I need a little help identifying my new (old) selmac!!!

I recently bought a gypsy jazz guitar from the Jim Fisch collection however I do not have any idea what type it may be. There's no type of label to speak of and it has some odditys that have me confused. For one, it has a 13 fret neck. For another, it has a pretty complicated inlayed rossette that I havn't seen before on a guitar like this. My first thought was Dimauro but the neck doesn't look right and the headstock doesn't either. So...who knows? The spruce of the top also has a very fat grain like I havn't seen before. Here comes the sad part... this guitar arrived to me pretty messed up thanks to our pals over at UPS. the back was peeling off and it had two major cracks in the left side. My luthier is pretty confident he can fix it and UPS will pay for all of it but it sucks because I havn't even got to hear it yet!!! One thing the seller did tell me was that Jim Fisch sold his Dupont once he got this one! Pretty cool. Let me know what you guys think! Thanks! With any luck I'll be able to attach some pictures...we'll see!


  • CuimeanCuimean Los AngelesProdigy
    Posts: 271
    No zero fret as well.

    Nifty looking guitar!
  • Bob HoloBob Holo Moderator
    Posts: 1,252
    Well that's an interesting guitar. I can't tell you for sure, but here are my first impressions.

    1.) Body shape is like a slightly exaggerated DiMauro Sr. The waist is similar but the lower bout is too big proportionally... how far is it across the lower bout? 15.875" or more?

    2.) Bridge is reminiscent of an old Pat? odd. Not sure what to make of it.

    3.) Soundhole shape and placement is reminiscent of a handful of old Busatos that I've seen (and one that I own)

    4.) The wood is similar to early Mirecourt era guitars I've seen and worked on. Wood was not all that plentiful - tough times back then in Europe which forced them to use every piece of good sounding wood regardless of how ugly it was... and by the way I salute that... the correlation between good wood and pretty wood is not as high as many would believe.

    5.) The tailpiece is reminiscent of those found on the Sonora guitars out of Spain - which in and of itself doesn't mean anything - it was likely something that could be bought in many places. But more compelling is the headstock which is also like the Sonora. If I had to guess, that would be my guess. Hono Winterstein used to play a Sonora - now owned by Vic Wong who posts on this board under V-dub. compare notes with him and see what you find.

    It would help to see the back of the neck, the back of the headstock joint, the back of the heel where the neck meets the body, the placement and type of dots on the side of the fretboard, and any labeling or notation anywhere on the guitar. A closeup of the binding and the back of the guitar body and a general description from you regarding the amount of arch on the soundboard and back would also be helpful, but unless I saw something completely unexpected in those photos, I'd take a WEG (wild but educated guess) that it's a Sonora.

    One thing is for sure, whoever built it was familiar with the work of several European builders of his/her day and was trying a few new things out on this one.
    You get one chance to enjoy this day, but if you're doing it right, that's enough.
  • blowry2blowry2 Chicago✭✭
    Posts: 10
    thanks so much for the prompt reply! I guess in some ways the mystery continues. All else I can say about it is that both the back and the front have some arch to them but the back has slightly more. It has the old school tuners that turn backward, and it has no markers on the side of the neck. It has not one marker or label or number or anything on it. Also, that isn't the original bridge, some jerk decided to "install" their own shadow (i think) type pick up in the original bridge. I don't know if this helps and to be honest, I suppose it doesn't matter who made it as long as it sounds good and plays well. I think the little beat of a beating that it has taken adds to the character of the instrument, though I didn't want UPS to add to it! Actually, I have a luthier question for you Bob, if you don't mind. My luthier thinks that it may be a good idea to put in some type of brace to help ensure that the top does not bow any more than it already has, would you agree that this is a good idea? Also, I was thinking that I would just have him build me another new bridge to replace the shitty bridge that someone put a pickup in, what do you think? I don't think this old beauty deserves any electronics in her. If necessary, I'll throw a stimer in!
    Thanks so much,
  • KlezmorimKlezmorim South Carolina, USANew
    Posts: 160
    Bob Holo wrote:
    ...Bridge is reminiscent of an old Pat? odd. Not sure what to make of it.
    Question: What's an "old Pat?"
    Bob Holo wrote:
    ... the correlation between good wood and pretty wood is not as high as many would believe.

    True, to a great extent, but in this case, wide grain usually leads to a top that is weak both in tone and structurally. I've been asked to repair a couple of cheap souvenir guitars from South America. The wide grain typically led to the top shattering to the point where it was not economical to repair the instrument to playable condition. I offered the owners the option of me gluing the top back together so that the guitars could be hung on a wall, but never to be played.
  • Michael BauerMichael Bauer Chicago, ILProdigy Selmers, Busatos and more…oh my!
    Posts: 1,002
    Klez, an "old Pat" is almost certainly a Patenotte.
    I've never been a guitar player, but I've played one on stage.
  • Bob HoloBob Holo Moderator
    Posts: 1,252
    Yep, old Patennote -

    Regarding the addition of a brace... it depends on what he's thinking. If the brace under the ~19th fret is sinking and he wants to shore up the top below the soundhole (in other words, between the soundhole and the neck joint) then it's probably not a bad idea to add wood to strengthen that brace if it is inadequate because this is not a particularly acoustically live part of the soundboard (though maybe it has just lost cohesion to the top and needs to be re-glued - check that first)

    But adding bracing to the top is problematic. There are two things to consider. The greater the arc, the greater the strength of the top ... so as the top sinks, it becomes progressively weaker. The other is that the heavier the top, the less efficient it is and the lower its resonance is. The strength, elasticity and mass of a top is what defines the sound of the guitar. Flat-tops aren't quite as sensitive to this as gypsy guitars (though all guitars are... which is why people scallop braces etc..) Unless your luthier has a lot of experience with these guitars, I wouldn't turn him loose on the bracing. Start using light strings (like Argentine purples) to match the decrease in strength of the top, and don't use any higher of an action than you absolutely need to - that should help lengthen the time before you need to make the repair. Also, make sure the braces are glued to the top all along their lengths - this helps their strength. When and if you feel that the guitar needs to be repaired so it doesn't incur permanent damage, then find someone who has done a lot of work on gypsy guitars to do the rebracing. It's pretty intense work and a flat-top luthier's instinct will have him overbrace it and under-arch it and probably split the top taking it off because he's not used to joining tops under pressure. (actually, probably best to reach all this stuff through the back anyway, if possible)

    That's just my 2c... just one person's opinion. Here's an idea of what the repair looks like when the guitar gets to the point where it has to be done. ... s-t120.htm
    You get one chance to enjoy this day, but if you're doing it right, that's enough.
  • blowry2blowry2 Chicago✭✭
    Posts: 10
    Hey thanks Bob for your advice. Maybe I'll leave that aspect of the guitar alone for now until I can get someone who's a little more well versed in these guitars (my guy is an archtop jazz git guy). I'm looking forward to seeing how it sounds when the back is glued back on and everything's put right. Thanks,
  • constantineconstantine New York✭✭✭✭ Geronimo Mateos
    Posts: 485
    Hey Benny,

    I highly doubt its a Pat, I have played several and they dont play or sound or look like that guitar. I test drove that guitar before you bought it. Thought the sound was great.
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