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Tailpiece, tuners and refinish questions.

FingersFingers Los Angeles, California...the ValleyNew

Hello all and hi Michael....long time no speak. Hope you are good......I hope everyone here is good too and that you are all avoiding this nasty virus.

I have a Cigano GJ-10 that I purchased from Michael in 2008. I had him do a custom setup for me which included a custom bridge and action work along with putting the leather under the tailpiece etc. The work was done by Josh, at the time, who did a very nice job. I cannot remember if a better quality tailpiece was installed. (How can I tell if it was replaced?) The guitar is still like new, having always been kept between use in my studio or in a nice tweed, hard case.....also bought from Michael.

That's my re-introduction. Here are my questions. #'s 1,2 and 3 are all about getting a better GJ tone out of the Cigano...which is not bad at all IMO. Especially at the price.

  1. Will installing a Dupont DR tailpiece....definitely have a very noticeable/good effect on the tone of my guitar? (ie justify the cost)
  2. Does the Cigano have the same tailpiece as the Saga Gitane tailpiece at the djangobooks store?
  3. How about staying with the OEM Cigano tailpiece, but replacing the plastic insert with the ebony one?
  4. Has anyone installed the Schaller Classic Deluxe tuners....any thoughts?
  5. Wood 😜 it be possible to refinish the Cigano with nitrocellulose lacquer?

This last question I asked years ago but thought to ask again. It's only something I would only do if I upgraded to a much better GJ guitar. I was just curious if the OEM finish on the Cigano, which I think is a polyurethane, will play nice with nitrocellulose lacquer. I would obviously have to do a little judicious sanding etc to prep the surfaces......I just don't know whether the OEM coating will have penetrated the surfaces enough to where it might be problematic. While I would hope it will effect the tone in a good would mainly be a visual thing for me. I like shiny acoustic guitars. 😑

I know....if it ain't broke don't fix it........just curious is all.

Thanks folks!


  • jonpowljonpowl Santa Cruz, CA✭✭✭ Dupont MD-100, Cigano GJ-10
    Posts: 598

    Being the proud owner of a 2008 Cigano GJ-10, I would suggest only replacing things that are worn or broken. It's a great guitar for traveling, loaning to friends at jams or leaving out on the stand for weeks on end, ready to play at a moment's notice. My guitar sounds pretty authentic with single note play, but a bit muddled on rhythm. Take the cash you were going to spend and buy a new Eastman DM1 ($1099) or Altamira Model M ($700). The Eastman guitars are getting a lot of good reviews and the Model M is favored by many, including Dennis Chang. Also, somebody was selling an almost new Dupont Nomade on the forum recently.

  • Lango-DjangoLango-Django Niagara-On-The-Lake, ONModerator
    edited August 23 Posts: 1,474

    OTOH, if simply putting on a new tailpiece would make your innermost self smile, I encourage you to do so.

    I can’t think it would really make that much difference in the sound, but hey, as a Tone-rite user, I’m not in any position to judge...

    Good luck! have fun!


    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."
  • Bill Da Costa WilliamsBill Da Costa Williams Barreiro, Portugal✭✭✭ Mateos
    Posts: 263

    I changed the tailpiece to a DR on my Mateos after the original (and its replacement) snapped.

    Didn't notice any change of tone.

  • Chris MartinChris Martin Shellharbour NSW Australia✭✭ Petrarca, Catelluccia, Bucolo, Martino, Hofner, Hoyer, Burns
    edited August 23 Posts: 575

    1 - Tailpiece. I doubt changing tailpieces themselves could make normally much difference but as you say yours has a plastic insert, the increased density of ebony MIGHT be worth a try. Has anyone tried that as a back to back test?

    2 - Schaller Classic Deluxe tuners are excellent quality and I have used them a on a few guitars. I like the nickel ones as they are not too shiny but they do them in chrome or gold too if you prefer. Some of my old guitars came with those original yellow button Delaruelle tuners which are rarely in usable condition now. All old tuners must wear eventually and if there is a less than perfect mesh in the gears they will be harder to keep in tune, I suspect a 12 year-old Cigano would benefit from a set.

