Jazz archtop guitar to play gipsy jazz/manouche?

Hi all, my first post.
I have been trying to teach myself Manouche/GJ style for about a year, after buying Romane's very good book. It's not an easy task, even though I have been playing guitar (as an amateur) for 30 years. The different picking/strumming/fingering/soloing involved with Manouche style means re-learning things.

Someone locally was selling a Dupont MD-50 which I felt may further motivate me to learn and play manouche style guitar. Unfortunately, he seems to have changed his mind and decided to keep it, and I didn't have a chance to try it out.

I presently own several fine guitars, acoustic and electric. What I had been using to learn Manouche was a very good Ibanez archtop jazz guitar (like the Ibanez George Benson model). I have noticed in looking at youtube that some great Manouche players favour using an archtop jazz guitar as opposed to the more traditional Selmer or Macaffari acoustic guitar.

Are there any advantages you can suggest that would make me want to invest in a Selmer type guitar to learn Manouche? As I said, I already own several very nice guitars, and hesitate on investing in another one, but if it will motivate me to learn more Manouche, and give me much greater pleasure in playing that style of music, then I may give it a try.

I assume a Manouche guitar (Selmer for ex) would not be suitable to play other styles of music?

Looking forward to your thoughts.


  • pinkgarypinkgary ✭✭✭
    Posts: 282
    I think you already know the answer to this...

    "but if it will motivate me to learn more Manouche, and give me much greater pleasure in playing that style of music,"

    If you already own several nice guitars, you own several for a reason. That reason being they all do ONE job exceedingly well, hence needing more than one guitar. The more expensive guitars get the more of a niche they fulfil, the more you need. Oh, it's terrible!!!

    So if you are asking just to try and get someone to say, yes, buy another guitar, you came to the right place.

    Go and try one somewhere, & make sure it's hand-built, 'cos if you already own high quality instruments, you will know the difference. An MD-50 would have been a great place to start... But there are lots of luthiers, and lots of opinions on here about which to choose. So dig deep into the forum, & try some out.
  • rstl99rstl99 CanadaNew
    Posts: 11
    Thanks for the response and advice.
    Yeah, I kind of figured that a response might be "get another guitar" :lol:
    Indeed, some guitars do one thing very very well, others are more versatile. I suppose it's a bit of a curse to be attracted to different playing styles, because then one has to succomb to "guitar acquisition syndrome"! :wink: Oh well, could be worse afflictions to suffer from... :)

    I'll educate myself on the good models out there, at relatively affordable prices, and start shopping. In the meantime, I can continue to try to make GJ progress on the jazz box, time permitting...

    By the way, I was browsing somewhere else today and found a very interesting discussion on this very subject (ie. pros and cons of using a jazz box to play GJ) on No consensus there, but some very interesting opinions expressed on both sides of the equation, that I will have to re-read with more attention.

    THe reality is that many of the top GJ players frequently use jazz boxes (Birelli Lagrene being one) in concert. But I suppose they all learned the ropes on more traditional "SelMac" guitars, and then transposed their ability to different instruments. Maybe it partly comes down to some people being more of a purist when it comes to the GJ sound, and others being more open to experiment with other instruments to play that style. In the end, as someone said, we all need to find our individual voice, and jazz grows in all kinds of directions, so there probably isn't a "right" and a "wrong" way, as long as we play in an earnest and honest way.

    Thanks again.
  • Lango-DjangoLango-Django Niagara-On-The-Lake, ONModerator
    Posts: 1,858
    When I went to Paris last year, I heard quite a few great players using electric guitars.

    I don't know, for me they just always sound kind of muddy, and I do love the clean acoustic sound of a Selmer-type guitar, especially in the hands of someone who can get a lot of tone out of it... half bends, artifical harmonics, etc... All the beautiful sounds Django could get out of his Selmers.

    For us North Americans, the Selmer-type guitar is still somewhat exotic and "European"...

    But I suppose the opposite is true for Europeans who are long accustomed to the acoustic sound and probably find the more American sound of electric guitars refreshing and modern.

    Anyway, I would certainly encourage you to buy a moderately priced gypsy guitar to see how you like it... Worst case scenario, you end up selling it.

    The only real advantage to an electric archtop I can think of is that, unamplified, they are much quieter and therefore much less likely to annoy family and neighbours when you practice.

    And I I guess it's no secret that gypsy jazz will require a LOT of practice!

    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."

    Georges Braque: "In art there is only one thing that counts: the bit that can’t be explained."
  • pickitjohnpickitjohn South Texas Corpus, San Antonio, AustinVirtuoso Patenotte 260
    edited February 2014 Posts: 936
    @rstl99 Welcome, to the conversing door of the community, so many informed, skilled, friendly, and funny members on this crew. It's certainly answered so many of the questions that a picker may have upon discovering
    this O M G How did DJANGO do that and How did he get that SOUND. 8-} :shake: :hmmm:

    There really is something about the Selmer style guitar that as @stuart said…
    Getting your first Selmer copy is a great boost to your playing though, all of a sudden those elusive classic Django tones become magically available to you.

