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  1. #1

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    Hello everyone.

    I am new here and just getting an interest in jazz guitar. I have been playing about 30 years but mostly 50s and 60s blues and R&B but have recently taken a keen interest in jazz from that era.

    I want to make the most of the equipment I currently own and it is below.

    Les Paul 50s Standard/ Fender American Original 50s Tele / Player Series Strat / Lil’ Dawg 5F1 Champ / L’il Dawg 5E3 (25W) / Polytune mini / Analogman Sun Lion / Centura Klone / Belle Epoch / Flint

    I am interested in a broad variety of players so not really cornered into one style.

    Any pointers that could be offered would be most appreciated.

  2.  

    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    I haven't worked with those amps but any of those guitars work for jazz, and I'm sure the rest of the gear does also.

    I tend to roll off the treble and volume a bit on the guitar, a bit of compressor and overdrive on the pedalboard. I find a bit of overdrive thickens up the sound of the high strings, not really going after much dirt, just thickening and warming it up. That's just my sound though, I'm not going after the traditional big box jazz tone.

  4. #3

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    Perhaps start with something you may not have. A thicker pick can make a big difference in your sound. I prefer thicker than a millimeter, up to 1.5mm. It's not a huge financial investment, but it can be effective. Jazz can be played on any guitar, using any amp. It's just a matter of experimenting with the controls and finding a sound you like. Some people never find the sound they want, even after going through every amp and guitar combination they can find. Some are content with almost anything. If you're happy with the sound you're getting, play on. If not, start with thicker picks, perhaps thicker strings, and play with the tone and volume controls. Don't be afraid to twist the tone controls all the way, they can always be twisted back.

  5. #4

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    I’d probably start with that Tele, 011 or 012 roundwound strings, neck pickup. The 5E3 can probably get you there for living room or coffee house volumes, although with a single tone control your ability to dial in EQ is somewhat limited. Experiment. Put Ed Bickert on your hi-fi, plug in and see how close you can come to his tone. Or if his tone isn’t to your taste, do the same with your favorite solid body jazz player.

  6. #5

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    Jazz is a Big Field, with many different crops. Checkout Tele players, Mike Stern, Bill Frisell, Julian Lage, John Scofield...the list goes on and on, all top-class jazz players.

    Les Paul invented his guitar specifically for jazz players who were sick of feedback issues. It was conceived of as a jazz guitar.

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike R.
    Hello everyone.

    I am new here and just getting an interest in jazz guitar. I have been playing about 30 years but mostly 50s and 60s blues and R&B but have recently taken a keen interest in jazz from that era.

    I want to make the most of the equipment I currently own and it is below.

    Les Paul 50s Standard/ Fender American Original 50s Tele / Player Series Strat / Lil’ Dawg 5F1 Champ / L’il Dawg 5E3 (25W) / Polytune mini / Analogman Sun Lion / Centura Klone / Belle Epoch / Flint

    I am interested in a broad variety of players so not really cornered into one style.

    Any pointers that could be offered would be most appreciated.

    Overall, I'd say don't sweat the gear. That looks like some really good stuff and it should all sound good with almost any kind of music. For jazz, If the guitar has a neck pickup, it'll work. If the amp has knobs, it'll work. The rest is OCD (not that that's a bad thing ...). Very generally, in a jazz context a more mid-rangey tone sits better in a band mix. In a blues context, you want a more trebly and biting tone. So figuring out how to tame the highs you're used to and push the mids would be where'd I'd recommend focusing.


    I don't know those specific amps, but I'd lean toward the 5e3 amp because those generally sound really good (famously, that's what Rudy Van Gelder had in his studio where tons of classic albums were done). Others will probably say Polytone, which is many people's touchstone for jazz guitar amp.

    Any of the guitars is fine. If you put those three in front of me, I'd be most interested trying the 50's LP.

    John

  8. #7

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    Start by playing. Your playing will tell you if you need new gear.

  9. #8

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    Any of that stuff will work just fine, but the quickest route to a classic jazz tone is probably the tele into the 5e3.

