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  1. #1

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    Do any of you use a Fender Stratocaster or copy to play jazz and, if so, how you would compare it to using a more traditional jazz guitar?


    Fender Stratocaster for Jazz?-fender-stratocaster-jazz-jpg

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    well, i do most of my work on one of two teles i own, which isn't a world away.

    there used to be a great cable access jazz show here in chicago in which the guitar player played a green strat. his tone was excellent.

    i don't think there's any right instrument to play jazz on, just the one that's right for you.

  4. #3

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    I use a 2005 Fender Stratocaster HH. Its a dream to play. Personally, I find that you can do a lot of conventional stuff with it, especially because of it's two humbuckers, but if you still wand the traditional strat sound, all the newer models have the s-1 switching system... As of last week, I re-assembled an old 50w Marshall Mk-II bass head, and set it to work on my guitar. It took some knob fiddling, but it sounds beautiful, so you can take my word for it that you can use a strat for jazz... Plus, they're comfy as hell to play.

    When it comes down to the wire, though, you can be playing jazz on a Jackson through a cranked mesa/boogie rectifier head, and still sound amazing. Really, its all about taste and comfort. Sometimes it bothers me that jazz guitar tones are often tame and boring, when if you listen to bebop sax and trumpet, often its wild and rigid, like a distorted guitar!

    I hope this provides some insight.

    -G

  5. #4

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    I do love the feel of strats, but I dont really like single-coil pickups. They, IMO, sound too flat and dont have that depth that I like, especially for jazz. You probably can play jazz on them, but I certainly cannot.

  6. #5

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    Hi

    I play jazz on a Strat 96´. It has 0.12 flatwounds and sounds great.
    I play on the neck pick-up with the toneknob turned all the way down. I play straightahead jazz and a little more experimental jazz. My main influence is Jim Hall, so yes a strat can be used for jazz and not just fusion

  7. #6

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    Anyone try using the bridge position at all? Even just for a little accent phrase or anything or does everyone try and keep it dark and fat?

  8. #7

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    I have heard jazz played on all kinds of guitars from acoustics, to archtops, teles, Les Pauls, strats, and an Ibanez copy of a Gibson Firebird.

    The guitar doesn't matter as much as the player. Scofield plays with a bit of gain, Metheny plays with all that delay, Frissell plays with all kinds of stuff, Stern with a bunch of distortion. Heck even Jim Hall is messing with effect pedals these days.

    If you are happening, what you play it with will be more of a curiosity than anything. Here is an example of a couple of jazzers playing on strats. Leni's tone is noticably brighter for contrast. Dunno if I first saw this clip here or elsewhere.


  9. #8

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    I play with strat. I can achieve a fine jazz tone, and I enjoy being able to switch aside for that ballsy strat bite if I'm playing fusion (à la Oz Noy).

    I was gonna mention Wayne Krantz but you beat me to it Derek. He really is the strat king

  10. #9

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    Listen to mike stern, yamaha pacifica tele, jeff golub, a fender strat, as well as a few gibsons. i use some traditional guitars, but i do some synth work and i use both a brian moore cp9013 and a godin LGXT, with a roland synth. those two guitars could stand on their own, the godin is a great value, it has 10's on it (i use flat wounds on most of my guitars, but this godin sounds so good with nickel 10-46's), two nice seymor duncan jazz pups. the brian more has hum, single, hum, coil taps etc and i have it strung with 11-48 flatwounds, the brian moore is a well made high priced guitar, IMHO the godin does the job for less than half the price.

    I also use a fender baja tele(nickel 10-46's), great neck and tone. as long as they are set up right for you, decent pups and a nice amp you can get your amplified tone.


    peace
    Last edited by jlc; 01-08-2008 at 09:25 AM.

  11. #10

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    I have an Eric Johnson Strat with Kinman pickups on it and in the neck position can get a sweet fat tone. But I have to admit that I just purchased a 335 and the neck pickup gives me the sound that I've been trying to emulate on the Strat. Plus, I love the thin taper neck on that Gibson.

    For versatility, though, you gotta go with a Strat because of the different timbres it can create, and also because of the trem bar. I wish I could put the Gibby neck on the Strat.

  12. #11

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    I have been using my G&L Tribute Legacy (its a swamp ash strat style) guitar to play Jazz. While it is a bit on the bright side, I do love the 12 inch radius neck (over one of my MIM strats 9.5 inch necks). For some reason the flatter fretboard makes chording seem like less of a work out.


