Thursday, October 09, 2014

A Rare Guitar

Oscar Alemán in stage performance, 1970s
October 14th this year it is 34 years since Oscar Alemán passed away. To commemorate his legacy to the world, this entry puts focus on an important unsolved question regarding Alemán's guitar model, which he used in stage performance and recordings during the last decades of his long career - an essential tool that is unmistakably associated with Alemán's 'sound' from c.1954-1980 when performing on an amplified instrument. I have earlier posted some tentative information about the guitars used by Alemán during his career here. - However, I am not an expert, but luckily we have now had knowledgeable assistance from Luis 'Tito' Liber, who has investigated the peculiarities that are to be observed at Alemán's amplified guitar. Below you can read his considerations.
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A Rare Guitar
by
Luis 'Tito' Liber
OA in stage performance at Teatro de la Comedia, July 1971
We know that Oscar used a French Selmer Maccaferrigrande bouche’ guitar, sound hole shaped like a ‘D’, during the 1940s. But later in his career (ca. 1954-1980), it appeared he had changed to another - and in fact- unusual Selmer, now electrified with a pickup, fixed inside an oblong, oval (- or ellipsoidal)  sound hole.
This instrument may belong to the transition period of Selmer guitars (1935 onwards), in which Maccaferri had abandoned the firm. That era was characterized by guitars with an oval sound hole (‘petite bouche’). Guitars with oblong, oval sound holes, however, are not included in official Selmer catalogues. It seems that they didn`t produce guitars with that characteristic at all!

Alemán's Selmer model (photo courtesy by Sergio Pujol)
Back to Oscar`s guitar, it could be that some luthier, for instance Don Sergio Repiso, had modified the top deck (- and the fret board and head) at the time he is known to have fixed the pickup (a De Armond).

Luthier Sergio Rapiso in his workshop, notice the 'grande bouche' model, left
Here are the differences between Oscar`s guitar and a common, listed Selmer model:
1. Oblong, oval sound hole
2. No zero fret
3. Ivory inlay on the head front 

Alemán's Selmer model (photo courtesy Daniel Cossarini)
So far, we can confirm that the instrument is a: Selmer, Paris, with oblong, oval sound hole
Model ca. 1938, series number 475. Short scale
It has a sticker of Antigua Casa Núñez (- it may have been repaired there or imported by that Buenos Aires firm?) inside the box below the official Selmer logo (see picture)

Close-up of sound hole
De Armond 1000 Rhythm Chief pick-up

1959 magazine ad, De Armond soundhole pickup
Oscar used this model ca. 1954-1980. The guitar was donated by Alemán to the CECUAL, Chaco, Argentina.

Oscar Alemán's Selmer in box (photo courtesy Daniel Cossarini)
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Luis 'Tito' Liber

4 Comments:

Blogger Hot Club de Boedo said...

Muy buen post, las guitarras que hizo Sergio Repiso tipo Selmer parece ser que las copió de una guitarra medio despedazada regalo de Django que trajo Jorge Lagos (según sus propias palabras) cuando estuvo en Francia, era la de boca chica y parece ser que Don Sergio copio la boca en forma de D a ese modelo de guitarra, según testimonios de Ravera y Zaragoza quienes tocaron con Oscar y poseían esas guitarras con la característica de la boca en forma de D y el mango mas largo, el traste XII queda fuera de la caja.
Un renovado placer visitar el blog. Reciban un gran abrazo de Waldo Fonseca y los muchachos de HCB

6:29 PM  
Blogger Jo said...

Thanks, Waldo, for the added information, it's great to have some light focused on Alemán's instrument - the shape of the sound hole and the other peculiarities mentioned in the article have been a mystery so far. But still, can we now conclude that it in fact was Sergio Repiso who modified Oscar's Selmer?
Jo

9:16 PM  
Blogger exonautes said...

we have set up a facebook page of owners and lovers of Repiso Guitars

https://www.facebook.com/repisoguitars

like it pls

7:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the excellent book " The Story of Selmer Maccaferri Guitars" by Francois CHARLE (ISBN 2-9513516-1-5)
the guitar with the serial number 475 is listed on page 248. The buyer is listed as "Casa America" "Buenos Aires" with the date of manufacture given as "20.04.39"

This surely must be Oscars guitar, although as indicated on the webpage, it looks to have been modified, possibly to facilitate the mounting of the pickup system.

Marek VA

11:46 PM  

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