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Budget Vintage Guitars

MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
The old french guitar discussion got me thinking about some of the less celebrated vintage makers. Way back in the Gypsy Jazz dark ages (early 80s) you could actually buy an original Selmer for a couple thousand dollars. And Favinos were just affordable working mans guitars. But that has all changed....most Selmers are now in the hands of collectors. Favinos and Busatos are rapidly following suite.

For those of you who have had the chance to play a lot of the older vintage French guitars, it would be nice if you could share some of your experiences. I think those looking for vintage Gypsy guitars are mostly steered in the direction of the classic makers: Selmer, Busato, and Favino. But there must be a few less celebrated gems out there.

I can share one discovery of my own. When I was living in Amsterdam I took lessons, and eventually rented a room from [url=]Reinier Voet of Pigalle 44[/url]. His main guitar was a wonderful Jacques Favino. But his first Gypsy guitar was an Antoine di Mauro. He kept it in his practice studio, which was right below the room I rented. So I got to play it a lot. It was a fantastic guitar...had a great Gypsy sound. The "good, cheap sound" as I like to call it. And this guitar turned out to have some history. He lent it to Jimmy Rosenberg for a number of recordings. You can hear Jimmy playing it on this CD:

You can actually see Jimmy holding it in one of the liner note photos as well.

If you look at some of the recently sold di Mauros on, you'll see this classic sound can be had at fairly reasonable price:

di Mauro, Antoine (View
images of these instruments

  • 1940's di Mauro, Antoine 13 fret oval hole #no serial ($2500.00) SOLD
  • 1950's di Mauro, Antoine 12 fret D hole #no serial ($2000.00) SOLD
  • 1950's di Mauro, Antoine Chorus 14 fet F hole #no serial
    ($3000.00) SOLD
  • 1978 di Mauro, Antoine 'Chorus' Jazz #3 ($2650.00) SOLD
  • 1993 di Mauro, Antoine Jazz #2PM ($2000.00) SOLD
  • 50's di Mauro, Antoine 14 fret oval hole #no serial ($2000.00) SOLD

To be fair, I've only really ever played one, maybe two di Mauros. But I can say that Reinier's rivals a lot of the vintage Favinos, Busatos, and Selmers out there. I'm sure there's plenty of bad ones, but it's good to know there are a few nice ones as well.

Another more recent unsung hero I'd like to mention is Anastasio. A student of mine actually owns the Anastasio that Angelo Debarre played on this recording:

It's a great Selmer style guitar...and again the prices for these are very reasonable:

Anastasio (View
images of these instruments

  • 1977 Anastasio 14 Fret Oval hole #561 (duplicate number) ($0.00) SOLD
  • 1982 Anastasio Oval Hole 14 Fret #216 ($2000.00) SOLD
  • 1985 Anastasio Oval hole #56 ($2500.00) SOLD
  • 1986 Anastasio 14 fret oval hole #60 ($2600.00) SOLD
  • 1986 Anastasio Oval Hole #95 ($2800.00) SOLD
  • 1987 Anastasio 14fret D hole #76 ($2500.00) SOLD
  • 1989 Anastasio 14 fret Oval hole #104D ($2600.00) SOLD
  • 1990 Anastasio Grande Bouche #132 ($2600.00) SOLD
  • 1990 Anastasio 14 Fret D hole #194 D ($2750.00) SOLD
  • 1991 Anastasio 14 fret D hole #224D ($2800.00) SOLD

Again, I've only played one Anastasio. But it was good enough to make me want to try a few more. It's funny, the owner didn't even tell me that it had been Angelo's. I played a few notes on it, and it immediately starting thinking of Angelo Gypsy Guitars CD. Has a real signature sound...

The last maker I'd like to mention is Gerome. I don't have much to say other then that when I listen to Yorgui Loeffler, I really dig the sound of his guitar. It's a different aesthetic the Selmers or Favinos. Sounds like you can set them up with fairly low tension and really slap the strings. That can sound crummy on other guitars...but seems to work on the Gerome. And these seem to be mostly undiscovered by collectors.

But I've never played one. Much of the sound is probably just Yorgui's monster technique!


  • ElliotElliot Madison, WisconsinNew
    Posts: 551
    The Tchan Tchou Vidal CD La Gitane describes him as playing a DiMauro for the session. Very interesting sound, 'plinky' like a toy piano.
  • nwilkinsnwilkins New
    Posts: 431
    The DiMauros and Anastasios I've played have all had a great classic Selmer tone. If I was looking for that tone (as opposed to a Favino type tone) I would probably go with one of those two makers rather than getting a new guitar.
  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    Posts: 5,955
    Elliot wrote:
    The Tchan Tchou Vidal CD La Gitane describes him as playing a DiMauro for the session. Very interesting sound, 'plinky' like a toy piano.

    Actually, that plinky sound has more to do with the preferred aesthetic of the Southern players. Bousquet, Tchan Tchou, and their living heir, Moreno, all have that sound no matter what they play (Tchan Tchou also played a Favino.) I think they get that banjo like sound by setting the guitar with extremely high action and then playing it hard as hell.

  • aa New York City✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 800
    i think it has a lot to do with using a big thick pick.
    Learn how to play Gypsy guitar:
  • ChubbyChubby Midwest, USANew
    Posts: 19
    A friend and bandmate of mine has a early forties, we think, Bussato. This is one hell of a guitar. Has the sound and the look, makes you wonder about where this guitar has been and who has owned and played it. This guitar has a big fat neck, which you can't get any more, but this neck is not wide and this makes it comfortable to play. Compared to some new guitars like Dunns and Mateos it has a ringing very deep tone. Sometimes it rings like a piano! This guitar is a treat to play but is very sensitive to weather conditions and the action height will change without notice. I have never played a Selmer but would like to compare one with this Bussato to see how it stacks up.
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