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Kumiko Imakyurei

my sob story.... ia it better to have loved and lost?

Ok, so I'm a singer songwriter/guitar fan/novice picker with limited means.
A few months ago I was killing time in Guitar Center when I saw the weirdest looking guitar I had ever seen! It had a huge D shaped hole and a weird fingerboard, and a classical style headstock with steel strings! Of course I picked it up and started playing, and was immediately intrigued. I went home and did a little research, and discovered that it was a Gitane d-500e and it was the style that Gypsy Jazz players used. Of course I had heard of Django, and I had even seen Frank Vignola's "Hot Club USA" live as a teenager and bought their album (and listened to it regularly), but I had no idea that this style of guitar existed!! I don't remember Vignola playing this type of guitar, seemed that he had a standard acoustic style... at least to my untrained eye.

In any case let's just say I was in love!! I couldn't get the tone out of my head, and the next day went back to guitar center when they opened to hopefully put a deposit down. I was only working part time and had just lined up a new full time job, but had been out of work for a few months and was really short on cash. The guitar was only $199!!! and in great shape!! I tried to put a deposit down but they said they didn't accept them on used gear. I convinced the salesman to hide it behind the counter and told him I'd be back on Saturday when I cashed my paycheck.

On Saturday I went back as soon as they opened..... and it had been sold! They took down my number just in case the guy brought it back, but I knew that wouldn't happen......

Now what do I do? I can't afford $600 for a guitar right now, should I go for one of the $350 student models or will I be disappointed? I've been scouring ebay but nothing close to that deal has come up.... those "sx" models just seem sketchy. Any advice appreciated, I won't give up until I find that sound again!!!


  • klaatuklaatu Nova ScotiaProdigy Rodrigo Shopis D'Artagnan, 1950s Jacques Castelluccia
    Posts: 1,664
    That must have been a secondhand D500. Check out the Cigano models with solid tops, such as You might like that one even better than the D500. Stay away from the Arias and Cordobas.

    "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
  • StevearenoSteveareno ✭✭✭
    edited December 2011 Posts: 349
    Amusing story. The first GJ guitar I ever played was at GC too (a Cordoba). I was instantly drawn to the big wide neck, great tone (didn't realize what I had been hearing on records for all those years) and those nice bendable, Argie style strings. Passed on that one, but started doing some research and found this great site. Eventually wound up with a Dell Arte Hommage Studio Model, which I adore. I see used Gitanes and Ciganos pop up from time to time on the local CL, so they're out there. Michael's prices, selection and service here at Djangobooks is very good. Good luck, one will fall into your lap eventually.
    Swang on,
  • Michael BauerMichael Bauer Chicago, ILProdigy Selmers, Busatos and more…oh my!
    Posts: 1,002
    I've heard that Ciganos are more uneven in sound from guitar to guitar than the Gitanes, but my friend John Salmon in Philly had a d-hole Cigano that was really impressive, and better than any D-500 I have ever heard. It was holding its own against some fairly expensive lumber! Since the guitar you wanted is gone anyway, think seriously about stretching for a Cigano, but be sure it's one with a solid top. The thinnner finish really lets the sound out, and with a good get of Argies, you may find it's even better than a D-500.
    I've never been a guitar player, but I've played one on stage.
  • Michael BauerMichael Bauer Chicago, ILProdigy Selmers, Busatos and more…oh my!
    Posts: 1,002
    I think the model is a GJ-15, and Michael sells them new for $330. Hopefully, that's not too much of a reach for you. You can always get a better bridge and such down the road, as they can make a big difference on lower end guitars. or maybe Santa will put one in your Christmas stocking. :D
    I've never been a guitar player, but I've played one on stage.
  • urpeiteurpeite New
    Posts: 3
    Thanks for the replies. It was a used model (which is why I couldn't put it on layaway!) I think the guys at GC just didn't quite know what to do with it. $199 with a pickup!!
    I think I will save up for the saga at $330.... How much does the D-hole matter? I really like a lot of low end, I've actually read that the oval hole might be better for this? I plan to mostly use it for fun playing in the bedroom but may add some gypsy tone to some of my home recording projects (in my head this sounds awesome! But we'll see how it really turns out... anyone have experience mixing one with a regular acoustic?). Will the oval hole be easier to record?
    Thanks again for all the info, I really just needed to vent to a group that would understand!!
  • Michael BauerMichael Bauer Chicago, ILProdigy Selmers, Busatos and more…oh my!
    Posts: 1,002

    There are too many exceptions to this rule, but d-holes are usually better at low-end response, and ovals have better highs. If there's a resonator in the d-hole, ignore what I just said, but you won't find that for less than a few grand at least. On the other hand, the deepest bass I have ever heard in a gypsy guitar was on a relatively small-bodied oval hole Busato I had from the 1930's, so go figure.

    Oval holes tend to project farther but over a narrower front, in my experience, while d-holes let the sound spread out more, which makes it dissipate faster. Lead players tend to like ovals, in part because the have 14 frets to the body instead of 12, but 12-fret guitars, like that D-500 you found, usually have sweeter tone. Rodrigo Shopis explained why to me once (it has to do with bridge placement relative to the bouts).

    And if you liked the mojo of the d-holes looks and extended fretboard, you may want to stick with that until you can get one of each.

    I can't help you with the recording stuff, but someone here will surely jump in with the answers.

    I've never been a guitar player, but I've played one on stage.
  • Jeff MooreJeff Moore Minneapolis✭✭✭✭ Lebreton 2
    Posts: 476
    Good story!

    I've bought two Cigano (a sub-business of Saga) oval holes, and 4 Cigano D holes. I have two Saga Gitane D-500s.
    For sound you probably want the Cigano D-hole. It's a little more "alive" than the Gitane D-500's, though the difference isn't much and both are great. The Oval hole guitars - Saga (Gitane or Cigano) - are an inch and a bit longer which means harder to play. Those D hole Ciganos are kind of a steal, meaning how much sound you get per dollar and they are wickedly easy to play!
    Once you win the lottery you'll get more "Gypsy" sound out of an expensive oval hole. I'd bypass the cheap oval holes until you somehow amass a couple thousand dollars and the willingness to play a more difficult guitar to play. We all adapt to get that sound though.

    I bought three of the Cigano D holes at one time for myself and two students so I had a real good chance to compare and I still get to visit one of the sold ones often. They are all good. The "worst" one to begin with turned into the best one after a year or so. None were bad guitars by any means. They all have lots of sound and particularly bass. They have also held together well and remain in good playing condition after two years. This is saying a lot for a $330 ($400 w/ shipping) guitar. This isn't seasoned wood, but factory fresh wood.

    The drawback to Cigano is that they don't look nearly as razzle dazzle as the Gitanes, because of the down market finish and appointments. I don't really care but those Gitanes look real good. They look like $3,000 pieces of art deco mojo to me.
    I don't like the Cigano oval holes much but I recognize that they have a little more Django like sound than the D's, but you want bass, and the ovals don't provide near as much, neither do they sound as good regardless, to my ears.

    A big part of why these guitars sound like they do is just the kind of strings we use. At around $8 per set your getting silver plated copper wound strings. This is 20% of that sound to begin with. I've never put these strings on a regular guitar, but I've put regular strings on many gypsy guitars and though they might sound pretty good with different kinds of modern strings, they lose a good bit of the "gypsy" character in the bass strings in favor of something else. Those copper wound strings are a character string to most western ears to begin with.
    You might get a sufficient and cheap thrill out of just stringing whatever you have with Argentine strings while you save for a Cigano D.
    "We need a radical redistribution of wealth and power" MLK
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