The Best Jazz Guitars (Top 15) – Survey Results

Guitarists in all genres love their gear, especially their guitars of choice, and jazzers are no different. In order to find out exactly what jazz guitarists are playing these days, we set out to conduct a survey of JGO readers and asked them about their best jazz guitar.

After getting back over 5000 responses from jazz guitarists all over the world, we’ve put together the results in this list that you can refer to the next time you are wondering what other jazz cats are playing, or are looking for a new jazz guitar model to add to your collection.

Though it is not surprising that Gibson guitars are the most popular brand chosen by readers, what might come as a surprise was the variety of other brands that made the list and the fact that as many people played “other” brands as they did Gibson. This result shows a healthy variety of options for jazz guitar players looking to explore quality guitars in a variety of price ranges.

Take a look through the survey results and see where your current (or dream guitar) landed in our ranking of the best jazz guitars as chosen by you, the JGO community.


The best jazz guitars


Played by some of the most legendary jazz guitarists of all time (Wes Montgomery, Pat Metheny, Johnny Smith, Barney Kessel), Gibson archtops have long been associated with the classic jazz guitar tone that many guitarists strive for in their playing.

Therefore it is not surprising that Gibson guitars landed at the top of our survey, as they continue to be the guitar of choice for jazz guitarists of all backgrounds and experience levels.

Here are the most popular models of our survey.


Gibson ES-175

Price Range: $1,900 – $18,600

The Gibson ES-175 has long been one of the most popular and famous jazz guitars on the market. Debuted in 1949, this guitar was designed to be a laminated alternative to the L-5 and an amplified version of the L-4.

Its playability, its consistent clean tone, and its durable nature make it the go-to choice for many legendary players, including Pat Metheny and Joe Pass who played this guitar at different points in their careers.


Gibson ES-175DN


Gibson ES-335

Price Range: $1,200 – $26,000

First built in 1958, the Gibson ES-335 is a thinline, semi-hollow body guitar that has worked its way into jazz through the work of great players such as B.B. King, Larry Carlton, and others.

Designed to provide a middle ground between the Les Paul and Gibson’s archtop models, which back in the day had issues with feeding back at high volumes, the ES-335 bridges the gap between an archtop and the ability to reign in feedback and create a warm tone at high volumes.


Gibson ES-335


Gibson L-5

Price Range: $4,100 – $18,100

Having been in continues production since 1922, the L-5 is the pinnacle of the Gibson archtop collection, in no small part to the fact that Wes Montgomery made it his guitar of choice during his short, but highly successful career. Other players that have chosen the L-5 as their guitar of choice are Tuck Andress, Lee Ritenour, Pat Martino, and Eddie Lang.

Though these guitars come with a hefty price tag, the L-5 is still the Gibson guitar that many players save their pennies for as they search for the perfect (Wes Montgomery inspired) tone.


Gibson L-5


Other Gibson Models (in order of popularity)

  • L-4 $2,600 – $3,200
  • ES-137 $1,200 – $2,200
  • ES-339 $1,100 – $3,000
  • ES-125 $850 – $2,600
  • ES-165 Herb Ellis $1,500 – $2,100
  • ES-330 $1,700 – $7,300
  • ES-135 $950 – $1,600
  • Howard Roberts $1,400 – 3,200
  • Super 400 $4,000 – $10,500


Setting out to offer more affordable options for jazz, Ibanez guitars have gained a firm hold in the market as they have been endorsed (or played) by top-level guitarists such as John Scofield, Ben Monder, George Benson, and Pat Metheny.

For players that are looking for a durable, great-sounding guitar, but don’t want to break the bank in the process, Ibanez offers a range of guitars for jazzers of all backgrounds, tastes, and levels of ability.


Ibanez Artcore AF75, AF95, AF105

Price Range: $175 – $650

Released in 2002, the Artcore is Ibanez’s line of semi and hollow-body guitars geared towards players that are looking for an affordable jazz guitar.

Though they are not held in the same high regard as the Artist Series, which are coveted by players for their playability and affordable price tag, the Artcore series makes for a durable, good-sounding introductory jazz guitar at a much more affordable price tag than their Gibson counterparts.


Ibanez AF75


Ibanez GB10 George Benson

Price Range: $1,300 – $3,600

Having recently celebrated 30 years of collaboration, Ibanez and George Benson offer several signature models for the jazz guitarist to choose from.

With a wide price range, the Ibanez GB series of signature guitars offers a number of options for players looking to gain that fat, warm Benson tone in their own playing.

The GB10 model does come with a fairly significant price tag, the high-quality and signature Benson tone that this guitar provides have kept it at the forefront of the jazz guitar signature model marketplace.


Ibanez GB10


Other Ibanez Models (in order of popularity)

  • Artstar AS200 $1,100 – $2,400
  • Artcore AK95 $350 – $500
  • Artcore AS73 $200 – $450
  • PM100 Pat Metheny $1,500 – $2,400


Long having been associated with rock and blues guitarists, mostly for the prominence of the Stratocaster model with these genres, Fender has slowly made inroads into the jazz guitar realm over the years as notable players such as Ted Greene, Ed Bickert, and Mike Stern have all chosen Fender Telecasters for their jazz recordings and performances.


Fender Telecaster

Price Range: $275 – $40,000

The Fender Telecaster is the most popular Fender guitar when it comes to jazz guitarists.

Providing a warm tone, with the durability and ease of play that Fender guitars have become known for, the Telecaster is a workhorse guitar, one that players will bring on the road and not have to worry about it working day in and day out under any condition.

Since the Tele is either a solid-body design or solid-body with F holes, it can be played at high volumes without the risk of feedback.


Fender Telecaster


Other Fender Models

  • Jazzmaster $600 – $12,000


Though many Gibson Archtop Guitars are beyond the price range of many players, Epiphone guitars are designed to provide the look and feel of a Gibson at a fraction of the price.

With a wide variety of both Gibson copies (such as the popular ES-175 and ES-335), as well as their own line of archtop guitars (featuring the Emperor and Sheraton models), Epiphone provides both copy and unique guitars that fans of Gibson archtops can enjoy and use as their go-to jazz guitar.


Epiphone Joe Pass Emperor II

Price Range: $350 – $700

Released just before his passing in 1994, the Joe Pass Emperor is Joe’s signature Epiphone model which he chose to release after having previously worked with Ibanez on his signature guitar releases.

Though he endorsed the guitar and Epiphone has said that he had a hand in designing the Emperor II, Joe was mostly seen and heard playing his Gibson ES-175.

While he may not have played the guitar that often, players looking to get a bit of that classic Joe Pass sound in their playing (without shelling out for a 175) will often choose this guitar as their main axe.


Epiphone Joe Pass Emperor II


Epiphone ES-335 Dot

Price Range: $350 – $740

A more affordable version of the Gibson ES-335, the Epiphone 335 (or “The Dot” as it is also referred to) is designed to provide players with the warm tone and long sustain associated with the Gibson version, but at a fraction of the sticker price.

Produced in the same colors as the Gibson model, including the iconic Red Cherry finish, this Epiphone model has become popular over the years, and it is usually held as the most consistent and playable of all the Epiphone jazz guitars.


Epiphone ES-335 Dot


Epiphone Sheraton II

Price Range: $350 – $700

Though this semi-hollow Epiphone is often sold for under $750, it has managed to find endorsements by some big names in the rock and blues worlds, such as John Lee Hooker, Noel Gallagher, and Brian Aubert.

While this guitar has been used mostly in the rock realm, jazz guitarists that are looking for a semi-hollow guitar at an affordable price will often reach for a Sheraton II as their guitar of choice.

With a fixed tailpiece and twin humbucker setup, the Sheraton II provides a warm set of tones, as well as longer sustain compared to a full archtop.


Epiphone Sheraton II


Other Epiphone Models (in order of popularity)

  • ES-175 Premium $500 – $650
  • Broadway $800 – $3,100
  • ES-339 $265 – $500
  • Casino $300 – $7,300


After moving from China to the United States in 1992 to study music, Qian Ni subsequently founded Eastman Strings. The company first began as a violin import company and has now expanded to produce the Eastman Guitar line, which has been quickly growing in popularity in recent years.

Though they don’t have the celebrity endorsements or the long history of Fender or Gibson, Eastman Guitars has quietly been growing their Artist’s list, as well as making waves among jazz guitarist who try out their various models, and who are now championing the brand to friends through word of mouth.

As their reputation continues to grow, Eastman Guitars is quickly becoming a name to watch, and a guitar to try out.


Eastman AR371CE

Price Range: $450 – $1,000

One of the most popular Eastman Guitar models, the AR371CE is a single cutaway, laminated, and single-humbucker archtop guitar that is designed to compete with the best archtops produced by Ibanez and Epiphone.

Though they may be hard to get a hold of for a test drive, depending on where you live and how hip your local guitar store is, the AR371CE is a guitar that is worth looking for and trying out, even if you have to travel a bit to do so.


Eastman AR371CE


Other Eastman Models

  • AR803CE-16, AR805CE, AR810CE $900 – $1,500


Founded in 1972 by Robert Godin, and currently located in Montreal (Canada), Godin guitars have a long history of making high quality, affordable acoustic and electric guitars of various shapes and sizes.

Though most renowned for their acoustic models, the Godin 5th Avenue and other Godin models have become the guitar of choice for jazz guitarists such as Gustavo Assis-Brazil, Al DiMeola, Fareed Haque, and John McLaughlin.


Godin 5th Avenue

Price Range: $300 – $1,500

Covering a wide range of shapes and sizes, including cutaway and non-cutaway models, as well as acoustic and electric models, the 5th Avenue series from Godin has been making ground in recent years with jazz guitarists.

Designed to provide classic archtop sounds and playability at an affordable price, these guitars embody the look and feel of classic archtops, but with a modern approach to construction and at a fraction of the cost of a new or used Gibson.


Godin 5th Avenue



Originally founded in 1883 by Fredrich Gretsch, Gretsch Guitars has undergone a lot of changes over the years, but what remains the same is the company’s quality-built and iconic guitar models that appeal to players from across genres and musical tastes.

Currently, Gretsch has a production and distribution partnership with Fender, although Fred Gretsch III maintains ownership of the company.

While Gretsch is often associated with country players such as Chet Atkins and Swing players such as Brian Setzer, jazz guitarists have also used Gretsch models over the years, including Rune Gustafsson, Sal Salvador, and George Van Eps.