    Fender Stratocaster for Jazz?-gl-tribute-legacy-ad-jpg

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by lkmuller
    I have an Eric Johnson Strat with Kinman pickups on it and in the neck position can get a sweet fat tone. But I have to admit that I just purchased a 335 and the neck pickup gives me the sound that I've been trying to emulate on the Strat. Plus, I love the thin taper neck on that Gibson.

    For versatility, though, you gotta go with a Strat because of the different timbres it can create, and also because of the trem bar. I wish I could put the Gibby neck on the Strat.

    While not an electric guitar expert in the least I have been play lots of guitars recently just to expand my horizons. I've been finding it takes a little more effort on a LP or 335 to change the tone but that I can get more and more subtle changes just by using middle position and blending with different tone and volume levels then with just the quick flip of the Strat types. Something I was gonna suggest would be to try something like the black beauty. I don't know if it has 5 way or just a 3 way with a seperate middle pup but it could easily get a 5 way switch if you wanted.

  14. #13
    I used a tele for years it had a neck humbcker and I set it up with 12's. I was in a serious Ed Bickert obssession. As far as a Strat I think to get a real nice thick "jazz" tone a humbucker in the neck position or one of the new ones with the S-1 switching system would help. Also I think if you can find a hardtail strat that would eliminate some of the "wobbliness" of a Strat. The other thing that I notice is that people tend to listen with their eyes, what I mean is when you show up to play someone's reception with a Strat they won't know exactly what to expect from you whereas when you show up with a hollow body with "F" holes or even a semi-hollow with "F" holes the audience/paying customer sees a "JAZZ" guitar. The tones that guitarists spend lifetimes perfecting aren't even a peripheral concern of the average client/civillian music afficianado. Check out the tele. Good Luck!!!!!!

  15. #14

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    When I was a student and had only one guitar, I played jazz on my strat plus (lace pickups). I, typically, would have the tone all the way down on both pots with the selector set for the neck-middle (second position). I set it up with 11 flatwounds and added two extra springs to the trem. I also set the trem flat to the body. IMO, this really added some sustain and cut down on some of the brightness.

    Now, however, I have been out of school for some time and I have a number of guitars. I play jazz on an Ibanez Artcore (or sometimes a Les Paul). I have also reset the strat with slinky 10's and I float the bridge.

  16. #15

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    As someone on a different forum said regarding the same topic, "It's the wizard, not the wand." I only have a strat, love it for everything, and am digging this jazz thing which is very new to me.

  17. #16

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    Strat is great for playing Jazz, in fact as great as any traditional jazz guitar. The thing is, if we need to experiment a lot with sounds, tones and musical character, we should not rely on a single instrument. Don't forget that experimentation and jazz go together.

  18. #17

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    I need some advice from the pros. I am just starting out learning jazz. I have a Strat and I love it. Between my Strat and my Zoom 505 Effects Pedal how can I get a nice warm jazz sound? Thanks!

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by kobrian
    I need some advice from the pros. I am just starting out learning jazz. I have a Strat and I love it. Between my Strat and my Zoom 505 Effects Pedal how can I get a nice warm jazz sound? Thanks!
    assuming that you're looking for a traditional, clean warm jazz tone, it's all about EQ

    use the neck pickup, and roll down the tone on the guitar a bit. if using an amp, EQ mid heavy, bass to taste, and lose a little treble. are you playing direct thru the zoom? i assume the it has some sort of EQ section?

    a lot of folks run into the problem of cranking the bass all the way and losing all definition to the sound. if you listen to the classic players, there's still plenty of crisp attack. don't lose that.

    the other thing to remember is there is no one correct jazz tone--even if we're talking traditional clean tone here-- kenny burrell sounds diffrent than grant green, who sounds different than wes, who sounds different than jim hall, who sounds different than tal farlow.

  20. #19

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    Great question! You need to think "clean". You can try just the neck pickup, but I use both the neck and middle. Play with your tone controls, but I put them both about 5-6. Just remember to keep the amp on a clean setting, no overdrive. I don't know much about the Zoom 505 but you can try different effects. Depends on what kind of jazz you're playing. Traditional jazz guitar is just clean, that's it. No effects. Fusion of course is quite different, and if that's what you're after than you can use lots of effects, and run your amp dirty. Hope this helps!

  21. #20

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    Yes, I'm looking for a classic clean tone. The Zoom 505 does have a EQ feature that I'll play around with.

    I like the traditional jazz of Charlie Christian and Eddie Lang, but I also like Joe Pass and Mike Stern. (I also like all good guitar music, from Bluegrass to Black Sabbath, Chet Atkins to The Ventures).

