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Rodrigo Shopis Model D'Artagnan Review

Model D'Artagnan (Grand Bouche) Gypsy Jazz Guitar, from the workshop of Rodrigo Shopis, c. 2009, ser. #040109 14 fret monster....
Purchased from the excellent folk at Retrofret Guitars and the Musurgia in Brooklyn New York. This guitar was reviewed in an early post, but it's so good it deserves another!

I have been playing, loving, and obsessing over guitars for the better part of my life but made the jump to Jazz Manouche about a year and a half ago. If you are like me, you have two choices, by a cheap chinese guitar to start on, or wait, practice on your Gibson acoustic, and save your money until you can throw down. I chose the latter and I am incredibly happy I did. My choice was between an AJL 503 and the Shopis I purchased. I talked to Ari a bunch about a guitar and I really cannot say enough great things about him. He is cooler than cool and I look forward to working with him in the future, model XO anyone??? But fate (and the IRS) left me with less money than I thought, and Retrofret made me an offer I couldn't refuse.

There was more to my choice. When it came down to it, I wanted more that just a great gypsy guitar, I wanted a GREAT GUITAR. Not that the Sel/Mac sound isn't great, but I wanted an instrument to inspire me and take my playing, composition and song writing to new places. I want woodiness and volume. Treble is good but woodiness is what makes me want to play more. I was disappointed to no end by the various cheap chinese guitars I've tried. I won't mention names and I know a great player can make anything sound great but I would rather spend several thousand dollars on something I love, than several hundred on something I don't.

That is why I am so happy with this guitar. First off, It is pretty much the coolest looking guitar I've ever seen. The violin varnish makes it look 50 years old already! The wood is gorgeous, the frets are super thick and there is a bit of a flame on the neck as well. The guitar is also incredibly light.

The sound is... well, perfect. Growly on the bottom and crystal clear up top, there are times when I hit it just right, it sounds like a piano to me, and at other times it sounds like my favorite recordings of you know who. I received the guitar on Thursday and every second I play it, it opens up more and keeps sounding better and better. I can't imagine how this guitar will sound in 10 years or beyond. There is a bit of a buzz on my lower register but Rodrigo is helping me fix it. Honestly I could live with the buzz, but may as well get it perfect. I may also try 11's on it eventually and any advice on that would be great.

To sum up, it is my humble belief that anyone reading this should save their pennies and order a guitar from Rodrigo or from AJL, or from Djangobooks. My advice to anyone out there new to this style of music, is save money and go BIG. The difference is astonishing. There are many super cool people I've met online that are willing to help with insight and advice (big thanks to Benny Robertson and Charlie Miller). So practice hard, save your dough, and buy a bad ass guitar. If we all buy nice guitars, great people like Rodrgio, and Ari can keep making them, and Djangobooks and Mr Horowitz will keep pumping out all these amazing books and DVD's.
OK, back to my practice!
n
One writes music because winter is eternal and if one didn't, the wolves and the blizzards would be at one's throat all the sooner.
-David Mitchell
«1

Comments

  • Posts: 50
    noahfuture wrote:
    Model D'Artagnan (Grand Bouche) Gypsy Jazz Guitar, from the workshop of Rodrigo Shopis, c. 2009, ser. #040109 14 fret monster....
    Purchased from the excellent folk at Retrofret Guitars and the Musurgia in Brooklyn New York. This guitar was reviewed in an early post, but it's so good it deserves another!

    I have been playing, loving, and obsessing over guitars for the better part of my life but made the jump to Jazz Manouche about a year and a half ago. If you are like me, you have two choices, by a cheap chinese guitar to start on, or wait, practice on your Gibson acoustic, and save your money until you can throw down. I chose the latter and I am incredibly happy I did. My choice was between an AJL 503 and the Shopis I purchased. I talked to Ari a bunch about a guitar and I really cannot say enough great things about him. He is cooler than cool and I look forward to working with him in the future, model XO anyone??? But fate (and the IRS) left me with less money than I thought, and Retrofret made me an offer I couldn't refuse.