Gretsch G5120 Electromatic

Price Range: $350 – $500

With a single cutaway, two dual-coil pickups, and the classic Bigsby tailpiece, the Gretsch G5120 is a guitar that crosses boundaries and genres.

While this guitar might be more suited for jump swing, country, and rockabilly, its design lends it to be a nice sounding jazz guitar that will cut through a larger band setting, while still maintaining a warm, hollow-body sound.


Gretsch 5120 Electromatic



Founded in 1985 by former workers at the Gibson Guitar factory in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Heritage guitars has aimed to keep the same high standards one expects from a Gibson jazz guitar, without raising prices to the point where most players couldn’t afford this level of quality.

A number of top-level guitarists have endorsed and/or played Heritage guitars over the years, including Johnny Smith, Alex Skolnick, Mimi Fox, and Kenny Burrell.


Heritage H-575

Price Range: $1,300 – $2,100

With a look similar to the classic Gibson ES-175 that used to be built in the manufacturing plant that Heritage inherited from its previous owners, the H-575 is a high-quality archtop at a medium price range.

With a boutique quality to it, this guitar imbues all of the traits that collectors and players look for in a classic Gibson archtop, though one that is built in the modern era.


Heritage H-575


Other Heritage Models

  • H-535 $1,400 – $1,700
  • Golden Eagle $3,200 – $6,600

Other Brands

Below is a quick listing of some of the other guitars that were mentioned in the survey, but that didn’t make it to the top makes and models listed above.

  • Yamaha SA2200 $1,200 – $2,600
  • Guild Starfire $1,200 – $3,500
  • Peerless Monarch $870 – $2,300
  • Höfner Jazzica $1,700 – $5,200
  • Washburn J3 $400 – $600
  • Hagström Viking $360 – $2,000
  • Aria Pro II PE-175 Herb Ellis $900 – $1,100
  • D’angelico Excel $14,000 – $20,000
  • Sadowsky Jimmy Bruno $3,000 – $4,500
  • Schecter Corsair $450 – $600
  • Gitane D-500 (Gypsy Jazz Guitar) $600 – $1,200


Download this popular jazz guitars infographic as an infographic here…


What do you think of this list and what is the best jazz guitar in your opinion? Let us know in the comments below…

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211 thoughts on “The Best Jazz Guitars (Top 15) – Survey Results”

  1. John Nigel Thomas

    A couple of years I bought a used but mint Peerless Monarch with a Kent Armstrong floater for about one tenth of the price of an L5. I know a guy who plays an L5, but my Monarch is better in every way: construction, fit and finish (flawless), looks, and most importantly, sound. An absolute tone monster. I couldn’t be better pleased.
    Two weeks ago I found a 1984 Matsumoku-built Westone Thunder 1, a solid-body guitar, impeccably made by Japanese craftsmen, with twin humbuckers with coil-split facility. In split mode with the tone rolled off the neck p/u sounds utterly amazing. It is all the jazz guitar you could want. Cost? £250. It absolutely blows that L5 into the weeds.

  2. James

    Heritage Sweet 16 is my workhorse jazz box. Anyone who plays jazz to any extent only uses the neck pup anyway, and mine only has the one floating pickup. Fantastic fat jazz tone!

  3. Dave

    The best jazz guitar is the one you got in your hands. Like a carpenter can use any old hammer to create, you and I can create any jazz with what we got. Buy one that is comfortable to play and affordable, then get started!

    1. Brian

      Dave has it exactly right—the sound comes from the player, not the axe. Years ago my main rig was an Ibanez superstar type played through a Peavey hybrid amp, and people were always asking me how I got that big fat hollow body sound …
      It begins in the head and heart and travels out through the fingers—experiment: get a few friends to play through your setup—they’ll all sound different …

  4. Louis

    Though I am not actively playing right now, a church group having laid a “guilt trip” on me years ago for not accommodating their taste for the going thing, I could not resist adding my 2 cents to this thread. So, what I wish I’d done I base on what I learned afterward. Much of the music industry accommodates those who don’t like jazz or, for that matter, any quality music. So, the manufacturers make guitars for people who would treat them as would a gorilla. Unfortunately that crowd was the source of the “guilt trip.” Then, for the overpriced quality end, the manufacturers know that price will not prevent some figurehead from having the new instrument he wants. So, I have two methods I offer for obtaining a fine instrument: a) Those “dream” instruments I see mentioned here, minus the brand name, are available on Chinese suppliers websites. They are not bad people to deal with; or for those who have more of their lives ahead of them; b) Settle on an instrument to learn and practice on. Get an audience with a luthier or manufacturer. Get your playing up where someone will beg you to play their instrument. Meanwhile I am glad someone asked about injuries and cures. I am right handed and this year my pinky developed arthritis. What does anyone else do for it?

  5. Rick Thomas

    In the Fender section, why no mention of it’s one ‘real’ jazz box?… The Jimmy D’Aquisto-designed MIJ Elite…a spectacular player!

    1. Dirk Laukens

      Hi Rick, this list is the result of a survey, I don’t get to choose which guitars make it to the list.

  6. Cary

    Hagstrom HJ800
    I am a beginner in the world of jazz guitar and bought a Hagstrom HJ800 as my learning instrument. I don’t know a lot about the various options out there, but I am thoroughly enjoying this
    Hagstrom. I’m surprised that I never see it mentioned among the various recommendation lists. Is it lacking something that I should be looking for?

    1. Brian

      Some years ago I went to visit friends in Vermont—I went to a guitar store and was bemoaning the fact I was away from my guitars for three weeks. The store owner said “Go ahead, play anything you want to for as long as you like …”
      After running through the usual suspects I saw a Hagstrom hollow body—having never seen or played one before, I was pleasantly surprised by its individual voice and comfortable setup. A great option for a nice affordable jazz guitar …
      Also you guys should definitely check out the Peavey JF-1, an ”improved” 335 style.

  7. Frank Hamilton

    I have a Gibson 345. I believe this was B.B. King’s first guitar. I love the sound of it although I’m not a virtuoso player. I still like the warm sound it gets and the neck is not quite as slim as the 335 but not as wide as others.

  8. Mark

    This is a great website!! It has everything I need and more than I imagined. There is enough fun here to last me a few years. Now I just need more free time :).

  9. *Swav*

    I’d have to be declared completely insane if I ever buy this over-priced and over-rated Gibson thing (no matter how many “famous” people played it in the past). Having wide range of Godin guitars to choose from, (here in Canada), I’d rather opt for more sensible (price wise), and more “patriotic” selection. Godins – 100% Made in Canada, out of native Canadian woods, with the exception of fingerboards made out of traditional rosewood & ebony or, more modern, Swedish invention – the resinator wood/composite).
    Here is something for those willing to try an arch top that costs a fraction of a *Gibson* ($ 995 CAN) or one of the Multiacs (nylon or steal – your choice, under $1 grand CAN):
    P.S. In this last video, Philip Catherine plays his priceless *Gibson* while Sylvain Luc makes his usual *magic* on $700 CAN Godin (5th Avenue with one P90). Did somebody say something in one of the previous comments that sound and artistry is in the soul and fingers of a player, and that “holly cow” *The Gibson” has nothing to do with it (except its outrageous price Lol…) ???
    Enjoy !!! 🐳 ♫♫ ❀(~‿~)❀ ♫♫ 🐳

    1. max

      Godin usually fail to mention that they often use Asian pickups I believe despite the ‘made in Canada’ spiel. I have a Godin and it’s ok. Like my playing it’s pretty mediocre. For the price I should have gone for an Eastman I think.

      1. C Richardson

        “Godin usually fail to mention that they often use Asian pickups I believe despite the ‘made in Canada’ spiel.”
        Godins are lumber sourced 100% from Canada. They have two assembly operations, one in Canada and one in the USA.
        Higher end Godin guitars use Seymour Duncan pickups and always have. Lower and midrange ones have artec (Korea), pots so might have Artec or Belcat pickups. Korean and Chinese Epiphones have Belcat pickups, including the Chinese Riviera I had and and the 2003 Korean Emporer II I bought today. Nothing at all wrong with the tone out of any of the three Godins I own, or either of the Epi’s.

      2. Anonymous

        Agree, I couldn’t wait to sell mine. Just sounded dull and tiny

  10. Chris

    I have an Eastman AR371. When it is properly intonated with the action and bridge height adjusted carefully it has a beautiful ringing sustain to it. It is however, a wide and slightly cumbersome instrument in my opinion in comparison to other hollow bodies with a slimmer body profile. I’m often adjusting posture while playing it sitting and it is hard to find a comfortable height for it while standing. I tend to end up with it close to my chest so that I can keep a consistent angle. I think they could do with slimming the body profile to that of their ‘big brother’ models. Or you could just get an ibanez or epiphone.

  11. Steven Winter

    I’m honestly surprised that the Les Paul didn’t merit a mention. It’s not especially popular among pros, but I’ve known many amateurs over the decades who preferred LPs. Quite a few of them came to jazz from rock and blues, like I did. Maybe it’s just a lot of players’ second choice?

  12. Russell

    One thing i have noticed it really dosent matter what guitar you play as long as you are happy with the guitar then play it , I have a samick artist series 335 and three xs tele copies plus a couple acoustics and i play them all. Been thinking about getting a Gretch with a trem on it , my samick plays as good as any guitar bar none and the tele copies well lets just say with a little nut work they play just fine, twang and all, cheap ya might say but thats fine also . I got what i could afford at the time and am happy with them. Look at w Nelson he played that old guitar with holes in it on all his songs and on tv nylon string taboot I think he called it trigger he made millions with it .

  13. Kevin Webb

    Gretsch is the Rolls-Royce of guitars. Especially the 6120. The model delivers a slightly hard-edged sound not to be found elsewhere.

  14. Pete

    I have a ’77 Ibanez 2355M. It has a great acoustic tone and is better built than the Gibson ES-295 RI I had in the past. I am planning on replacing the Super ’70s hbs with Seymour Duncan Staple P90s. The 2355M is a really quality guitar, much better than the Artcore models.
    Gretsches need to get some more love here. I had a White Penguin RI with Dynasonic pickups which had really sweet tone suitable for jazz. Gretsches now are better quality made now than in their heyday, IMHO.

  15. Victor Harris

    My mom bought a 1949 Gibson L7C with dual McCarty pickups when she was just 18. She taught me to play using her Gibson. The sound and action have no equal in my opinion.

