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  1. #1

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    When I am playing my very best, I need a guitar that holds up. A guitar that Doesn't bottom out. It is always able to produce the sound I am looking for. No dead spots. It takes the perfect setup for me. When I play hard it must respond. When I play softly, it must accurately convey my feelings crisply and clearly, with me not having to change my playing. It must translate what is in my soul into audible music. A solid flat out music making machine. And of course, for me, It must be a guitar I cherish.

    Ive owned a lot of guitars in my life. And so far, the one that does all this for me, without question, is my:

    Gibson Johnny Smith.

    What is yours? And why?
    Joe D

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    I have a Lester DeVoe flamenco negra that was made for me as a copy of Pace do Lucia's DeVoe negra, one of the greatest guitars on the planet. A rare combination of bright and warm, brash and sophisticated, and Lester's guitars are the most perfectly intonated I've ever played.

  4. #3

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    There are actually many,depending on the musical situation. But the Gibson Johnny Smith with out a doubt is one of the greatest!

  5. #4

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    I got to play my teacher's favorite guitar once, a few years ago. It was made by a very good friend of his named Sam Koontz, A guy who started out as a shoemaker from New Jersey and only made a couple hundred guitars. And tragically wound up killing himself.

    When he took it to Colorado to visit Johnny Smith, Mr. Smith played it and said, "that is the finest guitar I have ever played without exception "

    I'm just a schmo, Who can argue with these two ?

  6. #5

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    I had bought a few things from Murch Music in Cambridge an hour outside of Toronto and took a friend to try out a Clarus. When the deal was done Glen Murch brought a guitar out and handed it to me and we jammed on Joy Spring unplugged. I know nothing about guitars but this one felt nice and sounded great. He packed it back in its case and I stupidly joked "if we buy the two amplifiers will you throw in the guitar?" He replied, "in all seriousness if you buy the guitar I'll throw in the two amps". How much say I. $35,000 US say he. I was glad it was back in the case and I didn't know that before playing it. You will think I'm an idiot and you may be right but it was one of those New York made guitars with an Italian name starting with 'D'.
    Glen showed me a manifest of who had owned this guitar and among the names were Joe Pass and George Benson. What astounds me is Glen didn't know me at all, we'd done a little business but he had no problem letting me try it. Needless to say we bought the amps and left.

    Murch Music is now a branch of the amazing Long & McQuade chain and if you are in the region be sure to stop in.

    Gallery
    Last edited by A. Kingstone; 07-22-2019 at 10:11 AM.

  7. #6

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    You should have included a video, Joe, demonstrating what you are talking about, even if you have shared it elsewhere on this forum.

    For me, it is a copy of a guitar by Manuel Ramirez, circa 1908, made by the wonderful English luthier, Simon Ambridge, and complete with gut strings which I pluck with the flesh of my fingers rather than the nails. There is something more poetic about gut and flesh, rather than nail and nylon. It's how guitars used to be made and played. This guitar is a treasure, full of nuance, and warm, mellow and clear in all registers. Intimate. I might not have my dream jazz guitar yet, but in the meantime I am very lucky to have this beautiful classical.

    Here's a composition by Andres Segovia, who hardly ever performed his own music. It's a fine piece.


  8. #7

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    I had to wait a while to get the best guitar I've ever played. Ten years have passed since then, but I still feel the same about my 18" Sonntag Augusta. (The only downside is the weight of its Calton case.)

  9. #8

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    The music store I used to go to all the time the original owner believed instruments are meant to be played whether they are vintage or new. So when I go he'd say oh #$%#$ you have to play this and hand me some great guitar like a 50's strat. The last time I was there before he retired I went in and he hand me a 40's D'Angelico New Yorker and led me to the tryout room to play. Just looking at it, the wood aged inside and outside finish darkened was so regal. Playing it was so comfortable and the sound full and sweet. I played it about a half an hour then went and gave it back to the owner, he said sure you don't want to play it more? I said no that was a once in a lifetime experience thanks.

