Guitare Village

June 6, 2007

Nicolai Foss

Europe isn’t exactly archtop heaven. To the extent that you see archtops, they are usually inexpensive Ibanezes, Asia-made Epiphones, or old, mainly German archtops like Höfner, Hopf, Framus, etc. When you occassionally come across a US quality archtop, it is usually priced at an exorbitant price, even considering taxes and transport from the US. As if Ebay didn’t exist …

There are, however, a few outstanding vendors. One of these is Guitare Village in France. They have a great jazz guitar section, featuring numerous examples of the guitars we love. But here, too, you can see the tendency — not a single vintage Epiphone or a recent Gibson archtop, not to mention recent handbuilt US archtops.

Still, there are some very fines “jambons” among the lot. Of course, a French vendor isn’t the worst place to start if you want a real gypsy guitar. Check out that rather inexpensive but beautiful DiMauro. Also check out two of Jacques Favino’s rare excursions into archtop f-hole territory. This one has been offered for sale for a long time at a — for a Favino — ridiculously low price. I wonder what is wrong with it? And here is another Favino f-hole model . I once owned one of these.

5 Responses to “Guitare Village”

  1. Jean Pierre Says:

    These two Favino archtops sold at Guitar Village probably have no problems. I own this one:
    and it sounds great with its two handwound P90 style pick up, and the science of this master luthier. But the actual trend in France (and the relatively rare number of Favino archtops) does not favor these excellent guitars. Here, the sesame word of jazz playing still is Gibson (for many good reasons, and bad ones, too…). May be in the future, these archtop will be reckoned at their true value…

  2. Nicolai Foss Says:

    Jean-Pierre, Thanks a lot for this info. I wonder if you could perhaps supply some specs for your jambon? Is it 16” or 17”? How heavy is it? What are its acoustic qualities like? Easy to play?

  3. Jean Pierre Says:

    Here are some infos about the guitar specs; sorry for my english, and the metric system employed. The guitar is16″wide(405mm).Top made of maple, rims and back of figured maple.The body is about 2″ 1/2 deep (67mm). Two parrallel braces. Total lenght is 111mm. The scale lenght is pretty long with its 670mm, but the neck is rather easy to play with a relatively narrow nut width of 41mm. The neck profile is moderately C shaped, less “chunky”, if I may say so for this good neck, and according to my opinion, than a modern ES175. The neck has a truss-rod (not adjustable), and is perfectly straight after 40 (or 54 years, according to Guitare Village sellers). The action is really low ( 1,5mm, and 2mm at the 12th fret). Ebony fretboard and excellent fretting makes it rather easy to play (not a GB10, nevertheless…) Concerning the acoustic sound, it is not easy to describe: the guitar is not loud, due to a small body. Moderate projection, and a medium/high register was probably aimed by the luthier. The sound seems accoustically cautious, a bit shy, but resonant, well articulate, clear, elegant and graceful. Definitely not a loud archtop. The crystal-like sound is fully revealed by the two sharp and transparent single coils. The overall coloration is rather “vintage” (I know it does not mean a lot), not a modern archtop. The guitar has been previously bought by a french guitarist to make a tour with the jazz bassist (double bass) Tony Bonfils, for a french song “repertoire” of the fifties. The tour was cancelled, and the guitar sold (I have been told that the tour must go on again this year…). Note that the Favino guitars are life-time guaranted by Jean-Pierre Favino himself!..Best regards.

  4. Nicolai Foss Says:

    Jean Pierre, Thanks a lot for this highly useful info. I hope somebody gets tempted by your description to buy that Guitare Village Favino! Nicolai Foss

  5. Jean Pierre Says:

    Here is another link to another Favino archtop, sold in the USA:
    It is an unusual thinline model, dated between the beginning of the fifties and the beginning of the sixties…
    I must add that my own Favino, formerly belonged to a ball guitarist, leaving in Paris: “Pierrot” (Pierre) Bascoulergue(s). Pierre, who is a very old man now, bought it new and used it all his life long. The musician to whom I bought the guitar planned to sell it in the USA because his musical project with Tony Bonfils had failed at this time.. The guitar, its year of making, reminded me the french musicians and talented singers of the post world war II, the “bal musette”, with accordion and guitar comping I heard during my childhood.
    I tried unsuccesfullys to call or write to Pierrot to date the guitar, and also to talk to him and tell him the guitar was still cared and cherished, but I could not find his adress. It was a kind of homage I wanted to pay to him and to all the people,musicians and luthiers, who made this musical era through his guitar, and wich still is alive for some us…

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