The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
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  1. #1

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    In your opinion, what would you describe as the best all-round jazz guitar, either currently produced or out-of-production, and what makes it so amazing?

    just for fun


    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
  3. #2

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    For a cheap (relatively, not for students *sigh*) guitar this D'Angelico EXDC is better than and other semi-hollowbody i've tried. Reeeeeaally personal tone, and sounds at least perfect through any amp at all, usually more than perfect though. Mine also has a kind of inherited history, transfered from a strat i had to trade in which my dad had for years...

    If you want a guitar, buy this, no matter what, or at least try it out, and if you dont like it, get the shop to put some proper strings on it (originally i tried mine with 9's, until we asked and they were fine) and its almost a guarantee. Before trying mine, i sampled a benedetto, another dangelico (a new yorker) and a 70's Gibson, however this came out smelling of roses. I have heard theres some dodgy ones out there though, so presumably like fenders and gibsons theres some lacking, but yeah, go for it

  4. #3

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    I have never tried one before but from the reviews on MusiciansFriend, Epiphone Elitists seem to be a good bet. Very expensive but all the reviews have been great for all of their guitars.

    Perfect Jazz Guitar?-epiphone-byrdland-elitist-jpg
    Last edited by aPAULo; 04-14-2007 at 06:01 PM.

  5. #4

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    not sure there can be a definitive answer to a question like this, but for solidbodies, it's hard to beat a Telecaster. i have two and i'm always eyeballing a third...

  6. #5

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    It's interesting to see that people favor the Tele as a jazz guitar...just didn't think of a Tele that way. That might seem weird, but you know...

    I'd think, without having played either of them, that a big old Gibson ES-175 or 335 would do the trick really well. But for the money, I'd probably go for an Epi Sheraton II - I hear they're relatively inexpensive.

  7. #6
    I was in a local Guitar Center store looking at a Les Paul. When the salesman asked what I'd be playing with it, I said jazz and some blues. the salesman then asked, "who plays jazz on a Les Paul." I replied, "Well, Les Paul for one."

    Perfect Jazz Guitar?-gibson-les-paul-jpg

  8. #7

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    As an add-on to the question for the best or perfect jazz guitar. I did not hear too much about specific makes and models. I want to purchase a good electric jazz guitar. Initially I had my heart set on the Gibson ES-175 reissue (as you can tell from my username...that's all I could think of when joining this forum). Anyway, a couple of questions...what would be a good electric jazz guitar to purchase? How is the Gibson ES-175 or the L-5 or Super 400? How about Stromberg or a D'Angelico? I heard those two were now coming out of Korea or Japan and that the production was not great. Others that I have read about are Eastman, PRS, Triggs and Ibanez. I have only played the Gibson ES-175 at a music store. The other interesting finding when shopping for a jazz guitar is that there are many independent luthiers that supposedly make fantastic hand-crafted guitars. I am totally at a loss which direction to go. This purchase will be for a guitar that I will keep forever.

  9. #8

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    Don't just cast off non-American guitars my friend, my D'angelico i chose over a number of USA guitars, and not once did i play an american strat nicer than my old japanese one. Once you're paying over £600 for a guitar you need to try out each seperately (at an audition i was chatting to a guitarist who bought a new gibson ES333 and it snapped at the neck inside the case, so he wont lean guitars upright anymore!) rather than rely on reputation; Ibanez another good case.

  10. #9

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    Supposedly best bang for your buck in the archtop selection are Eastman guitars. Check them out.

    Perfect Jazz Guitar?-eastman-t185mx-jpg

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by fret15
    It's interesting to see that people favor the Tele as a jazz guitar...just didn't think of a Tele that way. That might seem weird, but you know...

    I'd think, without having played either of them, that a big old Gibson ES-175 or 335 would do the trick really well. But for the money, I'd probably go for an Epi Sheraton II - I hear they're relatively inexpensive.
    It was odd to me as well. I have owned two very fine archtops, and a couple of OK archtops but the tele (and other solid bodies ) has a lot of advantages for a working musician.