    There was more to my choice. When it came down to it, I wanted more that just a great gypsy guitar, I wanted a GREAT GUITAR. Not that the Sel/Mac sound isn't great, but I wanted an instrument to inspire me and take my playing, composition and song writing to new places. I want woodiness and volume. Treble is good but woodiness is what makes me want to play more. I was disappointed to no end by the various cheap chinese guitars I've tried. I won't mention names and I know a great player can make anything sound great but I would rather spend several thousand dollars on something I love, than several hundred on something I don't.

    That is why I am so happy with this guitar. First off, It is pretty much the coolest looking guitar I've ever seen. The violin varnish makes it look 50 years old already! The wood is gorgeous, the frets are super thick and there is a bit of a flame on the neck as well. The guitar is also incredibly light.

    The sound is... well, perfect. Growly on the bottom and crystal clear up top, there are times when I hit it just right, it sounds like a piano to me, and at other times it sounds like my favorite recordings of you know who. I received the guitar on Thursday and every second I play it, it opens up more and keeps sounding better and better. I can't imagine how this guitar will sound in 10 years or beyond. There is a bit of a buzz on my lower register but Rodrigo is helping me fix it. Honestly I could live with the buzz, but may as well get it perfect. I may also try 11's on it eventually and any advice on that would be great.

    To sum up, it is my humble belief that anyone reading this should save their pennies and order a guitar from Rodrigo or from AJL, or from Djangobooks. My advice to anyone out there new to this style of music, is save money and go BIG. The difference is astonishing. There are many super cool people I've met online that are willing to help with insight and advice (big thanks to Benny Robertson and Charlie Miller). So practice hard, save your dough, and buy a bad ass guitar. If we all buy nice guitars, great people like Rodrgio, and Ari can keep making them, and Djangobooks and Mr Horowitz will keep pumping out all these amazing books and DVD's.
    OK, back to my practice!
    n

    how do you find another? congrats....I tried his site and came up empty....thanks for the link to retrofrett...didnt know finding a guitar could be this rough!
    as a wise man once said "shut up and play yer guitar"!

    Frank Zappa
  • klaatuklaatu Nova ScotiaProdigy Rodrigo Shopis D'Artagnan, 1950s Jacques Castelluccia
    Posts: 1,665
    Noah -

    Congratulations on the D'Artagnan! I'm glad I was able to be of help. Everything you said about your guitar is true of mine, an oval hole version of yours. I was fortunate to acquire it from Charlie Miller after he spent big $$$ for a Jacques Favino, and it is without doubt the best by far of eight gypsy guitars that I have had, including a fabulous Dupont. It's too bad we live so far apart - it would be fun to jam with these babies.
    how do you find another? congrats....I tried his site and came up empty....thanks for the link to retrofrett...didnt know finding a guitar could be this rough!
    Do you mean how do you find a Shopis guitar> His Web site is http://www.rodrigoshopis.com/ and you can reach him by e-mail at <!-- e --><a href="mailto:info@rodrigoshopis.com">info@rodrigoshopis.com</a><!-- e -->. He is always very quick to respond to e-mails.

    Ari-Jukka is also a great builder, and I would certainly recommend his guitars to anyone. His Gypsy Fire is comparable to the D'Artagnan, and his workmanship is every bit as impeccable as Rodrigo's. But when you consider the premium price for an AJL - between a dollar that is weak against the Euro and the importation cost - Rodrigo's guitars are a bargain. Anyone looking for a fine modern handbuilt instrument should be considering Rodrigo.
    Benny

    "It's a great feeling to be dealing with material which is better than yourself, that you know you can never live up to."
    -- Orson Welles
  • noahfuturenoahfuture ✭✭✭
    Posts: 61
    klaatu wrote:
    Noah -

    Congratulations on the D'Artagnan! I'm glad I was able to be of help. Everything you said about your guitar is true of mine, an oval hole version of yours. I was fortunate to acquire it from Charlie Miller after he spent big $$$ for a Jacques Favino, and it is without doubt the best by far of eight gypsy guitars that I have had, including a fabulous Dupont. It's too bad we live so far apart - it would be fun to jam with these babies.


    Yes Ben, we need to meet half way for a jam! I think we are on opposite ends of the continent!

