Today we’re looking at the best Gypsy Jazz guitars that you can buy right now and exploring which players they may suit.
Gypsy jazz guitars are a unique-looking instrument that features elongated necks, a wide hollow body, and a much bulkier feel than more traditional acoustic guitars. This design allows for the signature sounds of Gypsy Jazz, or Jazz Manouche, to be produced.
In this article we’ll be diving into the world of jazz guitars, paying close attention to this popular sub-genre. We’ll select five of our favorite instruments and outline why we like them, who we think they will suit, and run through their pros and cons. We’ll then be exploring some of the most frequently asked questions about gypsy jazz guitars before giving our final thoughts on our five favorites.
But before we get into the details of the best gypsy jazz guitars, let’s take a look at an overview of the five that made our list.
|Gitane DG-255 Acoustic Guitar||Sunburst Orange||Guitar, case||$|
|Cigano GJ-15 Grande Bouche Gypsy Jazz||Natural||Guitar||$|
|Cigano GJ-0 Petite Bouche Gypsy Jazz Guitar||Natural||Guitar||$|
|Gitane DG-370 Modele Dorado Schmitt||Natural||Guitar||$$|
|Godin Multiac Gypsy Jazz Acoustic-Electric Guitar||Natural||Guitar, user manual||$$$|
What is a Gypsy Jazz Guitar?
A gypsy jazz guitar, as you can probably imagine, is a guitar that is set up and designed for the specific constraints and style requirements of the genre. The most striking of which is a longer than normal neck, larger than average hollow body, and different sizes of sound holes, depending on whether you’re looking to play rhythm or lead.
The neck is longer to allow for lots of tonal options. They usually feature a rounded profile and include integrated fretboards designed with the player in mind. Due to the fast strumming required when playing gypsy jazz, playability is at the heart of each instrument.
The hollow body is larger than on many acoustic guitars. This aids the unique sounds and tones produced whilst playing but also helps to boost volume levels. Originally this genre was always played in a band setting, without any kind of amplification or other technology, so being heard was important.
You will also notice that there are various options available when it comes to sound holes. The overall size of the instrument remains consistent, however, if you are looking to play lead you should consider a smaller mouth. Rhythm players should look for the larger ones.
Five of the Best Gypsy Jazz Guitars on the Market
Gitane DG-255 Acoustic Guitar – A Solid Option From a Great Brand
Gitane is one of the few manufacturers that specialize in these types of instruments. Their products pay tribute to the Maccaferri and Selmer gypsy jazz guitars that were popular in the early 20th century when the genre was in its infancy.
The modern-day versions are a joy to play and the DG-225 is no different. One of their most popular models, it encompasses everything about these instruments. Priced slightly higher than some of the more entry-level models, this Gitane is ideal for the more advanced player looking to cement their love for the genre.
For a point of reference, the original Selma guitars on which these are based currently go for around $50,000. These do a pretty good job at replicating the look, sound, and feel of those so grab yourself a great deal!
- Oval soundhole
- Solid spruce top
- Rosewood body and sides
- Flat cutaway,
- Slotted headstock
- Great model based on a classic guitar
- Well constructed
- Well respected brand
- Ideal for intermediate/advanced musicians
- The mids can sound a touch hollow
- Not the easiest for beginners to use
Cigano GJ-15 Grande Bouche Gypsy Jazz – A Great Budget Option From a Reputable Manufacturer
Next up on our list is an offering from another manufacturer who made their name producing instruments for this niche genre. The word Cigano comes from the Portugues for Romani people and harks back to the origins of these guitars and indeed the genre itself.
Ideal for the beginner guitarist, or one who would like to start experimenting with gypsy jazz, the GJ-15 offers the perfect blend of tone and playability. Simple to get your head around, this is a no-frills option that focuses on producing a great sound.