    1. The tele is a slab of wood with strings on it<g>. If you do travel with your guitar you can easily replace a broken one and you have a great pallet to try out different pickups, etc. I don't know anyone who wants to start carving holes on that big dollar archtop. I heard of a guy who's tele got smashed and he swapped out the electronics from his destroyed tele with the brand new one he had to buy in his hotel room in one night.
    2. Less temperature and humidity effects.
    3. Let's face it, most people play very loud so what you (and your audience) are ultimately hearing is the sound from your speaker...which is made out of paper. Once you get above a certain volume that beautiful archtop acoustic tone is gone anyway.
    4. Guitars like Gibson 335s, Gretschs, ES-175 are sometimes so highly regarded for jazz because they are more like soliid bodies (IMHO). Think about it. You take an ES-175 / it has a laminate top that is stiffer (like a solid body), usually a tunematic bridge (further isolation from the "wood" of the guitar), and you have cut holes in the top to place the pickups (again...dampens the tops ability to vibrate). What I am saying is that many of those guitars are great because they are really behaving more like solid body guitars with all of the modifications.
    5. You can turn up the tele on that loud rock or country gig. I really enjoyed having one guitar to play jazz trio for a reception, then a nice clean tone for dinner music and then crank it up for a rock and country music set.
    I love the way an archtop guitar feels and it is just a part of our tradition, but when you get above the acoustic volume of the instrument the majority of your sound comes from the electronics. I was glad to get rid of archtops and remove so many problems from my working life.

    How the wood effects the amplified tone is a great idea for a new thread!

  12. #11

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    I don't think it is possible to have a perfect jazz guitar, and here's why.

    Initially, let me say that I am referring to electric guitars.

    There are multiple forms of jazz as of today, each of which may require different sounds. Sometimes distortion is used, and often it is not. Distortion alone pretty much rules out most hollow bodied guitars due to the really unpleasant sound that gets generated at louder volumes with distortion.

    Amplifiers. They are so good these days, that you can take a horrible guitar and make it sound alright. This also means that between amplifiers, and equalizers you can use a solid or hollow body and be able to make a nice sound which ultimately suits you.

    Wood can make a difference as well, but I think it's importance is often overstated, mainly because of the technological advances that have been made in our lifetime. Example - Ovation guitars, with the rounded plastic back sound great. In my opinion the only important part wood plays in electric guitars is the fretboard, I think ebony fretboards play much nicer than rosewood - I don't think sound is altered much if at all by this though (no clue really).

    With all that said, the rest comes down to how a guitar feels in the players hands and if it has a sound that suits them.

    I have been doing a lot of research lately because in the next couple months I will be in the market for a jazz guitar in the ($1000-3000) price range. I have found arguments for all sorts of things, but one of them made a big impact on me. A store owner (I wish I could remember the link) placed a long diatribe about Heritage guitars, and how their quality and service has dropped, and as a result he no longer carries them. Also in this letter he stated that the really expensive (over $3000) Gibson guitars are incredibly overpriced, and that they are a rip off. He made a few examples of their $5-10,000 guitars, and stated how that the actual cost was (ex) $800. I believe this.

    What's my point? People may equate cost with quality, which also means people also pay for brand names because they believe they are better. In many cases brand name guitars are better, but at what price does the value no longer provide a better guitar?

    There are many independent guitar companies that make excellent guitars, yet I suspect many people shy away from them because they lack a brand name. Those guitars, are also probably better in some cases (and less expensive) than their brand-named counterpart.

    I think it would be fun to take all the different jazz guitars of all price ranges, and have a panel of people judge them on sound while plugged into a standard amplifier. I would bet that the $300 Ibanez may just be as good sounding and feeling as that $10,000 diamond encrusted Gibson.

    Regardless, I love the Gibson ES-137, and intend to get one, but I'll bet it's not even close to the best sounding jazz guitar out there; but I like it, and when everything is all said and done -- isn't that all that matters?

  13. #12

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    I play an Ibanez AF105 and a old steinberger GM4sa and both are good for jazz while the first has a tradionnal sound type and more suitable for chords the second is a for very,very fast playing.

    Perfect Jazz Guitar?-ibanez-af-105-jpg

  14. #13

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    For what it's worth, I played an inexpensive Epiphone Zephyr Regent and think it sounds great! It is basically a low-budget ES-175 with just a neck humbucker, so it gets that beautiful chunky 175 sound for just a few hundred dollars.

    Perfect Jazz Guitar?-epiphone-zephyr-regent-jpg

  15. #14

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    I like the Gibson L-5, found a guitar based on that 1920's design and love it.

