Does anybody know?
I read here http://www.lutherie.net/is_a_mac.htm
that the oval hole model was produced as early as 1934, but I always thought Django didn't start playing one until after 1937, perhaps meaning that year's version of "Minor Swing", for example, was still played on a 12 fret D- hole...
On a picture that seems to come from the May 4th, 1936 session (Oriental shuffle, Limehouse blues, and the tunes done with Freddie Taylor on vocals) Django still appears with a D-hole.
What's the earliest know photograph of him playing the Selmer?
I just love the early Django stuff so much, and was thinking most of it might have been done on a Macaferri which would lead me to rethink my whole view of these guitars...
One thing to note is that the site you mention says that the oval hole was 1934, but it doesn't specify when the scale length changed; that would have more effect on the sound than the shape of the soundhole. I wonder too if much of the first ovals were made for the export market (specifically England)?
I'm sure someone with a copy of F.Charle's amazing book can clear it up quickly. I wish I'd ordered one when they came out!
At the October, 1937 Hague concert, he is still playing a "D" hole but at the earlier Big Apple-Chez Bricktop gig in June, 1937 he has an oval hole. After 1937, he almost exclusively played the oval hole.
Just to confuse matters, I have a photo of him at the Alhambra with Larry Adler where he is playing a "D" hole and that is claimed to be May, 1938. All other 1938 photos show him with an oval hole.
Teddy Dupont said exactly what I wanted to know.
So it is reasonably safe to assume that up until the integrale vol 5 (and maybe part of vol 6) Django was playing a D-hole.
Those are some of the best sessions to me.
There is no evidence at all that Django ever recorded with a Carbonell althought there is a photo of him jamming on Marcel Bianchi's with Steph and Coleman Hawkins in 1937.
To confuse things a bit more: Django's first oval hole was a hybrid short scale model: neck/fingerboard from D-hole-model moved to 14 frets to the body; bridge an inch closer to the soundhole to keep the scale length same as in the 12-fret models.
...and that's 1936 or -37, right? Do we know whose guitar that is? The cover of Fremeaux' Integral 7 (if I remember correctly) is from Decca studios (so it must be 1938) and Django is playing a D-hole (but whose). The hague concert (date?) pic from 1937 shows Django with a D-hole. In the film Jazz hot (1938) and in a number of pictures from that period Django plays this hybrid, new body-old neck, which I supposed to be his first of the sort.
The change to the "standard" design appears to have come with the New Quintet in 1940.
So the chronology appears to be that he tried a "modern" oval hole in mid-1937 went back to the "D" hole until early 1938, played a hybrid until 1940 whereafter he had a "standard" design oval hole!!!!! :? :? :? :?
BTW, the guitarist behind Joseph is the legendary accordionist/guitarist/artist Charley Bazin.
Marcel Bianchi played with Django in 1937. He was given three Selmers but did not like them at all, and sold them. He said in several interviews that Django particularly like the black Carbonell and may have used it on the '37 sessions. I don't know about that - if you listen to how light and swingy Bianchi and Baro sound on those '37 sessions, I think Bianchi must have used the Carbonell. There's a sound other than the Selmer sound in there. That black guitar was stolen and has never turned up. A shame...
Harry, I would say that Django is one of those rare guitarists, like Blind Blake, Gary Davis or Joseph Spence and a handful of others, who sound the same on any guitar. There is something in the touch of certain guitarists - for them the guitar just does not matter.