With the average price of a vintage Selmer above 20K these days, one has to wonder what exactly people are paying for? Are the original Selmers so superior in tone and playability to anything made since that they can warrant such stratospheric prices? I think most people would agree that few guitars sound so good that they're worth that price. You're mostly paying for an increasingly rare historical artifact that has more symbolic value then anything else.
However, there still seems to be a strong sense in the Gypsy jazz community that Selmers had some magic sonic proprieties that are lacking in other guitars. I've lost count of how many luthiers claim to build guitars to "exact" Selmer specs. I've played about a dozen Selmers, and only four of them were any good. One owned by Fapy Lafertin, and two owned by the Limbergers, and one owned Nous'che Rosenberg. The others ranged from mediocre to outright terrible.
Fapy's guitar was especially nice, and I could see paying a little more for an instrument like that. But you have to keep in mind, Fapy owned over 30 Selmers in his life, sold all the mediocre ones and kept the best one.
Ted and I were talking the other day about how after Django, most Gypsies in Paris played Favinos. There were plenty of Selmers to be found in Paris throughout the 50s-80s. But the vast majority of Gypsies seemed to prefer Favinos (Matelo, Boulou, and Elios Ferret; Rafael Fays; the young Bireli Lagrene; Philippe Nedjar (not a Gypsy, but a pro), Ninine and Mondine Garcia, etc.) I know some played Selmers, but it seems to be the minority.
Why was the Selmer for the most part abandoned by Gypsies? Were they just not as good? Part of the reason is probably that Selmer type guitars in general don't hold up well over time. The Selmers probably became increasingly difficult to keep in good playing shape, and were replaced by newer guitars.
Anyway, I'd appreciate ideas any of you might have on this subject.