    L5’s get all the press, however, I have yet to hear or play one that is better than my mom’s L7C. I found a 1953 L7C (no floating pickups), installed a bridge pickup and love the guitar. The older Gibson L7C,s are great jazz guitars.

  16. Floridaloha

    I like a short scale guitar with a narrow neck, so the Gibsons are great. But I recently decided on a Taylor T-5 which gives me several different sounds in the same guitar. I am surprised it’s not listed here, it’s great for jazz guitar.

  17. BossaBruce

    For the money the Eastman El Rey is a great archtop guitar for gigs. I own the ER2 and ER1 models. No feedback issues because there are no f holes. Nice fat neck for finger style jazz chords. Lightweight chambered body (5 Lbs or less). Warm spruce top. The only negative is a thin fragile finish (easy to ding). But the sound, craftsmanship and playability is very high. I also have the oval hole model ER0 for pure acoustic archtop tone.

  18. Joe

    I’m rather fond of my Ibanez AF-151 which I feel has better tone than the less expensive Artcores.

    1. Earl Clark Trio

      Retired Local 47 musician studio Bass since 75. Played little guitar but owned 64 Gib Hummingbird I modded w/p90 then, gave me an unbelievable jazz sound, toured Nam 69-70, Vegas, Hollywood San Fran, working steady with that 63 Fender percussion bass, and that Gibson. Stopped playing in 74/75 til 2014, when by chance I test drove an AF151 I found hanging on GC wall in San Marcos, (not a scratch, it played like butter, and I couldn’t put it down). The rest is History, Love playing Jazz, POP, Standards (Now just for serious fun and my meditation) with that Artstar AF151.

  19. Reggie

    I have a Gretsch G5120 Electromatic. I put some 12-52 flat wound strings (at times I add .13 and .17 for the E and B strings to get an even fatter tone) and while I needed to make a few adjustments (pickups, bridge etc.), I believe that it is the best deal under 1000$. I have decided to invest my newly saved money into other equipment. I have not given up on getting a Gibson 175 but let’s just say that there is definitely no rush now.

  20. Steve

    The unsung hero on this list is Heritage. My 575 is better made and sounds sweeter than most Gibson ES 175s that I have played. I picked it up used, in pristine condition, for $1200. If you’d like a well made American guitar but can’t pony up the thousands that a Gibson will cost you, Heritage is a great choice.

  21. Donald MacLeod

    I am new to the site and have just read through this very interesting blog.I realise my input is a bit late here.
    I agree that the notion of an ideal guitar is entirely down to the individual player.
    I was lucky enough to be able to buy a new 1991 Nashville Gibson ES 175 and it is still my favourite guitar,better now than ever.After 24 years.
    However I have discovered Peerless instruments and now have a Jazz City and La Muse.If I’m doing a bar gig,I’ll take a Peerless…but if my guitar will be secure…it’s always the 175.
    As an aside,I always use my 1999 Polytone Mini Brute.All 3 instruments sound great with this Amp.

    Best Wishes.

  22. jay

    Played a really sweet D’angelico today. Great tone and 12-52 strings-great jazz sound through a Blues Cube? Can’t say where it is ’cause I’m saving my $ to buy..Lol

  23. David

    For acoustic and low volume electric I use a Michael Kelly Heirloom which with 13s has a fat woody tone. For full volume electric I have a “pre-lawsuit” MIJ cortez copy of an es 175 with a swapped out Charlie Christian pickup. Sounds and plays great–wish I could say the same for the guitarist!!!

  24. bigbilly

    now the dust has settled on this survey, there were some very interesting points made. for the new player looking to buy,the choice is vast. many players end up with more than one ‘treasure’.. as a place to start; ‘DO YOU LIKE IT AND CAN YOU AFFORD IT’.

  25. John

    You might add the Montreal Premiere to the Godin lineup. This semi-hollow body is a recent addition to the lineup and looks like a very good jazz guitar ($1400). I own a Godin Icon 2 solid body and am very pleased with playability, quality, and value.

  26. Tony DeLuca

    I have a Fender DÁquisto Elite that I love to play.It’s comfortable and very bright in sound and I like it sooo much that after a very long search I found another one which, after I finish tweaking it, will be as great as the other one that I have.
    I also have a few other guitars that I love as much as these two Fender DÁquistos but I’m finding that after all of these years I can only play one at a time.
    (Taylor T5, Taylor NS 74, Fender Strat, Epiphone Spartan archtop, Gretch Synchromatic archtop, Ovation Ballader,Gibson L5,Godin Nylon electric multilac,and a few others……and as I said ,I can only play one at a time…I guess I’m getting older………..
    Thanks for reading this. It’s great to express my interest in these guitars.

  27. Jeffrey Fuller

    I’m probably one of very few weirdoes, but I like to play a Fender Stratocaster for Jazz. Originally I used the strat because it was all I had. I migrated from Blues and Rock to Jazz because the former genres left me cold. I’ve been playing Jazz on a Strat so long that I’ve really come to enjoy the unique tonal quality it adds to Jazz music. If I do switch to something else it will be a telecaster.

    1. Steven Winter

      I agree. I don’t often reach for my strat when I’m jonesing for some jazz, but when I do, it’s a good match. People get ideas in their heads about certain guitars being “for” certain types of music. Those ideas are mostly garbage based on image, not music.

  28. Ron Parker

    I own an Eastman Pisano model and love it. It’s light and the action is good. I have a Guild arch top 350B I bought in a pawn shop, had it redone by Sam Koontz. this was a prototype of the Artist Award. It’s a babe, and I have a D’Angelico got a good setup, works well. Sometimes it’s the Indian and not the arrow. Oh, I also use a 1940 Epiphone.

  29. Jonathan

    I have been playing guitar for over 50 years and over this time I’ve played everything from rock to blues and jazz. Having owned and played several guitars from Fenders to Gibsons and many others, I have to say, for my personal preference the Gretsch White Falcon 7593 is my guitar of choice whenever I’m playin jazz… which is most of the time. The White Falcon is without a doubt one of the most underrated hollow body guitars out there. The neck is especially comfortable to play and the tone is magnificent! The Bigsby vibrato tailpiece accentuates the Gretsch sound and gives the player some added color for his or her palette, plus it stays in tune!! Not only does the White Falcon play and sound tremendous, it’s beauty is second to none. Whenever you step on stage with the White Falcon you are sure to captivate the audience with it’s beauty and the wonderful warm tones. I’d put it up against any Gibson or any other jazz box… anytime!

  30. Al Brussich

    When I decided to pick up learning jazz again, (story for another time), I went into it playing the two Gibson solid bodies I had been using for rock and blues for the past 30 something years. No problem and I still use the solids. Having had a 335 in the past, (which I severley kick myself for getting rid of way back when), when I read the above survey the interest in something hollow was rekindled.

    The above survey, and follow up commentaries, along with other discussions in the forum were a great starting point for my search. I hit every shop in town trying out every brand and model I could lay hand on. Hollow, semi-hollow, floating PU, 1 PU, 2 PU, 0 PU. Laminate and carved. In price ranges from sub 500 to 2k+. As much as I would love to have added another Gibson pricing on a new or used model killed any chance of one coming back home. Along with the store playing I listened to every brand video offering I could find.

    What decided it for me was a combination of apparent build quality, comfort, feel and sound, plugged and un-plugged. THe latter being more important to me as that is how I would spend most of my time playing it. And a bit towards how it looked, as I do find myself just looking at them on occasion. sorry, just a personal wierdness there I guess.

    For anyone finding themselves in the position of begining a search I suggest you follow a similar approach. Take your time, try everything you can lay hand on, parouse the various discussions on this forum, browse the for sale section, listen to all the Youtube and Vendor videos and ask questions. Just because Joe Schmoe plays a GiEpiIbaEastLessEtch Lalpallooza does not mean that it is the one you absolutely must have to sound as great.

    Thanks for the survey and the help in getting started.

    I wound up with a Peerless Cremona 17″ and cannot play or enjoy it enough. Not high on the list, but it was just right.

  31. Jackson

    I know this if off topic but I’m looking into starting my own weblog and was wondering what all is required to get setup? I’m assuming having a blog like yours would cost a pretty penny? I’m not very web savvy so I’m not 100% certain. Any tips or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you

  32. J-DuB

    Oh… And that was supposed to be $200.00, not $2100…

  33. J-DuB


    Absolutely AGREE! One of the more COMMON THREADS here is; finding satisfaction in WHAT YOU HAVE… And that, one has OPTIONS to improve it!

    I GET that… A BOYD or a REAL D’Angelico/ D’Aquisto or Sadowsky or a NUMBER of luthiers make an INCREDIBLE instrument. It DOES NOT make you a better player much that a Ferrari is going to make you a better driver.

    If you rack up speeding tickets and accidents in your hunk-o-crap… A Benz-o, Ferrari, Panoz isn’t going to magically make your craptacular driving record disappear. Nor your habit of gathering tickets.

    Taking $2100 in improving WHAT YOU HAVE can go further than saving up for “your dream guitar” and you can STILL do so while improving what you DO HAVE. Which includes your playing.

    Having a GOAL of OWNING something INCREDIBLE is not a BAD THING… Pinning one’s HOPES that it is suddenly going to CHANGE YOUR GAME/ PLAYING… IS a BAD THING. You can only be honest with yourself.

    1. SevenStringJazz

      Totally Agree with one possible caveat. Here goes,

      I admit to being a high-end gear addict, but I still practice very hard (10-15 hours/week) and study both jazz and classical with expert teachers as well as playing in a jazz workshop ensemble almost weekly. I have some great guitars built by master luthiers. These are acoustic instruments and two of them are constructed from aged European woods . . . hand-carved/tap-tuned like a fine violin. These instruments push my technique to new limits because there is “no place to hide” when sonically the guitar alone exposes every nuance in your playing.

      That said , if you want the classic laminate (e.g. ES175) with flatwounds “dark jazz tone” there are Asian production instruments that cost 1/10 as much that will do the player proud.

  34. jay

    Last post reminded me I forgot Guild acoustic (sweet) & 1973 Fender 12 string….great for adding color linearly.

  35. Dana

    A bit late, but I just bought a new Guild X175b – for me, a faultless guitar, couldn’t be happier and it didn’t break the bank!

  36. jay

    I played a Cummings Sunday (similar to a 335 crossed with a 175D) and it’s a great axe {with Tony Ortega/San Diego}. I’ve played my old 335, 175D, Tele, Strat, Les Paul & love all for different things. I think Fenders are good rockers as well as my Ibanez. It seems you never have enough guitars. I almost Dad’s 1949?? ES125-plays & sounds great! Very interesting Dirk and I enjoy the tunes you post. Thanx.

