Background information
An introduction (start here)
Is it a Maccaferri?
Or is it a Selmer?
The Internal Resonator
About Mario Maccaferri 
in English
in French
Selmer Primer
About François Charle
The Selmer Maccaferri book
Manouche-Tone Strings


the rest of the site
Paul Hostetter, luthier
Back to the main page

Email: click here


Here is a quick primer on Selmer guitars

Whether you're interested in a new Selmer-style guitar or just curious about the old Selmers and that family of guitars, until you get yourself a copy of François Charle's wonderful book on Selmer guitars, this will be a help in sorting out some basic details. A few more may be found by going through the links at left here.

From the beginning in l932, Selmer offered five basic models:

The model "Espagnol," a true Spanish-style guitar having a smaller body with a flat top, a conventional glued-on bridge for gut strings and a round soundhole.

The "Concert" model, featuring the larger standard "Maccaferri" body design with a flat, fan-braced top, was offered with a larger D-shaped soundhole, a glued-on bridge for tied gut strings and an optional cutaway.

The "Jazz" model, designed for steel strings, came with a tailpiece, a floating bridge centered between two "moustaches," and a standard cutaway. The 12-fret model with a D-shaped soundhole was redesigned in 1934 with 14 frets clear of the body and a smaller oval soundhole.

The "Hawaïenne" model was a steel-string made for lap-style playing, essentially a non-cutaway version of the "Jazz" model except for a thicker, wider neck, a raised nut and an optional seventh string.

Finally, the "Orchestre" model, a less precisely defined steel-string offered with either a round or D-shaped soundhole, full body or cutaway, four or six strings. Selmer sold many custom variations through its dealers and the "Orchestre" designation encompassed them all.

Selmer's four-string guitars, made mostly for its London dealer, were built on either a small body or on the standard cutaway "Jazz" body. The little ones were "ténor" guitars, with shorter scales intended for tuning in fifths like a tenor banjo, while the larger ones known either as modèle "Orchestre" or, in one variation, the "guitare Eddie Freeman," in honor of an active jazz guitarist living in England. The Freemans were intended to be tuned in Freeman's own unusual reëntrant tuning. Selmer also produced a few large-body plectrum guitars with a more conventional long neck, intended for the more customary plectrum tuning.

The D-hole models of 1932-33 were designed to contain Maccaferri's patented Internal Resonator, which comprised a sort of second wooden soundbox built inside the regular body.
The "modèle Jazz," destined to become Django Reinhardt's preferred guitar to the end of his career, was introduced around the middle of l934, after Mario Maccaferri's association with Selmer had ended. It had a small vertical oval soundhole and somewhat different internal bracing. Almost as importantly, it deliberately had no internal resonator.

    On 25 September l952, Selmer sold its stock of wood, parts, patterns, molds, machinery and its last instruments to the Paris luthier, Jean Beuscher. During the entire existence of the Selmer guitar atelier, less than a thousand guitars were manufactured.

If you want the full story, read François Charle's book.


François Charle, the noted luthier, collector and dealer in Paris, wrote and published the definitive book on Selmer and Maccaferri guitars. Work on this labor of love began in earnest a decade before it finally appeared in print in 1999. In the process of preparing this work, he documented hundreds of the surviving Selmer guitars, traveling all over Europe to do interviews and take photos. In this effort, he enjoyed the support and cooperation of myriad other collectors, experts, and musicians around the world. The book was released in 1999.  Both its French and English hardback editions sold out quickly, but it remains available in paperback.

Working plans for a Selmer, anyone? Click here.

To find out more about François Charle, v

Do you own a Selmer guitar? 
François Charle is archiving a complete database on Selmer guitars 
and has over 500 in his list already.
Please contact him about it, if you haven't already.
All references kept strictly confidential.

Drop me a line  click here


This page © 2002 - 2018  Paul Hostetter. All rights reserved.