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  1. #1

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    Hey everyone!

    What do you think the best guitar to play jazz with, under $1000?

    My budget is really limited so, please give me you suggestions..

    So far I found the Epiphone Dot Studio and Ibanez Artcore AF75 in my price range...

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    You can play jazz on most any guitar. For example, there are a few big aficionados of Telecasters for jazz, here. And don't forget 1/2 your sound is your amp.

  4. #3

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    Try out an Epiphone Casino.


    Best Jazz Guitar Under 00-epiphone-elitist-casino-jpg

  5. #4

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    Have a look a Peerless.

    Excellent build quality, they're nice to play, good sound and they are exellent value.

  6. #5

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    This subject comes up a lot.

    If you are sticking strictly with jazz I'd recommend the Epiphone Joe Pass. You can change out the pickups if you want and still be well under $1000. Can even get an amp as well.

    Best Jazz Guitar Under 00-epiphone-joe-pass-emperor-jpg


    If you want something more versatile with a traditional non-cutaway look, check out the Godin Kingpin.

    Best Jazz Guitar Under 00-godin-5th-avenue-kingpin-jpg

  7. #6

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    It always helps if you can be more specific: is your focus acoustic or electric sound? semi- or full body? do you like the twangy/woody chet atkins + les paul sound or mellow smooth wes montgomery sound on the other side?

  8. #7
    I would prefer a hollow body electric and im going for the mellow wes sound!

  9. #8

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    Under a grand, I'd stay away from hollowbodies and stick to a nice solidbody...maybe even one with piezos.

    If you go slightly over a grand, your options really open up.

  10. #9

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    Fender Tele.

    If you must play an Archie at that price point, Godin Kingpin.

    Actually, if you can find one used, a DeArmond X-155--alas, no longer made. They were great guitars at even twice the price.

  11. #10

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    I chose an Ibanez AFS75 over a Dot and never looked back. I love it.

    It really depends on what you're looking for in a "jazz" guitar. It comes down to what you're comfortable with. That can mean playablilty, tone, and even "vibe" of the guitar. It could be a new Squier Tele under $300, or a used Eastman semi-hollow for $950.

    If you're looking for versatility, a Godin xtsa might be hard to beat (solid body), but if it's an archtop you're looking for, many like the Godin 5th Ave Kingpin in that price area. Play them first though! For instance, I'm not crazy about the 5th Ave myself, but as I said, many like it.

  12. #11

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    On this kind of budget it might be worth going for a used instrument.
    For the classic Wes type sound, some great working/giggable guitars that I've owned or tried are:

    Ibanez AF125 (I own one)
    Older Ibanez Korean AF120 (Artstar)
    Cort Yorktown
    De Armond X155 (as suggested above-I used to have one and it was great)
    Peerless
    Epiphone Joe Pass

    All of them can be found for less than a grand used and you then upgrade/mod to your taste...

    Happy hunting

  13. #12

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    Has anybody here played or seen a Washburn HB35? I recently bought an inexpensive Washburn acoustical and the sound/quality on this instrument is truly amazing.

    The HB35 appears to be Washburn's version of the Gibson ES335. The Washburn looks very good and the price at $550-$650 is certainly great.


    Best Jazz Guitar Under 00-washburn-hb35-jpg

  14. #13

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    I'm amazed how many mentions the Telecaster gets in respect of jazz playing.
    Although I love and have played solids most of my musical life, I find the Tele a bit too narrow on the neck for my hands to catch the notes and chords comfortably. I purchased a Squier Bullet Strat over a year ago when on a two month visit to Canada just to keep in practice. I was amazed at the playability and warm jazz sound it produced and ended up taking it home with me rather than my original intention to leave it there for future visits. I play it almost every day still. I've had two real Strats over the years and neither came near to the sound I get out of this one. It depends on what you want to use it for, if for home use like myself now, just get something like this, however, if for gigging, you would be better getting something more expensive given the fact that you will want to sound more professional and also be most likely earning money to allow your budget a bit more leaway.
    I recently had a loan of a Tanglewood Oreans for home recording and found it to be a really great instrument for the modest price it was. Well worth a look.
    Hugh.
    Last edited by Hugh; 10-11-2010 at 02:57 AM.

  15. #14

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    ever looked into MIJ gibson copies?
    there are some great bargins to be had on a copy of nearly any gibson model you'd ever want. brands such as greco, orvile, tokai and aria all made high quality copies throughout the late 70s, 80s and early 90s. definitely worth a look on ebay!

    ps if anyone happend to have a 80s 335 copy such as the greco sa series or the tokai es100 or 150 and are interested in selling it, i'm interested in buying!