    That's my main rig.

    Neck pickup with the volume and tone rolled back to taste.

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike R.
    Hello everyone.

    I am new here and just getting an interest in jazz guitar. I have been playing about 30 years but mostly 50s and 60s blues and R&B but have recently taken a keen interest in jazz from that era.

    I want to make the most of the equipment I currently own and it is below.

    Les Paul 50s Standard/ Fender American Original 50s Tele / Player Series Strat / Lil’ Dawg 5F1 Champ / L’il Dawg 5E3 (25W) / Polytune mini / Analogman Sun Lion / Centura Klone / Belle Epoch / Flint

    I am interested in a broad variety of players so not really cornered into one style.

    Any pointers that could be offered would be most appreciated.
    I live the same thing, you don't need anything maybe except thicker strings if you don't have.

  11. #10

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    Turns out tone is in the head, not in the fingers or in the gear:


  12. #11

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  13. #12

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    On the LP(-type guitar) I had, then strung with 11 gauge roundwounds (plain 3rd), I simply put on a set of flatwound 12s, lowered the pickups and tweaked the truss rod. You can then play around with EQ, turn down guitar volume, try a thicker pick etc. I'm not familiar with any of the amps you mention, but the amp I was using at the time was a Laney tube combo set as clean as possible. Sounded good.

  14. #13

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    The gear is great. There's nothing to hold you back there.

    The only reason you'd need to buy anything would be if you identify a sound that you can't get with any of the gear you already have, which, frankly, seems unlikely, unless it requires a specialized pedal of some kind.

    And, it's likely to take some experience before you discover what that might mean for you.

  15. #14

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    As others have said, your gear is fine. Now its up to your ears and your hands. Below is another Julian Lage video of him playing Darn That Dream on his Tele.


  16. #15

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    The gear has nothing to do with it! It's all about how jazzed you look. If you don't already have one, get yourself a french barrette hat. A wide extra long scarf, and a pair of fine Italian shoes. Use words like Cat, Groovy, Out of Space Man, and other required "Jazz Lingo" a lot.

    If all that doesn't work, which wouldn't surprise me. Then you need to become one with the instrument. Think Pat Martino Zen like with your Les Paul. Close your eyes, see the notes, feel your finger tips correctly finding them on the neck. Open your eyes and breath. You are now one with the Jazz Guitar Gods. They have all the answers that you seek. You just have to know what questions to ask. But it's not that simple.

    That's were we can help. We've been there, done that. Probably do it again once or three times just to be sure. You have some fine guitars and amps. So I wouldn't over think it. My main guitar that I use for practice/studying for most of my 50 years has been a solid body Gibson/Fender/Ibanez without using a amp. It's really helped me develop my tone. Especially when it comes to playing the blues. I took some lessons with Ronnie Earl and he commented about my tone and I told him not using an amp forces you to really listen. He agreed. Just start with what you already have. There are some world class musicians on here, and some not so world class too (like me). So ask away and enjoy the ride.

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike R.
    Hello everyone.

    I am new here and just getting an interest in jazz guitar. I have been playing about 30 years but mostly 50s and 60s blues and R&B but have recently taken a keen interest in jazz from that era.

    I want to make the most of the equipment I currently own and it is below.

    Les Paul 50s Standard/ Fender American Original 50s Tele / Player Series Strat / Lil’ Dawg 5F1 Champ / L’il Dawg 5E3 (25W) / Polytune mini / Analogman Sun Lion / Centura Klone / Belle Epoch / Flint

    I am interested in a broad variety of players so not really cornered into one style.

    Any pointers that could be offered would be most appreciated.
    The stuff you already have will be fine. Try thicker/blunter picks, thicker strings, cleaner tones. Experiment, and have fun.

  18. #17
    Thank you for all of the replies and advice.
    Looks like I have some playing to do.
    I will try the heavier strings as everything is currently string with 9-46 gauge. I own about 1,000 picks so I will have a go there tomorrow.

    Thanks again!