  37. J-DuB

    LOVE to see about those Hep Cats as mentioned by Patrick. There are some talented pickup makers out there. I’m a particular fan of REAL Bill Lawrence (rest his soul). Tone For Days, Lindy Fralin… A GOOD pickup coupled with a PROPER SETUP can change one’s attitude about a guitar.

    While not necessarily a “Jazzer”… Eddie Van Halen’s MAIN guitar was a “parts caster” from a few “startup” companies in the 70’s (Charvel neck, Boogie Bodies Body, Floyd Rose experimental bridge) with a Gibson PAF held into the body with nails. You cannot deny that… The guy can play.

    There are stories of “The Delta Blusemen” whom would make stringed concoctions by laying a piece of wire over a bottle and affixing the ends with nails to the side of the house and make music, moving the bottle up and down to mimic notes and wailing/ crying tones. Broomhandles and washtubs. Cigar boxes and a 1×2″ piece of lumber.

    At some point, Jazz did grow from Blues tradition.

    What IS amazing now is; the CHOICES guitarists DO HAVE at their disposal. For UNDER $1K… You can shop out INCREDIBLY HIGH QUALITY parts, from a few different sources, and build a “parts-caster” that could potentially blow the doors off a $3K++ Custom Shop Fender job. There is a guy making “one-off from” PRS styled guitars that LOOK amazing (CNC carved, as are PRS, Gibson, fender and pretty much everyone these days (though they don’t say it)). There is a company in Canada, offering CNC machined parts so you can build an awfully close replica of a ’59 Les Paul or a LP Jr.

    What it STILL comes down to… Is YOU. YOUR HANDS and YOUR EAR.

    Willie Mosconi was a famous Pool Player. Defeated the greatest of them and was a gentleman at that. Ever see The Hustler with Paul Newman? Willie was the adviser and coach for both Paul and Jackie Gleason, set up the shots. Famously… In exhibitions and when he was “looking to survive” in his hustling days, he would take on “particularly mouthy” opponents using a broom handle as his cue.

  38. phil

    When Joe Pass used my Polytone for a solo concert back in the Eighties, he was playing the Epiphone prototype. It sounded great in the concert hall. When I went in the back room to chat (my price for the use of the amp), he insisted I try the guitar, completely unnerving me. I have tried out the production models several times since, always finding them indistinguishable from the prototype as I remember it except for string type and height. I didn’t change Polly’s knob settings for at least a month, of course.

    1. phil

      this is phil in Phlorida, not the phirst PHIL, pholks.

  39. Mr Archtop

    Does anyone here have any information about the luthier Arthur Napolitano? I have one of his wonderful guitars and would like to know more about him?

  40. Phil

    I got here after the dust had settled, but here’s my two pennyworth: I have a Godin 5th Avenue acoustic which, now I have put Thomastik-Infeld JS13s on, sounds sweeter and resonates properly. I also have an Antoria Rockstar Korean-made 335 copy ( Rotosound 12s ) which on the neck pickup with the tone rolled nearly off does a very decent tone for jazz. Neither guitar cost more than £350 and, as I don’t expect to ever be able to afford an L5 or 335, I won’t be changing any time soon. I’d rather play than worry about the gear overmuch.

    1. james hahn


      Do you have the Godin 5th Avenue Kingpin non-cutaway or the cutaway version? I have one of the non-cutaway versions and am absolutely amazed with the quality, playability and sound for the money! jim in Maine who is currently working in Denver

      1. Phil- in UK *grin*

        I have the non-cutaway 5th Avenue acoustic, and I do agree, it’s a really good instrument. When I buy, I buy to keep, so I do my homework and get the best I can afford.

    2. J-DuB

      Those Canadian made guitars are of extraordinary quality. Personally, I kinda covet a 5th Ave… Antoria? That’s a new one, but more than likely an off-brand from Samick since they have been available since the 70’s/ early 80’s and prolly the only company with the capability. One of the “snobbier/ rougher” teachers on the net is a guy named Pebber Brown and all he seems to play is are pretty “cheap” axes but dimed up to play. One CAN FIND real satisfaction in some of the early Japan/ Korean made axes. Some of them were made really well and with GOOD timbers.

      1. james hahn

        What is a 5th Avenue Antoria? jim in Maine currently working in Denver,Colorado

      2. Patrick

        “One CAN FIND real satisfaction in some of the early Japan/ Korean made axes. Some of them were made really well and with GOOD timbers”.
        I totally second that: I play a 1981 Yamaha SA 800 (ES-335 type)on which I swapped the original, rather bland Pups for hand-wired Hepcat PAFs (French boutique Pups)and changed the pots for Orange ones. This guitar is now a wet dream and cost me altogether around 800 euros. It really beats up my Gibson ES 137 classic, that is an awesome jazz guitar too, but the Yamaha really does the thing.

  41. Dave

    Heritage guitars are great – just buy them used so you don’t lose on them. They are every bit as good as Gibsons from my experience (I’ve owned well over 75 guitars). I played an Eastman version of the 335 this past weekend – it was really nice and very reasonably priced.

    Many of the Japanese guitars are great as well – Burny, MIJ Epiphones or Ibanez, etc.

  42. nolimore

    I got an Ibanez Artcore AG-175 (tobbacco sburst). The workmanship and components are quality and I am very happy with it thus far. I still have to explore a little more, but I put some affordable rotosound flatwounds on it, they seem a little flat in resonance, but that could be my roland microcube digital amp (digital preamps!). I tend to use the first pick down-toned. The tune-o-matic type bridge looks easily accessible and I am tempted to fiddle with the fine tune in due course, because i changed my concert pitch tunning to 432Hz recently (already setup for 440Hz).

    I have heard reviews from other owners and they are usually positive and there are a few reviews on youtube for this guitar. Although I got a v.good deal on it, I spent 20 extra, otherwise it would of been a choice between an Aria or Washburn hollow body, so i am glad of the choice. I think it is a guitar that will stay with me for awhile.

  43. Ross

    I’m one of those Eastman converts preaching by word of mouth. I’d been using (and still have for more electric stuff)an Epiphone Sheraton II but I just couldn’t quite get what I wanted. My local store got me an Eastman AR317CE and with a few minor tweaks I’m there and very happy about it. It’s extremely well built and the price they did for me sealed the deal. value for money for us non-professionals is so important but Eastman provides great quality and amazing tone as well.

  44. randy muise

    I Love, it’s been so informative and helpful

  45. Francois

    Enjoyed reading all the comments almost as much as the survey results.

    Thanks Dirk, and thanks all.

  46. Paul

    I own a pre Herb Ellis named 165 (1993). Great sound, playability – feeds back like a mutha, though. I have a satin ES 335. Not as sweet sounding, but pretty awesome. I also own a Godin Multiac with a 1.75″ nut. It has synth capabilities. Nice for those years when I feel like playing a nylon stringed guitar. I also own a PRS Spruce Hollowbody with piezo. Light as a feather and great sounding too! I am an amateur, and when a pro plays any of these guitars, they automatically sound 10X better than when I pick them up. I’d love a quality Telecaster, Fender or otherwise, but I’m already challenged in maintaining what I have.

  47. RON OLDS

    I love Gibson,Eastman,Epiphone & Ibanez Hollowbody jazz guitars for jazz playing . Altho’ I did have to do so modifying to the Epiphone & Ibanez changing some of the factory stuff to get a truer / quality sound !!! But believe it or not I’m getting a great jazz sound out of a Fender Stratocaster Solid Body too . You see I find it’s all about how you amplify the solid body!!! Thank you

  48. RON OLDS

    Hey Dirk thank you so much for the emails from jazz I can never thank you enough for the lesson on Wes Montgomery!!!! We as guitar players living in the now can never pay enough homage , attention & thanks to the spirit & memory of WES. I think even more should be done for him . It’s been along time coming but I certainly & sincerely intend on doing a recording CD of his music . & I want to make sure you hear it . After all if you look back at the history of jazz guitar where would we be without the rare example Wes gave to us when he emerged out of the 60’s ??? I really love the Lee Ritenour album dedicated to Wes . What a Great Vibe Wes Still Has !!! Well Dirk until we meet again or I comment again Jazz– On . It’s super cool & super real how jazz has touched so many other types of music & Players . You can here my guitar playing on playing with drummer T. Lane on the CD Kung Fusion . & also on MySpace . Thank you

  49. Robert Twiddy

    Interesting, it tallies nicely with musicradar survey etc.

    May I ask Dirk, what would be nice is to try and get professional jazz musicians on what they use as a survey and why. For example a man I admired Joe Anthony from the midlands in the UK a long time ago used an ES335 Gibson and sounded extremely jazzy, playing most things from the New Real Book. There are many fantastic jazz players in hotels, clubs etc what do they use and why. I am in Thailand Eastman, Loar, Peerless, D’Angelco, Luna are more affordable than Gibson. Also no one stocks the higher end stuff for jazz as there are not that many jazz guitarists. Once you get much beyond £1000 they become dreams rather than experienced people using them. I filled in your survey, I use a Musicman Axis Super Sport as does Alex Hutchings the great Jazz Fusion player who has now switched to Waghorn which I am doing also. Its not just guitars, also the pedals and amps used to get the jazz tone and knowing what tone you need. Warmth in pickups is like finding gold except for Gibson, Epiphone and then cheaper Kent Armstrong stuff. So having a survey of professional jazz players, band players would be really interesting.

  50. Rod Wylie

    Agrre with lots of the comments regarding afordability and what suits your wallet and overall playability. I have a Gretsch which I love the neck shapre and size, Yamaha AEX 1500 my favorite and a Gibson SST Chet Atkins all great for what I play.All have been set up for me by Jullian guitar tech who transfomed the feeland they are all top range guitars that were pretty average from a set up point of view when I first got them.

    1. J-DuB

      Getting to know some basic maintenance for yourself as well as having a SOLID repair guy… While i’m pretty handy, there are some things that I WON’T take on myself because… There is ony so much you can read upon vs having the hands on. Installing a “new” strat bridge… Easy. MOUNTING a TOM on a guitar… I’m lucky to be friends with good luthiers.

      As players, one should know some core basics on maintenance and adjusting setup/ action/ intonation. Helps when judging a “diamond in the rough”.

