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  1. #1

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    The Holy Grail is unobtainable but any facsimile at a budget price can sometimes satisfy the need. Enter my used Epiphone Joe Pass. Being a beginner jazz player, and after much online research, this seemed to be a good choice. I live in an area that the availability of jazz music or jazz guitar choices is on the arid side. Without opportunity to get to audition various makes and models I am hoping to get some insight and direction to look from the forum for a possible replacement.

    Before reaching out to learn some jazz basics I have been a acoustic finger picker. My main guitar is a Martin OM in mahogany. 1 3/4" nut, comfy body size and light weight. The Joe pass is actually a very nice guitar. Neck has good feel, body size in nice, has good sound to my untrained ears and arrived with a very good setup. It is very heavy compared to my Martin and only slightly lighter than my Les Paul. I quickly became accustomed to the overall weight but really struggle with how neck heavy it is. It is difficult for me to concentrate on fingering chord progressions while moving up and down the neck all the while lifting the neck back into position every few minutes.

    After all of that, here is the question. In which direction should I focus my attention if I were to purchase a replacement guitar with something that is less neck heavy? Although I play a 1 3/4" nut on the Martin, I would prefer to stay with 1 11/32" on an archtop. Also not really looking at 335 style since I prefer a thicker body. I have read lots of reviews here and elsewhere but unbalanced neck heavy is rarely discussed. Oh yeah, $1500 or less would be nice and I'm OK with used.

    Thanks for any input!


    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
  3. #2

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    You might try changing the position of the strap button at the top of the body; that has almost always solved the problem for me. Grab a little package of adhesive hooks used for hanging paintings and experiment with different placements before you do anything with the button. Otherwise, look for a guitar with a cedar or mahogany neck: maple is quite heavy.

  4. #3

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    You’ve given us some good information but we need a little more. Are you planning on playing your jazz guitar mostly acoustically? Or will you be using an amplifier mostly? Which jazz guitarists do you admire? We can help you more with a good choice if we know what your sonic goals are.

  5. #4

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    I've played two of those EJPs and neither seemed neck heavy, but I didn't play them for long so may not have noticed. And of course every guitar is unique since wood is not homogeneous, so of two seemingly identical guitars one may be neck-heavy and the other may not.

    Or play the EJP sitting down? I prefer to sit when playing guitar because I think the instrument generally sounds better than when it's being pressed against me. When sitting I can position it so the back is free to vibrate, but can't do that when standing.

    Another option is replacing the tuners with something lighter like Waverly open backs (which you may have on your Martin as well). That can make a big difference.

    A third option is a wider strap with more friction, such as suede.

    Moving the strap button(s) may be helpful. Even Wes Montgomery's approach of attaching the strap to the headstock might be worth a try, although it will likely pull the instrument out of tune; you'll have to tune it while wearing the guitar.

  6. #5

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    Thanks for the tip ronjazz, I will give that a try.

    rolijen, mostly plugged in. I find amplifying noise of poor technique to be very helpful. I generally like most any player but do admire Kenny Burrell.

    Cunamara, I do play about half the time sitting but still find it neck heavy.

  7. #6

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    IMHO Give consideration to an Ibanez hollow body.
    None of mine are neck heavy, and as I only play sitting yea that would bother me too. Avoid the GB10 small body, i found it hard to balance in my lap.
    At 1500$ you are close to a used MIJ price, like the not-current Pat Metheny model or even an AF200. Those are very fine guitars of great craftsmanship.
    That range also covers any of their non MIJ (Artcore or Artstar lines) models at list. I would caution against buying full retail as those lines do drop in value on the resale market. Thus some very nice guitars out there for well under 1000$. The AF151 is a single pickup model with a stunning violin finish and sells at a good price range.

    i prefer the thinner and faster neck on the Ibanez jazz guitars. Their necks stay the same size/feel regardless if it’s a Prestige model made in Japan or any of the Artcore/Artstar models from China or Indonesia. I recently picked up an AF95FM off Reverb for less than 500$ as a knock around. Very favorable comparison to my AF200 or PM200 MIJs.' So the body uses flame maple veneer, the neck ebony is weirdly smooth, but its a good player for the price.
    Yes after 30 plus years of Gibsons I’ve become an Ibanez Fanboi. No iridescent JEM though.
    I kept my L5, if you want to talk about a heavy oddly balanced guitar.

    and hey good luck, jazz guitar learning can be a long but very fulfilling road!

  8. #7

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    Plus one for Ibanez Artcore hollowbody archtops. I've had four, and all were comfortable, stable, and great sounding with proper strings and set-up. Also easy on the eyes.

