I recently bought a manouche jazz model oval hole from Robert at manouche guitars in new mexico. He asked me to write a review on the guitar and I have agreed to do so.
I've had the guitar for a little over a month now and can say that I'm quite pleased with it. I think its a very responsive and fun guitar to play. I should mention that although I have been playing guitar for about 16 years I only started learning gypsy jazz about six months ago and my experience with these types of guitars is fairly limited. I have played a manouche orchestre (12 fret D hole model) a few dell artes in the 2,000-3,000 range and a D-500 which I have since realized had the wrong type of strings on it.
The manouche oval hole projects very well and is louder than the other gypsy guitars I have played. The intonation is solid up the neck and the instrument remains in tune for long periods of time. When compared to the orchestre model, I would say that the jazz has a somewhat colder,harsher tone but I saw this as a positve quality for this style of music. As I've continued to play the guitar I'm finding that the tone is improving and warming just a bit. I'm not sure if that's because the instrument is opening up or because my playing is improving. I also chose the jazz model over the orchestre because I found the neck and 14 frets free of the body to be more comfortable.
When I got this guitar i was also considering the Gitane 300 model. Ultimately I went with the manouche because I was able to play it before buying it and I thought it rocked. It would be interesting to compare this guitar both with a fixed up gitane and a luthier made guitar at some point. I should also mention that Robert at manouche guitars seems very dedicated to providing good service and I got the strong impression that if there was a problem with the guitar he would find a way to fix it.
If anyone has any more questions about the guitar let me know. When I was I was looking into which guitar to get I got some helpful advice from Michael Bauer( Hope I spelled your name correctly) but there wasn't a ton of information out there about Manouche guitars.