  10. #9

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    July the 24th 2015, a Friday I recall, got home from work and unpacked what would be my Jazz guitar Epiphany!
    What is the best guitar you've ever played? There could only be one..-img_1181-jpg
    It gives me everything I look for in an instrument, tone and playability in a gorgeous package
    Honeymoon is still ongoing and I can't see when it could stop; a keeper for life !

  11. #10

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    1985 D'Aquisto New Yorker. 1978 Gibson Super 400 close second. Both played like butter and sounded even better.

  12. #11

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    My own 1937 D'angelico New Yorker for sure it sounds and plays wonderful.

  13. #12

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    Joe,
    What a question! I'm in a quandary with it.
    When I play my beloved L5 there is nothing
    that approaches it, by the same token the
    same applies when I use the Tal, L4ces, or
    another Gibson Archtop. The Expression
    Spoilt for choice is applicable, I am very
    fortunate to own these instruments. If
    I was foolish enough to try a GJS or a
    D'A , I would want to move heaven and
    earth to acquire one. To choose just
    one is very difficult for Gibson Fanboys.
    When I hear Archtop Fred's L5C with
    a CC pickup , I gas for one . ( Avarice
    is an undesirable trait)

  14. #13

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    Joe,

    I know exactly what you are talking about. It's not a guitar that is beautiful, expensive, rare, collectible, or matching one's personality or fantasies. Of course it may be any or all of those things, too, as a bonus.

    It's a guitar that clearly channels one's musical voice, never failing to carry out the moves or expressions or techniques one foists upon it. That is an extremely tall order, and is not easy to find.

    The guitar in my avatar is a 1928 L-5, shipped in 1931 according to FON research. It has a perfect, soft D neck profile, very low action, and extremely even notes from top to bottom with no dead spots anywhere. It has dings and a couple of repaired cracks but is nonetheless a stellar example of its class. It's my answer to your question.

    This nearly 90 year old L-5 is out of my league, so it offers me lots of room to express myself. If something sounds bad, I'm at fault, never that guitar.

  15. #14

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    In the early 60's I played on my teachers white Falcon


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  16. #15

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    Whichever of my three vintage D'Angelicos is in my hand at the moment is the best ever.

    I cannot choose only one. What is the best guitar you've ever played? There could only be one..-img_0332-jpg

  17. #16

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    Just for tonight, however, it's a Tele Squier Vintage Modified Thinline - and a wah pedal!
    Last edited by destinytot; 07-22-2017 at 01:57 PM.

  18. #17

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    Yes, a very hard question to answer.

    I have four guitars which i love more than the others. They are two LeGrands and a Johnny Smith, but whenever it comes to a really challenging important gig my 2003 L5CES is (still) the one i trust most to lead me safely through all storms which unexpectedly might occur onstage.

  19. #18

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    What a hard question to answer, because in part the answer is dependent on the use the instrument is being put to. The best guitar I have ever played for jazz is different than the best guitar I played for blues, rock, etc. But hey, it's a jazz guitar forum so let's stick with jazz.

    Many years ago- close to 30?- I played by teacher's blond Gibson Johnny Smith. What a guitar! It formed my notion of what a jazz guitar is and I chased that for years, but a GJS has remained beyond affordability. For the last 11 years I have had an archtop made by forum member Matt Cushman and it's every it as good as the GJS that I remember. Feels great, has a wonderful neck, sounds great acoustically and electrically (I installed a Pete Biltoft neck-mounted CC). It's Benedetto-ish more than Gibson-ish.

    Every time I see it or pick it up to play, I just think "aaahhhh." Every gig I play with it results in people coming up to talk to me about it. But boy does it feed back, so for many gigs I play something else (always a bit regretfully). Whenever I get GAS, I just play that guitar for a couple of minutes and realize there's nothing that's going to make me sound better. Maybe a real D'Angelico New Yorker...

