifically England)?

    I'm sure someone with a copy of F.Charle's amazing book can clear it up quickly. I wish I'd ordered one when they came out!

    best,
    Jack.
  • Teddy DupontTeddy Dupont Deity
    Posts: 1,161
    I am pretty sure it was in 1937.

    At the October, 1937 Hague concert, he is still playing a "D" hole but at the earlier Big Apple-Chez Bricktop gig in June, 1937 he has an oval hole. After 1937, he almost exclusively played the oval hole.

    Just to confuse matters, I have a photo of him at the Alhambra with Larry Adler where he is playing a "D" hole and that is claimed to be May, 1938. All other 1938 photos show him with an oval hole.
  • KoratKorat NetherlandsNew
    Posts: 51
    I recall there is a thread somewhere on this forum as to what guitar Django actually used in 1937 when recording. I think Terry wrote Django did use a Carbonell a lot that year and probably used it on the 1937 recording of Minor Swing (it is a black guitar). Hope I do not misquote Terry.
    If at first you don't succeed, skydiving is not for you.
  • BluesBop HarryBluesBop Harry Mexico city, MexicoVirtuoso
    Posts: 1,378
    Thank you all.
    Teddy Dupont said exactly what I wanted to know.
    So it is reasonably safe to assume that up until the integrale vol 5 (and maybe part of vol 6) Django was playing a D-hole.
    Those are some of the best sessions to me.
  • Teddy DupontTeddy Dupont Deity
    Posts: 1,161
    I think it is highly probable that Django did not start playing a Selmer Maccaferri until the end of 1934, possibly as late as mid-1935. Below is a detail from a photo of Django playing an unknown guitar at Stage B in 1935.

    There is no evidence at all that Django ever recorded with a Carbonell althought there is a photo of him jamming on Marcel Bianchi's with Steph and Coleman Hawkins in 1937.
  • kimmokimmo Helsinki, Finland✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 158
    So it is reasonably safe to assume that up until the integrale vol 5 (and maybe part of vol 6) Django was playing a D-hole.
    Those are some of the best sessions to me.

    To confuse things a bit more: Django's first oval hole was a hybrid short scale model: neck/fingerboard from D-hole-model moved to 14 frets to the body; bridge an inch closer to the soundhole to keep the scale length same as in the 12-fret models.
  • Teddy DupontTeddy Dupont Deity
    Posts: 1,161
    kimmo wrote:
    To confuse things a bit more: Django's first oval hole was a hybrid short scale model: neck/fingerboard from D-hole-model moved to 14 frets to the body; bridge an inch closer to the soundhole to keep the scale length same as in the 12-fret models.
    This is a detail from the earliest photo I can find where Django is clearly playing an oval hole.
    Wim Glenn
  • kimmokimmo Helsinki, Finland✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 158
    This is a detail from the earliest photo I can find where Django is clearly playing an oval hole.

    ...and that's 1936 or -37, right? Do we know whose guitar that is? The cover of Fremeaux' Integral 7 (if I remember correctly) is from Decca studios (so it must be 1938) and Django is playing a D-hole (but whose). The hague concert (date?) pic from 1937 shows Django with a D-hole. In the film Jazz hot (1938) and in a number of pictures from that period Django plays this hybrid, new body-old neck, which I supposed to be his first of the sort.
  • Teddy DupontTeddy Dupont Deity
    Posts: 1,161
    kimmo wrote:
    ...and that's 1936 or -37, right? Do we know whose guitar that is? The cover of Fremeaux' Integral 7 (if I remember correctly) is from Decca studios (so it must be 1938) and Django is playing a D-hole (but whose). The hague concert (date?) pic from 1937 shows Django with a D-hole. In the film Jazz hot (1938) and in a number of pictures from that period Django plays this hybrid, new body-old neck, which I supposed to be his first of the sort.
    That is from summer, 1937 which is typically confusing because, with one exception, all the photos I can find from 1938 until 1940, where the type of guitar is clearly visible, he is playing the hybrid style below. The exception, as you say, is the January, 1938 Decca recording session where he is playing a "D" hole.

    The change to the "standard" design appears to have come with the New Quintet in 1940.

    So the chronology appears to be that he tried a "modern" oval hole in mid-1937 went back to the "D" hole until early 1938, played a hybrid until 1940 whereafter he had a "standard" design oval hole!!!!! :? :? :? :?
    Wim Glenn
  • scotscot Virtuoso
    Posts: 503
    And that is an odd guitar as the end of the fingerboard is squared off and not scalloped as it was on production guitars. The guitar is "Jazz Hot " is also odd, with it's d-hole fingerboard extension. These must have been among the very first 14-fret oval hole guitars. I don't know of a photo of Django playing a 12-fret oval. But they do exist because I've played one.

    BTW, the guitarist behind Joseph is the legendary accordionist/guitarist/artist Charley Bazin.

    Marcel Bianchi played with Django in 1937. He was given three Selmers but did not like them at all, and sold them. He said in several interviews that Django particularly like the black Carbonell and may have used it on the '37 sessions. I don't know about that - if you listen to how light and swingy Bianchi and Baro sound on those '37 sessions, I think Bianchi must have used the Carbonell. There's a sound other than the Selmer sound in there. That black guitar was stolen and has never turned up. A shame...

    Harry, I would say that Django is one of those rare guitarists, like Blind Blake, Gary Davis or Joseph Spence and a handful of others, who sound the same on any guitar. There is something in the touch of certain guitarists - for them the guitar just does not matter.
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