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  • geese_com 6:56AM

Today's Birthday

Fatty

Cafe American Guitars?

Does anyone have any information on these? I have seen a couple on that well known auction site recently. They look decent, but I have never heard of them. Has anyone played one?
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Comments

  • constantineconstantine New York✭✭✭✭ Eastman DM2/v
    Posts: 389
    If you can get one for $100, it might be worth having as a beach guitar. That thing is eerily similar to an SX/Stagg guitar, great pretenders of gypsy jazz guitars. There are lots of knockoff guitars that "look" nice but they have major flaws that make them not legitimate gypsy guitars. Look at the bridge. Its about 1/2" tall. Look at the bridge on a decent gypsy guitar. A higher bridge and the correct neck angle are very important aspects of real gypsy guitars and their "sound". Without this you wont get the sound. Interesting how the knockoffs never show the neck angle in their photos. Cigano GJ-10 is a low cost, accurate guitar that blows away that thing you saw. There are plenty of threads about this here.
    http://shoppingcart.djangobooks.com/eco ... GJ-10.html

    Look at this gitane bridge (cigano is similar)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pDHBeiAI ... _embedded#!
  • John GJohn G New
    Posts: 11
    Thanks for the feedback. I know what you mean about the low neck angle. I have a Gitane DG300 with a very low neck angle. It is practically unplayable above about the 5th fret as is. I was looking the other day to see if any of the available bridges would work. What I found was that it will take a bridge of about 3/8" high to get the action down to where it is playable. At that point, there will be almost no downward pressure on the bridge by the strings. I don't play Gypsy Jazz so having "that sound" isn't too important, but I do like "that sound" and wouldn't want something that didn't even come close. I have a GJ-15 on order from Mr. Horowitz. If it works out OK, at least I'll have something.
  • Michael BauerMichael Bauer Chicago, ILProdigy Selmers, Busatos and more…oh my!
    Posts: 1,002
    I don't know anything about Cafe American guitars. How they sound, how they are built, etc are unknown to me,

    But don't fall into the line of thinking that a steep neck angle is required on a proper gypsy jazz guitar. My Selmer (#862), is geometrically perfect, no sinking if the top and the neck has never been reset. I had to special order a Dupont #0 bridge from Michael, which is very low. Even if you wanted the action high, you wouldn't want more than a #1 bridge on it. I can measure it tonight if you like, but it isn't much over a half inch. Original Selmers had very little neck angle compared with some modern copies.

    I think where the confusion lies is that many GJ guitars have had neck resets, after which the angle becomes much steeper. Another reason for tall bridges is that the tops sometimes sink over the years and that requires a taller bridge (which in turns can make the top sink even more. My Jacques Favino has both a neck reset and a sunken top (and the tallest bridge I have ever seen). The 50's Joseph di Mauro (the elder), which is also original, has minimal neck angle as well.

    Based on what I have seen, modern GJ guitars tend to be built with more neck angle than the older guitars were, perhaps emulating older guitars with neck resets, etc.

    I'm not defending or knocking the Cafe American guitars. I'd never heard of one until your e-mail. But I wouldn't let neck angle decide anything for me. IMHO, assuming quality wood on the top, the thickness of the top, back and sides, as well as the bracing has more to do with it than anything. Then probably scale length, the type of wood on the back and sides, the soundhole, etc. I'm sure neck angle plays a role, but I don't think it makes or breaks a guitar as authentically gypsy in sound, unless you consider Selmers to be inauthentic. Yes, neck angle increases pressure on the top, but that can be overdone, and I have seen several once fine vintage guitars ruined by overstressing the tops. And my Selmer is plenty loud with "0" bridge. I'm sure it could get even louder with a taller bridge, but I am equally sure I'd risk runing one of the few geometrically perfect tops to have survived this long.

    More important is to have the guitar properly set up by someone who really knows his craft, like Rodrigo Shopis, who has been able to find the sweet spot on every guitar I have ever given him.
    I've never been a guitar player, but I've played one on stage.
  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    Posts: 5,813

    But don't fall into the line of thinking that a steep neck angle is required on a proper gypsy jazz guitar. My Selmer (#862), is geometrically perfect, no sinking if the top and the neck has never been reset. I had to special order a Dupont #0 bridge from Michael, which is very low.