    As for guitars, I love the sound of a big jazz box (and they are beautiful to look at!) but I love the size, shape, and playability of a Fender. I love my Strat and would possibly only trade it for a Jazzmaster (a guitar, despite its name, that isn't used by any Jazz Masters that I know of!). Thanks for the help.

  22. #21

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    Getting the EQ right, as stated, is very important, as well as adjusting the guitar volume so as not to overdrive the preamp.

    I'm sort of in this position myself until the right Telecaster finds its way into my hands. That could take a while yet. My Strat used to be set up for Rock with a plain 3rd string etc. and, as it was not getting played, one day I put some flatwounds on it, just to see. I liked the feel, though I'm still experimenting with the sound: the pickups are designed for a plain 3rd string and there is some drop in volume on that string with this set I'm using (D'Addario Chromes), though the difference was even more noticeable in the case of a round wound third I tried once.

    I was going to say you should keep away from a plain 3rd for the Jazz sound and feel (I personally need to), but just remembered reading that Ed Bickert uses one. Shucks, he's my man as far as tone goes (and everything else, for that matter), so what do I know?

    Oh yeah, and blocking the trem may help.

  23. #22

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    I'd highly recommend a heavyish gauge of string, especially for a Strat. At least 11's...

  24. #23

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    I'm using 9s now so I'll move up to 10s until I get used to them and then onto 11s. My trem currently has three springs so I'll add two more. Thanks for the advice. Also, I did finally find someone who actually used a Fender Jazzmaster for Jazz! Joe Pass recorded and album called Sounds of Synanon using a Jazzmaster. (Then again, he was in drug rehab and it was the only guitar they had in the place!). Still, I'm trying to track down the album--I'd love to hear what it sounds like.

  25. #24

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    There's a clip of him on youtube playing a Jaguar... just type in 'Joe Pass Jaguar' and it should bring it up.

  26. #25

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    At one point, I put a set of 13 gauge flatwounds on a Strat until I saw it bend the neck and it couldn't be adjusted anymore. While they were on, the Strat sounded great. If you switch it to only the neck pickup, play around with the tone control on the guitar and mess around with the midrange on the amp, you get a really good jazz tone just like Bickert gets on that Tele. The Humbucker helps also. I put the same 13 gauge strings on a Les Paul Custom 1954 reissue with the Alnico pup in the neck position. You should hear the sound I got out of that. It was deep sweet and mellow.

  27. #26

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    Even moving up to .11's will make a big difference. I put D'Daddario XL .11's on my Gibson SG and it has a very smooth, warm sound when EQ'd properly. Good luck!

  28. #27

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    I also use 13 gauge flats on my Heritage LP style solid body and like 'em a lot. I find that the tension from 12's on the longer scale Strat sort of balances things out. The neck should accommodate 13's, though, as they were pretty much the norm when it was invented!
    If, by the way, I can get near enough to the Tele-Jazz sound on my Strat by experimentation and (some) modding, I'll be happy enough as I prefer its body contour to a Tele's. I have my doubts.
    Last edited by Peter C; 09-20-2008 at 08:16 AM.

  29. #28

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    Kobrian,
    I am not a pro but,... you may find this useful:
    - the sound you get is, by all means, something which is gear related ... strings, amps, the very instrument;
    - the tone you get is almost entirely dependent on your playing technique,... your habits, your muscular memory banks, etc.
    By the by, my only electric guitar is strung with .11 gauge roundwounds, complemented with a rather thick (.54) flatwound 6th string ... you may try going the Johnny Smith route.

  30. #29

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    Besides what everyone is saying about strings and what not, you can also really get a sweet jazz tone by throwing a Seymour Duncan Little 59 'humbucker' in the neck. I really swear by it if you are using something single coiled size. Not only is it a humbucker technically, it just has this super buttery edge that you really have to hear to believe. It is unlike anything I have heard on a strat, and you don't have to rely solely on thick strings and rolling off treble to get the sound. Highly recommended.

    Swapping the neck to a warmoth neck really helps to. I got a wenge neck and brazilian rosewood fingerboard from them for around $350, but boy does it sweeten the tone over the standard maple neck.
    Last edited by heavyblues; 07-26-2009 at 06:35 AM.

  31. #30

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    when I want a jazz tone out my strato I put my switch on the neck and middle pickups roll the tone down to 3 the volume to around 7 and make sure my fulltone fat boost is on and there it is...my string are gibson pure nickel RI 10's I have tried 11's and 12's and IMO 10's sound and plays best ... I don't use my strat exclusively for jazz, but if I did I would put D' Addario chromes 10's to 48 flat wound switch the 10 for an 11 on the high E string also make sure that I have the right pickups on there...Amp EQ is also very important.
    Last edited by bluemood; 07-26-2009 at 02:39 PM.

