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WilforFarn stublags

Building a Selmer-Maccaferri guitar

edited October 2011 in Welcome Posts: 13
Hey everyone,
Excellent forum here! I am a luthier and up until now I have made only classical and flamenco guitars. I love gypsy jazz and the sound and look of those guitars so I decided to try making one. It's a really different style of construction for me but it's coming along nicely.

I have a blog where I'll be documenting my progress from time to time:

I've got the sides bent and I'll start assembling the body soon, keep checking back!


  • Craig BumgarnerCraig Bumgarner Drayden, MarylandVirtuoso Bumgarner S/N 001
    Posts: 795
    Welcome Andy. I just had a look at your blog, very nice. Like the video of the flamenco guitar, reminds me to add "learn to play flamenco guitar" to my bucket list.

    Solid IR back & sides on your Selmer build, eh? Bet it is going to sound great! Laminated backs and sides are more common for Selmer style, but the ones I've heard with solid b/s have been great. I've built both ways and my current giggin' guitar has solid bubinga backs and sides, love it.

    There is not a lot of luthier chat here per se, but lots of talk about GJ guitars in general and the details therein. There is a self designated topic prefix of "BYO" for Build Your Own, as in BYO: My Latest Screw Up :oops: . If you search on BYO, you'll find half a dozen threads on building Selmer style with posts from some of the forum members who build. Also, Bob Holo is an active member and one of the best builders of this style in the world. Searching his posts will get you a boatload of ideas about this style.

    Keep us posted as your project advances.

  • Thanks Craig!
    It is solid Indian, which will probably sound a bit different from laminated. Hopefully "better" in a sense, but I'm sure a case could be made for doing it more traditional too.
    I will search out Bob's posts.

    (just made another update on the blog) :D
  • HotTinRoofHotTinRoof Florida✭✭✭
    Posts: 308
    Beautiful work. Awesome playing 8)
  • I got the guitar playing today, you can read about it here:

    http://andyculpepperguitars.wordpress.c ... she-sings/

    Apologies for my lack of playing abilities. But I'd be curious to see what people here think from what you can hear of the sound. It has very good volume and a promising tone I think. When it's finished I'll have a real GJ player record something on it.
  • Craig BumgarnerCraig Bumgarner Drayden, MarylandVirtuoso Bumgarner S/N 001
    Posts: 795

    Hey, I think it sounds really good! Lots of clarity, I like that. Get your local GJ player to record some rhythm and some fast runs up off the low E string to show off how she holds up on the lower frequencies. The real test is how it sounds when playing with a group, so you might consider a recording it with a GJ rhythm section.

    i have enjoyed your blog. The guitar is beautifully done, great job. Look forward to seeing it when finished (i.e. w/ finish applied).

  • Thanks Craig,
    I will definitely try to get someone to put it through its paces when it's all finished. I think I can take some more weight off the bridge too.
    Speaking of the bridge, I made mine with a saddle. I know it's not common on GJ guitars and I could abandon it if there is some reason to use an all wood bridge, but I feel that it's a way better solution to changing the action than sticking quarters under the bridge or what have you.
    I will make a traditional bridge as well so I can compare between them. It seems possible that using a bone saddle might contribute to almost excessive brightness, instead of that more mellow "pop" sound in the trebles that I love about good GJ guitars. Maybe an ebony saddle would the perfect compromise.
  • Craig BumgarnerCraig Bumgarner Drayden, MarylandVirtuoso Bumgarner S/N 001
    Posts: 795

    While a saddle is not the common approach, it is certainly done. JP Favino, J. Castelluccia, Bernie Lehman, John Kinnard (Dell 'Arte) and others have used saddles. Wouldn't worry about it if it works for you.

    The wood used for the bridge, as well as the mass and fit certainly make a difference. What works best is debatable and is largely individual to the instrument and player. A lot of people prefer rosewood bridges (stained black in some cases) for more warmth compared to ebony which can be brighter and more metallic sounding. The great thing about the Selmer style bridge as they are very easy to change and adjust for experimentation.

  • Posts: 13
    Thanks for the tips Craig. One thing I was wondering, is any finish applied to the bridge normally? I polished mine with micromesh up to 12000 grit and I might just leave it like that.

    Here's a little entry on French polishing:
    http://andyculpepperguitars.wordpress.c ... polishing/
  • Craig BumgarnerCraig Bumgarner Drayden, MarylandVirtuoso Bumgarner S/N 001
    Posts: 795

    There is no standard on bridge finishing that I can tell. Just hand polishing the wood on a bridge as you did works fine and I've seen that a number of times. I sometimes use a little french polish shellac to help hold the shine.

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