Update on the Dell'Arte Pigalle

I thought an update and a few words about the Dell’Arte Pigalle may be of some interest, as I have seen a couple fairly new models put up for sale. The owner of one mentioned that he just wasn’t cut out for GJ playing. There may be an issue over the action and feel prompting some to shy away from this guitar. Indeed, I struggled with mine a bit during the breaking-in process.

After finally having the opportunity to play other Selmer-style guitars at Django in June, I offer some observations. First, this is probably not the best choice for a rhythm guitar, as the tone has less bottom than many of the Gitane oval holes and certainly less than most d-hole guitars. But the mids and highs are crisp and loud, very nice for lead playing and the intonation is wonderful.

The problem, in my opinion, comes from this guitar being set up as if it were primarily a rhythm instrument. With higher action and a pronounced forward bow, chording can feel uncomfortably clunky, especially with its wider fretboard and thin neck. However, take the action down and adjust the neck and the Pigalle makes a marvelous transformation into what it was intended to be- a lead instrument. Take your strings down to just a little below 2.5 mm at the 12th fret by sanding down the bridge. Then reduce the forward bow of the neck (turning the truss rod wrench slightly clockwise until the neck has only a slight bow.) Now there is a huge difference in feel- it’s almost like another instrument. After making these adjustments a few days ago, my Pigalle feels almost like a luthier-built ax and is a joy to play. I wish I had done this sooner.

Each individual guitar has its own characteristics but, for the money, I believe the Asian-made Dell’Arte is a terrific value. Of course, I'm still completely capable of salivating over some of the Eimers, American Dell'Artes, Duponts and Bob Holo's beautiful guitar, which will inevitably, in the words of former president Jimmuh Cahter, create "lust in my heart."
"Listen to this, it speaks like a cathedral!"- Django, on the Selmer (from Michael Dregni's Django, the Life and Music of a Gypsy Legend)
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