A few years back , the American Saga company produced the Gitane range of “Gypsy Jazz” guitars, which were to all intents and purposes a carbon copy of the original Selmer instruments, only with a more playable neck. The DG455 is a slimmed down, electrified version of the very popular DG250, the “petite bouche” model. The guitar that will always be associated with Django.

Made to the same high standards as the other models in the Gitane range, the DG455 comes with solid rosewood back and sides and a select spruce top. The ebony fingerboard plays like a slab of black marble and the “one-piece” mahogany neck is super fast and extremely comfortable. The 1 3/4 inch deep rims make the instrument feel more like an electric rather than an acoustic guitar, but there is an incredible acoustic resonance and response, which is quite surprising. Fitted with Fishman’s very latest Aura System, a Saga exclusive, which produces an extraordinarily pure and natural sound, the DG455 sings like a bird with the Aura system literally amplifying all those inherent acoustic tonal and timbral qualities without any colouration whatsoever. If however you want to add some tonal shading and effects, then the Aura’s state-of-the-art electronics will colour the sound while still retaining that all important ‘clean’ character.

I have only one reservation. The Aura system has necessitated making the bridge/saddle a much more chunky affair than on the DG250 acoustic model. This has had the consequence of producing a much higher playing action than the acoustic models, which is one of the reasons why the acoustic models sold in truck loads. The DG455 is not cheap, but it is unique. There is no other instrument on the market that will reproduce a feedback free authentic Hot Club sound without the need for intricate ‘off board’ mic’ing. It also comes in a snazzy tan, faux leather, custom built, plush lined and padded ‘Superior’ case.

For more go to www.gremlinmusic.co.uk

Many of us still blindly swear by the American marque, forgetting that some of the world’s finest luthiers hail from this side of the pond. With a small factory just outside Manchester, Gordon Smith guitars is almost a British institution. As one industry insider once remarked, “they are to Britain what Gibson is to America.”

We took a look at their Classic T, which is modelled on Fender’s Thinline Telecaster (as used by Bill Frisell). It comes with a single ‘f’ hole and chambered body and looks every bit like the original, except for a slightly more slinky headstock and a shallower return on the upper front bout. But the Classic T isn’t a copy and you’re unlikely to be able to select one off the shelf at your local music store, because Gordon Smith instruments are made to order (order to delivery – approx six months).

Our particular instrument was beautifully balanced, with a one-piece maple neck and fretboard, Grover style machines, a brass nut (standard GS) and 22 jumbo frets. We’re usually wary of satin lacquers applied to guitar necks, but this ‘C’ shape was as smooth and sweet as you like. With a heel plate and four screws it fitted neatly into the Poplar body which has a standard Telecaster type control plate with 3 way switch together with tone and volume knobs and a bridge plate with individual sprung saddles. The two “in house” single coil pickups are set in the standard Telecaster positions and a black 3-ply scratchplate completes the picture.

Looks, as they say, are fine, but what sort of sounds are we getting here and how does this baby play? The quick answer is, forget that Fender, the Classic T is in a league of its own. The grunt, edge and punch is all there – but there’s more. The Classic T delivers amazing clarity and there’s an incredible transparency to the sound that is combined with an extraordinary depth and width and an ability to achieve massive sustain even at normal amp settings. The action on our particular instrument was finger light with barely a whisker at the 12th fret – even one John Abercrombie would have been impressed. String tension was perfect and the tuning stability was excellent. So if you need reminding just how versatile a Telecaster can be, try the Classic T – it blew us away.

For more go to www.gordonsmithguitars.co.uk

Many of us still blindly swear by the American marque, forgetting that some of the world’s finest luthiers hail from this side of the pond. With a small factory just outside Manchester, Gordon Smith guitars is almost a British institution. As one industry insider once remarked, “they are to Britain what Gibson is to America.”