  51. james hahn

    Before I forget probably one of the nicest jazz guitars that I have is a George Benson GB-15tr which I understand is now out of production. In comparison to a Gibson the guitar basically played itself out of the box. Absolutely superb quality and an incredible sound played through my ’63 Ampeg Reverberocket! jim in Maine

    1. J-DuB

      TOP of the game in Japanese Made.

      In the “history” of guitar making, the US went through a very mediocre time (with the BIGS like Gibson, Fender, serious cost cutting) and the MIJ guitars in the 70’s-90’s really KNOCKED them out of the park.

      In the 90’s, Korea really started to step up.

      The Fender Telecaster really was a “cheap” instrument and the Strat was a mild upgrade. Brilliant in design and timeless. BOTH.

      My MAIN advise to those whom are looking to do a SERIOUS upgrade but can’t quite afford… I found a 48th Street Custom Strat (ESP in NYC) for $225 w/ shipping and have modded the HELL out of it for about $200+ more. MannMade Trem ($75 never installed, off eBay), Bill Lawrence/ Wilde (REAL Bill Lawrence) pickups ($150 for the set?) and another $75 in new pots/ switch/ wire. I’ll put it up against ANY sub $3K custom strat. And I have. My 48th St PLAYS…

      Set aside and save for the cash in what you WANT, your DREAM axe, but take a bit of PRIDE in what you got. You really would be surprised as to what you already DO HAVE with less than $300 in work/ time/ upgrade.

      One of my SURPRISE FAVORITE mutts is a Peavey Firenza w/ P-90 pickups. New pickups with a rewire of BETTER CTS pots/ switch and Oil-In-Paper caps and she is DIRTY as well as clean. I can bloop out Wes Montgomery and dial in The Clash on that guitar.

      I don’t mean to jack this thread. I’m from Chicago; White Sox or Cubs… So long as you ENJOY baseball and can still view a game as being brilliantly played, no matter who wins. I’m NOT a good guitar player unless I WORK. I have my limited bag of tricks and then I have to work. I CAN fix ’em. And I respect that elements of this earth are LIMITED and still should be… Brought to their potential.

      There are DOG guitars out there and that includes Gibson, Fender, etc. And there are oft overlooked axes out there that need a bit of love and can bring some serious satisfaction. I hunt those down.

      I don’t say that what I have can knock a ’58 ES-335… Or a ’54 Strat. Nor dump a D’Angelico or a Stradivarius (don’t think Stradivarius made Jazz Guitars). Think about what you DO have and what IS irking you. If a $25 Schaller bridge (and $75 in install/ setup/ fret polish) IS going to make it that much more PLAYABLE and increase you ENJOYMENT of study/ play? Then that IS a a very SMALL investment for the short term.

  52. J-DuB

    Main point to consider is… There are desirable and amazing guitars out there but may prove to be unfathomably affordable. Gibson, Guild, D’Aquisto, D’Angelico, Bory, Sadowsky, Heritage and the list goes. These represent Top of The Class and the BEST of American Made, Investment Grade Jazzers.

    I’d prolly question myself if going to a Jazz Club to play and bring my $5K+++++ treasure.

    What it really comes down to is satisfaction of YOUR instrument. There are fantastic semi-hollow and fully hollow guitars out there for sub $1K and most people probably wouldn’t be able to really differentiate. Amazing things can be done to elevate a badly set up guitar or something with sub-par electronics and those are very easy (and usually cheap) fixes. My CMI Lawsuit? A $25 investment into a better Schaller bridge and proper installation elevated the play-ability and tone immeasurably. $75 in new tone/vol CTS pots and caps woke up the original Maxon pickups. Took a few hours of work and it’s an awesome playing guitar.

    If one can afford “Custom/ Investment Grade” instruments… AWESOME! Go for it!

  53. Alastair Longley-Cook

    Great survey, Dirk.
    My Gibson L4-CES is my tradional jazz box, but for ease of play (particularly the high frets) I love my Gibson SGs.
    Put 12-53 Benson flat wounds on them and they give a great jazz tone on the neck pickup, tone at 5.
    Anyone else using SGs?

    1. Gitterbug

      Hi Alastair!

      Interesting you brought up the SG. I almost bought one lately (probably Epi’s take) as a light, inexpensive tool for rehearsals, jam sessions and various secondary venues. Ended up with an Epi 339 Pro due to versatility and good price/quality ratio. A poor man’s ES-335/AS 200/SA-2200.

      Any solidbody guitar with flatwounds, neck humbucker on and tone rolled down produces a decent jazz sound. The problem, if any, is too much sustain, which you can’t kill from the top two strings anyway. This again depends on the music. If you play fusion or other contemporary (= loud) music with longer notes (e.g. Scofield), or use a heavily processed sound (e.g. Scofield, Rosenwinkel), a semi-acoustic or solid is the way to go. An archtop is meant to bark, not howl.

      The same issue came up in an old thread about which LP is best for jazz (remember, SG replaced LP for years). They all will do, but IMHO an LP with flatwounds and pickups screwed all the way to the bottom is tantamount to lobotomy, and the inherent sustain remains.

      1. Alastair

        EPIs are good too. The Sheraton II is much better looking than the Gibson 335, and much cheaper! Once I switched out the pickups for ’57 Humbuckers, it sounded great.
        I’m OK with sustain. I love my L4 but feedback, limited access to upper frets, and back strain often have me reaching for my SG or Sheraton II.

  54. Paul Arntson

    I am a big fan of side by side comparisons. As a result I play an Epiphone ES175 with a Gibson pickup installed. I spent 4 hours in a very understanding boutique store switching between an expensive old Gibson and the Epi 175. There were subleties in the acoustic tone (the Gibson had a few resonant peaks that stood out more), but the tone when plugged in was identical. I liked the feel of the Epi better.
    Same thing with my Ibanez AS200AV and a Gibson ES335. It didn’t hurt that John Scofield plays one, too.
    I also use a tele. I guess being a baby boomer once again I unknowingly follow the herd.

    1. TonyB

      I agree with you about the Epiphone, the guitar I play the most is a Korean built ES175 I won on Ebay, swapped out the the wiring, controls and fitted Classic 57 pickups it has a great sound.

  55. Larry

    Really enjoyed reading the write ups on the various guitars. I have been researching different brands and this is info that will come in handy when I purchase my latest guitar to add to the family. Would love an ES-175 but cannot justify the price so looking for a good alternative and this survey has helped with the decision. Thanks!

    1. J-DuB

      A brand not mentioned here: Samick Artist 650. You can find an ES335 style for under $400 and a full sized hollow for under $500. PUs aren’t great, but everything else is fine, so just rewire and it’s good to go. Peerless is another to look for. BOTH of these companies made the Korea made Epiphones (which are very nice as well).

    2. james hahn

      One of the best jazz boxes that you will find for the money is the Ibanez AFJ91! Alot cheaper at approximately $600 US versus an ES-175 that will be alot more than $600! jim in Maine

  56. Mark Rhodes

    I’m an Ibanez Artcore player. Hope to someday have a fine Gibson but I can honestly say, the axe I have isn’t holding me back—-the better I get, the better it sounds! Thanks, Dirk, for gathering this information. It’s good to know what other members are playing.

  57. TonyB

    Nice informative poll the amp section should be interesting.
    I became interested in guitar at school in the 60’s listening to Bill haley, Scotty Moore and Cliff gallup etc. My first guitar was a spanish acoustic I swapped for a bike I then saved up and bought a Fender Strat and an Epiphone 100watt stereo studio amp with 4×10″ speakers. My first archtop was a Guild Manhatten 175D with 2 P90’s which If I remember correctly cost me £350 with import duty, I joined a youth swing orchestra and became interested in jazz, I had the Guild until 1972 when I had an accident that smashed the bones in the back of my left hand which made me unable to play for 15 years so I sold the Guild which I’ve regretted ever since. I currently have a George Benson LGB300 an Ibanez AFJ95 VSB with Classic 57’s an ES339, a custom built Groves (looks like a PRS hollow body but was made before PRS started)a Telecaster and a Custom Strat, but the guitar I play most is a Korean built Epiphone ES 175 with Classic 57’s fitted (great sound). I have on order an Ibanez AF200-BS which unfortunately won’t arrive until around July. My current amp is a MATAMP head with a 2×12 cab.

  58. Chris Green

    I had a 1977 or ’78 Gibson ES 175 I bought new for $1200 (my first good guitar, that), but it had a wolf tone that eventually irritated me, (when I played it acoustically) so I sold it to my lead guitarist for $600- half of what I paid for it.

    I also had a bottom of the line used Fender amp (60 watts(, and that probably didn’t help.

    The guy I sold it to put on a Bigsby, and ran it through a top of the line Fender Twin, and in his hands it was a phenomenal guitar. The same when he just ran it through the board in the music room.

    Mind you, he was and still is a lot better musician than I am. 🙂

    I had a lot better luck with my ’68 Tele.

  59. gilles

    Great job Dirk, as a new member in the jazz family, i received very good advices before i bought all my gear. I’m so please with my beautifull Ibanez AG-95. Couple with an old 1988 Fender Champ 12 (tube) it makes me smile every time i hear the sound that comes out of this box. Pure delight…

  60. Nick

    I was looking forward to the results of this survey so much. A great unbiased – in the sense that the question is what are people using (not promoting) survey.

    I am looking for a Jazz guitar and the response confirms my experiences so far.

    An Ibanez Artcore dramatically cheaper than others I tried although not perfect, won hands down for tone. Having said that the choice of guitars was not so large where I was trying them out.

    I did recently try a Peerless “Kenny Burrell” and it virtually played itself – If I had the money I would have taken it home but alas…

    The next survey might ask “If money no object, which guitar would you take home?” I am sure cost is a big factor in these results but I recognise that it is not alway sabout how much you pay.

    Really enjoyed this Dirk.


  61. Larry Worthy

    I play a poor mans Gibson.It’s an Agile semi hollow body ,And I’ve had pros tell me the sound is great.I’m a southpaw so the price of left handed guitars is up there beyond me. I found this guitar by accident.Best accident i ever had. Don’t knock it til you’ve tried it.

  62. Mike Willis

    Great survey!! Can’t wait until the next section on amps. My Epi. Broadway neck has great feel to it. It is a bit bulky body wise. Tone is good but not awesome. This my 1st jazz type guitar and am looking to add to my collection(mostly acoustics i.e. Martin, Taylor, Takamine) I would also be interested in pickup choices. Thinking of putting Gibson ’57 Classics in my Epi. Thanks again for the survey and others comments.

