Joseph Di Mauro / Special Chorus / 1940's / Original / Guitar
This model was designed by the elder Joseph Di Mauro (1894-1966), not to be confused with the younger Joseph (1932-2001), one of the three sons of Joseph’s younger brother, Antoine Di Mauro (1900-1976).
While Antoine’s and his son Joseph’s instruments are more common, the elder Joseph is well known for his use of exquisite woods including almost exclusive use of Birdseye maple for the back and sides, top-of-the-line hardware and meticulous construction.
Joseph and Antoine both marked their work with the Special Chorus design. Easily their most well-known design, it still shows characteristics typical of traditions by Italian luthiers: mahogany neck, laminated back and sides, a three-piece neck and an bowled arched back similar to Busato, Bucolo, etc.. However, their model, including an unique bracing design, combined the Selmer body with archtop style F soundholes.
This instrument includes a gorgeously bound Birdseye Maple body, both back and sides, distinct f sound holes, ivoroid celluloid and rped bindings. Furthermore, besides the mop fret markers, it features gold glitter markers. This was something that Joseph used from time to time, but only on his more luxurous models. Because of these unique attributes and with only a handful of known surviving J. Di Mauro copies, especially in tis condition, this model is exceedingly rare.
It also features an extra-long scale of 68cm, which was more often seen on Anastasios and Busatos to create both punch and timbre. Chords are very punchy and the highend response are crystal clear. Combined with the F-hole design, the result is an instrument with great volume, a mature sound that is dry, has the power of a gypsy jazz guitar and with the clarity of an archtop.
This example carries many elements, characteristic of a early 1940’s Joseph Di Mauro guitar, including: a four piece top, indicating this was built at wartime, due to woods scarcity, the f hole design, the three piece neck (mahogany with rosewood spline), a nickel tailpiece that only takes loop ends. Considering the guitar's age, the condition is very good. The top has no cracks. The binding was restored on a few places (right after the video was shot),one button of the tuners has been replaced. It plays perfectly, with low 2.8mm action. This is a great guitar.
- Luthier Joseph Di Mauro
- Model Guitare Jazz Spécial Chorus
- Year 1940s
- Case Lowden
- Sound Hole F-hole
- Frets 19 (14 Frets to the body)
- Body Size 48cm; 16 1/4"
- Scale Length 680mm; 26 3/4” (extra-long)
- Nut Width 45mm; 1 3/4”
- Body Depth 9 cm
- Lower Bout Width 41 cm
- Waist Width 24 cm
- Upper Bout Width 29 cm
- Top Solid Spruce
- Back and Sides Laminated Birdseye Maple
- Neck Three piece, Mahogany with Rosewood spline
- Fingerboard Rosewood
- Binding Ivoroid Celluloid
- Bridge Rosewood (Leo Eimers)
- Fret markers Mother of pearl
- Tailpiece Original nickel (only takes loop-end)
- Tuners Original Delareulle, brass
- Condition Used but in good condition
- Weight 3.5 lbs
Well before World War II, Di Mauro guitars were played alongside the much more expensive Selmer guitars. Even after Selmer ended guitar production in 1952, DiMauros were still the more affordable compared to Busatos and Favinos. The Di Mauro brothers were famed for their alchemy: fairly priced guitars to meet the demand in the lower end of the market, yet a lush, opulent sound. Their vintage tone is still appreciated by many contemporary professionals today.
Notable players of Di Mauro guitars are or were: Django Reinhardt, Babik Reinhardt, Baro Ferret (depicted on the left with a modéle cœur), Boulou Ferre, Francis-Alfred Moerman, Jacques Brel, George Brassens, Sacha Distel, Henri Salvador, Jacques Higelin (modéle cœur), Bireli Lagrene, Dorado Schmitt, Tchavolo Schmitt, Moreno, Brady Winterstein, Boulou Ferré, Ninine Garcia, Patrick Saussois, Samy Daussat, Joscho Stephan, Eric Clapton, Pat Metheny.
While being trained as instrument makers, the Di Mauro brothers both build classical guitars and mandolins in Catania, an epicenter for string instrument crafting in Sicily. As part of the first Italian diaspora of master Sicilian luthiers and carpenters immigrating to France, fleeing from Mussolini’s fascist regime and state controlled (music) factories after countless of business failures from the effects of the Great Depression, including halted production of the massive instrument factory G. Puglisi Reale e Figli, Joseph starting crafting steel-string (jazz) guitars in Paris in 1925 while Antoine followed in 1934.
The Di Mauros built many types stringed instruments, but after the introduction of Mario Maccaferri’s Selmer French jazz guitars, starting 1932 and after its popularization by Django Reinhardt soon after, Di Mauro’s instruments were largely inspired by Selmer. Both brothers added distinct particularities to the Maccaferri’s formula: heart hole, f-holes, distinct woods, and later, electric pick-ups.
While Antoine Di Mauro’s expanded his family business at his own instruments factory, Joseph the elder worked at a small luthier shop, Gallesi, located at Rue Guénot 2 in the 11th district of Paris. When Gallesi passed away in 1952, Joseph took over his business and continued producing numerous instruments until death in 1966. Antoine retired in when one of his sons, Joseph, took over name and management until 1993 after selling the factory to urbanization.