Robert Armstrong's painted Django Guitar

20120516-135729.jpg Michael Simmons of Fretboard Journal says:
Today is the 59th anniversary of Django Reinhardt's death. To honor him, I posted images of a guitar that I had Robert Armstrong paint for me years ago. The top features Django in heaven, the back has a street scene of Django and the Quintet of the Hot Club of France (The fifth member is using the pissoir on the right) and the sides show various scenes from Django's life. (Yes, he did have a pet monkey.) When I first asked him if he would paint this guitar for me he said no. This was back in 1996 when people were painting their electric guitars with heavy metal images like skulls and devils and that’s what he thought I was asking for. But when I said I had a Selmer copy I wanted decorated with scenes from Django’s life he said, “Well, why didn’t you say so?’” It took Armstrong and me a few months to decide on the basic visual elements (finding a photo of an authentic Parisian pissoir proved to be particularly challenging) and then it took him about a year to finish the painting. The guitar is playable and still sounds pretty good but I don’t like to pick it for fear of damaging the paint. The guitar proved to be something of an inspiration to Armstrong and he has since gone on to produce a line of painted ukuleles.
Robert Armstrong's painted Django guitar


  1. Django’s left hand isn’t quite right. There was a fire in the Reinhardt family trailer and Django terribly burned his left hand rescuing his son. He was left with the use of only a couple of fingers to do all those amazing riffs. It’s a monumental testimony to the music in the man’s soul that it managed to get out still in spite of his having a gimped-up left hand.

    1. I thought so too, but remember he didn’t lose the fingers, they were just kind of useless and withered. Maybe that’s why the burned fingers (ring and pinky) look so much smaller and aren’t chording.

      Or maybe I’m overanalyzing.

      1. The ring finger and the pinkie on Django’s left hand were burned in the fire but he did have very limited use of them. They were sort of permanently semi-curled but he could do some limited fretting with them. There’s a good close-up of his hand here:

  2. I scanned this as “Robert Armstrong’s patented Django’s Guitar” and I arrived here in a state of high dudgeon. Pleasantly surprised.

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