Selmer Guitars (1/2) – Already in the early 1920ies, the years of pre-worldwar, Paris/France had many immigrants coming in from Italy and with them some italian luthiers. Amongst these luthiers there was an italian immigrant named Mario Maccaferri. Born 1900 in Cento near Bologna / Italy, Maccaferri himself was a very good known classical guitarrist (he has been a student of the famous classical Maestro Segovia), but he went to be a great famous luthier later on.
After Maccaferri had designed and built some of his first own classical guitar-models around mid/end of the 1920ies, Mario Maccaferri started working for the Selmer-company in the early 1930ies.
Selmer, a company who was already producing musical instruments since 1889, mainly wind instruments such as clarinets or later on manufacturing saxophones (see Selmer-History).
The fate of many guitar-players in the Jazzbands of the early years very often was “not to be heared well” as they were mainly made up from wind- and brassplayers like Horns, Trumpets, Saxophons and Clarinets, which were naturally much louder than a small guitar.
And of course in the early 1930ies yet there existed no Amplificators for instruments like Guitars or Double-basses…
Inspired by the strong demand of many guitar-players in these years Mario Maccaferri started to develop and work on new concepts in guitar-construction. One of the results of his research for an especially “loud guitar” was the model that was to become famous under the name “The Maccaferri-Guitar” later on.
This special designed and constructed guitar had a big D-shaped soundhole (image right) and, to additionally amplify its sound, a build-in so called “Resonator”.
This Resonator was a kind of funnel-shaped second soundchamber built into the body, that was supposed to work like a “Subwoofer” to amplify the sound coming out.
These guitar-models existed starting from 1931/32 as Model “Hawaiian” (without) and named Model “Orchestre” with a Cutaway.
Django Reinhardt very early was attracted and strongly interested in these “new and loud” guitars and he was one of the first to order a guitar like that.
Here is a photo of Django with some of his band-mates with his first Maccaferri – Guitar in 1932 (image left).
Django Reinhardt played these special Maccafferri-Guitars from beginning until mid/late 1930ies on numerous of his first recordings with the Quintette du Hotclub de France.
Due to their construction and special bodyshape and the built-in resonator these guitars had a very unique, brilliant and assertive sound which today are defined as the classical Django Reinhardt-Sound. The so called “Orchestre”-D-hole-Guitars were built from end of 1931 until around 1938.
Already around 1933 Maccafferri, still working under the contract of the Selmer-company and on their behalf, started to design a new guitar-model with a similar body-shape but this time constructed with a small O-shaped soundhole, he named “Model Jazz”.
During these years the development was growing and many experiments with body-shapes and the inside bracings took place at the Selmer-company by Mario Macafferri.
So there were a couple of different Selmer-Modeltypes “Jazz” sold with 4, 5 or even only 3 Bracings inside, as of different measures of bodyshapes. Be sure to also read our article-series about the Features of original Selmer-Guitars
Read more about -> Selmer-/Maccaferri-Guitars (2/2)
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