    3 - There would be no point in refinishing the way you describe as it sounds like you want to just clean up the poly and shoot a coat of nitro over it. That will achieve nothing. Yes nitro will take over that ok as long as you use a good wax and grease remover first but what for? If, as with most modern factory made guitars the finish is a polyurethane gloss sprayed on a production line, they usually use too much rather than not enough, so the finished guitar looks gloosy and shiny in the shop. The downside is it fills the grain and the resulting hard plastic surface stops the wood breathing and thus kills some of the resonance. In some cases that may be a good thing, the resonances may not be what you want to hear, but generally yes a hand made guitar finished with just enough nitro-cellulose will sound more 'natural'. Probably the same goes for the old shellac method too. I am referring here to only refinishing the top, you would probably not notice any change if you did the back and sides too. BUT.....unless you can remove all of the poly there would be no point, the best compromise for a factory guitar finished in that way is to sand as much off as you dare back to a bare wood surface, (you will never get the rest out that has got into the grain) and then refinish with just a few coats of nitro. I did that once on an Aria and it definitely helped liven it up but that was a lot of work and it was a pretty poor guitar to start with so I had nothing to lose.

    Given all of that, as others have said it might be smarter to leave the Cigano as is and spend the difference on another guitar, but unlike others, I will not tell you what guitar that should be, that is your choice alone.

  • FingersFingers Los Angeles, California...the ValleyNew
    edited August 23 Posts: 52

    Thanks folks for the helpful answers. I think the overall consensus that I should save the expense of putzing with it and rather look to a better instrument, is wise advice. I should also immerse myself in the lessons for a while and see if it is really something I want to do. Even if I don't end up being a good GJ player.....I can still take away a whole lot of good and very useable info from studying the style in more depth than I have before.

  • crookedpinkycrookedpinky Glasgow✭✭✭✭ Alex Bishop D Hole, Altamira MF01, Godefroy Maruejouls
    Posts: 757

    If I remember ny Cigano correctly it had a very thin finish, unlike my Saga D500 which was caked in polyurethene. Frankly I wouldn't bother trying to change the finish. The Saga deluxe tiners are great and so are the Schaller Selmer Classics. As for the tailpiece I don't think that would make much difference. One tailpiece which might make a difference was made by Dutch luthier Ger Boonstra. I bought two of them and they are made from solid brass, they weigh about 3 times the weight of usual tailpieces. They have staggered posts which Ger claimed altered string tensions and response. They only accept loop end strings, I put one on my Alex Bishop and, to my ears, it does what it's claimed to. Sadly Ger passed away earlier this year. I have also bought a few tailpieces from China via ebay and they are good quality.

    always learning
  • StankeviciusStankevicius VilniusNew Stankevicius Guitar
    Posts: 12


    I've been playing quite a lot with my Gitane DG300 before I started to build guitars and I have some experience with that. Mostly all of comments here approve it

    1) Tailpiece makes no noticeable difference. I've heard many mythes about metal, weight, distance from the top etc. Aslo I've heard even some gypsy guitar builders talking about the difference in sound. I believe, that everything makes difference, guitar is very complex thing but in blind test no one will find the difference between different tailpieces.

    4) I've tried Schaller Classics deluxe, Schaller GrandTune, Schertler, Gotoh, Grover and Waverly. All of them works fine, but my favs are GrandTune.

    5) I've refinished my DG300, it has extremely thick coat (~1,5mm I guess) of PU, which is not good. I switched to French Polish (thinest possible finish) and guitar gained a lot of volume and overtones. But! More overtones = less main tone clearance, not best solution for rhythm. So certain amount of lacquer (imho) is necessary, it is working like a compression pedal, cutting some uneven frequences. Nitro lacquer in that case sounds like good thing to do, but the whole repair could cost quite a lot money.

    Some advices how to make your guitar sounding better:

    • Fretjob. Badly (not glued in) installed fret could drain a lot of tone and sustain. I've refretted many guitars and good fretjob is so important for sound and comfort
    • Bridge. I found ebony one sounds better than rosewood or any other. But that is the only matter of taste.
    Bill Da Costa Williams
  • Andrew UlleAndrew Ulle Cleveland, OH✭✭✭ Antoine DiMauro modele Django
    Posts: 502

    I have a Cigano GJ-15 whose tailpiece insert rattles a bit at certain frequencies, so I am replacing it with a Busato style. I am looking for some nickle plated tuners that will match the nickle tailpiece - Alain told me the Ciganos are drilled for a 7mm shoulder at the base of the shaft, and the Schallers are 10 mm. Drilling that out isn't easy, especially without special tools. So I am looking for a moderately priced set of nickel tuners...

  • BonesBones Moderator
    Posts: 2,947

    Andrew, you can just glue the insert to keep it from rattling. It's probably just a bit loose in the tailpiece.

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