1933 Selmer Orchestra model Maccaferri oval soundhole guitar, no. 269, labelled “Fabrique en France, Selmer & Cie, Orchestra, 269” the open peg box stamped “Special, Henri Selmer, Paris” and bearing “HSC” gold tuners, 24 fret ebony fingerboard (14 to the body), the back and side of Indian rosewood, bound to the spruce table with ebony and boxwood lines, string banding to the oval soundhole, ebony bridge and “HSC” gold tailpiece, original Henri Selmer hard case
Toni “Ray” Gallo from Green Lanes, London, a proficient guitarist and tutor, inherited his Selmer Maccafferi Orchestra guitar from his late father Louis Gallo, in 1988.
Ray can be seen playing the guitar here:- http://www.louisgalloguitarist.com/index.php/2
Selmer Orchestra, number 269, as listed in The Selmer Book by Francois Charle, indicates this guitar started life as a 4 string in 1933. It is widely said that Mario Maccaferri only built Selmer guitars himself, in the years 1932/33.
Louis Gallo, a pioneer of plectrum jazz style guitar, had the guitar changed to a 6 string head/neck in the 1960s. Louis, instructed his good friend, Marco Roccia a master luthier and employee of Clifford Essex Co. (who published BMG magazine at the time), to carry out the alterations to the guitar, as it is found today.
Louis and Marco, who both could count Mario Maccaferri as a personal freind, visited Paris many times in the 1950/60s and during this time bought original Maccaferri components from Pierre Beuscher musical instruments, Paris-15e, which were subsequently used on Selmer Maccaferri no. 269. The illustrated receipt for these parts, which is held by Ray Gallo, supports these facts.
Louis Gallo (1907 – 1988)
Louis Gallo was a pioneer of plectrum jazz style guitar in this country and a great admirer of Eddie Lang. He made arrangements of many of his solos from the 20s and 30s and was in great demand as a performer, both solo and in some of the great dance bands of the pre and post war era. It was, however,as a remarkable and influential teacher, that Louis will best be remembered. For over 50 years he taught in London and many of his pupils went on to become successful professional musicians. He could count such luminaries as Django Reinhardt, Mario Maccaferri, Joe Pass and many other stars of the guitar world as personal friends. He had an enduring and lifelong friendship with the genius luthier, Marco Roccia, the man behind the great Clifford Essex instruments including the world famous “Paragon” banjos and guitars.
Marco Roccia (1902 – 1987)
(Words taken from the Marco Roccia obituary, page 48, Guitar International magazine, September 1987)
In the days of BMG and Clifford Publishing Company, Marco was the best repairer in the business, looking after many famous instruments during his fifty years with Clifford Essex. Marco has said that after a spot in the army during the war effort, he again started with Mr Sharpe (Clifford Essex new owner) at £5 a week. Marco was made his own boss but had to start from scratch, making his own jigs and sourcing woods. In his spare time, he copied the Maccaferri model as well and making a few classical guitars.
Marco learned most bout guitars from repairing “a good hundred” antique examples that were bought to him. People would bring him Martins, Lacotes and Panormos.
Marco recalls reparing a few Torres and other famous guitars. ” In those days the Torres was known as the Stradivarius of the guitar. Next to that was the Martin, a marvellous guitar. The only fault was the fingerboard used to give, but when you made a new fingerboard, then the guitar lasted practically forever. Simplicio, Santos Hernandez, Yacopi, Hernandez, Fernandez – they were all great guitars. Julian Bream had a Martin, it was his first guitar. He was a kid then and his father brought it in. I believe I gave that one a new fingerboard too, and I remember the bridge was coming off, so I might have made a new one. That Martin was the guitar he played his Wigmore debut on.”
Beofre the war, everytime Segovia came to London he would come to Clifford Essex to have his guitar put in order by Marco. He recalls “Segovia was very friendly with Mr Clifford Essex. In those days the office was in Bond Street and the workshop at the Oval. Mr Clifford Essex junior used to bring the guitars down about twice a week in a taxi. I repaired Segovia’s Hauser three of four times. either refretting or giving it a new saddle.”
Marco Roccia retired in 1977 when Clifford Essex’s famous establishment in Earlham Street closed down.
For years Marco used to meet his lifelong friend, Lois Gallo, regularly each Friday lunchtime at the ‘Italian’. Louis tells us that he will miss his old pal and that goes for a lot of other people too.