Gypsy guitar The Secrets book and CD

edited January 2007 in Gypsy Picking Posts: 3
Hi, I'm just new here and pretty new to gypsy guitar although I've been dabbling for just over a year ( but playing guitar for around 25 years). I have the "Gypsy Guitar The Secrets' book and CD by Angelo Debarre, Sammy Daussat and Denis Roux, which covers the gypsy pumping method and soloing techniques. It also has 4 play-along gypsy tunes. I have found the solo parts quite hard to replicate to anywhere near the standard of Angelo Debarre (which is understandable) but I have practiced and practiced, sometimes up to 5 hours at a time to get that feel he seems to get especially some of his vibrato which is very subtle but so effective. I only have a normal acoustic with no cutaway, so playing below the twelfth fret is difficult and I realise that a lot of the gypsy sound is created with a proper gypsy guitar. Anyway to cut a long story short is it possible to get anywhere near this sound if your'e say just an average blues guitar player or do you have to have what seems like almost effortless gifted talent that these masters have. Also if anyone has been using this book I would be interested to know what you think, thanks. Great forum by the way.


  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    Posts: 6,154
    Hi...there's no doubt that playing this style requires a lot of hard practice. To obtain the sound and phrasing of Gypsy players requires a tremendous amount of technique. The instrument itself is only secondary...nice to have a Selmer type guitar but anything with a decent set up will work. When I was first learning in the 90s it was impossible to find Selmer type guitars in the US. I learned on a nylon string, an archtop, and a flat top.

    Anyway, are you using the rest stroke picking technique? that will help you more then anything...the right hand really makes all the difference.

    Good luck!

  • JackJack western Massachusetts✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 1,752
    My two cents is that the Secrets book is a great one...putting the instruction in the context of playing tunes really helps things click, I think. When I got it, only the French version was available (I don't read French), but it was so intuitive that it was a great help in learning the technique.

    Keep at it! I wouldn't get too hung up on trying to emulate Angelo right out of the box-it's a recipe for disappointment! Take the foundations of what he's doing, by all means, and understand how he's using the tools described in the book, but trying to match his playing right out of the box is a fool's errand.

  • tommasotommaso ROMA-ITALYNew
    Posts: 149
    hi GjangoGjunki,
    I think that my opinion could be useful for you since I started to study Gypsy Jazz Guitar on february 2006. So I am relatively new to the genre, although, like you, I have been playing guitar for several years before. Well, in my experience I can tell that the most important thing is the right hand picking. Since I have learned the rest-stroke (by use of Gypsy Picking book by M.Horowitz) all the other elements of the genre have become easier to execute and my playing is greatly improved . Also I have studied the tecnique on the 1st Secret book and three pieces of the second book, and, IMO, these books are very good and accurate, but the one that I strongly recommend is Getting Into Gypsy Jazz Guitar by S.Wrembel. This book gives you the basic tools to play guitar in the style.
    In conclusion, from my own experience (of course I am still studying and I will go on and on) I have find extremely useful these books:
    Gypsy Picking,
    Getting Into Gypsy Jazz Guitar,
    Gypsy Fire (Andreas Oberg).

    Good job,
    P.S.I also started using a non gypsy guitar, but soon moved to a gypsy one(cheap) and my playing has improved. Now, as my playing has got better I have changed again and I use a better one (dg310) and it helps!My dream is to learn to the point that I am authorized to buy and play a Dupont (or even a Favino...)! :D
    Grazie Django!
  • BluesBop HarryBluesBop Harry Mexico city, MexicoVirtuoso
    Posts: 1,379
    I agree, Angelo`s solos on that book are really hard!, It would require a pro`s technique to play the tougher solos along with the CD. You can learn them anyway and play slower.
    For books I`d recommend Gypsy Picking to start (it is likely to help your blues playing too!), once you`ve got that going move on to Unaccompanied Django, Gypsy Fire and the Secrets book.
    As for guitars I think a Gitane would be the choice, as soon as you can get one. I have a DG-250 and my father a D-500 and I love them both. You can certainly play on any acoustic but it is cool to have something that's closer to the real thing. By the way Michael has a great deal on Gitanes at the site`s store, it`s far cheaper than what I payed for mine.
    I wish you good luck!
  • Bill McNeillBill McNeill Seattle, Washington, USANew
    Posts: 70
    I'm pretty much a beginner, having been at this style for a little over a year.

    Mostly, I'd echo what everyone else has said. A Selmac clone guitar is something you'd eventually want, but not essential when you're first starting off. Get Gypsy Picking from this website and use it to learn the right-hand technique. It takes about six months to get the hang of it, and you may experience an awkward "I can't play guitar" phase in there as you adjust to the new style, but it's well worth the effort.

