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  • MarkA 5:23AM

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Django's first electric experience

edited October 2013 in History Posts: 3,707
I need to answer a student question as to when Django first tried out amplified guitar, whether electric or pickup on his Selmer.

I recall it was maybe 1946 but time is precious at the moment and if one of you experts could save me an hour of research I would be very grateful.
The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
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  • AhabAhab GB✭✭
    Posts: 88
    Hi Jazzaferri,

    I read here:

    http://www.paulvernonchester.com/Django_&_Stimer.htm

    that Django used a primitive dearmond pickup when he was playing with Gerard Leveque in a big band arrangement. According to Paul Vernon Chester it was late 1946, and you can see in the photo that he has some sort of mic dangling from the soundhole. Not sure if this the actual first time though.
  • I am pretty sure he tried one in the usa which would make that nov 1946 but I dont know if there was something earlier.
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • AhabAhab GB✭✭
    Posts: 88
    My bad, Paul Vernon Chester writes that those photos were taken late 1945, and he supposes that the pickup was probably given to him by on the American servicemen he'd been meeting around that time.
  • Tele295Tele295 San Buenaventura (Latcho Drom), CA✭✭✭ Gitane DG300, D500
    Posts: 629
    Jazzaferri wrote:
    I am pretty sure he tried one in the usa which would make that nov 1946 but I dont know if there was something earlier.

    Not only tried on the 1946 USA Ellington tour, but actively played the electric Gibson. I'm not sure he took "The Cassarole" back to France with him, though.

    DukeDjango46.gif

    I seem to recall reading about earlier experiments, perhaps back into 1945? The technology would have been pretty primative back then.
    Jill Martini Soiree - Gypsy Swing & Cocktail Jazz
    http://www.jillmartinisoiree.com
  • scotscot Virtuoso
    Posts: 561
    The first electric guitar in France was a Swiss-made Bale, a Gibson copy. Marcel Bianchi got this guitar in 1944 while living in Switzerland (he had escaped a POW camp) and still had it when he was repatriated in '45. I have a picture from 1945 where he's playing it with his quintet at "Le Doyen" in Paris. Bianchi and Django were friends, going back to 1938 when Bianchi was briefly a part of the quintet's rhythm section and played on two recording sessions. I have to think that Django would have gone to try it as soon as he heard about it. I don't think we could say for certain that this was the first electric guitar that Django played, but it's my best guess...

    The information about Bianchi is from a biographical article by Francois Charle in Trad magazine, 1/96.
  • Teddy DupontTeddy Dupont Deity
    Posts: 1,204
    There is no doubt that Django amplified his Selmer for some gigs in 1945 and it is highly probable he tried some form of amplification in 1944 although I cannot be definite about the exact date. It is impossible to be certain when he tried a true electric guitar but I am sure it was as soon as one appeared in Paris. He was always interested in new developments and ideas.
  • StevearenoSteveareno ✭✭✭
    edited December 2012 Posts: 349
    oops, double post, edit. I'll get the hang of these darn cornfusers one day.
    Swang on,
  • StevearenoSteveareno ✭✭✭
    edited December 2012 Posts: 349
    I wonder if he liked the fat ballsy tone of the Stimer and other early electrics, like the Gibson and Epi he played, or if he would have preferred a more natural tone like Schertlers, BigTones, clip-on mics and other modern pickups deliver thru his Selmer? He did say her preferred the Selmer on his return to France, but seemed to use the Stimer a lot (looked like an endorsement deal). I guess that's an issue most contemporary players wrestle with all the time (so many options in the modern world). I like 'em both but lean towards the natural tone...seems more romantic and fitting for "the style". I think he dug the former and really got off on the power the early electrics gave him to be able to cut thru the horn players and backing musicians after years of battling being drowned out, but over time would have swung back to a more acoustic (but louder) set up. The later Rome sessions sound good. Only a few years later and he could have played a Fender Broadcaster.
    Swang on,
  • Odd to think that the electric guitar had been around for nearly 15 years by the end of WW2

    Mostly Hawaiian steel back then both Bob Dunn Sol Hoopi recorded and gigged with electric steels in the early 30's)and but Rickenbacker came out with their first electric Spanish guitar in I think around 1933.

    The kidlets will be happy to hear all this info....Django seems to be a cool character for some of the young uns. :D
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • scotscot Virtuoso
    Posts: 561
    Interesting that you should mention the Hawaiian lap steel. Marcel Bianchi also was an expert at the lap steel and had an electric one built for him while he was in Switzerland. He was from Marseille and had learned Hawaiian music from sailors in the port. Over the decades he made many recording on the lap steel, all of which are about what you'd expect.
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