    Just a quick update, the buzz I had has all but gone away. Rodrigo told me to give the guitar a while to acclimate and it's worked! Hooray. I still may put 11's on eventually. Any advice?
    One writes music because winter is eternal and if one didn't, the wolves and the blizzards would be at one's throat all the sooner.
    -David Mitchell
  • dennisdennis Montreal, QuebecModerator
    Posts: 2,131
    rodrigo's a really great guy too! really great to hang out with, he knows his spaghetti
  • klaatuklaatu Nova ScotiaProdigy Rodrigo Shopis D'Artagnan, 1950s Jacques Castelluccia
    Posts: 1,665
    noahfuture wrote:
    Yes Ben, we need to meet half way for a jam! I think we are on opposite ends of the continent!
    Unfortunately, yes we are. LA to Nova Scotia is quite a hike. Maybe we should meet in Chicago. There's a pretty lively gypsy scene going on there.
    noahfuture wrote:
    Just a quick update, the buzz I had has all but gone away. Rodrigo told me to give the guitar a while to acclimate and it's worked! Hooray. I still may put 11's on eventually. Any advice?
    I'd stick with 11s. That's all I've used on mine since Day One (admittedly, that's not a long time ago).
    Benny

    "It's a great feeling to be dealing with material which is better than yourself, that you know you can never live up to."
    -- Orson Welles
  • BluesBop HarryBluesBop Harry Mexico city, MexicoVirtuoso
    Posts: 1,379
    Just curious, How much is the D'Artagnan?
  • klaatuklaatu Nova ScotiaProdigy Rodrigo Shopis D'Artagnan, 1950s Jacques Castelluccia
    Posts: 1,665
    Just curious, How much is the D'Artagnan?
    I think Rodrigo's base price is $3800, but you should check with him to be sure. Mine has the upgraded tuners (lovely Millers), so it would be somewhat more. Well worth the price!
    Benny

    "It's a great feeling to be dealing with material which is better than yourself, that you know you can never live up to."
    -- Orson Welles
  • noahfuturenoahfuture ✭✭✭
    Posts: 61
    Unfortunately, yes we are. LA to Nova Scotia is quite a hike. Maybe we should meet in Chicago. There's a pretty lively gypsy scene going on there.

    Chicago it is! I have a lot more practicing to do first. I also need to learn how to use this quote thingy... I keep screwing up.

    Yes I think I'm going to put 11's on. But honestly this guitar continues to open up and reveal more... it is incredible! Bravo Rodrigo!
    One writes music because winter is eternal and if one didn't, the wolves and the blizzards would be at one's throat all the sooner.
    -David Mitchell
  • ElliotElliot Madison, WisconsinNew
    Posts: 551
    Don't forget to pause and genuflect on the musical power of the mighty AAA European Spruce....it deserves some credit as well. The original is still the greatest.
  • Michael BauerMichael Bauer Chicago, ILProdigy Selmers, Busatos and more…oh my!
    Posts: 1,002
    I have been lucky enough to play several of Rodrigo's guitars at Django in June and at his place when I was dropping off and/or picking up my vintage stuff for him to work on. The first thing to grab me about every Shopis I have played is how good the necks are. They seem to play themselves. They play cleaner and easier than almost any other guitars I have tried. The second thing that grabbed me was the volume. Alot of people made a fuss about my Busato last year at Django in June, and it is an incredibly loud guitar, but I thought Rodrigo's guitar (later sold by Mursurgia) was every bit as loud. The third thing is the tone. So many gypsy guitars have ranges where they are really good and ranges where they thin out a bit. Rodrogo's guitars are full-toned across the range. They seem to have no weak spots. His d-holes manage to avoid the muddiness in the bass that plagues many d-holes.

    Rodrigo and I have just started a project to make a nylon string GJ guitar akin to the Selmer Concert model. This was inspired by hearing Alfonso Ponticelli do a whole GJ gig on a flamenco guitar, and admiring how really neat it sounded. I have since picked up one of Manouche Guitars' "Concert" prototypes (I think they made six), and it is really fun to play, so I asked Rodrigo if he could make an even better/louder one that could also double up as a classical guitar. It will be ready later this year and I'll share the results with everyone.

    We are very fortunate to have Rodrigo and Bob Holo making top shelf gypsy guitars here in the States. They have very different approaches, but are both producing superlative instuments at affordable prices.

    As for any prospective gathering in Chicago, please feel free to bunk at our place. We are finally settled in the condo, and Benny and friends are always welcome!
    I've never been a guitar player, but I've played one on stage.
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