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Selmac vs. Electric Guitar in Gypsy Jazz

jonpowljonpowl Hercules, CA✭✭✭ Dupont MD-100, Altamira M01F
Recently, I've been enchanted by Django's haunting tune, Anouman and discovered these two examples. In this traditional, fast fingered version, Romain Vuillemin & Gustav Lundgren sound fantastic with their selmac guitars.

In this example from Samois 2015, I'm not sure what to think. Of course the playing is top notch, although Telecaster player on rhythm, seems quite busy. Romane's guitar, as unique as it is, sounds passable, but just. The Telecaster is almost like taking a "hooker to church", and the jazz box sounds like, er, uh, a jazz box.

I'm still new to Gypsy Jazz and really appreciate the sound of the selmac style guitars. To me, they are what make this music so unique. The first time I heard jazz manouche live was Gonzalo Bergara on his Marin (with his quartet), and the sound was amazing. I've heard him a couple of times since on his Holo, equally amazing. I'm guessing Gonzalo could make an inexpensive Cigano sound great. I recently saw Dorado Schmitt on an electric jazz box, and it didn't have the same magic as last year when he played a selmac. What do others think about selmac vs. jazz box in gypsy jazz?



  • Jeff MooreJeff Moore Minneapolis✭✭✭✭ Lebreton 2
    edited January 2016 Posts: 476
    I'm with you - prefer the acoustic sound. There could be many reasons why a player would pick up an electric though. it's a lot easier to amplify properly, and maybe it just doesn't matter to that player. If your playing into a busy crowd or a huge space it might be the only way to be heard clearly without a expensive and large sound system.
    "We need a radical redistribution of wealth and power" MLK
  • Bill Da Costa WilliamsBill Da Costa Williams Barreiro, Portugal✭✭✭ Mateos
    Posts: 402
    I'd agree also, John. The first duo really does capture what I love about the acoustic sound of these guitars.
  • Andrew UlleAndrew Ulle Cleveland, OH✭✭✭ Antoine DiMauro modele Django
    edited January 2016 Posts: 507
    I'd never liked guitar jazz until I heard Gypsy Jazz. The acoustic tone and style made all the difference to me personally. The compressed sound of electrified guitar leaves me cold, and although I understand mastering the style on acoustic is more challenging than on electric, I don't feel it's worth the trade off. I would prefer a less-virtuosoistic (is that even a word?) player on a selmac over a technically better player on electric. Just my two cents. [Disclaimer: I'm a 35 year veteran R&R rhythm guitarist. The only jazz I liked before was piano-based, e.g. Vince Guaraldi, Fats Waller, Oscar Peterson, etc.]
  • woodamandwoodamand Portland, OR✭✭✭ 2015 JWC Favino replica
    Posts: 226
    Archtops sound great to me for most any kind of jazz, but manouche guitars are the best for gypsy jazz. If you have never heard any great unamplifed archtop players like Eddie Lang - well it might just open up some new avenues of music to explore.
  • ScoredogScoredog Santa Barbara, Ca✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 720
    I like both, while i love the sound of gypsy guitars I find the musicality excellent on both vids and when that happens I don't have a preference, i try to appreciate them for what they are and not what they are not.
  • Plus 1 @Scoredog
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • StringswingerStringswinger Santa Cruz and San Francisco, CA✭✭✭✭ 1993 Dupont MD-20, Shelley Park Encore
    Posts: 440
    Plus 2 @Scoredog
    "When the chord changes, you should change" Joe Pass
  • I've always loved Jazz but mainly hornstufff, never likng much jazz guitar, excepting Charlie Christian, Freddie Green, Western Swing stuff. I appreciate electric jazz so much more after listening to and playing GJ. Doesn't have to be either or. I played 2 gigs with Amos Hoffman, and it was inspiring and amazing! I pomped and sang GJ while he went wild, playing his normal stuff. It was great!
  • fourowlsfourowls Brisbane, Queensland, AustraliaNew Petrarca Grande Bouche
    Posts: 72
    LOL..."Telecaster is like taking a hooker to church"...well she probably needs to go! LOL..I have a stunning blue G & L tele with pearloid scratchplate that I love to look at, sounds stunning but I can't get past the clean pure acoustic tone!!! Electric leaves me feeling musically sterile too!
  • bohemewarblerbohemewarbler St. Louis, MO✭✭✭✭ Jordan Wencek No.16, Altamira M01
    Posts: 218
    When I go to hear Gypsy Jazz live and, without warning, the guitarist has chosen to perform with his electric archtop instead of his selmac, I'm a bit disappointed. Something is lost in translation. Same thing goes when the selmac is amplified in such a way that it sounds electric. Like some of the other posters, it wasn't until I heard the acoustic guitar sounds of Gypsy Jazz that I really appreciated the sound of jazz guitar. Although, I would understand if one started off in jazz guitar or played in jazz ensembles before entering the Gypsy Jazz world, there might be a different take on it.
    jonpowlAndrew Ulle
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