1940s Busato Modele #44

Luthier: Busato
Model: Modele #44
Year: 1940s
Serial #: None
Top: Spruce
Back and Sides: Brazilian Rosewood
Neck: Mahogany with ebony spline
Tuners: BB
Tailpiece: BB
Pickup: None
Owner: Private
Location: Italy

A guitar of this stature needs no introduction. Next to Selmers, Busatos are the most sought after guitars by today’s top players. So many contemporary Gypsy jazz guitarists play these exquisite guitars:

Romane (he plays a Busato on most of his recordings over the last 5 years)

Stochelo Rosenberg (performs with his Selmer but is an avid collector and player of Busatos)

Yayo and Fanto Reinhardt (Romane’s rhythm section get an amazing dry rhythm sound with their Busatos!)

Moreno and of course, Django himself! (see Django’s Busato here: Django’s Busato).

Django is rumored to have written the ballad Anoumanon his Busato.

So what makes a Busato so great? Generally speaking, it simply out performs other guitars in almost every way. First off, they are positively the loudest guitars ever made! I’ve compared Busatos to numerous classic Gypsy guitars such as Jacques Favinos and Selmers as well as new guitars by J.P. Favino, Dupont, ALD, and Dell Arte. A good Favino is pretty loud…but the Busato is just a cannon. A vintage Selmer is actually quite timid by comparison. The Busato has three tonal elements which really make it cut in acoustic settings. 1) It is extremely dry. It has little or no natural wetness (reverb.) This makes the guitar much more focused and is therefore much easier to hear in a loud jam setting. 2) The tone is very pure with very simple overtones. The fundamental pitch of single notes are very strong while the overtones are extremely clean and even. Very flute like in character. A Selmer sounds more complex, but is also somewhat “messier” sounding which dampens projection. 3) It responds to the slightest touch. Just barely strike the strings and you get a lightening fast bolt of sound. I really like this because you don’t have to play these guitars hard to be loud. Busatos yield an exceedingly wide frequency response. They have a crisp, bright high end which gives your leads some sparkle and adds ambiance and clarity to rhythm work. There’s not much mids, except for a slight upper midrange nasalness. But nothing like a Favino in that regard. Like a Favino, there is far more low end than a Selmer, and it’s an incredibly tight, clear low end. Not mushy or ill defined in anyway. The tight low end of a Busato mixed with it’s dry character really make it excel for rhythm playing. It’s just so clear. The high end cracks like a whip and the bass notes are like a kick in the gut. The dimensions of Busatos are fairly close to that of Favinos. Body is 16 1/4″ across the lower bout (Selmer is 15 3/4″, Favino is 16 1/2″.) Busatos are also the curviest Gypsy guitars out there. The bombé (top arch) is the most pronounced I’ve ever seen on a Selmer type guitar. It’s like a huge bubble under the bridge. The back is also beautifully arched.

Sonically this Busato is rather unique. Despite what I said about Busato’s lacking mids, this highly unusual example produces the sort of rich, complex mids one would expect from some of the finest Selmer guitars. The enhanced midrange of this guitar adds a wonderful thickness to single note lines, producing a tone similar to that of Django’s famous recordings with Selmer #503. The outstanding thing about this instrument is its ability to produce such a rich tone while still maintaining the volume and bark normally associated with its brasher Busato cousins. These qualities lead me to believe that this may be the most well balanced sounding Busato in existence. Either way, its tone, playability, and projection certainly rank it the top 1% of Gypsy guitars and it could easily take a lifetime to find another guitar that sounds as good.

This guitar has Brazilian Rosewood back and sides, a spruce top, and a three piece mahogany neck with an ebony spline in the middle. The top is actually 4 separate pieces of spruce which is very common for Busatos. So many of the “cracks” you see are actually the seams of the 4 pieces. This guitar has the original BB tuners and tailpiece. They are in the best condition I’ve ever seen.

It should be noted that there were many, many Busato models. Many of which seem to be experiments. This model, which is often referred to as the “Grand Modèle” (oval hole, 14 fret neck), is the one preferred by the pros like Stochelo, Romane, Moreno, etc. Busato’s catalog lists this model as item #44.

This guitar is currently strung with Argentine 11s and is incredibly easy to play. It plays like butter with no buzzes or other sonic problems. Action is shockingly low at 2.5mm! Very few new guitars can get that low and still sound good.

The condition of the guitar is excellent. It’s in the best condition I’ve ever seen for a Busato. Just some minor wear, scratches , and checking. The neck appears to have been reset. There are some top cracks and seams which opened up which have been surface repaired (cleats weren’t necessary.) The neck was recently replaned and the frets are new. Overall, a very good looking guitar considering it’s age.

This guitar has the original Busato label on the neck block AND the metal name plate on the headstock. Usually, Busatos have one or the other…and often nothing at all. The paper label on the neck block has the Cité Griset address and the metal plate has the Boulevard de Ménilmontant address.

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