  9. #8

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    I’ve never found mine to be neck-heavy, but I did trade it in on a Peerless Sunset, which I am very pleased with. The ergonomics of the Korean models all seem very similar to me, so if you like the feel of the Epi JP, you’d probably like a Peerless or similar Korean model (D’Angelico, etc.).

  10. #9

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    Those MIJ's look mighty fine. Not a lot available around these parts.

  11. #10

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    I looked at a Peerless Monarch but someone killed the frets with really awful file work. What a shame.

  12. #11

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    The fretwork on the mid level Ibanez guitars is top notch. In fact, the AFC series and AF95/AKJV95 models have some of the best fretwork I’ve seen. The necks aren’t always the straightest though so you may need to try a couple.

  13. #12

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    Yep it’s hard to feel a big difference on the MIJ/non MIJ fret work.
    I’ve read that Fujigen is one of the few that has their own company staff doing quality control at the Indonesian plant which I suppose helps. Apparently this plant makes guitars for a lot of brands, Fujigen has a separated production line not part of the main line.
    It would be interesting to see if the twisted necks were Chinese or Indonesian made.
    Google the AF95FM AYS for a very pretty one. I’d go take a pic of mine but I’m on ice this am ... sprained ankle.

  14. #13

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    While my AFC151 was perfect, another forum member had a bit of neck dive requiring him to do a fret level to eliminate buzzing on the higher frets. As I recall, the AFCs we bought were made in China.

    I bought (and returned) 2 PM2s and they both had the same problem with high upper frets. I wasn’t going to mess with it on a brand new guitar so back they went (first one, then the replacement). Can’t remember where the PMs were manufactured.

    Next, AKJV95. Indonesian. Perfect neck. No issues. Good fretwork.

    Next, LGB30. Also Indonesian. Perfect neck. Best fret finishing I’ve seen. Perfectly rounded ends and frets polished to a gleaming Luster.

    These Ibanezes are wonderful entry and mid-level guitars. I think I’ll always have my LGB30. It’s beautiful, plays like a dream and sounds pretty good. I’m sure I’ll put Duncan Seth Lovers in it. The last Ibanez I upgraded with those pickups sounded as good as my L-5.


  15. #14

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    The Peerless Monarch I looked at was used. Body and neck perfect condition but it appears the previous owner took a rasp to the frets. All frets were rough, gouged and flat.

  16. #15

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    I kind of ruled out 1 3/4" nut although I play that on the Martin. Sure would like to get my hands on an Eastman just to make sure I'm not narrowing choices based on preconceived notions. Well, GC has some used and does have that return policy.

  17. #16

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    Have you tried playing it on a suede strap? That often solves neck dive problems.


  18. #17

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    I've had a couple of Epi JP Emperor's, one for many years. Honestly I don't remember it as being neck heavy, but I generally used a wide strap, and because it's a smaller body, I kept the strap shorter and played it higher up on my chest.

    I had a stock mid-90's korean one, which i considered upgrading to better pickups, etc., but then I found one that already had that done. Turned out not to be enough of an improvement, and i bought a D'Angelico Excel. Better guitar, but even heavier (and a longer scale). Almost any archtop you find will be much heavier than a Martin OM, or a dred, until you spend a lot more money.

  19. #18

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    IDK neck heavy is not something that bothers me very much. But you can balance that out with a heavy body. ;-)

    The semis are good for that. I have a Gibson ES-135 that is very comfortable to play sitting down. Teles with an ash body of course are similar. The Godin Premiere which is a semihollow with an arched center block would probably also favor the neck less.

    Just some thoughts.

  20. #19

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    Thanks for the input from posters. I'm not in a hurry but will be keeping my eyes open for options. We have a Guitar Center that opened a few month back but it is pretty small and really only stocks cheap Strats, Teles and Les Pauls. Nothing wrong with that of course, just not much else to get your hands on.

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by ronjazz
    You might try changing the position of the strap button at the top of the body; that has almost always solved the problem for me. Grab a little package of adhesive hooks used for hanging paintings and experiment with different placements before you do anything with the button. Otherwise, look for a guitar with a cedar or mahogany neck: maple is quite heavy.
    I have actually found that having the strap button on the treble-side of the neck heel pulls the neck up into position for me. I have moved all my strap buttons there since my first intermediate quality classical in order to keep the neck high and tight when standing playing Latin music.

    Edited to add this link (I use position 5): Where's the best spot for your strap button? |
    Last edited by zcostilla; 06-07-2020 at 07:11 PM.