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falkowskej jackshenry

Plenty of questions on vintage tops, Levoi, Hahl, Dupont...

Hi,
This is my first post here, but I have to say that this website is absolutely incredible and it is great to finally find a website that is a platform for great exchange.
I have several questions and, even though sme of them may be redundant with previous posts, I would really appreciate if some of you could give me their opinions/suggestions:

I have for the moment a Gitane D500 that is quite good, but I am planning on upgrading it for a very good oval-hole. My budget is 3000Euros but can be extended by a few hundreds if worth it. I went to rf Charles store in Paris and found a good Levoi from 1991 that I tried, but decided to wait..
(refer to the link: http://www.rfcharle.com/HTML/ListeA.html)

Please let me know what you think. I look for:
- a comfortable neck (I am not really into getting exactly the old style 503 that may not be the most comfortable to play...)
- A really cool look, I would be extra for a vintage look (kind of beat up). Like the finish on the AJL guitar website, under the "features>Top colour" section
- Obviously a good typic sound, balanced...
- A guitar with a name, so that it does not loose too much of its value over time (If you get a guitar from an unknow guitar maker and you pay 3500Euros, you might end u selling it after a while for half what it is really worth which is too bad)

I heard that Favino was not as good as before...Here are some guitar makers I have been hearing about:
- Hahl
- Levoi
- Dupont
- AJL
- Eimers

What do you think? Do you have any link that might be helpful? Any picture? I really like vintage looks and do not know where to look?
Any good store in the Bay Area (if possible San Francisco or Berkeley)???

Thank you very much.

N
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Comments

  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    Posts: 5,947
    Hi...there are a lot of great choices in that price range. For a traditional Selmer sound a Dupont, ALD, or AJL are good choices. For a more balanced, full bodied guitar with lots of warmth, I'd recommend a Shelley Park.

    If you like the old Favinos, the Dell Arte Hommage is a great copy of that design.

    I heard that Favino was not as good as before

    I've heard this a couple of times and I find it hard to believe. I've played countless Jacques Favinos, and own two JP Favinos. They're simply different...I think it's hard to say one is better then the other. Jacques built guitars for the post war Gypsy players. They wanted a very loud instrument with more bass response then a Selmer. Playability was less important, as the standards of playing were different. So they were usualy set up with high action and really barked. But forget about playing bebop on one...(unless you happen to be Boulou Ferre and have superhuman hands!)

    JP Favino wanted to make his own mark as a Luthier, so he took the lessons from his father to create something new. Additionally, he responded to the demands of contemporary players who were increasingly looking for guitars that could meet the demands of modern Gypsy jazz. If you've ever played any old Favinos, you'll know that you have to have fairly high action on them. They sound great, but it's a lot harder pull off the antics of Stochelo and Bireli with a Jacques Favino with a trad. set up.

    JP's guitars are more balanced, drier, and can be set up with lower action and still play and sound amazing. They sound different then the old Jacques guitars, but that is obviously intentional. If you want to sound like Matelo Ferret then a Jacques is the way to go. If you want to play modern Gypsy jazz then in most cases the JPs will serve you better.

    Of course, there are always exceptions. Some players lower the action on the Jacques models so they can play harder stuff...but I think the sound really suffers. Bireli recently recorded some tracks with and old Jacques and it sounds great. But in general, I'd say the JPs are better for more "jazzy" Gypsy jazz and the Jacques are better for more "Gypsy" Gypsy jazz.

    Good luck...I hope you find a great guitar!

    'm
  • BluesBop HarryBluesBop Harry Mexico city, MexicoVirtuoso
    Posts: 1,379
    For vintage guitars this is a great site:
    www.gypsyguitars.com
  • mmaslanmmaslan Santa Barbara, CANew
    Posts: 87
    For the vintage look, check out the Eimers modele Antique:

    http://www.eimers-guitars.nl/guitarproducts.htm
  • naguiynaguiy New
    Posts: 20
    Thanks for the feedback.
    Yes, Eimers offers serious vintage guitars, but they are too much for me. The ideal for me is the one that are on AJL website (go under features>Top finish).
    But i was disappointed when I went on the AJL's swedish authorized dealer (look again on AJL wesbite). Indeed they have a guitar that they call vintage, but I dont see any resemblance with the vintage model on AJL official website.
    I am looking for a guitar in between the traditional new finish and the total relic from Eimers. Do you know any other guitar markers that offers such instruments.
    By the way, is there a real impact on the sound from this vintage finish?

    Thanks. I really appreciate all the people that look and give me their feedback.

    N.
  • Bob HoloBob Holo Moderator
    Posts: 1,252
    In general, thinner finishes are better and harder finishes are better... worst case circumstance is a big thick polyurethane finish as on some of the factory guitars (your price range is above this) best case circumstance is French Polish.