  63. Kevin

    I love playing my Ric 381/6 string, neck p/u for a really smooth jazz sound. Way different than the really smooth ES175 that I have, and also love. 🙂

  64. P. C..

    Epiphone do a good job in several ways. Taking a ES175 onto the bandstand is a risky business. The Epi Joe Pass, which I see as a cross between the ES175 and the Lee Ritenour L4 is a practical alternative. These guitars take well to modification – remove gold bling, fit a 57 Classic pickup and upgrade the tailpiece. Through a Deluxe Reverb or even a Roland Cube these guitars respond and sound fine in the live situation. They do need the mods though.

  65. Before my Eastman AR805 I played a Epi Joe Pass for years. It’s still a great guitar but I really love my Eastman. It needed some setup and fret work to make it “mine” but I’ve seen Gibsons that needed as much or more work to make them comfortable.

  66. raulz

    Excellent survey.
    Being jazz a relative of blues (which I love as much as jazz),I´d like to know if this apply for blues also or if there are remarkable differences when playing these genres
    as to select other axes for blues.

  67. ray miller

    I have been a Gibson guy most of my life. Love the quality and playability of nearly every model. Epi is my next fav.

    Your survey is quite revealing noting my wonderful feature of the selections. This inspires me to look into axes I’ve not tried heretofore.

    Thanks for your in depth dedication to this survey.

  68. Ferdi van Engelen

    I own a Gibson L5ces for 30 years now. I studied jazz guitar then. At that time I never thought to own a real jazzer. My girlfriend showed me an add in the local newspaper for this second hand guitar. Bought the guitar and married her.
    But only recently I found the good sound. A simple transistor amp, flatwound 0.13 strings and volume knobs NOT all the way open (!). Nowadays I can’t be more happy how easy it is to get the right sound but it took a while. (and maybe, just maybe, it has to by my improvement in playing:-)

  69. david grech

    I purchased recently a moffa maryan and was extremely happy, a bit pricey but worth it in the long run. The luthier’s name is nico, Really helpful man and a real perfectionist, His guitars are impeccable. He does everything himself. If any one interested i will send a photo and mp3 of my guitar. Check out his website to see all models available.

  70. Alan

    Thanks for the info, Dirk, but I was surprised that the Fender D’Aquisto guitars weren’t mentioned. I play an Emperor II, right now, but still play my 1985 D’Aquisto Elite. It has great tone and the most playable neck I’ve found in a hollow-body guitar. It plays better than my 1975 L-5CES (since sold), although the L-5 had a fatter, richer sound. Oh…just saw your response about the Fenders…make that four.

    1. Dennis

      Hey Alan, I agree with your assessment of the Fender D’Aquisto neck. It’s a Ferrari. I also really like the tone I’m getting. I come from a country music background – played pedal steel for 20-some years. I run my Fender D’Aquisto through an Evans pedal steel guitar amp that has a 15″ speaker. That combination has a real big, sweet, woody thump to it, that puts a smile on my face.

    2. Tony DeLuca

      Glad to see someone else appreciates the Fender DÁquisto Elite.
      I have quite a few quality guitars but the Elites are the most comfortable and easily played(for my fat fingers)of my “collection”.
      I have a blond and a black Elite (one in Florida and one in Michigan).
      Good luck and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!!

  71. james hahn

    Where are all of the Guild jazz guitars!? Man Guilds are THE most underated and best jazz guitars out there made in the late 1950’s/early 1960’s! jim in Maine USA

  72. Big Gray

    Dirk, great job on putting this list together. I truly understand the archtops as that is the quintessential weapon of choice for jazz guitar. Personally, I love my Sadowsky LS-17, my Gibson ES-137, and Gibson ES-335. I guess I expected to see some more solid bodies but maybe they are more associated with fusion than straight ahead jazz? Thanks for all you do, Dirk. Greatly appreciated!

  73. Jon

    My teacher strongly suggested the Epiphone Emperor Regent when I told him last year I was looking for an archtop. (I’d been playing on a Taylor, which isn’t an archtop but has a very pleasant, full sound.) Epiphone apparently has stopped producing Emperor Regents, although one occasionally pops up on eBay. But I wound up buying a used Samick JZ-4 because (1.) it was available at a good price, and (2.) if my research was correct, Samicks like mine are made at the same factory where Emperor Regents used to be made. Neither of these models got a mention in the poll, although the manufacturers did. I’m relatively new at this, so I hope I didn’t make a mistake. I like my guitars!

    1. BossaBruce

      I have a Samick JZ4 as well. It is a well made factory guitar with laminated spruce top. I replaced the stock pickup with a Kent Armstrong full size floating Humbucker. These 17″ wide guitars are a very good value IMHO.

  74. Trevor

    I’m surprised PRS didn’t make the list. The JA 15 is a superb jazz instrument and the Hollowbody II is also very capable.

  75. Cecil

    Great survey, love the Gibsons although I play an epiphone or vega, both pre-1950 made in US. I’m not surprised the telecaster made the cut, best overall guitar ever made.

  76. Michael

    An in-depth and informative survey. Many thanks, Dirk! It doesn’t surprise me that Ibanez came in at #2 — they’ve been building great jazz guitars for the better part of 40 years. I own an AG85, which is a fantastic guitar, suitable for just about any style, even though it is most at home in a jazz setting.

  77. The BigI

    Besides having a Gibson ES175 I also have been playing a Godin Multiac nylon string for that beautiful Brazilian jazzy sound. What did Charlie Byrd play?

    1. Cemil

      I am not sure, but would guess it was a Di Giorgio

  78. ADDIE

    Love the wide list of different guitars. My fav is my GB10 made in Japan(older model). I use Eastman, Gibson LP, tele, but there is a newer guitar on the market that I use that has an incredibly long neck that is similar to a 335, made by Robert Conti.
    I guess I’m the only one who plays one. lol.
    Can’t wait to see the amp list as I just bought a new Quilter Aviator 12 inch..

  79. kempini

    The Holy Grail in jazz is the P90 pickup imo

  80. Brian

    I too play a couple Ibanez. My prised axe being a 1983 AS-200 which still sounds like a million bucks. But I’ve got a couple Epiphones that I think are just outstanding.
    Gone are the days of the Epiphone being “the red headed step child of Gibson”. They are their own brand, being built in a plant exclusive to Eppi and the quality control, fit and finish and playability are superb. Sometimes I wonder if someone goofed up and put an Epiphone logo where a Gibson should be on my Lucille or my Sheraton II. In fact, lately I’ve noticed Gibson’s quality control and attention to detail is slipping and Eppi is just getting better and better; and their humbuckers are top notch.

  81. Jeremy Acton

    I am surprised at the total absence of Cort guitars in your survey, as they make an excellent range of hollowbody guitars for jazz: The Cort Source, the Yorktown, and the Sunset series.

  82. John

    Any love on the list for the Ibanez JP20 Joe Pass? I use a JP20 for performances, an Epiphone ES335 PRO (a gussied up Dot with coil tap pots)for rehearsals and a Tele that waits in the wings (probably feeling neglected and jealous).
    Thanks for posting the survey results.

  83. Joseph Tuccillo


    That was a wonderful informative survey of Jazz guitars. I play an Ibanez because it feels right. Think the neck profile and how it fits your hand is very important not so much the price or brand. Thanks again you did a great job.

  84. Chip

    The results are interesting and thanks for doing it. I haven’t read all the comments so if I am repeating something please excuse. But if you asked working professionals the same question would you get the same results?
    By the way, if you have yet to try one of the Eastman T-186 or 185 mx models and like 335 body styles, check them out. Amazing!!!

  85. Danny

    Great job with the list, Dirk. I’m glad you were able to get so much input. I’m not surprised Ibanez is so popular, but I am surprised that it beat Epiphone. I’ve been playing my Joe Pass for a while and I’ve played a ton of the Artcores of the shop walls and to me, there is no comparison. Epiphone puts out a much better overall sound…

    That said, I’m betting that I’m the only National Archtop that you got in your survey. (At least, I think I mentioned it…) For any interested, it is a 1950s National. Gibson made the body for them and they bolted on their neck. Mine actually has a 1953 body (quilted maple that looks stunning) and a 1950s neck. In my opinion, irreplaceable.


  86. Brian

    Regarding carved arch tops vs laminate. I’ve owned both and have settled on carved. Especially for solo/duo playing a fine carved guitar seem to have more “voice” and dynamic range. In an ensemble my 17″ solid/carved Trenier Excel sits nicely in the sonic landscape with horns and piano, without taking up too much of the “sound stage”. Fine carved guitars are often not as mid-range heavy as their laminate cousins and in my experience are more consistent up and down the neck with respect to tone and dynamics. Of course the big issue is their higher cost. One can easily spend 8,000US + on a fine carved arch top. Compared to a grand piano, violin, or cello of equal quality, a high-end carved guitar is a bargain!

  87. Dennis

    Dirk, great stuff. How many Fender-D’Aquistos turned up?

    1. Dirk Laukens

      Hey Dennis, 3 Fender D’aquistos…

    2. J-DuB

      Fantastic guitars… The D’Aquisto’s as well as the double-cut semi (flame, elite) from that era. Too bad they couldn’t figure out how to make that line work.


    Nice work Dirk! Good to see that there are some kindred spirits out there as I own one of each of the top two plus a ’52 Telecaster and a Guild Mark IV nylon-string classical for jazz samba.

    Am surprised at the low score of Guild. They made some beautiful jazz guitars in their prime years and are great value. As an added note I would like to mention that a couple of my professional friends play custom archtops that look and sound great. They are made by local luthiers and if they were included in the survey they would score 0.0002% 🙁

    Like others in this post, I too would like to see the results of the amps survey.

    1. james hahn

      I have a ’56 Guild X-550, ’60 Guild A-500 and a 1963 17″ Guild George Barnes Acousti-Lectric…….ALL better than anything that Gibson has ever made IMHO! jim in Maine

  89. Andrew F B

    My ‘Ivor Mairants’ (remember him?) archtop, price about 1,200 UK pounds, has a single Humbucker: nice sound but the low E string booms on my Fender Blues de Ville amp. Any easy fixes?

    1. Dirk Laukens

      You probably already tried to cut off the bass on your amp.
      Try to adjust the element, put it lower on the side of the low strings, that should help.

