Worth buying a guitar online?

andruandru New
edited January 2020 in Classifieds Posts: 3

Hi all,

I’m on the lookout for a Gitane or Altamira for sale around Asheville, NC or nearby area (east tn, SC). Ideally petite Bouche with 14 frets or more but interested to try a variety. Anyone have any leads on places to check out or personal connections? Thanks!



  • andruandru New
    edited January 2020 Posts: 3

    My preference, of course, is to play a guitar before purchase, but given their relative rarity in the region, could viewers of this comment share their experience with online purchases? Worth a shot per price value? Not?

    Have you ever received a GJ guitar from a manufacturer you were displeased with?

    Common problems/things to be aware of when received from either distributor or from independent online seller?

    Positive reviews from either? Recommended platform?


  • find a reputable dealer (like the website here) and make sure a luthier in your area is capable of setting it up well.

  • stuologystuology New
    Posts: 196

    Sign up for Django in June, there are plenty of guitars for sale there

  • Lango-DjangoLango-Django Niagara-On-The-Lake, ONModerator
    edited January 2020 Posts: 1,852

    Andru, what kind of price were you thinking of paying?

    This is actually a golden age for cheap Asian knockoffs. My first such guitar cost $350 Canadian. i don’t play it very often but I still have it in a closet somewhere; it has the lowest action of any guitar I’ve ever owned, and no buzzes! Sounds pretty nice, too, according to virtuoso Stephane Wrembel, who once borrowed it at Django In June to teach an impromptu workshop.

    But this is also a golden age for handmade beauties in the $2000-$5000 range, and there are lots of them on offer at this very website.

    I bought a beautiful new blonde 2013 Castellucia F-hole here; it was exactly as advertised and still a delight to me every time I play it. I can’t speak for the experiences of other customers, but it is my impression that the prices here are reasonable and Michael stands behind his guitars quality-wise, so you can buy from him with confidence.

    A lot of members post ads here selling their own guitars and these also seem pretty fairly priced, but obviously it’s impossible to know their quality on an individual basis... but the good news is, I have never read a complaint by a dissatisfied buyer, so I must assume the majority are satisfied.

    The other good news about gypsy guitars is that they are usually owned by players, not collectors (unlike archtops!) so prices tend to be pretty reasonable on the whole...

    Good luck!


    andruBucoMichaelHorowitzBillDaCostaWilliamsMehran smac63000JHAnchors
    Paul Cezanne: "I could paint for a thousand years without stopping and I would still feel as though I knew nothing."

    Edgar Degas: "Only when he no longer knows what he is doing does the painter do good things.... To draw, you must close your eyes and sing."

    Georges Braque: "In art there is only one thing that counts: the bit that can’t be explained."
  • Russell LetsonRussell Letson Prodigy
    Posts: 355

    It's not unlike buying footwear on line--if you have a standard size/shape foot, it can be managed, especially if the seller has a decent return policy (and you're willing to accept the costs of a return). But guitars, like shoes and boots, are not easily standardized, and even reliable brands can vary enough to render a particular example not-quite-comfy.

    I have very rarely bought guitars on line, and twice in 30 years I've had to return instruments that turned out to be not exactly what I'd hoped. I bore the non-trivial return shipping cost and the chagrin of inconveniencing the dealers (who were nevertheless absolutely nice about it--the return process was part of the deal and we both knew it). But that was better than the chagrin of keeping a multi-thousand-dollar instrument that was not exactly what I needed.

    I've had better luck with boots--but I've been just as cautious with them, and in both cases I much prefer try-before-you-buy.

  • andruandru New
    Posts: 3

    Thank you Will! Very helpful reflection.

    I’m looking in the $500-$1000 range, replacing (or trading in) my former electric gear.

    I played a Jon Jorgenson model gitane ($1200) recently that unfortunately didn’t measure up to a $600 gitane of a friend, likely per old strings and the temperature/humidity of the location. It makes me nervous to buy something without putting my hands on it first, although it could be that a new set of strings and a set up would have made the difference.

    Your insight is much appreciated!

  • Posts: 4,713

    Jorgenson is a good guitar but nowadays the mass manufacturers have gotten much better at voicing the instruments at much lower price point. You might run into a good example and cheap Jorgenson or similar so there's always that. But at that price point lower end Altamira or Eastman is a safe bet. With Michael here you would be out some $ returning a guitar (he clearly spells out his return policy) but the good news is that he's very straight forward and detailed at describing the instruments and if you call him directly he will steer you right. Plus (I didn't go to check...) he was recently offering a free setup included in the price of lower end Altamiras.

    MichaelHorowitzandruMehran s
    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    Posts: 6,146

    @andru I know it can be a little nerve-racking buying siteunseen, but due to the extreme rarity of Gypsy guitars most people in this style buy online. The good news is that in the sub $1000K range the decision is largely made for you as there are only really two guitars that are ubiquitously excepted as meeting pro standards:

    There are some other models from those manufacturers, but those are they two best and you can't really go wrong with either.



    andruBillDaCostaWilliamsMehran sJHAnchorsJosechiky
  • ChrisMartinChrisMartin Shellharbour NSW Australia✭✭ Di Mauro x2, Petrarca, Genovesi, Burns, Kremona Zornitsa & Paul Beuscher resonator.
    Posts: 959

    Of course it is always better to try if you can - Russell's shoe analogy above is spot on - but where that is not possible then it makes sense to hedge your bets and play safe with a reputable dealer who has a good track record online and stocks both of the two most popular models in that price range. I had an Altamira (great) and have never tried an Eastman but that does not matter, same as all of those who say "what about...." and go on to name their fave models from Cigano/Gitane/Gallato etc, all an unnecessary distraction if you are not able to try them.

    I do not follow my own advice and have bought many guitars unseen, with a curiosity for the older French models I have taken a few chances buying from Europe, but I have always been lucky so never had any real disasters. I do not recommend that unless, like me you have more money than common sense as I normally lose out when it is time to move one along. It also helps to have a basic ability to know how to make minor adjustments, change out bridges or tuners and general setup knowledge.

    One other thing to consider would be the basic dimensions. For people coming to Gypsy Jazz from learning on the normal Gibson/Fender/Martin type guitars these necks can feel a bit bigger and harder to get around; Even the two Michael mentions above have a scale length of 670mm which might take some getting used to, but I seem to remember the Jorgensen Gitanes have one of the longest scale lengths, around 680mm so that may have contributed to your discomfort, just a point to also consider.

    So yes, buying the Altamira or Eastman from this online shop is probably a safe bet, and unless you have a reason to prefer one over the other, or prefer the look of either maybe you can shoot Michael a line explaining if you have any specific preferences or requirements to see if he can recommend either one.

  • jonpowljonpowl Hercules, CA✭✭✭ Dupont MD-100, Altamira M01F
    Posts: 704

    I've heard that Gypsy Jazz is alive and well in Asheville. I have had reasonable success buying guitars on line. I bought my Cigano from a french guy in Missouri or Arkansas in a Craigslist ad. It was hit or miss whether I would ever see it, but it showed up somewhat poorly packed, and in great shape. I prefer the Cigano GJ-10 to a Gitane DG-245 and Paris Swing GG-39 that I used to own. If I was you, I would probably buy an Eastman from Michael as the quality control seems pretty good at Eastman. Altamira might work, too. I did notice that while it is a bit of a drive, there are a couple of AJL guitars at Gruhn Guitars in Nashville.

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