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by gremboul
    I like the Gibson L5, found a guitar based on that 1920's design and love it.
    Yeah, I dig Wes. But--Mr Beaumont told me to check out Grant Green. I did --and I must say Grant has a blues sound that I dig! But getting back to guitars--I have a Strat Squire , not bad for a low cost axe, but I am wondering if a Telecaster would not be better choice for jazz. I tend to favor the F-hole acoustics for the good sound. But, the Strats and Tellie's, etc, are so easy to cradle. Could there be something in between? I want something that is easy to hold, so I can focus on my left hand! Man, at 86 I don't have time to screw around and try a lot of guitars. Mr. Beaumont recently bought a nice axe with one F-hole, it looks something like a Tele. Please excuse my ignorance, I am not familiar with it. But he put it on audio a few months ago and I think it sounded great. Of course, he is an accomplished musician, one I do admire. I like Chris Strangling, another Brit! Mr. Beaumont plays with a lot of feeling, I like his style. I'm sure there are a lot of good musicians on this forum, not to forget our sponsor. I really appreciate this Forum. Any advice?

  17. #16

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    This is my first post but I have many years of experience with different kinds of solid body guitars and I thought I could humbly offer what I have learned.

    I too am a huge fan of the fender Telecaster. American Fender Solid Bodies are absolute workhorses and are rediculously versatile in my experience, as are many other major brands I will concede, but what has made me unable to deny myself a fender of some kind is the quality of the necks on both th Strat and the Tele. The availability of the maple fingerboards, the "medium-jumbo frets" the curvature and fret layout and the finish are all highly desirable in my experience. Fender necks have a spaciousness and scale that is perfect for me. Its a matter of comfort and convenience; both of which give me confidence wihile playing that I can't afford to pass up.

    Why I chose the tele given that all traditional fender solid bodies have necks with the qualities I'm picky about has to do with its history, its electronics ( I generally prefer single coil pickups and adore my tele's rhythm/neck pickup), and its overall design.

    First commercially produced solid body electric guitar which speaks to its reliability, simplicity, and versatility given that it is still among the most popular models made today and that it is mostly unchanged.

    They are the cleanest and most accurate pickups I've ever experienced. They lend themselves to a great warm, shimmering, inimitable clean tone (obviously nice to have for Jazz oriented playing).

    Overall design:
    Modest cosmetically. I don't like guitars that aspire to be decorative pieces or or works of art instead of tools. I'd prefer that an instrument's cost would come from attention/labor given to the functionality, tonality, playability etc.

    Also it is balanced in the terms of weight and comfortable to wear or hold.

    It's got a charming appearence, as well as an iconic one.

    I play a custom shop 1953, with a custom neck shape. It is primarily a historically accurate "c-shape" except at the 1st 2nd and 3rd frets where it has a tapering v-shape for enhanced comfort fingering taxing chords which is great. Other than that it is perfectly accurate in its replicating a 1953 in the terms of pickups (hand-wound by custom shop) and the like. Neck joint tightness and other specs were specified and the setup was perfected by the tech who commisioned it.

    It's great for almost every application that doesn't involve being overdriven to an extreme due to single coil pickups (which do fine at moderate levels of distortion) but it offers perfection for traditional playing, that is Jazz or Blues or (I have heard) Country.

    The only complaint I would make is that the tuning stability, while fine in-and-of itself, isn't as good as that of a Gibson with a Tune-o-matic bridge as I know from experience. Tuning stability is greatly improved by locking tuners which are easily installed adn are affordable. I don't have them on my 53 to preserve historical accuracy but I have put them on my past American Standards to great effect.

  18. #17

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    hey, JC, that's a '69 telecaster thinline. semihollow, reissue, made in mexico. nice bang for the buck...the honeymoon hasn't wore off yet--i love that guitar.

    i use flatwounds on all my teles, .11 gauge. since i teach and also play some western swing, i like to be able to bend a little too. it's a good compromise on feel.

    as far as teles for jazz go, you all know i'm a fan--and m78w, a regualr here, is a hell of a player and a tele man too. if you're a fan of the darker, ed bickert/jim hall tones, a neck humbucker is a nice option--i have one tele with a neck hummer and it's a jazz machine. my other two have single coils, and the jazz tones i get with them are a little more grant green to early jimmy raney-ish. it's good to have options!

    glad to hear you're digging grant green. have you gotten into jimmy raney yet? big influence on grant, actually. the self titled record he made with bob brookmeyer (valve trombone) and a record called simply "A" are among my favorite recorded jazz tones ever--and his playing is phenomenal...the man was the master.

  19. #18

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    i have a Washburn J9 with Jazz Semour Duncans and Gibson electronics. Dollar for dollar, a great sounding guitar. But I also have a Stratocaster for my rockin' blues days.

