With all this talk about Castelluccia style guitars, I thought I would post a little about one of my Selmer style guitars. This one was completed in the spring of 2011 and was purchased by Ben Wood of Franglais fame at Django in June, 2011. Here is how Ben describes it.
“I had been play gypsy jazz on a seven string guitar for ten years, and as a professional musician for around 6 of those ten years;playing that guitar with everyone from Stephane Wrembel to Titi Bamberger to Ritary to Jack Soref, my own band Franglais and so many more. However I had reached the conclusion that to get further along in my playing; and correct my sound in a more authentic direction using correct voicings I needed to switch to the six string guitar. I was looking for a six sting that had a great bark, full bass and less high end bright tones; something that sounded mature and like a Olivier Marin or early Bob Holo guitar. My favorite players were playing on these.
I was lucky to run into Craig at Django in June, and after spending some time playing the guitar; I became convinced that it might work. The clincher was having my wife Eve a jazz vocalist who works with me in Franglais as well as leading her own band hear the guitar. She liked the sound; and said the magic words- your sound has more bass on that guitar then the 7 string! I thought wow . . that guitar has a tone
fully a fifth lower and yet this one sounds rounder and more rich. I know then that it was the guitar for me!”
Thanks Ben! Here are a few more pictures, followed by a link to an interview of Ben & Eve by Patrus and a couple of songs.
This guitar is modeled after the early 500 series Selmers nd features a Western Red Cedar top with a true heat formed pliage, Selmer style bracing reminiscent of Django’s #503, four main braces, four minor braces. Back and size are laminated Moabi. Varnish sealer, French polish finish. Weighs less than 3.5 lbs.
Interview and Performances by Ben and Eve on Patrus, Fall 2011
My inspiration for this series of guitars comes from playing a couple times week with Stephan in the Hot Club of DC. Over the last couple years he has had four different J. Castelluccias from the 1950s and he has been kind enough to let me study all four and do some work on three of them. I got to know them well and what really impressed me was the sound, so clear yet strong, with a wonderful commanding quality that really gets a listeners attention.
The last of these four was a bit different in that it had four braces instead of the usual three. The top was also thinner than I was used to seeing on J. Castelluccia’s guitars. The sound reflected this, drier and a bit more organized and balanced. Not quite as loud, but plenty loud enough. Maybe the best of the four. So, I tried to incorporate what I thought were the physical aspects that gave it this quality.
I think this largely succeeded. Stephan seems to think so too because when his guitar met a sad and untimely end this summer, he chose this guitar to replace it. He has been playing it for the last month in the Hot Club of DC and I gotta say, it sounds great. Stephan is a terrific player and my guitars always sound best when HE plays them. Read what Stephan and others say about my guitars on the Djangobook Forum.
As always, I have tried to preserve the vintage sound and appearance qualities while bringing modern playability and construction standards to the mix. The guitar features a cedar top, Makori laminated back and sides, “rope” bindings, East Indian rosewood fingerboard, a lacquered body interior, polished varnish exterior finish, a bolt on neck to ease the work of the repairmen decades from now. Weighs less than 3.7 pounds, sounds great, plays great. Jacques Castelluccia, I salute you.
This is the second in a series of three guitars resulting from the study and repair of four of J. Castelluccia’s guitars from the 1950s. This one has the same Makori laminated backs and sides as the Jan, 2012 guitar, but has a cedar top, lower break angle over the bridge, rope binding and a polished varnish finish. Again, a guitar with a huge voice and very vintage, old school sound. Loud popping highs, great mid-range, loud but tight bass. You can really hear those bass runs in a performance setting. This guitar gigs well and cuts through walls of sound with ease. As you can tell, I am very happy with this guitar. FOR SALE on Djangobooks.com. Read what Michael Horowitz had to say about it HERE (see NOTES & VIDEO) and what Djangobooks Forum members had to SAY about my guitars.