  16. #15

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    If you can find a used one, might fit your budget: Guild X-170


    Best Jazz Guitar Under 00-guild-x-170-jpg

  17. #16

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    Hey Hugh, I agree about the telecaster. I don't get the "jazz connection" that so many speak of. That's a country guitar, in my opinion. PERIOD. I know Jimmy Page played one on the first LZ album, but good luck with anyone else getting that sound out of one! I like dark sounding hollowbodies for jazz. The tele doesn't make a bit of sense to me. AND, I have listened to tele disciples play jazz on them, and I did not enjoy it! Sounds about like you'd imagine.

  18. #17

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    It seems many jazz guitarists are only interested in imitating the past and for them a traditional hollow body is just right. Others see jazz as a progressive art form that has no boundaries and is intended to push the leading edge of music. For them, almost any guitar is suitable.

    I like Telecasters because the neck pick up has a clear warm tone without too many complex overtones.

  19. #18

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    Hey Nic, Yes, that's a very important distinction you have pointed out. We were definitely speaking of traditional sounds, etc. , which is where my interests currently lie, so my perspective is that hollowbody guitars with humbuckers are the favored tool. And, there's no denying that the TELE is considered by many to be about the most versatile guitar around, but to my ear, it fits the country genre best.

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Murph_tone
    We were definitely speaking of traditional sounds, etc. , which is where my interests currently lie, so my perspective is that hollowbody guitars with humbuckers are the favored tool.
    of course, just to play devil's advocate--many of the truly classic jazz tones were recorded on hollowbodies with single coil pickups...Charlie Christian, anyone?

    But I agree, a hollowbody with humbuckers is almost "plug and play" as far as finding a jazz tone...other guitars have their sweet spots, but it might require a bit more "tweaking" to get that classic, smoky jazz tone that so many instantly identify as "jazz."

  21. #20

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    mr. beaumont, I stand corrected! I listened to your tunes. BEAUTIFUL tone. Sounds nothing like the guys I've seen live playing teles in the small club scene. I noticed you have a tele with the neck HB. Is that the guitar you recorded these tunes with, or a standard tele? Nevertheless, I really like your sound.

  22. #21

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    Jazz of course has many sounds and is only restricted to your personal taste and imagination. To each his own.... (I certainly own my share of Tele's too)

    But the guy who started the thread is specifically asking for a cheap "hollow body electric with a mellow sound". That's why I came with the Pass with upgraded HB's. If you want to sound like Wes the rest is practice.... (i wouldnt mind sounding like Wes but that is idle hope)

  23. #22

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    mr. beaumont,

    What is your setup on those awesome recordings? Which Tele, what amp, strings etc.

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by Murph_tone
    mr. beaumont, I stand corrected! I listened to your tunes. BEAUTIFUL tone. Sounds nothing like the guys I've seen live playing teles in the small club scene. I noticed you have a tele with the neck HB. Is that the guitar you recorded these tunes with, or a standard tele? Nevertheless, I really like your sound.
    well, thanks brother.

    Actually, I ditched that tele a little bit ago, I'm using a "frankentele" (pieced together from the best parts of 3 or 4 teles, like clapton's blackie, if you will) now that has single coils...most of the recordings are single coil, just "blue bossa" is the humbucker tele.

    Admittedly, my recent hofner acquisition looks to bump my tele out of main jazz gig duties, but I'll always have my tele around, especially for those gigs I have to take public transit around to...the hof would be a liability, the tele, a weapon, if necessary!

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont
    ...a hollowbody with humbuckers is almost "plug and play" as far as finding a jazz tone...other guitars have their sweet spots, but it might require a bit more "tweaking" to get that classic, smoky jazz tone that so many instantly identify as "jazz."
    I played a Tele for years in orchestra pit Showtunes/BigBand-Pop jobs where you had to sail the notes out to the back row in 1,000 seaters, like driving golf balls.

    The nuances of a nice archtop tone were lost as soon as the volume got to a certain level. A solidbody with the tone rolled off got an acceptable so-called "jazz tone," when needed. I never liked what a semi-hollow gave me, but that's just me.

    Archtop sounds just rattled around in the pit and were never heard by say, the tap dancer who needed a cue. Feedback was an issue too.

    So it used to take more "tweaking" to get the archtops to work in those circumstances. A Tele on the front pickup had more "cutting power," and could still be mellow with the tone pot rolled off.

    But now that I play small quiet restaurants primarily I like getting a bit of acoustic response against my chest, so I'm back to archtops. I can hear them better when practicing unplugged too.

    Just preference. Almost anything nowadays can do almost anything, if you're willing to patiently tweak it into the range.