  32. #31

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    I've just watched the documentary 'Red, White & Blues' from the series 'Martin Scorsese presents The Blues'. It contains a short passage where Jeff Beck plays a solo on 'Gee baby ain't I good to you' on a Strat. You have to see this if you're after what kind of Jazz tone you can get out of a Strat. Absolutely stunning! Just don't compare it to an Archtop.

  33. #32

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    Today i was playing my strat, trying to mimic the sound Ed Bickert gets on 'Easy Living'. Put the selector btwn neck and middle pups, and it sounded pretty convincing.

  34. #33

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    Strat jazz tone................


  35. #34

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    I'm a Strat guy and I'm big into getting the right sound. For jazz I use the neck pickup with the tone turned down pretty low. For strings I use fairly heavy bottoms (.46) up to light tops (.09). I'm playing a Squire now and it sound decent, I played six of them at the store when I bought it just to get one with the right feel and sound. It's a little heavier than the others.

  36. #35

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    D'addario ECG 23 Flatwound 10's and don't forget to have your amp phased!
    Last edited by Squint; 03-17-2010 at 04:20 PM.

  37. #36

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    I just swapped out the Kinmans I had on my EJ Strat with SD Hot Rails for the bridge and middle, and an SD Cool Rail for the neck. Totally loving the sound of these humbuckers designed for Strats.

  38. #37

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    Quote Originally Posted by lkmuller
    I just swapped out the Kinmans I had on my EJ Strat with SD Hot Rails for the bridge and middle, and an SD Cool Rail for the neck. Totally loving the sound of these humbuckers designed for Strats.
    They are nice aren't they? I have a Cool Rails as well, I put it in the middle. I like the idea of being able to switch from an SD minihumbucker in the neck to a single coil in the bridge instantly. That way I get every sound I want with one guitar pretty much. I've also noticed that it sounds really fat and thick with 11's on, which is nice because I can still do bends and get that thicker string tone without moving to 12's and up. I love that strat so much I named her "Lydia" after the 4th mode of the major scale hehe.

  39. #38

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    little help fellow jazz guitarist... i want to sound like george benson / kenny burrell / ronny jordan (tonewise). i use an Ibanez AF75 w/ semi-flatwound strings (.11) staight to the amp. do i need to use flatwounds? and do i need to use effect pedal? an equalizer or something? and i play in different bars w/ various amps so how can i dial-in the same tone settings every night? coz i cant always bring my amp to the gig...tnx!

  40. #39

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    Quote Originally Posted by bebop kid
    little help fellow jazz guitarist... i want to sound like george benson / kenny burrell / ronny jordan (tonewise). i use an Ibanez AF75 w/ semi-flatwound strings (.11) staight to the amp. do i need to use flatwounds? and do i need to use effect pedal? an equalizer or something? and i play in different bars w/ various amps so how can i dial-in the same tone settings every night? coz i cant always bring my amp to the gig...tnx!
    The tone is, as I'm sure you have heard, mostly in your fingers. That said, the amp used is important. Burrell in years past tended to play twin reverbs. In my opinion the '65 Reissue twin reverb is the best option. Flatwounds help but are not required in my opinion.

    Of course, for your situation, given the weight, etc., that is not an option. The alternative I found was to used a deluxe reverb reissue. There are also several small solid state amps (jazzkat, polytone, etc) that will get you where you want to go. For consistency, I think the "use whatever amp they have" approach will never get you there. Just my opinion. Your milage may vary of course.

  41. #40

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    It seems that whenever the question comes up about using a Strat for playing Jazz, it is always asked with reserve and almost apologetically. I can sort of see the stigma, but with some experimentation I've made the transition and the two are a perfect match.
    I recently got a Sunburst Classic 50s Strat that has the under-wound ALNICO III pups and full sized block and pots on it (big difference from "hot" pups, or basic ceramics). If you have a Standard Strat with the ceramics and/or small pots, then going this route would be a mega-cheap mod: ALNICO Pickup Pre-Wired Strat Pickguard- White- MAJOR Upgrade!

    I strung it up with XL Flat-Wound .10s (ditch those slinky .09s), but you can go flat .11s or .12s too on a Strat. Just do a good setup on the guitar after the change.

    Of course the amp is so important, and so often forgotten in the equation, but you don't have to spend a mint either. Most amps that are 20 to 40W or so, and have 12" speakers do the job nicely and can easily be had for $100 to $200. I have a Fender Mustang I ($99), and a Raven RG20 ($87) that sound beautiful, when dialed in right.