    I'm sure many others here can attest to that. I come from a musical family and my Dad played Banjo he played mostly old standards and tried to get that Django right hand rhythm down so it was IN MY EARS.

    When I got bit by the Django bug about two years ago. Time flies!
    I went the route you are asking about, and bought a Archtop, I also have a resonator guitar that sounds pretty good. Oscar Aleman played a resonator and sang also. You can hear similarities in some of his stuff with Django.

    Dear Old Southland

    There's also a Martin D-28, and a D-35, both which two different Luther's want first deb's on. If I Sell.
    They all work….
    but after getting my first selmer copy a Gitane D-300 John Jorgenson, they seldom get touched. Chasing that sound became fun, alive, and rewarding.
    Folks at a jamb I have gone to for about three years often ask or comment on how much my playing style has changed and gotten much better. I been Blessed by the Guitar Gods and have a some great Gypsy Jazz guitars. I got a Altamira M01D here from @Michael Horowitz that was returned with a crack @ 70% off. It's a great guitar.

    What part of Canada are you in? If you can play one of these, I think you'll be saying Oh Yea that's the ticket.

    you said..
    Someone locally was selling a Dupont MD-50 which I felt may further motivate me to learn and play manouche style guitar. Unfortunately, he seems to have changed his mind and decided to keep it, and I didn't have a chance to try it out.

    I'd call him back explain your situation, ask if you can come by and check out the guitar just to be sure you want to go that route. Must people Like to show off their toys. Can't hurt to ask, he may even be ready to sell.
    Good Luck and May the perfect guitar find it's way to you.

    pick on


  • pickitjohnpickitjohn South Texas Corpus, San Antonio, AustinVirtuoso Patenotte 260
    Posts: 936
  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    edited February 2014 Posts: 6,155
    @pickitjohn this is the correct url:

    You tried to insert an mp3 into a post which is not supported. Only images can be inserted into a post. Leave other file types as attachments, they are still easy to see at the bottom of the post. Thanks!
  • pickitjohnpickitjohn South Texas Corpus, San Antonio, AustinVirtuoso Patenotte 260
    Posts: 936
    @Michael Horowitz

    I had been messing around and when I took off the the Img reference I did get to hear the MP3.
    This is a test to see If I got it.

    Tico Tico
  • StevearenoSteveareno ✭✭✭
    Posts: 349
    There's no doubt about it (for me anyway) when you play these SelMac style guitars, it almost feels like you are channeling Django thru your playing. After reading Dregni's bio several years ago, I had to get one of these things. It has stuck with me thru several other guitar changes and is now my longest owned guitar (Dell Arte, Studio Homage). Archtops are a great alternative, but don't quite have the romantic quality that SelMac style guitars seem to have IMHO.
    Swang on,
  • jonpowljonpowl Hercules, CA✭✭✭ Dupont MD-100, Altamira M01F
    edited February 2014 Posts: 707
    My 1 1/2 cents: Gypsy jazz sounds kind of like progressive dixieland (minus the banjo) or a simple Joe Pass style jazz on electric archtops. It lacks the magic that makes it so appealing to most of us. Just listen to Gonzalo on his Marin or Holo. No electric guitar can get that sound, nor can just any guitarist. Add a Fender Jazz bass to a couple of jazz boxes and gypsy jazz turns into something totally different.
    Disclaimer: No offense to players of electric archtops, Fender Jazz basses, Joe Pass and dixieland jazz admirers, banjo players, and people who enjoy "elevator jazz".
  • fourowlsfourowls Brisbane, Queensland, AustraliaNew Petrarca Grande Bouche
    Posts: 72
    Actually a good thread! I have been asking myself the same question. Can I just have a nice quality archtop and play GJ through my Quilter amp (that is an amazing amp...I have to say)? I fluctuate between the 2, between my ERG Standard (awesome) and that romantic 'pure' GJazz image, or an archtop that has a slight touch of reverb, and a full tone that is easy to play. I still don't know but part of me keeps think Gypsy Jazz is best on a proper SelMac acoustic style to get the vibe. However if I was honest, I can easily get by on an archtop, if I stop over-thinking and trying to align to the image in my head of all the other artists who use a SelMac style!
Sign In or Register to comment.
Home  |  Forum  |  Blog  |  Contact  |  206-528-9873
The Premier Gypsy Jazz Marketplace
Banner Adverts
Sell Your Guitar
© 2024, all rights reserved worldwide.
Software: Kryptronic eCommerce, Copyright 1999-2024 Kryptronic, Inc. Exec Time: 0.016724 Seconds Memory Usage: 1.008797 Megabytes