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike R.
    Thank you for all of the replies and advice.
    Looks like I have some playing to do.
    I will try the heavier strings as everything is currently string with 9-46 gauge. I own about 1,000 picks so I will have a go there tomorrow.

    Thanks again!
    So you need heavier strings in order to forget all the bended notes you've got in your playing. You can bend but it's not very common.
    G is the most bended string, high E sounds very weak, try 11.
    To forget all the things I used to do in blues and rock, I put flatwounds, bends are more difficult with this kind of strings.

  20. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Lionelsax
    So you need heavier strings in order to forget all the bended notes you've got in your playing. You can bend but it's not very common.
    G is the most bended string, high E sounds very weak, try 11.
    To forget all the things I used to do in blues and rock, I put flatwounds, bends are more difficult with this kind of strings.
    This is *exactly* why. I was practicing some new (to me) chording and wanted to bend everything going into or coming out of.

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike R.
    This is *exactly* why. I was practicing some new (to me) chording and wanted to bend everything going into or coming out of.
    You'll find there's a learning curve to the techniques used, but bending notes is fine if it works for the part. One thing to remember. When it comes to learning jazz it becomes a never ending journey. You want to learn at a speed that will allow you to absorb what you need, and continue to add to it over time. I would definitely go to a heavier gauge strings on one of your guitars to begin with. It will help you with cutting back on the string bending, and it will also help your chord playing sound fuller. I use flat 13's on my archtop and use it for 90% of my jazz playing. I have 10's/11's on my strat/tele for when I need to rock/blues out. I'll also use the tele when learning difficult chord voicing's because it places less stress on my fingers when stretching. Just remember it take's time and enjoy it. When it's not fun and at times it will be, grab a guitar and just blast away with the blues/rock etc., and you'll feel better about studying jazz again.

  22. #21

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    Whatever you got is fine. It's the player, not the gear.

    I actually went out and bought a semi-hollow a few years ago to make myself a 'serious jazz player' and strung it with 12s etc. After all was said and done, and a few years of just getting down the basics of jazz (after floundering around for many years) I actually prefer my 'rock' guitar for jazz strung with 9s. It's as rock of a guitar as it gets.

    It's easier to play with touch, has a nicer tone, and the neck pickup is superior.

    Now ... if you want to get an acoustic sound, buy a hollow body jazz box and mic up the acoustic part ... that is a different story. To get that sound, I do believe you need a hollow body, and there is a bigger difference between cheap guitars and expensive guitars when it comes to hollow bodies, but others can comment on that better than I.

  23. #22
    I am headed out today to pick up a set of D’ad ECG24 (11-50 Flatwounds) put them on the Tele and spend a few hours learning some chords. I figure that will let me listen, tweak, listen, tweak....

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lionelsax
    So you need heavier strings in order to forget all the bended notes you've got in your playing. You can bend but it's not very common.
    G is the most bended string, high E sounds very weak, try 11.
    To forget all the things I used to do in blues and rock, I put flatwounds, bends are more difficult with this kind of strings.
    Good advice! Learn new habits.

  25. #24

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    Experiment and select the guitar with the most promising jazz tone.
    Lower the pickups as much as possible.
    Maybe heavier strings.
    Try out picks until you find ones that feel good and sound right.
    Approach playing now with a "jazz motive attitude".

  26. #25

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    Grant-Green your amp: turn the treble and bass all the way down, the mid all the way up.

    Buy a thick pick.

  27. #26
    Thanks again for all the advice. I spent the weekend on trying to dial in tone only.

    What I’ve learned.

    1. A Telecaster will *never* sound like an acoustic archtop. It’ll sound like a Tele with the tone rolled off. Not bad but definitely not traditional in my ears. I think the tone I am most familiar with is an acoustic, hollow, woody jazz tone. A Tele is not that.

    2. Same thing Les Paul.

    2. A 5e3 (Tweed Deluxe) can work but it might be slightly too boomy for that application. The single tone control is just a treble roll off. The bass in that amp is what it is and sometimes it is too much. Not really a ton of control.