    This setup gives me incredibly fat, warm, woody tones that are shockingly arch-top-like, and it doesn't wear out my arm and shoulder after long practice sessions.

    I know that the look concerns some people, but in a nice vintage sunburst or classy black-on-black I personally think the Strat looks perfectly respectable as a Jazz guitar. (Although honestly, this doesn't matter to me that much)

    And keep in mind that I play traditional Jazz, many ballads, on my Stratocaster, not Fusion ('nother word for soft rock) or "Smooth Jazz" (soulless electronic white-boy elevator music), and it does the trick as well as any acoustic or arch-top.

    Thanks for reading, and don't be shy! Remember the Strat was invented before rock and roll!



    Oh and of course there's the old footage of Quentin Warren for further evidence (and he's even using the bridge pup! "position 5")
    Last edited by Retroman1969; 01-20-2011 at 10:59 AM.

  42. #41

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    If that Jimmy Smith clip is the Fender's original bridge PU, I would love to know what he's playing it through. I have never heard one that was as sweet as that. I have a HSS Strat that I can't dial in the bridge that warm.

  43. #42

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    I've thought the same thing. I never play in the bridge myself, but I'm figuring by the vintage that it's an under-wound ALNICO single, wax-dipped, and he's probably playing with flat-wound .12s or .13s which were the common strings back then if I understand correctly. Amp has to be a big tube unit of some type, which helps.

  44. #43

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    Quote Originally Posted by Retroman1969

    ...not Fusion ('nother word for soft rock) or "Smooth Jazz" (soulless electronic white-boy elevator music)...
    I agree.

    Remember the Strat was invented before rock and roll!
    Precisely. It was designed first and foremost to deliver "the jazz sound," although marketed primarily to country and Texas Swing players (think Eldon Shamblin) who, in that era, were going for the same basic tone as jazz players.

    I used to own a Strat. My only beef with a Strat is ergonomic and I include in that my need for greater aural and tactile feedback direct from the guitar to my hands and ears, so I switched from a Strat to an L5 back in the '70s.

    But if you don't want/need that, and the guitar fits, or you're in the audience, a Strat is a great jazz guitar.

  45. #44

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    I understand. There is still something about the big hollow jazz-box that resonates and feeds back to you almost like a living thing, and it's more to hold onto when sitting down. The Strat, because of its size and shape feels more like an extension of my body but I get where you're coming from. I love the legendary L5 and I'd probably own one as something different to play every once and awhile, but those things cost more than I typically pay for a car! LOL!

    Oh, and I agree about Western Swing. It's one form of Country I can handle.

  46. #45

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    Strat's can get an okay Jazz sound, but still thinner than a Tele. I've owned a few strat's even a 50's strat and sold them all they just don't feel right to me. I love my tele's and they can get a good Jazz sound with or without a humbucker.

  47. #46

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    The tone I get on my strat, even with roundwounds, is plenty good enough for me.

    I love strats for their versatility. Not to say that other guitars aren't versatile, but switching from clean to crunch to high-gain, from neck to humbucking bridge and you've got jazz, blues, rock, metal all covered.

  48. #47

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    Yes, probably the most versatile guitar going, and mostly overlooked in a genre such as jazz, which is a shame.

    But I'll give you the Telecasters and Keith Richards thing, seems likely true! LOL!

    The people who snub Strats for Jazz, are the same ones that say that a Les Paul isn't good for Jazz. Well what the hell was Les Paul doing with it all those years?


    Fender Stratocaster for Jazz?-statocaster-jazz-jpg

  49. #48

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    Some things to consider possibly:

    1) If you have the average strat neck, as opposed to a tele neck, the extra thickness may be better for heavy strings. My strat holds .12 thomastiks with great action.

    2) Tele's can sound jazzy stock! On the other hand, I had to spend extra money to make my crappy sounding MIM strat (IMHO) sound like it does and look jazzy. I tried a Tex Mex fender once, it sounded good to go from the shop!


    I in no way endorse "Strats" for particular reasons, unless it's a G&L comanche(holy, freaking, smokes. I was so lucky to find a Tribute Comanche new....if you are reading this, please try one, I'm serious lol)

  50. #49

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    Ok, I'll just post it once more, Wes-tone out of a strat:

  51. #50

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    Quote Originally Posted by Little Jay
    Ok, I'll just post it once more, Wes-tone out of a strat:
    More Jazzy than your typical strat, but thinner and plinker than Wes ever sounded.