    Michael, keep in mind that a low bridge doesn't necessarily mean your guitar has little or no neck angle. Your Selmer has quite a bit of neck angle on it but also has a HUGE pliage which is why it requires a smaller bridge. A guitar with a lot of neck angle and a small pliage (or one that reaches it's apex over the soundhole instead of the bridge area) would require a very large bridge (like Favinos).

    'm
  • Michael BauerMichael Bauer Chicago, ILProdigy Selmers, Busatos and more…oh my!
    Posts: 1,002
    Maybe true, but I'd say the Selmer has the shallowest neck angle of all the GJ guitars I have, new or old. To be fair, the pliage on those late Selmers is so huge that it would naturally require a lower bridge. But compared to the Jacques Favino, which has had a neck reset, the Selmer's is very shallow. I'm not sure how many degrees is considered shallow or deep, but eyeballing it, it looks pretty shallow.

    I'll see if I can figure out what the angle actaully is.
    I've never been a guitar player, but I've played one on stage.
  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    Posts: 5,813
    Maybe true, but I'd say the Selmer has the shallowest neck angle of all the GJ guitars I have, new or old.

    Yes, Favinos and Busato usually have more neck angle than Selmers. But even Selmers have more than a lot of the Asian copies which often are just glorified flatops with pretty much no angle at all.
  • John GJohn G New
    Posts: 11
    I don't believe these guitars have a pliage. What matters to me is that there be enough angle to be able to adjust the action. I know a fellow who says that the tailpiece height is as important as anything else in getting the correct volume and tone. He made a specially designed adjustable tailpiece for his guitar. If he is happy, I am happy for him. Speaking of pliage, I have seen them in pictures but I can't say I have ever actually laid eyes on a guitar that had one. Their importance in getting the correct tone is debatable. I have heard an awful lot of good sounding guitars that didn't have them.
  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    Posts: 5,813
    John G wrote:
    Speaking of pliage, I have seen them in pictures but I can't say I have ever actually laid eyes on a guitar that had one. Their importance in getting the correct tone is debatable. I have heard an awful lot of good sounding guitars that didn't have them.

    Of the stuff that comes through here (and that's just about everything), the better the pliage the better the sound! Some of the guitars with flatter tops have a warmer, more bass heavy sound which some people like. But they loose a lot of volume...the guitars with the biggest pliages or top arches like Favinos, Busatos, and some of the vintage Selmers are definitely the loudest and generally have the most desirable tone. They also have a fast attack that responds to a very light touch which makes it easier to play fast and still be heard.

    But occasionally a flatter top, or one that caved, is nice too. Some guitars have a flatish or sunken top and still have gobs of volume, but it's rare. Michael B can tell you about his Favino which is like that.

    It's ultimately personal, but I think there is a very distinct and quantifiable difference in guitars with a well executed pliage. Dupont, Barault, and Holo make some of the best guitars around and they all are pros at making a canted top. After all these years the 1932 Maccaferri we have still have a perfectly canted top, and man does it sound good! :shock:

    'm
  • constantineconstantine New York✭✭✭✭ Eastman DM2/v
    Posts: 389
    In general on the LOWER price end , the endorsed guitars on this forum have higher bridges. John made a great pick that he wont regret, and have some resale value if he doesn't need the guitar someday. I would certainly agree that if you have $2,000-$20,000 to spend, there are many other factors.
  • Michael BauerMichael Bauer Chicago, ILProdigy Selmers, Busatos and more…oh my!
    Posts: 1,002
    Good point, Constantine. I haven't seen a Selmer repro with the huge pliage that mine and other late Selmers have. Most go for the flatter profile of earlier Selmer tops. I do know that Bob Holo built a great sounding copy of Selmer 863 (19 days younger than my 862). I never got to see it, so I can't say how steep the pliage was, but Michael H. had alot of time with it and could say how close he got to the original. Knowing Bob, it was probably pretty close, if not exact.

    I would add that Rodrigo Shopis to the list of those who do a proper pliage instead of a forced top.
    I've never been a guitar player, but I've played one on stage.
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