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#87, Selmer style for Michael Joseph Harris. Michael is a hard working pro in Baltimore who plays more gigs than anyone I know. He’s put Baltimore on the map for gypsy jazz by initiating a Monday night jam that has been running many years now, promoting the annual Charm City Django Reinhardt Festival featuring international stars, teaching, and so much more. This is the fourth guitar of mine for him and I’m so pleased he keeps coming back for more!

This one has a lutz spruce top, braced in the three brace pattern I now use most of the time. Arched back and sides are laminated with curly walnut for show. The neck is 670mm scale, Indian ebony fingerboard, nickel silver frets. Bridge is fully compensated out of Ebano and weighs only 8.7 grams! Tinted shellac and French polish finish (but of course!). Slightly aged Miller hardware. 10 gauge Argentine strings.

Just delivered this custom build for NYC’s Charlie Castelluzzo:

Charlie and I discussed this guitar off and on for six months and he was involved in every element of the build. He chose a Selmer size body with a Lutz spruce top with three brace pattern, petite bouche sound hole, curly makore back (vaulted) and sides, off white nitrocellulose binding and multi-color rosette, The mahogany neck has a walnut walnut spline, old school Selmer style shape (wider and flatter on the back side than modern necks), Indian ebony fingerboard with mother of pearl diamond inlays, stainless frets, Selmer style head plate engraving, Golden Age Relic tuners and an adjustable truss rod. Tinted with sprayed shellac and finished with French polish. Miller tailpiece with ebony insert, Ebano bridge and mustaches. Charlie is a great player and I’m so pleased to have him playing a CB, thanks Charlie!

An Octave Mandolin based on my Parlor Gypsy body:

Custom ordered Octave Mandolin based on my Parlor Gypsy body (370mm by 475mm). Lutz spruce top, birdseye maple back and sides. Maple neck with walnut spline. 22-7/8″ (~581mm) scale. Adjustable truss rod. Ebony fingerboard, EVO Gold frets. Ebano bridge and mustaches. Rubner 4 on a plate tuners, custom CB tailpiece. Double course strings, mandolin style, tuned GDAE, strung with Argentine wound strings on the G and D, D’Addario plain steel strings on the A and E. Light tint and French polish finish.

Here’s a new Selmer size petite bouche for all you gypsy jazz guitar lovers!

Curly French walnut back and sides, torrefied Sitka spruce top. Walnut neck shaft, Indian ebony fingerboard, EVO Gold frets, 670mm scale. New Bumgarner headstock logo. Miller hardware, French polish to a low gloss satin finish. On Hold

A return to the four brace Selmer style. Lutz spruce top, walnut laminated back and sides. Mahogany neck with walnut spline, ebony fingerboard, Evo Gold 47 x 104 frets, 670mm scale. Ebano 8.5 gram bridge, Miller tuners and tailpiece. French polish, of course.

#82 is a Selmer size petite bouche in the style that is continuously evolving here. A custom order. Very happy with this one. Snappy and articulate with huge dynamic range. Lutz spruce top for high stiffness to weight ratio, four braces like Selmer 503 but narrower, taller and elliptical, again for higher s/w ratio. Curly walnut back and sides, walnut neck, ebony fingerboard, nickel silver frets. Miller hardware, Ebano* bridge, French polish finish.

*Ebano is (was) a “man made wood product” that resembles ebony. I used it for fingerboards and bridges for 40 guitars after I developed a sensitivity to rosewoods. I was pleased with it as it was lighter than ebony, very stable and uniformly black. Unfortunately, it is no longer offered. I bought up a bunch of blanks for bridges before they were gone, but was too late to get a stock of fingerboards for future use. I’m now using ebony for fingerboards and can’t say I’m totally unhappy about it but I do note ebony is quite a bit less stable during humidity changes resulting in changes in neck relief. Well, that’s why I use an adjustable truss rod.

#81: A new one for Brad Brose. Brad specified the lovely rosette, the small diamond fret marker and collaborated on many of the details. It came out lovely.

Patterned after Joseph DiMauro’s iconic heart hole design. Top is Lutz spruce, birdseye maple back and sides (laminated). Mahogany and walnut neck shaft, ebony fingerboard, 660mm scale, EVO Gold frets. Mother of Pearl fret makers and head plate logo. Miller enclosed tuners and custom CB tailpiece. Light tinting and French polish finish. Here’s a short video of Brad playing it in my shop:

A new one in the style of Joseph DiMauro the elder. I’m super pleased with this one and was going to keep it as a demo here in the shop and at festivals (eventually), but a CB guitar owner came for a shop visit and had to have it 🙂

Lutz spruce top, birdseye back and sides. Mahogany neck, ebony fingerboard EVO Gold frets, 670 scale. Ebano bridge, CB custom tailpiece.

Mike Horan approached me about building a guitar similar to the Selmer from their transitional period played by Django in the late 30s and featured in the J’attendrai video and promotional pictures from the time. Unlike the petite bouche of the 1940s, this guitar is 640mm scale like the early Maccaferri gran bouche models, but 14 fret to the body and petite bouche like the later guitars. I’ll let Mike describe his first impressions:

Craig, I pulled myself away from playing my new guitar long enough to write to you.  I finally had a chance to really play it this morning for a few hours.  First, the neck shape and nut spacing is perfect—you got it exactly how I prefer it.  The short scale is a lot of fun to play, it definitely makes certain chord shapes and single-note passages easier to grab.  And the sound is beautiful.  It is quite a bit more subtle than my Corazon, which I expected.  But it is lush and fat and rewards a careful right hand—-I was overdriving it at first but got it figured out now.  More so than my other guitars, it really pops when you pick it back by the bridge, but sounds as warm as butter closer to the soundhole and with a gentler attack.  At the risk of sounding ridiculous, I would say this guitar wants to be played “romantically.”  Which is what I hear and like so much in early Django.  So I think you hit it out of the park here. Thanks again for taking on this project!

I probably would never have built this guitar on my own, it just wasn’t on my radar. So glad Mike engaged me to do it. It clearly proves to me that a short scale Selmer style has a lot to offer and can compete without apologies with it’s longer scale brethern.

Lutz spruce top with four brace pattern, birdseye maple back and sides (laminated). Butternut neck with walnut center spline, ebony fingerboard, EVO Gold frets, Miller tuners and tail. French polish finish (of course!).

Thanks Mike!

A new petite bouche in the style of Joseph Dimauro the Elder. Dimauro body shape, Lutz spruce top, walnut laminated back and sides. Walnut neck, 670 scale, ebony fingerboard, nickel silver frets. Golden age open tuners, CB custom brass tailpiece. Satin French polish finish. Hardshell case. Sold

The owner Coleman McMurphy wrote me after receiving the guitar:

Dude. My mind is completely blown. It’s so much better than I expected, and I expected it to be awesome. I can’t believe how many different sounds I can coax out of this guitar. It’s just a completely different class of guitar.  Thank you so Much!