Many regard this model to be the best in class for this price point and it gives a true representation of the gypsy jazz sound. Perfect for focussing on rhythm sections due to its petit bouche (small mouth), the GJ-15 offers a great introduction to the world of gypsy jazz and is sure to be a huge step up from playing the genre on a traditional acoustic guitar.
- Selmer/Maccaferri style
- Solid cedar top
- Mahogany sides, back, and neck
- Rosewood fingerboard
- Real bone nut
- 1 ⅞-inch nut width
- 25.5-inch scale
- 24 frets
- Fingerboard inlays: Dots
- Gold 14:1 tuners
- Black ABS binding
- PAlosanto bridge
- Natural finish
- Great value
- Step up from playing on regular acoustic guitar
- One of the best at this price point
- Bass can get a little muddy
Cigano GJ-0 Petite Bouche Gypsy Jazz Guitar – Another Strong Candidate From Cigano
Another Cigano makes our list here with the inclusion of the GJ-0 Petite Bouche. The main difference between this and the GJ-15 is the size of the soundhole or mouth. This smaller design will suit players looking to experiment more with lead guitar sounds, as opposed to the larger mouth instrument that better suit the rhythm sections.
Like many gypsy jazz guitars, these are based on the designs of the Selmer and Maccaferris of the early to mid 20th century. Composed of solid wood they offer very good value for money and have been described as wonderful to play.
The GJ-0 was released to fill a gap in the market for a small-mouth gypsy jazz guitar at an affordable price. The inaccessibility of such guitars has often been cited as the reason for the genre remaining as niche as it is. Thankfully this gap was filled upon the release of the GJ-0 with its long scale and oval soundhole design that gives it fast playability, supreme cutting power, and a tone full of character.
This is one of the top picks on our list for any musician thinking of getting a gypsy jazz guitar but who doesn’t like the idea of breaking the bank.
- Solid Sitka spruce top
- Small oval soundhole that produces a bell-bright attack and distinctive Gypsy Jazz sound
- Beautiful mahogany back and sides that creates robust volume and responsive tone
- A slim mahogany neck offers fast, easy action with long-lasting stability
- Tonewood fingerboard allows for smooth playability
- The traditional brass tailpiece and tonewood compensated mustache bridge is perfect for Django enthusiasts
- Supreme playability
- Traditional tones
- Great for beginners
- Excellent value
- The smaller mouth style means this is better suited to lead guitar, for rhythm please select a different model
Gitane DG-370 Modele Dorado Schmitt – A Premium Gypsy Jazz Guitar With a Supreme Sound
The fourth guitar to be selected is the Gitane DG-370 Modele Dorado Schmitt. It is a step up from the models we discussed previously and represents a great choice for the more experienced player or gypsy jazz enthusiast.
Described by some as the best guitar Saga has produced, the DG-370 produces a much drier and warmer tone than many of its rivals. It is this unique sound that has won so many plaudits over the years. The extra-long and modernized neck further adds to its appeal and playability.
Originally designed to the famous gypsy jazz guitarist Dorado Schmitt’s specifications, the guitar brings together several features that represent the style of one of gypsy jazz’s best-known musicians. Specially selected solid spruce is used to form the top with flamed maple used for the back and sides. This helps create a truly individual sound, feel, and tone that has proved to be popular with both amateur and professional guitarists.
- Ebony peghead overlay featuring Modele Dorado Schmitt script & gold Gitane logo
- Walnut binding on body edges
- Ebony mustache bridge & movable center
- Gold-plated trapeze tailpiece & ebony insert
- Gold-plated engraved tuners with ivoroid buttons
- Longer scale at 26 & ⅝-inch length
- Natural gloss finish
- Perfect for intermediate and advanced players
- Unique tones
- Looks fantastic
- The price may put some people off
Godin Multiac Gypsy Jazz Acoustic-Electric Guitar – An Acoustic-Electric Option For Those Who Need to Amplify Their Sound
The fifth and final gypsy jazz option to have made our list is a pretty special one. The Godin Multiac is an acoustic-electric offering that combines the tones that make these guitars so special with the ability to play through an amplifier. This is a fairly rare commodity in the gypsy jazz world but in this case, has worked very well.
