Vintage Guitar - June 2018 - open - 94
The headstock, with enclosed tuners designed by Mario Macaferri.
The volume of Maccaferri's guitar was especially pronounced in the
treble registers, giving it a tone that cut through the powerful voices of
accordions and horns. And the trebly tone made it ideal for recording
sessions of the day; the treble stood out from the rest of a jazz band's
sonority yet was also sweetened and smoothed by the recording process,
sounding clear and warm by the time it was reproduced through a
In 1931, Maccaferri established an atelier, or workshop, in a wing of
the immense Selmer factory in Mantes-la-Ville, just north of Paris. Here,
Selmer also made its famed clarinets, saxophones, and other woodwinds
and horns. Mario designed and fabricated all of the lutherie tooling,
set up an assembly line, and instructed a team of carpenters in guitar
construction. Metal-working machines in the main factory were used to
stamp out special brass tailpieces and novel covered tuners to his design.
The first Selmer guitars were made in 1932 and shipped to England. By
ome of the earliest recordings of Django Reinhardt
playing guitar are from the soundtrack for the 1932
film Claire de Lune. Long believed lost, the film was
recently found, and fans are hopeful that Django's songs
will be collected and released, if licenses can be cleared.
Photos of Django and band from the movie show him with
a bizarre-looking instrument crafted by luthier Julián
Gómez Rámirez, a Spanish guitar maker who immigrated
from Madrid to establish an atelier in Paris.
It's not surprising this guitar
didn't actually belong to Reinhardt. Rather, it was borrowed
from his best friend and chief
musical rival, Pierre "Baro"
Ferret. In the early '30s, the two
played together in several bands
in the south of France, then Paris, where in 1933 they recorded
"Brise Napolitaine," a stunning
Django's second son, Babik (left), playing Selmer No. 503 in the family's
caravan. Django's widow, Naguine, with the Selmer in the early '60s.
Soundholes on the Rámirez reveal the label noting Jean Ferret's ownership.