    Perfect Jazz Guitar?-washburn-j9-jpg

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevdog
    i have a Washburn J9 with Jazz Semour Duncans and Gibson electronics. Dollar for dollar, a great sounding guitar. But I also have a Stratocaster for my rockin' blues days.
    Washburn makes excellent guitars.

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by gremboul
    I agree with you about the telecaster. I have a 52 reissue and it is a workhorse. I replaced the bridge pickup with a seymour duncan mini-bucker, made especially for the great with jazz-blues....Have to say that my archtop is nothing to sneeze at...

    PS: what strings would you use on a tele to play jazz?
    I've been looking at possibly replacing my neck pickup with something that bucks hum a little more aggressively like a mini-bucker or cool/hot rails by Duncan I believe. I just don't have a good understanding of what the custom shop provided for pickups. If they don't make use of any of the noise reduction technology that has been developed since 53 then I think I would like to try a Duncan model in the rhythm position. This is not to say that noise is really a problem but my current pickups have a lot of bite and snarl at gig-volumes. I'll Have to look for a mini-bucker equipped instrument to check it out.

    I haven't done a lot of experimenting with strings but Fender .009 super 250s are the strings that bring the highest level of playability out of my tele. I think I prefer .010 guages tonally as they are are a little less twangy or sharp but bending and hammer-ons etc. are somewhat hindered at EADGBE tuning. This is more the concern of a blues guitarist however.

    I remember the coated Elixer strings I used once being very "warm" or "full" as would be desirable for jazz applications. Perhaps a better description would be that they had a less metallic character in the high-end when amplified.

    Which strings have been best suited in your experience?

    I'm also curious to learn:

    What sort of amp do you prefer with your 52? What are your feelings if any about the Vox AC30 (1) Generally for use with Tele and (2) For Jazz.

    I didn't buy mine with jazz tone in mind but I find it offers a range of good tones for jazz even if it is a bit more aggressive (high treble and prone to overdrive) than is likely conventional for strictly Jazz guitarists.

    Any opinions regarding Vox AC30?

  22. #21

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    I've got a '66 tele with a gibson mini humbucker at the neck and a bill lawrence humbucker at the bridge. I use .11 flatwounds and I love this guitar! I've been offered to play several high end archtops, Buscarino's, Benedetto's, Fosters etc by collectors and i always tell them "I'll hold on to it but nothing will ever replace my tele!"


  23. #22

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    Seems to me there are many guitars good for jazz, to me mainly because jazz is such a wide spectre of styles and sounds. I love the thumpy sound of old recordings with those magic players on tough axes with strings like steel pins and not too good material for recording it, and they still made it sound magical. Myself, I tried to get a nice sound from a strat knock off, no go, tried with a Les Paul knock off, no go, today I got my cheap German 335 copy, 300 US dollars, transport to sweden included. It's magic. It said the low price was due to some small scratches, tried to find them. No trace of any damage whatsoever. And it's easy to play on - as compared to all other guitars I've tried, even at that low prize it seems to be very well built, not as heavy as the other two I have (solid body), and even plugged into garageband by way of my Behringer guitar link (usb) the semi hollow body produces good, warm notes just as I like it. It's perfect for me, and it feels like I'm gonna keep this sweetheart for quite some time...

  24. #23

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    That looks like a very nice guitar!
    One day I hope to be able to buy a good archtop, but for now I'm happy with the one I got today. Hope to be able to record some tunes in the near future, when I do I'll post about it, but I'll stick to jamming on things I've picked up in Dirks lessons mainly, I'm just a learner. But I'm happy to say it starts sounding like jazz now, the recordings I've done up to now are just trials at the music I love, now I feel like I'm learning things that might even make the new guitar worthwhile. It's amazingly easy to play on, that's for sure, it fits me like a glove, so to say.

    Must get back to practicing, but nice archtop you've got there!
    German guitars are nice, at least my new one.
    Skei (the developing fast one- finally)

  25. #24

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    After searching for years, I finally settled on a Gibson L-5. Wish I had acquired one decades ago. I've tried them all, and found nothing matches it for purity of tone and response.

    For many years, I used a Gibson 335. It comes close to the L-5. I put in Graph-Tek graphite bridge saddles and use flat-wound strings --together, they give a very jazzy tone. In a gig at medium volume with a drummer, you'd be hard pressed to tell the difference between my 335 and the L-5, but at low volumes, the L-5 sweetness is inimicable.

    There is no single ideal guitar, however, since no one guitar is appropriate for all styles.

  26. #25

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    The Gibson L5 is a the CES black

    Perfect Jazz Guitar?-gibson-l-5-ces-black-jpg