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sbdawsey NunoThyrs

Should my guitar be this hard to play?

lukejazzlukejazz Natchitoches, Louisiana✭✭✭ Dunn Belleville
Okay, I’ve got kind of a funny question - it’s mostly due to the fact that I’m more or less isolated from others with Selmer style guitars.

My issue is that playing my Dunn Belleville that to me seems extraordinarily challenging physically, and I’m not sure if that’s a normal situation.

Some background:
I’ve been playing string instruments for around 46 years and I’ve got about 20 years of learning to play jazz guitar behind me. I’ve got a weekly restaurant jazz brunch gig that I do every Sunday with a bass player. I live in a small town in the south and due to certain circumstances, it’s impossible for me to travel very far, so getting together with other players is realistically out of the question for now.

I got really interested in playing gypsy jazz about 15 years ago and in 2000 I made what was a major investment for me and bought the Dunn Belleville. After working hard to learn the style on my own for a few years (including a few rhythm gigs in New Orleans with Tony Green) opportunities came up for me to play some straight ahead American jazz with some friends so I put the Belleville away.

My interest has recently been peeked again and I’ve spent about the last 2-3 months focusing on gypsy jazz, but my interest is waning and I know some of it has to do with how difficult the instrument is for me to play compared to my other guitars. I’ve also noticed that there is a direct correlation between the scale length of my guitars and how challenging they are.

Gibson ES 775 (like a 175). Shortest scale (24.75 I believe?) I string with TI flatwound 13’s and plays like a dream - easy and fun.

Eastman 910 CE - Acoustic archtop - a little wider (1.75) and longer neck (25”). I string it with TI roundwound 13’s. It’s a little more challenging than the Gibson but I get used to it fairly quickly and it’s a great change up from the Gibson.

Dunn Belleville - the regular long scale Selmer style (26.375”). I’ve been stringing it with 10’s but geez it’s just so hard to play smoothly. Very discouraging. To top things off, it doesn’t really sound like the traditional gypsy guitars.

Is this typical? If so - would a “D” style instrument make a difference in playability? So many other players make it look so effortless (just watching some Bireli as I write this). Do I have the wrong instrument? Maybe the problem is in the setup? (Mr. Dunn set it up). The guitar sounds really good, if not traditional, to me and is sensitive like a handcrafted guitar should.

Thoughts? Sorry for the long post.


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