  26. #25

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    Just curious. WHY a Tele and not a Strat? Isn't a Stratocaster more comfy to hold? Doesn't it have more of a midrangey note than a Telecaster?

    I'm just curious..

    On the other hand, why not a 335?

    I'm speaking to the pro player that has to be heard at the back of the hall...

  27. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Hoffman
    Just curious. WHY a Tele and not a Strat? Isn't a Stratocaster more comfy to hold? Doesn't it have more of a midrangey note than a Telecaster?
    After big archtops, I find the contour cuts on a Strat place the body and the strings too close to me! If you want, however, you can get a Tele with contour cuts, or mod the body.

    If you're comparing jazz tones of a Strat versus a Tele, I think you have to compare neck pickup to neck pickup and I like the Tele's better. ymmv

  28. #27

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    Tele neck pup is a very different beast from a strat. Strat neck pickup sounds all "sproingy," everything comes out all Jimi Ray Vaughn.

    As for comfort, that's subjective...I find a tele much more comfortable than a strat. Actually, I dislike just about everything about a strat...that makes me a minority, I know...

    As to why not a 335-style, I think it's just a matter of preference--or cost! You can piece together a damn nice tele for 1k--I'm talking a professional instrument in every aspect.

    And like I said before, I'd much rather traverse Chicago's subways and icy sidewalks with a tele than a 335...Ever seen a Gibson that got dropped on a sidewalk?

  29. #28

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    Close--- I had an Ibanez AS-103 strung with George Benson Flat 13's. I had just installed strap locks, and, ironically, the first time I put it on, I accidentally tripped the button on the neck-end lock. The 103 hit the ground headstock first, and splintered all around the nut! It would have been even morse if it had fallen on the body end!

  30. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by BigDaddyLoveHandles
    .If you're comparing jazz tones of a Strat versus a Tele, I think you have to compare neck pickup to neck pickup and I like the Tele's better. ymmv
    A "non"-Strat like the one posted 3rd post from last on this page, yeah: Solid Body Jazz Guitar

    A standard Strat with the vibrato routing will not get close to a Tele. I know, because I've tried. However much you play with EQ, you're getting that underlying "sproing" from the trem cavity. (I see that word is common currency).

    Maybe a hardtail Strat with Tele pickups .....and bridge

  31. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter C
    A...Maybe a hardtail Strat with Tele pickups .....and bridge
    Yeah I once had a hardtail strat with two pickguards: one with two full size humbuckers.
    And I put graphtech saddles on it to further subdue the high end "ping."

    I have seen (author) Jim Ferguson use a stock Strat with 10-46's on it and he made it sound like a jazz guitar.

    It ain't the arrow. It's the Indian!

  32. #31

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    I have a Joe Beck Cort guitar that I bought for $300 on ebay. It's all laminate, but you can pull jazz sounds from traditional to modern on it.

    As for "carved" jazz guitars, for a $1000 look for used Ibanez George Benson or Ibanez Pat Metheny -- it's possible to find one for around that if you're really lucky. Same with the old Guild (I think someone already mentioned the X-170).

    Are there any Heritages around $1000 -- you might find an old Heritage Eagle (classic, not the Golden) for that much. If you do, swap out the Schallers for something like Gibson 57 PAFs. Actuallly, any electric you get for that cheap could probably use a pup upgrade (I'm sure there are exceptions).

    Look at completed auctions on ebay to get a sense of what you might have to pay for the kind of guitar you're looking for.

    Best of luck, I'm sure you'll find something you'll be happy with. After all, the world is awash in electric guitars.

  33. #32

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    I'd be surprised if you found a Heritage for $1,000. If you did, and it had Schaller humbuckers, I would spend some time with it before deciding to swap them out. Some time ago, there was a thread at the Heritage forum about these pickups (which are modelled after the PAFs), so I said a clip is worth a thousand words and posted one of my H150 solid body loaded with said. The response was unanimous, even from the (supposed) "haters": nothing wrong with Schallers at all.

  34. #33

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    I should have been clearer before: I meant a used Heritage. That may still be a pipedream. I looked on ebay and the cheapest Heritage archtop went for $1200. So, it would be tough.

    Re: Schallers. I'm in the (supposed) hate camp. At least the schallers that came with my Heritage Eagle Classic that I bought in 2002 or so. I spent 6 mos. trying to get a good tone out of them, so I swapped out the neck pickup with a 57 PAF and was much happier. I've also heard a Golden Eagle with schallers live and thought the sound was flat and unresponsive. To each his own.

