Frequently Asked Questions.
1. What is the difference between laminated back and sides and back and sides made from solid wood?
LE: Laminated back and sides are traditionally used on Selmer guitars. It consists of 3 layers. Outside layer of Palisander, in between layer of poplar and the inside layer of Mahogany. These layers are pressed together in the shape of the upper and lower bout.
Laminated back and sides are strong and light. Solid woods are bent over a heating iron. Less strength and in some cases more weight. It does affect the tone. A solid wooden back causes a different reflection of the sound waves than with a laminated back. Don’t expect hugh differences. It’s a matter of taste.
2. What kind of lacquer do you use?
LE: Mostly nitro cellulose lacquer. I don’t use modern 2 component lacquer for the top. The latter is too hard when dry, which has a negative influence on the vibration of the top.
3. How many employees work at Eimers-Guitars?
LE: Only one, that’s me. From the first contact to the delivery of the guitar you will speak to only one person. The one who will actually build your guitar.
4. Do you work with dealers in other countries?
LE: No, I work alone so my production is limited. I work on order basis. Occasionally, I manage to build some guitars which I keep in stock. These are directly available.
5. What strings do you recommend?
LE: I advice to use Silk & Steel strings, 0.11. I standard use Galli strings on my guitars, but you can choose others like Argentin.
6. What is the difference between a Palisander and an Ebony bridge?
LE: The difference lies in the density (weight) of the wood: Ebony is more dense that Palisander. The bridge has a big influence on the final sound of the guitar. It guides the vibrations created by the strings to the top. The bridge is an important part of the whole setup of the guitar. Some guitars seem to sound better with a Palisander bridge. Others with an Ebony bridge. Ebony adds some brightness to the sound, whereas Palisander adds loudness. Again it depends on how you want your guitar to sound. The type of bridge is just one part.
7. What is the difference between a truss rod and a fixed neck reinforcement?
LE: Standard I use a 2 way truss rod in my guitars. The original Selmers used 3 aluminium bars to reinforce the neck. This fixed reinforcement makes the neck stiffer. There are no possibilities to adjust the curve of the neck. Since the Selmer style guitar is a fragile instrument (from construction point of view) I always recommend a adjustable truss rod.
8. How to maintain my guitar?
LE: There are several things you can do yourself. Most important thing is to keep your guitar clean. Clean the body with a soft cloth. Clean the fret board when you change strings. Use some oil to nourish the Ebony.
9. Which pick do you recommend?
LE: My friend Michel Wegen makes very good picks especially designed to play gipsy jazz. On a Selmer style guitar you have to make the tone. A thick pick (3.5 mm thick) will help you to achieve that. Michel uses a material for his picks that don’t make a scratchy sound when you hit a string. Together with the bevelled edges and a firm grip it’s the perfect pick.
10. Why do many Selmer style guitars sound too trebly?
LE: Building a guitar and building a guitar that sounds good are two different things. With the Selmer style guitar it is of great importance that the top vibrates in a way that the preferred sound is produced. Many guitars are build ‘too heavy’. The top might be too stiff. Another problem can be the choice of lacquer. A too thick layer of lacquer will ‘choke’ the top. I do not recommend the use of modern two-component lacquers for the top. Some of these lacquers dry out very hard, not allowing the top to vibrate any more. These are some reasons that causes the guitars to sound too trebly.
11. How to record with an acoustic guitar?
LE: Amplifying and recording songs with an acoustic guitar is very complex. A good recording studio will use several microphones to record the sound of one guitar. Sometimes up to 4 microphones are used to catch the complete acoustic aura of the instrument. An installed piezo pickup is not often used. This kind of pickup doesn’t give a true image of the acoustic sound.
12. What is the optimal string action of the guitar?
LE: The setup of the guitar is depending on the preferences of the player. It depends on technique, force of the right hand etcetera. Because of the long scale length of the Selmer guitar I don’t recommend a low action. This will cause buzzing of the strings and take away a lot of the tone and sustain. Also important is the playability of the neck (and fret board). If the neck plays easy the string action can be higher. This causes better clearity of the tone and better sustain.
13. What to do about environmental (weather) influences?
LE: The wood of he guitar will react to changes in temperature and humidity. Your guitar needs to be in a stable environment. Best thing is to keep the guitar in its case. When entering a cold (or warm) room let the guitar acclimate in the case before using it. In the winter when the air is very dry you can use a humidifier in your guitar.
14. Is shipping the guitar safe?
LE: I have shipped my guitars all over the world over the last 15 years. In one or two cases the delivery was delayed, but never was a guitar damaged. I normally ship with the courier UPS. This is fast and safe. The guitar is insured during the shipment.
15. What is your relationship to Stochelo Rosenberg?
LE: Stochelo and I know eachother for more than 15 years now. We became close friends, and I also know his family very well. Stochelo endorses my instruments for more 10 years now! He has played on my guitars on many occasions, CD’s and DVD’s. A highlight was the concert by the Rosenberg Trio in Samois sur Seine 2003, which was recorded on DVD and CD.
16. Besides Stochelo Rosenberg which other known artists are playing your guitars?
LE: Well known players are Boulou and Elios Ferre, Robin Nolan, Wawau Adler, Biel Ballester, Daniel and Mozes Rosenberg and many more.
17. Why do your guitars stand out ?
LE: I make these guitar for over 15 years now, and I only build these types of guitars and restore original ones. I am specialized in this small area of guitar making. I learned a lot by restoring original Selmers, Busato’s, Favino’s and many other guitars. I was able to use this knowledge to improve my own instruments over the years. This resulted in a constant quality of good sounding and good looking guitars. Another advantage is that I play the guitar myself. That helped me a lot in contacts with my customers. I believe that my skills improved over the years and that I am able to make an authentic copy of the Selmer guitar. The sound of my guitars are very close to the vintage sound of on old and used guitar.
18. What do you think of luthiers that are using the name Selmer on their guitars ? LE: Mario Maccferri started the Selmer history by setting up a guitar production line in the Selmer factory. These guitars were made famous by Django Reinhardt. The name Selmer represents an important part of French/Italian history with respect to stringed instruments. In my opinion it is not respectfull to use the name Selmer on the head stock or use the same label on you replica guitar. Not everybody is able to see the difference. Some people will pay a hugh amount of money for a guitar that shows out to be a copy. That is one reason you should not use the name Selmer. The other reason is that the history of Selmer guitars becomes conterminated with these copies. I think you should respect this history. If you are building replica’s of the Selmer guitars use your own name on the instrument.