    2. P. C..

      Certain Fender amps just have too much bass. A fine jazz guitarist I play electric bass for, I noticed one night on the job, has the bass set at zero. His jazz tone, on an Ibanez archtop, is the real thing. Another buddy, a blues player, sold his Fender, for another model Fender, because of the bass overload. Strange.

  90. Ray NAYLOR

    Many thanks Dirk for compiling all of this. I would be interested in an alternative question “What would your PREFERRED” guitar be?”. Many of us are constrained by budgets. Although I have the god luck to own a 1961 175D I would dearly love to have a Gibson Kalamazoo Award as a jazz box and piece of art at the same time.

    1. james hahn

      I played a Kalamazoo Award back in Chicago when they first came out……..nothing to write home about sorry to say! jim in Maine

  91. Patriots2006

    What is a 1982 ES335 re-issue worth? Left handed model.

    1. Dirk Laukens

      $2300 – $3000 for a right handed model, not sure about left handed models…

  92. willem tuhumury

    hi Dirk

    Nice to see some Guitars on the site along with their history

    Keep up the good work

  93. Roy Rodriguez

    Great job Dirk. The conclusion shows that there are many, many quality choices in every price range for every budget.

    Can’t wait for the amp survey……

  94. John England

    I am fortunate in owning a second hand vintage Gibson ES-335. I use this guitar for jazz, blues, rock and even country. It is superbly made, sounds great, even when not connected to the amp, and is very versatile. I have tried other similar makes and models but nothing really compares with it. I guess you get what you pay for. Now saving up for another one!

    1. Silverfoxx

      Hi John,
      I had an original 1959 335 ( Orange label.) in the mid sixties , to my eternal regret I had to sell it 4 years after I acquired
      it , we badly needed the money. It was one of the best guitars i have had. Contrary to popular belief it did not have a
      chunky neck but a wide fingerboard and a slim neck ( better than the subsequent sixties models ) It was a faded cherry
      finish and the serial number began A28818……. i vaguely remember. You are perfectly right about its versatility ,at the
      time we were playing current rock but it was equally at home as a Jazz guitar.
      I’ve got a current Larry Carlton 335 which is nice but not in the same league as the original 1959 guitar.

  95. marc venrooij

    interesting results

    choosing a guitar is also how much money can or will you spend!
    if you are a good player you can do the tricks on every kind of guitar !!!
    to many people are looking at the legendery stars i think thats very wrong.

    but any way lets play!!
    good luck with very good website!!!!!!

  96. bill parker

    Thanks for the interesting survey. I’ll continue saving for any of the Gibson archtops!

    1. J-DuB

      They money that you’d drop… There are truly CUSTOM luthiers out there whom would custom carve you what you want for less than you’d think. Do a bit of research. There are some real artisans out there, doing some beautiful work and be willing to work with you.

  97. Paul

    My 2003 D’Aquisto ‘New Yorker’ didn’t make the cut either, nice to think it might be the only one… of course, it’s one of the Aria stable now, original Jimmie’s are $100k and rising.
    But I wanted to mention that the popular ES-175 is a basic design that’s been around since the 1950s, when the Epiphone brand was still the higher priced alternative to Gibson in the Chicago stable. I have an original 1962 Epi E452T ‘Sorrento’, that’s identical except in some of the fittings and obviously the branding, to the ES-125, and I’m struggling to sell it for half the price I paid for it three years ago – while vintage ES-125s are going for three times as much!
    So I wonder, do Gibsons really justify their price premium? L5s and such often seem to be owned by rich old guys… As they say, what’s in a name?

  98. Barbara

    I’m not really astonished that Gibson won this poll! What makes me thinking is, that so many Gibsons are around here. This is astonishing, although Epiphone seems to deliver better quality than Gibson during the last years.
    I own some Epis as well as a Gibson and if I had to decide I would make up my mind for Epiphone. Old Gibsons are some other things … but much too overpriced.
    Playing a gig, I would always take one of my Epis, because if it was lost or damaged, I could replace it simply, well – not so for any old Gibson!
    Please remind that Gibson and Epiphone spring from the same well …

  99. Luis

    Probably the price of Gibson ES-335 (- $60.000) is incorrect. It should be $6.000.

    1. Dirk Laukens

      $60,000 is the correct price for a 1959 ES-335.
      ES-335s until 1964 go for $20,000 – $30,000.
      The reissue (1991-present) goes from $1200 to $2500.

      1. PUGWASH

        Dirk, Thanks for clearing up the vintage ES-335 issue. If Luis was right, I would go on a shooting spree at the dealership that sold me mine and then turn the gun on myself! 😮

    2. Boptotheleft

      Figured Gloss dot ES335:$2999

  100. nolimore

    Interesting survey results and info on popular ‘jazz’ guitars. Good that you are building up a ‘database’, with useful data.

  101. Rank Stranger

    Great survey with interesting results. By the way, I believe Emily Remler played an ES-330 (not 335) that had had it’s P-90s replaced with humbuckers. I’m sure she could have made any guitar sound wonderful.

    1. Dirk Laukens

      You’re right, fixed the mistake!

  102. Murray Rowley

    A Gibson would be a nice choice, the resale value is good, but there are some duds out there.
    I built my own solid Body Strat style Rockinger ( guitar in 1997, as my style is rather jazz-rock and blues (Jeff Beck + co). I messed with everything on this guitar for a while to get it really singing, experimenting with pickups, tremolo bridges, roller nuts, several different electronics and wiring options…..I dropped this once and its got a nice ding now and the buckle rash looks like a beaver attack after 17 years! The nice thing is its a workhorse which nobody else wants but me and I can take it anywhere.
    I also have a very nice 1963 Fender Tele but I don’t play it as its like a museum relic!
    Different strokes for different folks.

  103. wilfried strat

    Great survey indeed. Having played anything but jazz over the years I started to get into jazz more deeper since two years. It is amazing to see how many guitarists out there are into jazz.

  104. Russell

    I too, was surprised to not see the Eastman AR880CE (John Pisano), not appearing in the review. It is beautiful looking, sounding, and one of the easiest players I’ve ever had.

    1. Dirk Laukens

      There were 10 Eastman AR880s in the survey…

  105. valentin

    Well done, man! This is extremely interesting, though the results are not surprising. I was thinking of getting myself the ES-175, but it seems I’m pretty happy with… THE STRATOCASTER!!! I know it’s not a very popular guitar amongst jazzers, but it provides the tone I need. I’m a beginner when it comes to jazz, I am a blues guitarist and lately I’ve spent more time playing acoustic (go figure!), so maybe that’s why I’m not a jazzbox afficionado yet.
    Strats anyone?

    1. Thndr

      I play a beat up pawn shop mex cream strat and I just love it. My Epiphone Gold Top is smooth but there’s just something about this strat that gets me going.

  106. Andrew B.

    I see Epiphone as being Gibson’s lower cost line. For example, if someone can’t afford a Gibson ES-335 the can get is as an Epiphone. Looking at it that way, Gibson/Epiphone made an even better showing together.

  107. jbob

    Great results from survey Dirk..Have a 1989 Gibson es 335 cherry red and a 1 year old Ibanez AF125 myself..the Ibanez is far superior for playability and feel(Ibanez pride themselves on their necks)..nowadays the Gibson spends a lot of time in its case whereas the Ibanez is a great gigging guitar..Thanks again for the survey and looking forward to the amps and strings results.

    1. Dennis

      jbob, how would you describe the physical difference between the necks on your Gibson and Ibanez?

  108. Graham case

    I’m surprised how low on the list Guild and Hofner are. If you want a real quality instrument, you can pick up a nice older model used for 1k. Ibanez deserves to be where it is, they do a nice job and offer so many choices.

  109. Fritzz

    Common! Publish the complete list! There is still some free space on the internet 😉

      1. Fritzz

        I was serious. That a lot of people use a Gibson isn’t as interesting as those 20,5% less logical choices that are hidden at the bottom of the list. It’s those that interest me more then the more obvious choices.
        Anybody playing jazz on a ukulele?

        1. Kees Schrama

          I fully agree with Fritzz! Please publish the full list. Now I keep wondering if I am the only DeArmond fan in the world. The X155 I have is a wonderful guitar, with great sound; I always get compliments.

  110. alex

    I think this ranking is realistic even though I know how george benson to get a sound so

  111. Menno

    Today you can buy an instrument in several price segments. So for each of us jazzplayers there’s something to choose.
    Nice to have a look at this survey.

  112. David Fowler

    Sorry to not see the Eastman AR880 John Pisano signature model appearing in the review section. It’s a really stunning guitar, and my favourite so far, in 40 years of playing !!

    Looking forward to seeing the jazz amp survey results.

    1. Dirk Laukens

      10 Eastman AR880s showed up in the survey.

    2. Mr Archtop

      Add another note of appreciation for the Eastman John Pisano model. It’s fantastic, and, such a deal!! It compares very favorably to my boutique custom made archtops by the best luthiers. The new Pisano model like a thin “175” sharp cutaway introduced at this year’s LA NAMM will be a game changer. The recent Gibsons I’ve played just don’t do “it” anymore.

  113. Silverfoxx

    Hi Dirk, a very provacative subject and interesting replies, I have Five Gibsons they are all superb, but I tend to use
    my other makes frequently Ibanez GB100, Sadowsky JB & two Eastmans. If one carefully selects an instrument
    then all of them are excellent and as someone has already said its the player not the guitar. ( before anyone comments
    that I must be rolling in money , not true its taken a lifetime to acquire to acquire my collection )
    look forward to the amp survey results.

  114. Sam

    I’m one of the 2% Heritage players. My H575 custom is superb in every way, tone, finish, ease of playing, etc. I did try several Gibsons before buying the Heritage, and to me, H575 had the most “classic Gibson” archtop sound. And I also play Yamaha SA2200 for jazz sometimes. Another fine instrument, I like it for more modern sound than the archtop.

  115. Cemil

    Am surprised the Byrdland didn’t even make the bottom of the Gibson list – I must be the only one playing one!

    1. Dirk Laukens

      Hi Cemil, 9 Gibson Byrdlands and 11 Epiphone Byrdlands made it to the list.

  116. Matteo

    Compliments!!very, very interesting survey, hell of a job!
    I’m with the 1% aria players.
    Aria is good to begin with a fair price-product balance to step in with. If you’re Lucky you get a specimen that turns out extra very well,…….
    I suppose thats with all brands.

