Choosing between D-500 & GJ-15 (& Montreal teachers!)

So I'm extremely excited to say that I'm ready to start thinking about buying my first gypsy jazz guitar! I've just moved to Montreal, and it seems that the style is pretty popular here (at least in comparison to what I found in NJ/NYC). I know that I want a D-hole, because the oval shape seems too bright for me - plus, I'm going more towards rhythm. My hands are not even close to being fast enough for lead :wink: .

I've narrowed it down to the GJ-15, and the D-500; from what I've found (and from a very helpful email from the guys here at DjangoBooks) the main difference is the quality of the woods + the thicker neck. I'd be getting the "Set Up Special: Fret Level, Custom Bridge, and Tailpiece Leather (Set Up is Free!!)" option either way, to make sure that I have a guitar that lasts. Going along with that thought, I'm not afraid to spend the extra money for the D-500 if it's worth it. What do you guys think? Any other suggestions? Things I should know before I buy?

Also, on a side note, does anyone happen to know about teachers in Montreal? I saw the Ecole Jazz Manouche de Montreal has pretty good rates, I'm thinking about going there.



  • I've seen the teachers (Damien and Lou) from Ecole Jazz Manouche de Montreal play at a club when I was up there over Memorial Day and they were pretty good. I think you would be in pretty good hands.
  • kevingcoxkevingcox Nova Scotia✭✭✭✭ Dupont MD50
    Posts: 298
    One of the nice things I found great about Montreal while living there is that there are so many people into this music an actual teacher was almost unnecessary. I took lessons from the illustrious Dennis for a while a few years back before I moved away and went on guitar hiatus, and he really helped me get my rhythm together and gave me a strong enough philosophical foothold that I have been able to get myself back on track after returning to Nova Scotia. I think he has given up private instruction for the moment (according to his website, at least).

    I suggest going out to a few shows and chatting up the players, most people in the scene are at least aware of each other. I used to host open jams at my apartment and there was a fairly steady rotation of people passing through, but that was a couple of years ago and I doubt anyone kept that alive. That reminds me, I should probably try to do the same thing here in Halifax one of these days... who knows what could come crawling out of the woodshed :)

    Francois Rousseau may or may not be teaching, Christine Tassan, maybe Martin Tremblay. The Lou you mentioned was at one time Dennis's rhythm player. There used to be a group called niglo dilo (antoine and J-F) who were fantastically fun guys to jam with. If Dennis isn't teaching any more I know he used to have a student named Damien who has probably grown into a fantastic player by now if he kept it up (he was already pretty darn good a couple of years ago) maybe Dennis could hook you up with him if they are still in touch.

    A couple of years ago you could find live gypsy jazz pretty much any day of the week, just keep your ears and eyes open!

    *edit* The Damien I mentioned is in fact the Damien from Ecole Jazz Manouche. He is a great kid and a fantastic player, you wouldn't go wrong with him.
  • Tele295Tele295 San Buenaventura (Latcho Drom), CA✭✭✭ Gitane DG300, D500
    Posts: 629
    We have both the d500 and gj15. The 500 has a dark rich tone, while the gj15 is brighter and crunchier. Both are great and loud. It just depends on the sound you want.
    Jill Martini Soiree - Gypsy Swing & Cocktail Jazz
  • KalebimaKalebima New
    Posts: 39
    Dark & rich is a plus for me, as long as it isn't muddy.

    Thanks for the teacher recommendations - I think it solidified my decision to go with the EJMM! Shame, I'll have to postpone my lessons with Marc Andre Seguin of once I start up the EJMM sessions. Oh well, I have another four years here :mrgreen:

    Do you guys think that the setup up special will make a big difference? I'm kind of concerned that the guitar would be alright, and then I'd get charged for some stuff that doesn't need to be done. I know I'd definitely want a custom bridge, since it'll lighten up the sound and increase the projection a bit (from what I've read here)
  • Tele295Tele295 San Buenaventura (Latcho Drom), CA✭✭✭ Gitane DG300, D500
    Posts: 629
    Most new Gitanes and Ciganos could benefit from a fret dress as well as a different bridge
    Jill Martini Soiree - Gypsy Swing & Cocktail Jazz
  • fraterfrater Prodigy
    Posts: 763
    I have an old D 500 (n° 504, a lucky number!)... much brighter now than it used to be, plus it retains the texture you would expect from a 12 frets D hole. I'd go for it...
  • KalebimaKalebima New
    Posts: 39
    How do you like it? Or more importantly, anything you don't like about it?
  • redbluesredblues ✭✭
    Posts: 456
    I'm with Frater, go for the D, the most you will need is a new bridge, anything else is money wasted. Leather tail piece cover lol. The D-500 is an almost exact replica of the 1932 Mac.
  • Tele295Tele295 San Buenaventura (Latcho Drom), CA✭✭✭ Gitane DG300, D500
    Posts: 629
    Kalebima wrote:
    Dark & rich is a plus for me, as long as it isn't muddy.

    That may depend a lot on your pick and strings (and your hands, of course). Wegen gyspy picks bring out a lot of brightness. Argentine strings have a lot of fundamental on the sound while Guadalupe Manouche-tones have a lot of higher harmonic overtones. You adjust, trial and error, etc. until you find the right balance for you.
    Jill Martini Soiree - Gypsy Swing & Cocktail Jazz
  • klaatuklaatu Nova ScotiaProdigy Rodrigo Shopis D'Artagnan, 1950s Jacques Castelluccia
    Posts: 1,665
    You should drop down to Diese Onze at 4115-A rue St. Denis on Friday nights at 6:00 and see my good friend Michel St. Pierre's band. He's a great player, as are they all, and a really good guy to know. Check it out at:

    "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
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