  20. #19

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    My '65 Stratocaster was the best of that type that I have played.

    A '28 Gibson L-5 is the best acoustic archtop.

    My Unity 100th Anniversary 17" archtop with Shadow AZ48 Zoller floating pickup is the best acoustic-electric guitar I have played.

    The best flattop is a blue-line '72 LoPrinzi LR-15.

    The best classical is a late-50s/early-60s Jose Ramirez (III) guitar owned by the father of a friend. Simply fabulous.

    Of those, I only own/owned two.

  21. #20

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    I never owned a D'Angelico guitar, it was out of my price range. I had a friend Ira Newborn which I played ( we were in bands in high school, a great guitar.


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  22. #21

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    Maybe a photo will be in order.Made for Robert Lessey name on 17th fret 3rd NY listed.What is the best guitar you've ever played? There could only be one..-img_0384-jpgWhat is the best guitar you've ever played? There could only be one..-img_0381-jpg
    Attached Images Attached Images What is the best guitar you've ever played? There could only be one..-snapshot-1-7-22-2017-2-42-pm-png 

  23. #22

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    I'm going to give three, all focusing on archtops. All of these guitars are ones I find incredibly easy and inspiring to play.

    The best acoustic archtop is my 2003 Hutch Gibson LeGrand. It has a BJB on it, but it only sounds so-so when plugged in. Played acoustically, it's a totally different story. I've never heard notes bloom the way they do with this guitar. Chords sound impossibly lush for just six strings on one guitar. I got it about nine months ago and my jaw still drops when I play it.

    My '93 Tal Farlow is my absolute best gigging guitar. It's much more feedback resistant than the other two listed here and sits in a mix with other instruments just right and cuts through everything when it's time to solo.

    Lastly, my favorite all around guitar was my '68 GJS. It's still my second all around favorite, but that all changed when I got Al Valenti's 1940 L5. There was a time when I thought I would always want a cutaway, but I don't feel like it's necessary anymore. Much of that has to do with improving as a player, but it's driven by a guitar like this one. It delivers incredible acoustic tone, as was originally intended, but the DeArmond 1100 on it makes it a superb electric guitar also. I haven't had it that long, so it may be a honeymoon phase. I guess time will tell, but for now it's been the one I can't put down.

    If there was any doubt, I suppose I've fully outed myself as a Gibson fanboy now.

    Last edited by ThatRhythmMan; 07-22-2017 at 04:14 PM.

  24. #23

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    The best guitar I've ever played is my Roger Giffin Standard, a solid body that is pure perfection.
    I know, it's not an archtop, but this baby tics all of the boxes in materials, build quality, feel and tone.

    Standard Solid body 6-string


  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by deacon Mark
    Maybe a photo will be in order.Made for Robert Lessey name on 17th fret 3rd NY listed.What is the best guitar you've ever played? There could only be one..-img_0384-jpgWhat is the best guitar you've ever played? There could only be one..-img_0381-jpg
    Wow!

  26. #25

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    Such a hard question to answer because I don't think you really know until you have lived and played a guitar for a while.

    I have had the privilege to play for a few minutes some amazing guitars. One Collings parlor sized flat top really sticks in my mind. But I've only come to really know the few guitars I've actually owned.

    I am fortunate that I think my daily player is the best guitar I've ever played. It is an original prototype for my archtops with carbon fiber soundboards. It has a number of funky issues and was the testbed for three necks, two tailpieces and two bridges. The existing combination happened by default, but having a dozen other guitars to play I more or less don't play anything else. That said, it's not a magic Swiss Army knife. It is an acoustic guitar. When I need an electric I'm in love with a new Tele copy with a single Biltoff CC in the neck.

    As much as I love my guitar I still have GAS. And I still think the next one will be even more magical. The only difference is that the "next one" is the next build not buy.


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