The Selmer ‘Eddie Freeman Special’
The Guitar was called the Grand Modele Quatre Cortes, the Grand 4-String Model, best used to accompany Voice or for Solo Instrumental Harmonies.
This Guitar was developed to transition Tenor Banjo Players to Guitar in the 1930s in London. Banjo players could make the change relatively effortlessly by going from a 4-String Tenor Banjo to the 4-String design of the Grand Modele Quatre Cortes Guitar.
This early Maccaferri was considered a prototypical Model Guitar. The Eddie Freeman version Guitar was built without an internal Sound Chamber. The Guitar also had a different shape headstock as well as a change in the Rosette Design. One of the most apparent design changes was in the Eddie Freeman Special.
This Selmer Maccaferri has an early Serial Number and has the Mario Maccaferri Patent Stamp on the Headstock. The Spruce top is split with a hatchet to induce the natural strength of the Wood for stability purposes.
The Back & Sides are Laminated Rosewood. The Neck has a non-adjustable, Aluminium Truss Rod and the Guitar has a French Polish finish & Gold-plated Hardware.
Al Bowlly Singer & Rhythm Guitarist is playing a 6-string D-Hole Selmer Maccaferri in Ray Nobles Orchestra
Selmer Eddie Freeman Special 4 String Guitar Plan
The EFS had been designed by English Tenor Banjoist Eddie Freeman to have a better 6-String Guitar Sonority for Jazz & Dance Band Rhythm Guitar work than the normal Tenor Guitar with its very high A-String. However, it was still tuned CGDA so that it could be played by Tenor Banjoists.
Maccaferri heavily promoted the EFS Guitar through the Melody Maker and Eddie Freeman even wrote a Special Tune for it called ‘In All Sincerity’.
This Guitar, unfortunately, was not commercially successful in the 1930s, possibly due to concerted resistance by the British 6-String Guitar Fraternity. Many were subsequently converted to much more valuable 6-String Models because of the Django Reinhardt connection. Originals of the Eddie Freeman Special are now very rare and are consequently highly valuable. Christie’s sold one for £5000.
One of the reasons why many Jazz Guitarists used to prefer 4-Stringed Tenor & Plectrum Guitars was that they seldom played more than 4-note “Inner Chords” so they didn’t really need the 1st & 6th strings. The 2 main 4-String Models offered by Selmer included a regular Tenor Guitar, with a 23-ins Scale Length, tuned CGDA, and the Eddie Freeman Special, with a larger Body and a longer Scale Length, using a re-entrant CGDA Tuning. The Eddie Freeman Special had been designed by English Tenor Banjoist Eddie Freeman to have a better 6-String Guitar Sonority for Rhythm Guitar work than the normal Tenor Guitar with its very High A-String. However, it was still Tuned CGDA so that it could still be played by Tenor Banjoists.
The Eddie Freeman Special was based on a 6-String Model and it had a larger 6-String Body and a 6-String Scale Length of 25¼-ins rather than the Tenor’s smaller Body and normal 23-ins Scale Length. The CGDA Tuning used was re-entrant with the C & D tuned in the same Octave and the G & the A tuned in the same Octave, lowering the overall Tone. The Tuning & Scale Length give this very unusual 4-String Guitar a Sonority that is very close to that of the 6-String Guitar, compared to a regular Tenor Guitar. There are also Promotional Photos of the well known British Singer, Banjoist & Guitarist Al Bowlly, playing the Eddie Freeman Special and it can be seen in use by Ray Noble’s Guitarist in a Recording Session Photo of his Orchestra.
Al Bowlly is playing a 6-string D-Hole Selmer Maccaferri in Ray Nobles Orchestra
This Guitar, unfortunately, was not commercially successful in the 1930s, possibly due to concerted resistance by the British 6-String Guitar fraternity, particularly Ivor Mairants.
Selmer ‘Eddie Freeman’
Originally conceived by Dance Band Guitarist Edward Freeman as a hybrid Instrument sitting somewhere between the Banjo & Guitar. Selmer produced this ill-fated instrument in the 1930s. What the late Luthier D J Hodson did recently was to revive the design to offer an alternative to the standard Tenor Specification Guitar that he also produced. The Freeman is basically a D-hole 503 but with a full-scale 4-String Neck, only 32mm at the Nut.
The feel is similar to a Banjo but the sound is all Guitar, very punchy when tuned to the middle 4-Strings of the Standard Guitar (A D G B) – a some prefer to tune. It can be tuned as a Plectrum Banjo (C G B D) or the alleged Freeman tuning (C G D A, this being the most likely, as reported in Francois Charle’s Book) whichever Tuning is used, it still produces a strong pounding Rhythm ideal for any Acoustic Ensemble. This is not a novelty instrument but a Guitar Design that really works, perhaps Ed Freeman’s day will yet come after all.