Stimer Modele S.T. 48

Sometime around 1946, the great jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt began amplifying his trademark Selmer acoustic. His choice of pickup—not that there were many at that time to choose from—was the Stimer, which straddled the dinky oval soundhole of the petit bouche (small mouth) Selmer, and was secured to the front edge of the soundhole in money clip-style fashion.
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Today, guitarists who play vintage Selmers—or their modern-day equivalents—again only have one choice in magnetic pickups. Yep, it’s the Stimer S.T. 48 ($275 retail/street price N/A). Made by France’s Maurice Dupont, who is also one of the most respected makers of modern Selmer-style guitars, the S.T. 48 is a beautiful unit that features a built-in Volume control and a one-piece metal cover (which is nickel plated and sports “Stimer Paris” engraved into its top). The unit features a r" output jack, and it comes with a quality rubber-shrouded cord with r" and 1" plugs.

Tested on a new Gitane John Jorgenson model, I found it a snap to get the pickup in place. You simply slide it under the strings, and push it into place until it presses against the end of the fretboard. Rubber pads on the bottom of the pickup prevent scratching the guitar’s top, and the spring-clip retainer keeps the unit snug.

Plugged into a small Fender Blues Junior tube amp, the Stimer sounded round and smooth, and it translated the unique upper-midrange color of the guitar reasonably well. The only problem was that the B and E strings of the Argentine set I had on this guitar were significantly louder than the other four strings. As there’s no way to compensate for this balance problem—which is exacerbated by the Argentine’s non-magnetic copper/silver formula—I replaced them with a set of flatwound D’Addario Chromes, which are a popular choice for jazz. They worked surprisingly well with the S.T. 48, and though the sound was more akin to that of a standard archtop, the string balance was definitely better.

Admittedly, the Gitane didn’t sound very authentic with the Chromes—which is likely why John Jorgenson—also a S.T. 48 user—sticks with the Argentine strings, and just deals with the balance issues. Jorgenson reports that he also plugs into an Ibanez TS5 pedal with the Distortion set to zero and the Tone control about halfway up.

“This gives me a tone that is warmer and more balanced, much like Django sounded like through his small tube amp on the later recordings,” he says.

Stimer also makes a version of this pickup designed to fit the larger “D” soundhole of the “grand bouche” Selmers (and their modern equivalents), as well as the Modele S.T. 51, which is basically the same as the S.T 48, but with a separate Volume control that can be adhered anywhere you want.