    I'd love to hear your clip, but is it fair to compare how a solidbody's pickup sounds to an archtop with the same pickup? It seems to me that the demands on the pickups are very different on different instruments. But I really don't know and would be interested in what others think.

  35. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by bebopluvr
    ...is it fair to compare how a solidbody's pickup sounds to an archtop with the same pickup? It seems to me that the demands on the pickups are very different on different instruments. But I really don't know and would be interested in what others think.
    Best sounding Les Paul type guitar I ever had was a Heritage H-140 (thin body) with Schallers.

    But a couple Eagles I've had were unable to get any of the juicy nuance I like in a so-called jazz tone.

    To be fair, I thought the newer Heritage HRW pickups (made to Rendal Whal's spec by Schaller) on an H-575 I had were a huge improvement.

  36. #35

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    Hi bebopluvr. Yes, I knew you were referring to a used Heritage.

    Actually, what you're saying about standard Schallers in a hollow body does ring a bell, also what backliner says about the HRWs. Sadly, I have no experience of a Heritage hollow body. At the time of acquiring it, my H150 solid body was probably one of the only examples of the make for sale in Spain.

    Anyway, if you'd like to hear the clip, here it is. It was a noodle over a canned backing track I did for another forum some time ago:
    Last edited by Peter C; 12-03-2010 at 07:07 AM.

  37. #36
    I would appreciate receiving opinions on the best and appropriate semi-hollow and archtop jazz guitars under $1000. Going to invest in a jazz guitar and being a beginner (at any guitar) would like to learn from established players. Looking for that distinctive cool, mellow jazz sound. I live in Toronto and have access to all brands and the assortment of available guitars is overwhelming. Thanks very much. Andrew

  38. #37

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    Welcome to the forum !

    The Ibanez Artcore and Artstar series are great value for money and there's lots of choice under $1000. However, as you are in Canada you should look at the Godin 5th Avenue series. Again - great bang per buck. The lower priced ones may not give you exactly the jazz tone you are looking for (although pretty close), but if you can stretch to the 5th Ave Composer GT, you will have a more traditional jazz box.

    Also there has recently been excellent pricing on D'Angelico EXL-1 in the US - you may still find one of those at a really great price if you look hard.


    Best Jazz Guitar Under 00-dangelico-exl-1-jpg

  39. #38

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    My suggestion is based on my own experience, just that. The Epiphone ES-175 Premium, is a great guitar, and a great basis for a few mods that will still keep the guitar under the 1000, I believe.

    Best Jazz Guitar Under 00-epiphone-es-175-jpg


    On mine I left the pickups (Gibson Classic 57) and replaced all the electronics (pots, caps, wiring), plus the tuners and a bone nut. The reason I did it was because the guitar "spoke" to me; for me the only real things I care on a guitar are (besides a flawless truss rod) that the body/beck feel right, that the guitar reacts to my style of playing in a pleasant way, and that makes me want to play it.

    When I tried it at a store I ended up forgetting about time for a while, it felt good - and the setup was really off and the strings were far from mine; but the whole thing worked. It is a guitar I want to play, if that makes sense. I have other guitars, more expensive, better built, with better components, but that do not call me to play. So for me that's the key.

    If you have the chance to try a great number of guitars, do that. Take your notes, come back to try again the ones that caused an impression. For me that's what lasts.

    I have since acquired a Gibson ES-175 that I really love to play, but the Epiphone wasn't set aside. Sometimes I want to play the Epiphone and just not the Gibson. For me it's a great guitar.

    Again, I'm sure the guys here will come forward with great suggestions - so my advice is, if a guitar speaks to you it's a keeper. Later you may change any components you may wish!

  40. #39

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    On the semi front, I was impressed with the Godin Montreal Premiere. Not the stock p/us. As it came to me, painfully bright. But the guitar itself is interesting, well thought out. Especially that inverted trestle/carved block. Looks like a roman bridge. Adds a perfect something to the sound. I only sold mine cause I got a Heritage H575, and knew I'd be spending more time with bigger guitars.


    Best Jazz Guitar Under 00-godin-montreal-premiere-jpg

  41. #40

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    Epiphone Sheraton! IIRC the newer pro models have coil splitting(?). I think it's a great value-for money guitar, which is why I've got one that I use in place of my Gibson ES if I need to travel, and for practicing at home.



  42. #41

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    Used Eastmans can be great bang for the buck. As said Godins get a lot of love too.

    Someone said an Epi 175 and now I'm wondering about a few local ones on my CL ha ha, must resist.

    That Epi pictured above is a beauty. That's a Sheraton eh? Very nice. I love the tree of life whatever it's called.