The Multiac is an incredibly versatile instrument that manages the aesthetic relationship between classic and modern looks expertly. Custom L.R. Baggs electronics and a Seymour Duncan Lipstick neck pickup are what give this instrument life alongside separate controls for both volume and tone.
Also included are solid arched spruce tops with a double body made from solid mahogany. L.R. Baggs makes a return once again with a Lyric microphone that can be blended into the sound source as and when the player wishes.
Tonally, this guitar is right on the mark. It is a risky thing, taking a successful formula and changing it so drastically. Yet here it has worked perfectly, giving the modern player an alternative when looking to explore the genre.
- Multiac body type
- Single cutaway
- Solid spruce top wood
- Two-chambered mahogany back and sides
- High gloss body finish
- 1.805-inch (45.5 mm) nut width
- Richlite fingerboard
- Mahogany neck wood
- 26-inch scale length
- 21 frets
- Satin finish
- 15:01 tuning machines
- Seymour Duncan pickup
- 6 stings
- L.R. Baggs electronics
- 3 band EQ
- Great if you want amplified sounds
- Perfect for the modern guitarist
- Ideal for all ability levels
- This is the most expensive guitar on our list
- Not strictly ‘traditional’
Frequently Asked Questions About Gypsy Jazz Guitars
Here we’ll look at and explore some of the most frequently asked questions about gypsy jazz guitars.
Answer: Yes, it’s possible to play the genre on pretty much all types of guitar, however, it is significantly easier using one of these specialist models. The demands of gypsy jazz are quite unique in terms of playing style and these guitars are designed to specifically aid the player.
Also, the tones achieved when using a gypsy jazz guitar are much more authentic than you would be able to otherwise achieve.
Answer: The name stems directly from the genre’s founder, Django Reinhardt. Although born and raised in France, he was of Romani descent and hailed from the Manouche clan. It is this heritage that gave birth to the name ‘gypsy jazz’.
Answer: The main scale used is the Hungarian gypsy minor scale. It can be characterized as a harmonic minor scale featuring a #4 or b5. This scale is also common in middle eastern and Asian music.
Answer: Due to an accident sustained in a fire at the age of 18, Django’s ring finger and pinky were fused together. This led to him playing mostly three or four-note voicings. His methods for playing allowed him to use these fused fingers to play a single note or to serve as a barre and play more than one.
The Final Word – Which Gypsy Jazz Guitar Should You Choose?
As our list shows, there are plenty of options for you to consider when looking for your perfect gypsy jazz guitar. Whether you’re a modern player, more of a traditionalist, prefer to play lead guitar, or rhythm is more your thing, there is an instrument for you.
These are perhaps the most important factors to consider when choosing your model. If you’re not looking to buy a premium guitar and prefer to play rhythm then our pick has to be the Cigano GJ-15 Grande Bouche Gypsy Jazz. It balances the basics perfectly and will have you strumming away like Django in no time.
Similarly, if you’re on more of a budget but like the play lead, we would also recommend a Cigano. This time it’s the Cigano GJ-0 Petite Bouche Gypsy Jazz Guitar. Another really good instrument but this time suited to the lead guitarist thanks to its smaller mouth.
Finally, if you’re a more experienced player or you just want to splash out on your new gypsy jazz guitar then we think you can’t overlook the Godin Multiac Gypsy Jazz Acoustic-Electric Guitar. As an electric-acoustic model, it gives you the best of both worlds in traditional looks and sound married with modern playability and volume. The perfect model for the modern gypsy jazz guitarist.
Jodie is a trained classical guitarist. She is also a full-time blogger and loves to write about different types of guitars. Just give her 60 seconds of your time, and she’ll tell you all that you need to know about any guitar of your choice.