New video of an old Selmer

When I recorded my new CD with my band, Willi Henkes and Rudie Blazer of Antique Acoustics, Germany were so kind to lend me a vintage Selmer oval hole guitar (no. 645) they have in the shop at the moment. I had never heard a real Selmer in real life before and all I can say is: wow! This one has it all: loudness, crisp and yet full tone, and I have never played a modern remake that sounded anything like it. It can sound like "instant Django" but is also much more versatile. I used it to overdub some solos (mostly the not so quick ones, because the playability is not the best, as it has a huge, rather square neck that would have taken a longer time to get used to).

When we had almost finished the recordings I decided to record a solo piece that would showcase the incredible sound of this instrument and to also make a little movie clip. I chose a rather unusual tune (at least in Gypsy Jazz): An improvisation on a Prelude by Claude Debussy (originally written for piano) called "The girl with the flaxen hair." Johnny Smith reorded it several times and my take is based on a transcription of his version by James Birkett.

Here is the link (btw, how can you embedd youtube videos in the post?):


  • fraterfrater Prodigy
    Posts: 763
    What can I say? Fantastic!

    Great sounding guitar: one of the few with the reduced space between the oval hole and the fretboard; also the last one of the post-war mahogany batch (N.611/N,645).
  • Frank WekenmannFrank Wekenmann Germany✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 81
    Thank you for the compliment and thank you for the information!
    One question: do you happen to know if the shorter distance between soundhole and fretboard is the reult of a longer than usual fretboard or a shorter scale?
  • Bob HoloBob Holo Moderator
    Posts: 1,252
    Well, it's not so much the soundhole placement (though this one does just visually look a little forward of standard) but its the bridge placement and this one looks farther back than standard and that indicates a longer scale. I've seen a few long-scale Selmers. They're interesting guitars. In general, if all other things are held equal, they have more highend harmonics and they're a little stiffer to play. Some people like this, some don't. It looks like someone along the way realized this - as it has the same pickguard style as Django's Busato... maybe a symbolic nod or hommage in that.

    By the way, nice use of JWPlayer for your video embedding. I think you just convinced me to go get it and use it. The generic video embedding in Wordpress seems to allow 3rd party advertising to slip through - or maybe I just don't understand the settings yet. Anyway, I'm right in the "throws" of development today so thanks for reminding me that I need to go "get smart" about video plugins.
    You get one chance to enjoy this day, but if you're doing it right, that's enough.
  • fraterfrater Prodigy
    Posts: 763
    You can find a pic of a similar guitar at pg.130 in Charle's book (Selmer n. 636). If you compare it with the "regular" n.807 at pg. 132 you can see that the hole position is practically the same... although maybe not exactly the same. So Bob is right, it's the longer scale reducing the space between the fretboard and the neck.
  • Frank WekenmannFrank Wekenmann Germany✭✭✭✭
    edited June 2012 Posts: 81
    Thank you Bob and Frater!
    Very interesting information. If I have the chance, I will try to meassure the scale. I had always thought that there were only two scale length for these guitars and that the 67cm of the petite bouche was already the long scale. How long do you think would this extra-long scale be?
    Nevertheless, this would explain that one of the chords I played almost broke my hand (and I am quite tall at 1,95 m..) and maybe also the mighty sound. The guitar indeed has a strong treble register that at the same time is very fat sounding, if that does make any sense.
  • Frank WekenmannFrank Wekenmann Germany✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 81
    O.k., so I went to Antique Acoustics and meassured the scale length and you were absolutely right: it has 67,4 cm scale!
  • Well I thought a new comment would bump this thread up.

    Lovely playing on a superb sounding Selmac.
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • wimwim ChicagoModerator Barault #503 replica
    Posts: 1,459
    good bump ..
    nice video, I love debussy !
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