    1. Jeremy

      I love the fact that the Aria guitars are only used by 1% of jazz players who participated in the survey. I have a 1970 Aria Pro II, pre law suit (Gibson headstock), Herb Ellis model Es137 and people are always trying to buy it from me because it sounds so good; The fact it’s rare doesn’t hurt either. I’d put it up against a Gibson ES 137 any day.

      1. J-DuB

        It is great to see another whom LOVES the MIJ era of “Lawsuit” guitars (and there are more here.

        I’ve come across Korean made instruments that have surprised me in their quality and play. New set of Pickups, and be a DOPE guitar.

        MAIN thing is… Does the guitar SPEAK to YOU? Give it a bit of love (be it in a better setup or a rewire) and can you make her SING?

        I’m better at repairing/ setting up guitars than I am playing. Which is why I seek out “mutt” guitars that I think have potential and I’ve yet to be proven wrong. Considering investment I’ve put into axes, I’ve been offered much MORE than I ever thought I would and I’ve had more REGRET selling them. And for GOOD DIME.

        One can never tell as to how or why an instrument speaks to them. It just does. I’ve got a Peavey Firenza (P-90, full replace/ rewire)that I love dearly and a pair of NYC built ESP/ 48th St that were ignored on the market and know that I can get 3x my investment back. But I absolutely enjoy playing them and when my more snobby tone-head friends come over and get BLOWN as to… “Yea, bought that for $225, rewire, $200 in PUs and rewire.”

        Those 70’s Arias are awesome and will only get better with age.

  117. Spinner

    Aha… nobody else is using a Gretsch. That Gretsch Sound (Twang) might let you think it will not sound right. But IMHO the neck pickup is sounding nicely jazzy and mellow on those semi-hollows.

    1. Rolf

      I replaced the standard PUs on my 5120 Electromatic with B6 Benedettos, pretty happy with the result, not so bright or harsh as the original hardware.

    2. Dirk Laukens

      You didn’t look too good, Gretsch is number 7 on the list! 🙂
      I just bought a Gretsch G2540D myself last week, I’ll post some audio soon. Great guitar!

    3. Kevin

      Spinner, I agree: there is NOTHING like a Gretsch!

      1. MxSailor

        I also have the Gretsch 5120 but listed the Samick JZ2 (also have a JZ1). The Samick is an awesome player with that nice fat tone. Full depth box but a bit of feedback. I’ll look into changing the pups on my 5120.

  118. Gary

    Kinda surprised the Epi ES-135 didn’t show up. Bang for your buck, a good option.

  119. John

    Nice overview!

    Interesting to know would be the choice for a chosen brand and model.


  120. Gitterbug

    Hi Dirk and thanks for an interesting survey! What a variety – and proof to the fact that only Gibson strikes a fair balance between reputation/brand identity and market share. Other premium and “bootik” guitars are really rare. Ibanez, by contrast, is underrated, partly due to confusing the market with far too many models within a fairly narrow EUR 500-1.000 price bracket. I have compared my AF 105 to more recent introductions and they are inferior, irrespective of the price tag. As for Epiphone, I was surprised that the Emperor Regent does not get a specific mention. I keep bumping into it in various venues. Eyes closed, I couldn’t tell the difference between my 1999 blonde and my Vestax D’Angelico NYL-2, both of which are excellent in swing band settings. The Godin 5th Ave does a fine job as well. My Benedetto Bravo, still a laminate guitar, is a cut above the rest but does not get much air time due to being too valuable.

    After some 20 years of active, yet amateur, playing, my conclusion is this: Solid-wood, carved archtops may be for collectors, aficionados and the studio, but not for the real world. How often do you see them on stage? If it has a pickup, laminate is preferable in all respects, and if it’s laminate, go for a maple (or wild cherry) top to avoid dings from falling plugs, notestands etc. Try roundwound strings for a change if you do a lot of comping – they’ll bring your timbre closer to carved-top sound. A 335-type is fine for jazz, if it does not have too much sustain.

    That I never grew into my ES-175 (2004, perhaps not a good vintage) contradicts the above. I found the PUPs too aggressive, and the frets made my left-hand fingers hurt.

    I expect to see even more variety in the amp section of the survey results, and may have a personal experience or two to share there as well. These are highly subjective matters. All my guitar-amp combinations have sounded just divine when played by the top guns (among whom I don’t belong).

    Once more, thanks and keep up the good work!

  121. Rolf

    Hey Dirk, terrific review, really enjoyed it. Was surprised at how many Fender (presumably Tele) responses there were, very interesting. I wish these survey results had been around a few years ago! Like the comment above, would also like to see what people have for amps. Be well and thanks again for this piece. //Rolf

  122. J-DuB

    My beloved MIJ Lawsuit CMI ES335 copy didn’t make it on the list! lol

    Mind you, I prefer mutt guitars that need a bit of love and I’ll put up any one of my axes against a $1K+++ jobber. I’m not sure if I’ve paid more than $350 for any one guitar, put some work into them…

    But that really isn’t the point though. A great musician can make even a mediocre guitar sing and a treasured D’Angelico ain’t going to make me a better player.

    1. Larry Graves

      How would you know!..When did you last hear a great guitarist play a mediocre guitar? ..L..

      1. james hahn

        I saw Tommy Tedesco play a cheapo Ventura one night as his Gibson was screwed up………..regardless you would NEVER have thought that Tommy was playing this cheapo Ventura as it was ALL IN HIS HANDS! jim in Maine

        1. J-DuB

          Thank you for illustrating my point!

          A phenomenal guitar can make it easier/ more pleasurable… But doesn’t make you any better of a player.

          Willie Mosconi taught himself how to play pool moving potatoes around a table with a broom stick and regularly (in competition exhibition) would play challenges with almost anything BUT his custom cues.

        2. jay

          I used to do some subbing for before moving to TX when things went south for music in the 70s. He stopped using me when my wife (X-bunny) wouldn’t let him…….you figure out the rest? I retired after doing producing jingles.

      2. Hyperion

        Everyday Larry !!

        Everytime you see somebody playing a Gibson ES175, you have a cheap guitar player !

        Let’s recall that the ES175 was originally designed as the “poor man” electric archtop for those who couldn’t afford a L5 or even a L4.

        I love the ES175 tone, laminate happens to be superior as solid top in most “non-snob” situations ;), so don’t misunderstand me. But talking about luthiery : it’s a very, very cheap guitar : compared, for example to a D’angelico. Guitarists shouldn’t be confused by the overpricing of “some historic” Gibson models. An ES175 shouldn’t sell more than 1500$ new, imho.

    2. John Foti

      Tell a violinist to get rid of his Stradivarius simply because you said inferior instruments are just as good….lmao

      1. J-DuB

        That isn’t what I said. Handing you a Strad isn’t going to magically make you play the violin with virtuosity, now is it? An original D’Aquisto isn’t going to suddenly infuse “Solo Flight” into my hands.

        I get satisfaction from my mutt guitars because tone snobs turn their nose up and wouldn’t even DREAM of picking up a Japanese Lawsuit guitar when they were really well made and play phenomenally (with a bit of work and care).

        Please don’t put words into what I did not say.

        1. L0ren

          Yeah, and there’s the pro fingerstyle player, plays dang-close to Joe Pass level stuff, and his MAIN guitar is an Ibanez AK75! With duct tape covering the hole where the bridge pickup was taken out.

          Jake Reichbart?

    3. jazzcatfred

      “It ain’t the wand, it’s the magician”!

    4. Drew

      When I was in high school I studied with Leon Block. Aside from his teaching, there was something about studying with him that I only came to appreciate much later. During lessons, he played an old Gibson J 50 to demonstrate a point, but the student played a tobacco D’Angelico New Yorker.
      Any idea how the new re-issues compare to the classics?
      And thank you so much for the lessons you provide, they are wonderful.

      1. jay

        I like my D’Angelico but not as much as ES-175D.

  123. Anup. Bharvani

    Very interesting and useful info


      Hi Anup! I’d like to exchange ideas with you & may be get a few tips from you as well! Please get in touch – thank you!

  124. Steven Salguero

    I started out with a Gibson ES175. But ventured out to Ibanez and in recent years I have tried out Hofner Jazzica and the Pat Martino guitars. I’m attached to the Pat Martino guitar due to its versatility and of course the ES 175 Gibson.

  125. Michele Beltramo

    I’not surprise, the Gibson sound is always classic, I own a second hand 1980 175, the sound is always ok simply fantastic. But the prices of these guitars is quite excessive.
    I own three other guitars much cheaper than the former, two Ibanez Artcore Custom and a Epiphone Joe Pass all with some modification: Pick up or electronics, capacitors etc.Ai of these are fantastic.
    Now I’m really proud of my Ibanez AF 105 NT, with a Haussell Hand made floating pick up with a 047mf Paper In Oil capacitor, the sound is simply wonderful.
    Michele from Italy

  126. Edward

    Great survey. I would like to see a survey for most popular jazz amplifers used.


    1. Dirk Laukens

      Next week Edward, strings and picks follow as well…

    2. james hahn

      Please discuss the early ’60’s Ampeg Reverberockets… of THE BEST and quietest jazz guitar amps ever made with the best reverb termed echo by Ampeg in the business! jim in Maine

      1. John Lusk

        Those bad boys need more press

        1. bzb

          Sshhhh! Not more press, less! (Prices’ll start climbing . . . ) Let’s keep this a secret 🙂

  127. Norm

    Any results on amps being used?

      1. martin rosenberger

        How about something on guitar injuries and cures. Shoulders, tendons, etc.

        1. Larry Graves

          Rest Martin, and go to the gym…L…

  128. Ray Lane

    As an Ibanez player, I am glad to see that Ibanez had a strong showing.

  129. Jesse Boggs

    Not surprising that Eastman has become popular—nice guitars (although you have to pick and choose—I’ve run across some clunkers). I’ve been playing an Eastman 910 as my main gigging guitar for about five years now. Excellent action, great intonation, just a really nice ax. What about amps, did you survey amps? I’ve recently gone back to tube— acquired a Rivera Chubster. Lovin’ it.

    1. Julian Jayme

      He surveyed amps and pedals, etc… as well. This is the first part of the survey.

    2. Geoff_H

      Good point. I had been getting very dissappointed at not being able to get that ‘smokey’ jazz sound out of my Ibanez PM-35, until the purchase of my Fender 65 Princeton Reverb, that is. I now have exactly the tone I want, so I think a focussed amp review would be well worthwhile.

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