I have been playing in a gyspy jazz band for over 7 years now and we have recorded 2 CDs. All this time we have been playing standard steel strung electro-acoustic guitars (Yahama APXs) which have served us faithfully but don't give that authentic gypsy jazz sound. We have always planned to get 'proper' guitars and now I have had the opportunity to do so. I still didn't want to spend an enormous amount of money so I have looked at the budget end of the ranges available. In the end I have bought a Gitane D-500. This is a grand bouche copy of the original Maccaferri guitar which Django Reinhardt started his jazz playing on but which now seems to be the design favoured by gypsy jazz rhythm guitarists. The scale length is slightly shorter than the petite bouche models so the string tension is also less which makes it easier to play a whole gig's rhythm guitar without too much hand cramp.
The first noticeable difference when playing this guitar is how much louder it is than the old electro-acoustic. This is entirely logical since the electro-acoustic has a plywood top and is designed to stop feedback at high levels of amplification whereas the Gitane is designed for maximum acoustic volume and projection but the difference is staggering. The sound is very authentic and as soon as I played it Django licks sounded ten times better than on any ordinary guitar. The neck is flatter and wider than a standard guitar which I find very comfortable. The finish and fittings is excellent although perhaps the machine heads will need replacing after a few years.
All in all I am very pleased with this guitar and can't wait to use it on a gig. It doesn't have a fitted transducer so I am having a Big Tone pickup inserted into the bridge to help feedback-free amplification in larger venues.