Archive for June, 2007

Buffalo Bros.’ Current Offers

June 30, 2007

Nicolai Foss

Frequent readers of this blog will know that I am sucker for vintage Epiphones. I am the proud owner of a 1944 Triumph, but my dream is, of course, to some day own The Big One, that is, an Emperor. Emperors are seldom offered for sale, but here is a current offer from Buffalo Bros. Very, VERY beautiful! At 8k USD Emperors are now up there with the best and most rare vintage Gibsons.

While you are at Buffalo Bros., take the opportunity to check out some of their other cool offerings. At 2,250 USD the 1953 Triumph with McCarty Pickup seems to me to be very much a bargain. Another obvious bargain is the very pretty Hofner 477 which sells for 1,299 USD.

Barney Kessel Bio

June 28, 2007

Nicolai Foss

Here is what I think is easily the most detailed account of Barney’s life (written as an introduction to this DVD). Lots of interesting detail, such as how Warner Bros. handled the problem of how to present, in 1944, pictures with Kessel among black musicians from the Jammin’ the Blues documentary: “… the company had Kessel playing in the shadows, head down, and ‘blacked up’: ‘They stained my hands with berry juice,’ he recalls”.

UPDATE: Here is the Jammin’ the Blues clip. Barney is just about the only one of the musicians who does not appear en face. Hard to see if his hands are indeed stained, though.

Too Good To Be True?

June 24, 2007

Nicolai Foss

Yesterday I spotted an Epiphone Emperor from 1945 on British ebay. It was offered at 600 GBP (including handling and shipping). This is roughly 1/3 – 1/4 of what an Emperor would reasonably sell at in US, and probably between 1/5 and 1/6 at the price that it would sell at in Europe. Well, some people are crazy or ignorant, and you may be lucky, so I immediately mailed the email address that was mentioned. A “S L” replied, confirming the price, and adding: “The deal will be made through an eBay program which will protect both of us. If you are ready for the deal let me know your full name and shipping address and i’ll start the deal with eBay.” I checked the guitar again and noticed that it had been removed from the listing. When I asked the seller about this, he replied that he had “some problems with his credit card.” This morning I noticed that it has been relisted. You can find it here.

Great Stuff: Hall & Zoller

June 19, 2007

Nicolai Foss

As a part of my growing appreciation of the artistry of Jim Hall, I am checking out what YouTube has to offer. Here is an absolutely fantastic clip with Hall playing “Blues in the Closet” with Attila Zoller, Red Mitchell and Daniel Humair. Zoller’s playing is amazing. This is the first example of it that I have ever heard. I am definitely going to hunt down what is available from this gifted artist.

Construction Details for Archtop Guitars

June 17, 2007

Nicolai Foss

Are you interested in how your archtop guitar is constructed, but not willing to invest all the time or money that it take to familiarize yourself with Benedetto’s book?

In that case, you may benefit from luthier Fernando Alonso Jaén — who BTW builds extremely nice archtops (check that Jamaica!) — who has penned a brief and accessible precis on archtop construction detail (such as “Young modules” and “anisotropy”). Here is a great explanation of why (most) archtop guitars have f-holes:

F-holes intercept the vibrations across the top, forcing the transmission along it. Thus, vibrations coming from the bridge are quickly distributed over the top, losing their energy quickly. The bass bar contributes even more to this effect, as it is placed along the top. As we can see, everything in the violin top plate, from the material (strong, light and very anisotropic) to the resonance holes and the bass bar, is oriented to dissipate the energy in the strings to avoid sustain.

Conventional guitars have a central hole, and consequently the vibrations along the top stop there. A great part of the vibration energy is transformed in vibrations across the top, much slower to develop, so that sustain is higher.

Jazz guitars were designed to be heard in loud environments, with trumpets and saxes, when electric guitars didn’t exist or were not affordable. It was desirable that the energy in the strings dissipated fast, in order to get the loudest volume. F-hole archtop guitars usually have a very poor sustain in exchange for increased volume. In the 1930s, Gibson mentioned the “cutting power” of its L5; this expresses very precisely the consequences of the new design.

When Giants Cooperate …

June 16, 2007

Nicolai Foss

Here is the 1934 Selmer D’Angelico now offered by at about 20k USD. Here is part of the story, as told by Joe:

In the handwritten ledgers of John D’Angelico, the luthier recorded his output of instruments each with its serial number, date of completion and purchaser. While most of his creations were sold directly to individual customers, a small number of guitars were commissioned by retailers like Gravois Music and Silver and Horlund. Three of D’Angelico’s earliest instruments share an particularly intriguing designation. Built over a seven month period between November 1933 and May of 1934, they are noted in the builder’s hand as produced for a single notable customer: Selmer.

Best known for their superlative woodwinds, the Selmer name is renowned among guitarists for the distinctive acoustic jazz guitars made famous by Django Reinhardt and his followers. Barely a year after Selmer Paris produced the first of the Maccaferri design guitars in 1932, Selmer New York apparently contracted with John D’Angelico for a similar venture: to produce a number of archtop guitars under their prestigious name. For whatever reason, the arrangement was short-lived, and only three instruments were produced under the partnership. The whereabouts of the first two Selmer D’Angelicos remains unknown to us at this time. The third and final example, #1062, is presented here.

More Tiiiiight Chordal Playing

June 15, 2007

Nicolai Foss

Of course, with Bucky. But also with Lino Patruno. Check the clip here. And here are lots of clips with Patruno.

Four Youngsters and Sweet Georgia Brown

June 14, 2007

Nicolai Foss

Michele Ramo, Bucky Pizzarelli, Al Caiola and Jerry Bruno. Sweet chordal playing from Bucky and excellent single-string stuff from Caiola! Check it out.

Euro Archtop Vendors — Cont’d

June 12, 2007

Nicolai Foss

June 6 I posted on Guitare Village. Although GV has a nice jazz guitar section, they are by no means a match for Amsterdam-based Palm Guitars. Palm Guitars has what may be the top selection in Europe of classic vintage archtops. The site is a bit unorganized and some of the instruments seem a bit over-priced (compared to buying on US ebay and adjusting for transport and taxes). For example, almost 4000 Euros for a Gibson L7 seems excessive. But there are many real beauties there, as well as some wonderfully crazy examples of lutherie (in particular, check out the Loyd Loar design at the bottom of the page).

Höfner Site

June 8, 2007

Nicolai Foss

Do you like those old German boxes? Check out Steve Russell’s site.