    3. A 5f1 (Champ) in my case a 5f1 in a Deluxe size cabinet with a 12” speaker and a passive tone control will work but at 5W is pretty quiet.

    4. A thicker pick at 1.5mm worked well.

    5. 11-50 Flatwounds made a big difference.

    I am thinking of more appropriate amplifiers with more control over the tone options. I did try a Klone (KLON) to boost the mids by raising the gain and it was so-so.

    So thanks again and if you have any more advice, please feel free.

  28. #27

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    Get a decent solid state amp. I don't like tubes for many reasons, especially Fenders. The boomy bass is one of the reasons, but there are more. I own a Fender tube amp, but I rarely bother to fire up my crane to lift it out of the closet. A decent amp that produces a flat response works much better for me. I really like the DV Mark Little Jazz. It's small, light, and relatively cheap, and sounds better than my Fender. But there are many, many other choices. And yes, neither a Tele nor a LP will sound like an acoustic archtop. If you want that sound, you need that guitar. That said, check out Tim Lerch, especially his video on how to get a jazz sound out of a Tele.

  29. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike R.
    Thanks again for all the advice. I spent the weekend on trying to dial in tone only.

    What I’ve learned.

    1. A Telecaster will *never* sound like an acoustic archtop. It’ll sound like a Tele with the tone rolled off. Not bad but definitely not traditional in my ears. I think the tone I am most familiar with is an acoustic, hollow, woody jazz tone. A Tele is not that.
    Well...





    Quote Originally Posted by Mike R.
    2. A 5e3 (Tweed Deluxe) can work but it might be slightly too boomy for that application. The single tone control is just a treble roll off. The bass in that amp is what it is and sometimes it is too much. Not really a ton of control.
    Lots of classic jazz guitar recordings were made with Rudy Van Gelder's 5E3. I've installed Mission Amps "Humbucker I & II" mods in my 5E3, which allows you to plug into the bright channel and use the other volume knob to roll off the bass. Adding a parametric EQ before the amp might also be a solution.

    And as someone else mentioned, the great-uncle of Tele playing jazzers:


  30. #29

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    Some folks get caught up in honing that dream solo jazz guitar sound in the bedroom. Then they get a chance to play with others in another environment and realize it sounds all muddy and boomy because they've tweaked their gear for playing by themselves in the bedroom/living room.

  31. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic gumbo
    Some folks get caught up in honing that dream solo jazz guitar sound in the bedroom. Then they get a chance to play with others in another environment and realize it sounds all muddy and boomy because they've tweaked their gear for playing by themselves in the bedroom/living room.
    This is an excellent point. Every level of play has its own issues with sound. Bedroom, bandroom, coffee house, bar, larger club, big show. All different. Your gear. House gear. Different instruments and players, playing with different styles volumes and EQ. Each one is a new experience.

    What sounds good in one situation may not sound good in another. What sounds bad in the first set sometimes sounds good in the second set, IME.

    But, we don't often talk directly about which gear is the most flexible.

  32. #31
    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic gumbo
    Some folks get caught up in honing that dream solo jazz guitar sound in the bedroom. Then they get a chance to play with others in another environment and realize it sounds all muddy and boomy because they've tweaked their gear for playing by themselves in the bedroom/living room.
    Exactly.

    What I am finding is that all that bass passing through *might* step on a bass player. It isn’t needed in a trio or quartet situation. Coming from the background I am (not jazz) my 5e3 is generally used with a light overdrive and other effects that cut bass but add their own tone. This is what I wanted to avoid here. I want minimal to no effects in between guitar and amp.

    I am thinking of a parametric eq to roll off that low end boom.

  33. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic gumbo
    Some folks get caught up in honing that dream solo jazz guitar sound in the bedroom. Then they get a chance to play with others in another environment and realize it sounds all muddy and boomy because they've tweaked their gear for playing by themselves in the bedroom/living room.
    Precisely! Tonally, context is everything. As I have said before (and it bears repeating), your drummer has more influence with your perceived tone that you do with his or her choice of cymbal and its deployment. Always be ready to make adjustments on the fly.