  43. #42

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    Quote Originally Posted by 73Fender
    Someone said an Epi 175 and now I'm wondering about a few local ones on my CL ha ha, must resist.
    "resistance is futile"

    Best Jazz Guitar Under 00-epi175-jpg


  44. #43

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    Quote Originally Posted by JPG
    - so my advice is, if a guitar speaks to you it's a keeper. Later you may change any components you may wish!
    Great advice. A guitar that inspires you to play is a guitar that helps make you a better guitarist ... it'll bring out your best no matter where you are in your development.

  45. #44

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    New or used all of these are a GR8 bang for the buck.

    Semi hollow: Epi Sheraton, Peerless hardtail, Ibanez AS-103 or AS-153, Eastman T-486

    Hollow: Epi Joe Pass, Gretsch Electromatics, Ibanez AF-100 model numbers on up.

  46. #45

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    I really like my Eastman AR-371. With flatwounds and a pickup swap it sounds wonderful, and the neck is fast and feels great.


    Best Jazz Guitar Under 00-eastman-ar371-jpg

  47. #46

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    There is some good advice in this thread. Lots of alternatives to choose from. The best advice is to choose the one that makes you FEEL best because you will play it more. I have an Ibanez AF105 that I love. It fights for playing time with a Hagstrom HL550 Matte. If you can find a Hagstrom try it. I didn't like either of the laminated versions but I am in love with the Matte version.


    Best Jazz Guitar Under 00-ibanez-af105-jpg

  48. #47

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    Check out my thread on my Ibanez AF55. It's under $300 even, but I stuck better PUs in it and now it can pass for a much more expensive guitar.






    Here's the thread:

    NGD: Ibanez AF55

  49. #48

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    Dang it Jay...stop turning everybody onto those. You'll drive the price up before I can snag one. XP


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  50. #49

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    Ibanez PM2 and AFC151 Great Guitars for the money!


    Best Jazz Guitar Under 00-ibanez-pm2-jpg

  51. #50

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    First of all I second what everyone else said: you have to try a handful yourself. “Jazz guitar” is such a generic term, and I feel that there is more difference between a high-strung acoustic archtop and an ES-335-type guitar than there is between a 335-type and a telecaster! Which – believe it or not – is a jazz guitar if you go for warm, sustained tones. So there is no shortcut, you have to do a lot of listening to see what sound(s) you’re after and to feel what guitars speak to you: what neck is comfortable, what sound is good, etc…

    Second: when buying an electric guitar, the “bones” are more important than the sound: if you’re not crazy about the pickups of a guitar you can change them (or have them changed) relatively easy. If you don’t like the neck of your guitar, or the feel of its body, you’ll just have to sell it. Besides, a big part of your sound will be your amp: don’t buy a 1000$ electric guitar and a 100$ amp… you’ll sound like crap. Spend well in both departments.

    Which leads to … third: buy used if you can: you get better gear, for less money, and you lose less money should you want to sell down the way. If you’re unsure and you fear being had, buy from a good shop. In Toronto, you have wonderful shops, including Capsule Music and Shyboy and Tex… go talk to these gentlemen!

    Fourth and last (I promise): the set-up is so important to how a guitar sounds and feels, so (a) when you try a guitar, you like it, but think the sting action is too high, think also that if the guitar is OK action can be lowered, and (b) factor in the few bucks it takes to have the guitar set-up to your preferences when you buy it – it makes a difference!

    All of that said, models I have tried and liked in my quest for archtops:
    - Epiphone Broadway: it’s big (a copy of an L-5), doesn’t have a great acoustic sound, but if you go for “big and warm” that’s the way to go. Mine is a lovely piece of wood… nice neck! The pickups are meh, but I haven’t gotten around to change them yet; it’s a very good “beginner jazz guitar” and can be made into a very good jazz guitar period;
    - The Ibañez PM2 I have tried is also very nice… don’t be put off by the fact that it has just one pickup: that’s basically all you’ll use.
    - If you go for a more “swing/early jazz” vibe, I’ve heard good things of the Guild A-150;
    - By all means, try a telecaster: neck pickup, a bit of volume roll-off, and you’re good to go. Best models for the buck: Squier Classic Vibe and (most of all) Baja telecaster, in the 50s and 60s version;
    - If you like a “little thinline” with some character, again more for swing jazz than for big Wes Montgomery tone, I’d try out one of the Epiphone 1966 Century… I’ve held one and I thought that it had a nice neck and an acoustic sound as good if not better than the one of many other bigger archtops;
    - If you want an acoustic archtop: the Loar 600 or 700, used (or Eastman, but they’re pricier)
    - Last but not least: try Godin… you’re in Canada for Pete’s sake !