Coming back after long away; cheap, save to Luthier, or $1K-1.5K, stay awhile....or long while?

Hello all,

Just coming back after many years away, with some significant medical issues that were the reason for my leaving initially having progressed. Just to say, it's more challenging now than before.

I'm sorry for what may be the millionth thread on this, but I don't know if I've seen quite this question, so here goes.

Looking for a GJ guitar again because playing my son's dreadnought is, well, his, and he can kick my butt, anymore.

Last time, I think, after playing on my existing dreadnought for a bit I jumped in on a DG-300 pretty quickly as I got a fantastic deal on E-Bay. Stayed with that a year or two then jumped in with a Shopis, which I still miss like hell.

I'm tempted to stay away from the Cigano's, even if just getting wet again, and considering the $1000 range for a Gitane or Altamira, etc. I'm still hopeful of earning the right to play a Shopis again (also love Mazauds, or who knows - but dream of it, however it pans out).

I can't even remember what the 300 was like, except it was loud, and fairly dry. Jam mates were complimentary, but not sure if they were just being nice.

I've had no experience with the Cigano line. I don't know what the market is any longer, but I'm seeing $650 for the CG15. Is that in market range? I can get a DG-300 for $800, shipped, too. But having done some more reading here, considering others in the general area - Altamira, or Manouche (by what I've seen recommended - but wondering - is Manouche out of business?).

So, long winded way of asking for some advice for a guy who used to play, was progressing, but has a lousy memory and muscle memory may or may not be stodgy too as I pick it up.

Would you:

-advise, get a cheap starter that at least has some of the feel of a GJ guitar and sound (although I think someone in my jam group may have had a Cigano at one point - if so, I remember it sounded surprisingly dry and light, but the neck was, for me, way too small. I liked the fatness of the 300). So, get this entry level and play, and save, and acquire the guitar I can truly love, later? or

-or, something in this mid-range I have almost no real comparative knowledge to work with. Heard good and bad about the D-500, some negative comments on the JJ 300, and don't know the makes otherwise, hovering from 1$K to a more serious Dell Arte; Presume a better resale value, sell the instrument, and get that luthier guitar. I think this is what I did when I sold my JJ to buy the Shopis.

Probably clear as mud. Any guidance to a new-old guy, very much appreciated.


pas encore, j'erre toujours.


  • JSantaJSanta NY✭✭✭ Gaffiero
    Posts: 228

    Hi Paul,

    I recently purchased an Eastman DM1 to get back into this style of music, and I am very happy with it. The typical Eastman quality, and a great tone, all for well under a grand. It does have a nice sized neck, but the D shape might be a turn-off for some players. I'm honestly less concerned with things like that, and have really enjoyed the guitar. As a frame of reference, I did have an Altamira M01 years back, and I feel like the Eastman is a better built and sounding guitar. It's also drier and louder. Loud to the point that my wife has asked me not to play it during the day between meetings.

    Eastman makes great guitars (I have three of them), and I would not hesitate to suggest them to you as well. I am planning on purchasing a Bumgarner guitar in the future, but I will keep the Eastman, no question about it.

  • jonpowljonpowl Hercules, CA✭✭✭ Dupont MD-100, Altamira M01F
    Posts: 683

    I'll second the recommendation for Eastman GJ guitars. For around $1000, it would be hard to find a better value. I believe they come with a nice lightweight foam case. The Altamira Model M is also a very nice budget guitar at around $700. The only thing that bothered me about the Model M was the lack of binding on the nice maple back. It appears that the guitar doesn't include a case.

    As far as Ciganos go, they can be decent if you find a good one. I probably play mine more than my Dupont, but it is usually on the stand, while the Dupont lives safely in the case. My Cigano GJ-10 is a much better guitar than the Gitane DG-255 or Paris Swing GG-39 that I use to own.

  • JSantaJSanta NY✭✭✭ Gaffiero
    Posts: 228

    They do come with a nice soft foam case. Though considering that they ship even less expensive flat tops and other guitars with a HSC, this is one thing that I wasn't thrilled about. Again, for the price, they are just monster guitars and I think that GJ players of any level would be quite happy to have one.

  • edited April 2020 Posts: 4,170

    For the cheapest models I'd only buy used and only if I play and like it. Buying used at the good price and you can probably get your money back when you're ready to move on. Buying new and you're losing money. People do it all the time, losing money on reselling a guitar but to me it's a very hard bite to swallow. I buy guitars as keepers but have bought cheap interim guitars to get me by until I get what I really want and usually break even on them.

    Eastman and Altamira are a good bet and could as well be keepers. The common word is Eastman is well set up from the factory and Altamira is not. But I think Michael is offering a free set up with Altamira purchase, at least he was...

    As for luthier built, you'll know how you feel soon enough. Like I said I don't change guitars, when I find something I like then I buy it and it's a keeper. It may or may not be handmade luthier built. Years ago I tried a nylon classical guitar at the store and was floored with it's sound and feel and then almost literally floored when I heard it's a $400 mass made guitar, I wish I didn't pass...

    There's so much to choose from in the handmade world today, so much. I still think there's no better deal in handmade GJ guitar than Risto Ivanovski. 1700 Euro (or $2000), shipping included. Hand made, solid wood, choice of several wood combinations, custom options at no upcharge. And he knows how to build them, solid and sound great. Yes I'm biased, we're former countrymen and he's a very nice person and I'd like him to do well. Eventually I'll ask him to build me another one.

    It's a fun question to ponder...

    Good luck deciding!

    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • PassacagliaPassacaglia Madison, WI✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 1,471

    Guys, I wanted to say thank you. I'm really grateful for all the comments, which have given me a lot to chew on and very helpful in deciding playing now, with an eventual hope of playing worthy of a luthier's guitar.

    Very kind, you all. Stay safe and well, and have a good weekend.


    pas encore, j'erre toujours.
  • vanmalmsteenvanmalmsteen Diamond Springs ,CANew Latch Drom F, Eastman DM2v, Altamira m30d , Altimira Mod M
    Posts: 333

    I have three different Altamira, Mod M, 01F and M30D antique. As you go up in price with them, they definitely get more sophisticated sounding. Wish I could comment on the Eastman.

    The best playing of the three is definitely my humble Mod M. For the money I don’t think it can be beat

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