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Where can I play some GJ guitars??

Hello folks. I have recently gotten into playing some gypsy jazz and I am really wanting to get my hands on a guitar that has that Django sound. I work and teach in a music store in South Carolina, but my boss knows nothing about them nor where to find them. Working in a music store, I know the importance of getting to actually play before you I would love to find a dealer here in the Southeast that carries these guitars. For my price range, I am really likeing the Manouche Latcho Drom guitars. Having much experience with Martin's and Taylors, I know the importance of solid woods for those guitars but I'm finding that the general consensus around here is that solid to laminate isnt that big of a deal. It's still hard for me to drop more than a grand for a laminate guitar...but if the sound is there, I wouldnt mind it one bit.

So, to the real reason for this post- does anyone know of any dealers or anywhere that I can get my hands on one of these guitar. I don't know if anyone carries the Manouche Latcho Drom guitars (I am especially loving the AM-200 Soild African Mahogany) around here but they would be my first choice. If not, the Gitanes, Dell' Arte, or anything below $2,000 would be fantastic. I would be willing to drive to Atlanta, Columbia or Charlotte if I have to. I would also like to hear from anyone in the Southeast about findng guitars, other gypsy jazzers to play with and such.

I look foreward to hearing from you all.


  • BluesBop HarryBluesBop Harry Mexico city, MexicoVirtuoso
    Posts: 1,379
    Welcome to the forum!
    Laminated back and sides are actually more desirable in these guitars than solid woods as it's the way the originals where made.
    In Selmer style construction laminating wood is not about saving money but about getting that characteristic sound, structural strength and light construction. And it's important to note It's not the cheap tri-ply associated with lower end instruments but actually a very involved and difficult building technique.
    Maybe that can help putting your mind at ease about spending good money for a gypsy guitar that doesn't have solid back and sides.

    For $2000 you might be able to get a used USA made Dell arte (look for a Hommage) or maybe with some luck a Dupont MD100 otherwise I hear good things about the Latcho droms and the Ciganos just over $300 are unbeatable for the dough and actually sound quite decent.

    As far as I know there are basically three dealers in the US that really carry these type of guitars, **** at on California, J. Mazzolenni of specializing on vintage instruments is located on Maryland and online store with the widest stock and best prices on this continent. I believe all three dealers mentioned offer a 48 hour or similar approval period to make sure you like the guitar.

    A wise thing to do might be getting a Cigano to start with and go to a djangofest next year (festival season just ended), try as many guitars as you can to make a well informed decision when you finally go for a high end instrument.

    Hope this helps and best of luck!
  • scotscot Virtuoso
    Posts: 584
    I'm in Charlotte, you are welcome to come here and try my Favino (laminate) and Dupont (solid) out, and jam some. Send me a PM, we'll figure something out.

  • gearhatgearhat New
    Posts: 3
    This may be elsewhere on the forum, but I'll ask anyway. I understand that the old Selmers were made with laminate back and sides and most players who are big fans of this style of music would prefer the "authenticity" of a laminate guitar. Would having an all solid guitar actually detract from the desired sound of the instrument? And if it does, how so? I know that volume is generally an issue and gypsy jazz players want it loud. From my experience, there simply is no volume comparison between solid and laminate. Solid wins hands down. Does the construction of these instruments (sound hole size, bracing, arched tops, etc.) overrule that? And would solid woods detract from that classic "chomp"...maybe cause it to breathe a little too much or take away the pop?

    I still kind of have my eye on one of the Latcho Drom guitars. Pictures don't tell the whole story, but they appear to be very well made and have better hardware and such than say a Gitane or Cigano. I would experiment with a Cigano, but I have enough guitars as it is. When I get a gypsy jazz guitar, I would like it to be one that I can hang on to for a number of years and not still be looking for an upgrade.

    I am curious to know how things like tuning keys, finish, tail pieces, and bridges compare between the Latcho Droms, Gitanes, Ciganos, and any other brands below $2,000. I know that the hardware can be replaced, but I just want to know how they come right out of the box.

    Again, I appreciate all the help.
  • StringswingerStringswinger Santa Cruz and San Francisco, CA✭✭✭✭ 1993 Dupont MD-20, Shelley Park Encore
    Posts: 445

    Your experience is not relevant here. Solid wood Gypsy guitars are no louder than laminate Gypsy guitars (in many cases, they are actually more quiet). Gypsy guitars are a different animal than the flattop guitars that you have always known and base your experience on.

    Selmer made both solid wood and laminate guitars back in the day and Dupont makes both today. My experience is that solid back and sides can (but not always does) contribute to a different tone than a guitar made by the same builder with laminate back and sides.

    I have a solid maple Dupont that sounds very similar to a laminate Favino that I own. Both are great guitars.

    My advice to folks starting out is to get a Saga guitar to start (Gitane or Cigano) and trade up to a Dupont when you can. Every one of these guitars sounds a bit different so try before you buy or get a good approval period.

    Best of luck. If you take Scot up on his offer, you will not be happy until you own a Favino or Dupont. Be careful!
    "When the chord changes, you should change" Joe Pass
  • Dr. HallDr. Hall Green Bay, WisconsinNew
    Posts: 65
    Just to clarify: Selmer style guitars are made with solid tops, usually spruce, sometimes cedar. The back and sides are usually laminated (as were most of the original Selmers, Favinos, and Busatos), often some variety of and combination of rosewood with mahogany. The top is where the real volume comes from as long as the guitar is built properly. The lighter and stiffer laminate backs and sides of these guitars (according to some luthiers) might actually produce more volume or projection than solid woods. I came to gypsy jazz from an archtop world where everything had to be made of solid woods or else suck. I was a snob at first and didn't want to shell out a bunch of money for a guitar with laminated back and sides. So I bought my first Gitane--what an eye and ear opener that was--and I've since added a US made Dell'Arte Hommage to my arsenal which launched me into gypsy jazz nirvana. Both of these guitars have laminated backs and sides. To be completely honest, my solid wood archtops (Heritage and Epiphone) sound rather puny and muted by comparison to the gypsy guitars. They are decent electric guitars, but they can't compete acoustically even with my friend's Martin D-whatever-it-is. My gypsy guitars, on the other hand, cut right through his Martin and leave it sounding rather muddy and quiet. Design is the key to the sound and projection of Selmer style guitars, and as long as the top is solid and the guitar is built well it should resonate nicely. I'm not likely to ever buy another flat-top dreadnought or high-dollar solid wood archtop now that I've experienced the tone and volume I can get out of a gypsy guitar. By the way, one of my friends bought a Cigano GJ-10, and that guitar is absoultely incredible tonewise and volumewise, not quite as complex and tasty as my US Dell'Arte Hommage but it's a Selmer style guitar and designed differently than the Favino style Hommage. It's incredible that a $300 Cigano with laminated sides and back can sound so freaking good, and I'd probably even take one of those over a Martin or an acoustic archtop anyday (unless I could sell the Martin or archtop, buy another gypsy guitar, and have some money left over for strings or beer or something).
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