We took a look at their Classic T, which is modelled on Fender’s Thinline Telecaster (as used by Bill Frisell). It comes with a single ‘f’ hole and chambered body and looks every bit like the original, except for a slightly more slinky headstock and a shallower return on the upper front bout. But the Classic T isn’t a copy and you’re unlikely to be able to select one off the shelf at your local music store, because Gordon Smith instruments are made to order (order to delivery – approx six months).

Our particular instrument was beautifully balanced, with a one-piece maple neck and fretboard, Grover style machines, a brass nut (standard GS) and 22 jumbo frets. We’re usually wary of satin lacquers applied to guitar necks, but this ‘C’ shape was as smooth and sweet as you like. With a heel plate and four screws it fitted neatly into the Poplar body which has a standard Telecaster type control plate with 3 way switch together with tone and volume knobs and a bridge plate with individual sprung saddles. The two “in house” single coil pickups are set in the standard Telecaster positions and a black 3-ply scratchplate completes the picture.

Looks, as they say, are fine, but what sort of sounds are we getting here and how does this baby play? The quick answer is, forget that Fender, the Classic T is in a league of its own. The grunt, edge and punch is all there – but there’s more. The Classic T delivers amazing clarity and there’s an incredible transparency to the sound that is combined with an extraordinary depth and width and an ability to achieve massive sustain even at normal amp settings. The action on our particular instrument was finger light with barely a whisker at the 12th fret – even one John Abercrombie would have been impressed. String tension was perfect and the tuning stability was excellent. So if you need reminding just how versatile a Telecaster can be, try the Classic T – it blew us away. (DG) For more go to www.gordonsmithguitars.co.uk

Although most of the Fret King range of guitars is aimed fair and square at the rock player, the Country Squire with its semi-acoustic, single ‘f’ hole-chambered construction, is a much more versatile instrument. Jazzwise sampled the all-UK built Green label model made in the Fret King factory in Lancashire. With a body made up in two piece swamp ash, this Telecaster lookalike is a beautifully crafted, superbly balanced guitar. The sample came with a rosewood board on a bolt on maple neck, and had a 1960s style shallow C neck profile with a 10-inch fingerboard radius. Fret King have used a smaller than normal trussrod in the neck to maximise the amount of wood and by implication create greater sustain and response. Electrics are served by two single coil, vintage voiced, Alnico V pickups in the neck and centre positions, with a Fret King Humbucker in the bridge position. A five way Tele-style switch offers various combinations, with position 4 giving a very punchy humbucker and central single coil.

The acoustic chambers in the body of the Country Squire make it a very resonant instrument and this along with the almost solid wood neck gives the player what might be expected – incredible sustain. The fretboard is almost akin too playing on a marble slab and that 10inch fingerboard radius makes note-bending a cinch. Whichever combination of pickup is used, the sound produced has a refined fluidity with a warm, rich tone. The tone is vintage to a tee. (DG) For more go to www.fret-king.com

The French Dupont brand has been building up something of a name for itself, with the likes of Eric Clapton and Steve Miller owning examples of their instruments. Jazzwise took a look at the Florentine cut, all maple laminate, 16-inch bodied Style Classique Bebop. With a 649mm scale length it has a shallow set mahogany one-piece neck and headstock which is fitted with individual Schaller machine heads. The Indian ebony fingerboard is headed by a 42mm nut and comes adorned with mother of pearl dot position markers and 22 jumbo frets. To the body is a solid tune-a-matic bridge on an ebony footing, which carries the strings down to a steel lyre tailpiece. The Style Classique is fitted with a Benedetti humbucking pick-up in the neck position that is controlled via two nylon composite “top hat” tone and volume knobs set into the lower rear bout of the instrument. Powered up, the Bebop displays an extraordinary tonal smoothness and evenness from the very top of the upper register right down to low E. Articulation is exceptional, as is separation – there is total clarity within a full chord. The Benedetti pick-up helps to produce a clean, bright sound, yet with a mellow, warm and rich bass. From head to heel, the Bebop is a beautifully balanced instrument with faultless finishing and tones to die for – a true jazzer.

For more go to www.sandarac.co.uk

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