    It sounds like look is important to you. I'll tell you this with all my best intentions and a fairly significant amount of experience... Get over that and put it behind you. Maybe the best thing you can do in picking a guitar is to forget how it looks. It's voice is so much more important. You will put your marks on the instrument over time and its wood will get darker with age naturally. It will earn its vintage look in your hands - never fear that. Respect your instrument, but play it like you mean it - all gypsies do. That seperates them from the rest of us. I've never seen a gypsy pick up an instrument timidly or play it cautiously. They respect guitars because they do not have the money to buy them often, but they also use their guitars well.

    This advice will help you find the right instrument: Listen to some records with different instrumetns and decide which ones you like the sound of. You have named instruments that sound very different.

    Duponts: Punchy, brilliant, bass-shy

    AJL: (Favino model I believe you mentioned) Percussive, smooth, balanced bass & treble

    Eimers (Antique I believe you mentioned) Hollow, crunchy, trebly

    These instruments are very different sounding. Find some recorded material that you like - then we will be in a better position to help you find the sound you want. Your price range is sufficient to get a good guitar so you'll just need to understand what you want better
    You get one chance to enjoy this day, but if you're doing it right, that's enough.
  • Craig BumgarnerCraig Bumgarner Drayden, MarylandVirtuoso Bumgarner S/N 001
    Posts: 795
    Bob Holo wrote:
    Duponts: Punchy, brilliant, bass-shy

    Does bass-shy mean weak bass?

    Craig
  • naguiynaguiy New
    Posts: 20
    I agree with you Bob, look is secondary but it appears I could have everything I want with AJL. I sent him an email with plenty of questions. He responded within 24hrs with all my answers. He seems efficient and very friendly. I cannot wait to make my decisions and do business with him, he really deserves recognition..
    By the way, your advice about listening to AJL players and Dupont players is a very good idea. But how do I know the players that play each of those guitars?
    I am interested in the 503 model from AJL, would you recommend any player?
    Thanks
  • BluesBop HarryBluesBop Harry Mexico city, MexicoVirtuoso
    Posts: 1,379
    From what I've learned, guitars, particularly handmade ones, can vary a lot from one to the next... even same brand, same wood, same model made on the the same day.

    I would invest a little extra time and money and go to where you can play them to really be able to chose the guitar that you like best (unfortunately you can't tell much about how a guitar feels or sounds from your computer screen....)
    So...If you're in Europe I'd strongly suggest you go to AJL's shop in person and try lots of his guitars and then decide.
    If you're not in Europe then I'd say wait a little more and save for a plane ticket...I know it's extreme but in my mind it'd really be worth it.

    Also, I believe AJL's vintage and aged top colours are just tinted finishes and not a simulated beat up look like the Eimers Antique, arent they?
    If so, you could get the same look from other builders as well, although I'm sure AJL guitars are fantastic.
  • Charlie AyersCharlie Ayers Salt Lake CityProdigy
    Posts: 281
    Dennis Chang plays an AJL on some cuts of his CD, but I think it's the Jazz Model. Andreas Oberg plays one, which is his own model.....
    AJL is great to deal with. The weakening US dollar is bad.

    Charlie
  • Bob HoloBob Holo Moderator
    Posts: 1,252
    Naguiy,

    I wish I knew someone who played an AJL 503 - but I don't. As a gearhead I always love playing great guitars.

    Craig,

    I'm not necessarily saying "weak bass" just more focus in the topend. Sorry - I've err'd in my descriptions of sound in the past with some chagrin. I had a brief conversation with Mathieu Chatelain (from the band Norig) about tone. We wound up having dinner when he came to Portland - really nice guy - speaks English very well - he studied at the University of Chicago for a few years. The meat of the conversation centered around tone being the primary determinant of whether your guitar will cut or not. He plays an Olivier Marin in Cedar and said it is not neccessarily the loudest guitar but it cuts very well and he loves it. Attached are some soundfiles that demonstrate how tone affects "cut":

    There are four guitars.
    1.) "Bench Copy" -- A bench copy of a Busato that I made.
    2.) "North Carolina Busato" -- a 1950 Busato
    3.) "Selmusato" -- a guitar I made to try to recreate a vintage tone with the banjo-like reverb of early gypsy guitars.
    4.) "Bob's Busato" -- A very early Busato with a lot of reverb that I own

    Note that they were all played into the same mic with the same recording volume within minutes of each other into a 1" cardiod mic with no equalization or post processing. Note that they all cut well - but if you measure their acoustic output, the last two instruments are louder than the first two (even though it doesn't really sound like it) Busato trained Favino - you can hear the similarities. Presence and the ability to cut is what enchants guys like Michael Horowitz and Josh Hegg (who owns the bench copy), and Mathieu Chatelain and Andreas Oberg and Teddy G and a lot of others whom I've 'pestered' with guitar questions over the years. Tone tone tone... it's the name of the game for so many reasons.
    You get one chance to enjoy this day, but if you're doing it right, that's enough.
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