    Another thing to do is practice rhythm. Look elsewhere on this site for tips on la pompe rhythm technique, and use it to practice genre standards. I found the Greg Ruby play-along book (also available on this site) useful here.
    Work on being able to play the rhythm part to "Minor Swing", say, using a metronome. This isn't hard (though not trivial), and provides a stepping stone into the sound.

    Though amazing technique is definitely a part gypsy jazz, the style isn't all about being a virtuoso. It's also about playing the most basic rhythm and lead parts with a certain feel. As a beginner you can work on getting that feel long before you're to the point of emulating A. Debarre, assuming you ever get there. That's what I've been doing anyway.
  • Michael BauerMichael Bauer Chicago, ILProdigy Selmers, Busatos and more…oh my!
    Posts: 1,002
    I started playing this stuff on a Gibson Les Paul before I even knew anyone made Selmer clones. I didn't even know if anyone else played Django's stuff, I just happened to dust off an old album from my college days and knew I had to try to play this music. When I found the Gitane's in New York, I snatched up a D-500 and a DG-300 and thought I was in heaven. I found "Gypsy Jazz: the Secrets" on the same trip to NYC. It's all I knew of at the time, and I put hours in trying to play like Angelo. I think the book is of little use to a beginner. I agree with Tommaso and some of the others. The first book you need is "Gypsy Picking" and : Wrembel's book should be second, as soon as you get comfortable with the picking. Those two have all the building blocks you need to have a solid foundation. I don't know where you live, but if you are ever in New York, you should contact Stephane; he is an incredible teacher. Wherever you are, try to find someone who really knows this music and can act as your guide. It makes all the difference.

    I think the Robin Nolan books are great as well, especially for learning rhythm, and they have nice backing tracks to practice soloing. I think Andreas Oberg's "Gypsy Fire" fits in as you get some of the basics of Michael's and Stephane's books down. The solos are graduated and I think easier to come to grips with than Angelo's are. Andreas and Michael did a first rate job with this. After that, start stealing licks from Django!!!

    Having a Gitane or other Selmer clone helps, because the sound is right, plus they only really sound great if you get the gypsy picking style down, so they force you to improve your picking! Plus, you just feel right with a Selmer knockoff in your hands. They have the mojo! Michael does have great prices, plus there are always used ones around. Oh yeah, you'll want to get a Wegen or other gypsy pick when you can. But get the right books and a good teacher first. The right guitars can be acquired anytime.
    I've never been a guitar player, but I've played one on stage.
  • Thanks everyone for the helpful advice, I can see that there are some very good instructional books here of which I will be acquiring in the very near future. As I say I've just been dabbling on and off and yes I have had many occasions when I would like to see if my guitar can fly when I chuck it out the window, but something keeps drawing me back to this music, I hear it used in ads on TV, and as incidental music on all kinds of programs and it just grabs me everytime, it's bewitching and very addictive. Believe it or not I also play bluegrass banjo, the very fast Earl Scruggs stuff, but this has taken a back seat because of this gypsy jazz getting me by the throat. I will persevere and see where it takes me, unfortunatley I live in the north of England and I don't think there will be any teachers of this kind of music near me, so it's gonna be a long haul, but hopefully worth it. GJGJ
  • tommasotommaso ROMA-ITALYNew
    Posts: 149
    Hi, this is not a review, but only some my opinions on the book.
    Another book that I want to suggest is L’esprit manouche by Romane/Sebastien.
    This is an excellent method for the study of the GJ guitar, but I suggest to start with it only after have learned the basics of the genre(see Wrembel and Horowitz books).
    The main characteristic of this book is that it presents the concepts, used in GJ, in a real context. Things like arpeggios, diminished arps, use of minor harmonic scale etc., that are some corner stones in the genre, are extracted directly from real pieces, then they are decomposed, analysed and given to you to be used as exercises, but they are real pieces of music, not mere exercises. So you can immediately perceive how they function in the real context and learn to use them in your music.
    I have noticed a big difference in the formulation of this method regarding to the other methods : instead of presenting a series of lessons treating the various subjects , with their exercises, explanations etc., it leads you in a sort of natural path where it “happens” to be exposed to the elements of this wonderful music (of course all the explanations are given).
    In conclusion, IMO, this method has the great quality to try to reproduce, for how much is possible, the natural process of learning, that is also (but not only) based on imitating. Great job of that great musician that is Romane!
    Grazie Django!
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