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  1. #1

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    Hi!

    I bought my first electric guitar to play jazz three months ago (I already play classical guitar). After hours of searching I thought that a semi hollow would be ideal, because of the smoothness and warmth of the tone but also for more bluesy and funky sounds. Thats why I bought an Epiphone Sheraton II Pro with d’Addario Jazz strings (gauge 11) and a Boss Katana 50 as Amp. But I can’t get a nice Jazz sound like Lee Ritenour, Wes Montgomery or George Benson. In my opinion the tone of the second and first string is too sharp, similar to an acoustic with steel strings (you understand?). Especially when I play chords. I already bought an Amp patch for a Benson tone. What could be the problem? Is it the maple neck?

    Thank you for all answers!

  2.  

    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    Adjusting the tone controls on the guitar and the amp is a good place to start, as well as making sure you have selected the pickup furthest from the bridge (pickup selector in the "up" position).

  4. #3

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    So much of your tone starts with the pick and your pick-control : the shape of the tip (rounded and polished sounds smoother) , the size , the thickness and the material all play into that. Then you should experiment with the way you are holding the pick and at which angle you strike the strings. When the pick strikes parallel to the string it will get you a very snappy tone, when you hit the string at an angle (with side edge of the pick) it gets warmer and fatter. Mind you, it takes effort and discipline to improve one's picking technique, just as it takes a lot of practice to perfect your alternate finger (free)stroke on a nylonstring guitar.

  5. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by gitman
    So much of your tone starts with the pick and your pick-control : the shape of the tip (rounded and polished sounds smoother) , the size , the thickness and the material all play into that. Then you should experiment with the way you are holding the pick and at which angle you strike the strings. When the pick strikes parallel to the string it will get you a very snappy tone, when you hit the string at an angle (with side edge of the pick) it gets warmer and fatter. Mind you, it takes effort and discipline to improve one's picking technique, just as it takes a lot of practice to perfect your alternate finger (free)stroke on a nylonstring guitar.

    Thanks! But the sound is similar if I use my fingertips like on a classical guitar (but without nails). Greeting from Switzerland!

  6. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by ronjazz
    Adjusting the tone controls on the guitar and the amp is a good place to start, as well as making sure you have selected the pickup furthest from the bridge (pickup selector in the "up" position).
    I‘m pretty sure that the amp setting isn‘t the problem. And of course I use the neck pickup with rolled off tone.

  7. #6

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    Try swapping high e with a 13 guage string.

  8. #7

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    Have you tried lowering the pickup height? Pole height?

  9. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by TedBPhx
    Have you tried lowering the pickup height? Pole height?
    Yes I tried. The tone is a bit better but still not enough. Thank you for answering!

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by YanisD
    Hi!

    I bought my first electric guitar to play jazz three months ago (I already play classical guitar). After hours of searching I thought that a semi hollow would be ideal, because of the smoothness and warmth of the tone but also for more bluesy and funky sounds. Thats why I bought an Epiphone Sheraton II Pro with d’Addario Jazz strings (gauge 11) and a Boss Katana 50 as Amp. But I can’t get a nice Jazz sound like Lee Ritenour, Wes Montgomery or George Benson. In my opinion the tone of the second and first string is too sharp, similar to an acoustic with steel strings (you understand?). Especially when I play chords. I already bought an Amp patch for a Benson tone. What could be the problem? Is it the maple neck?

    Thank you for all answers!
    The Sheraton is a semi-hollow thinline guitar. It's not going to sound exactly like the full hollowbody sounds of Wes, Ritenour (assuming his L5 is what you mean) , and Benson. That said, for sure the problem is not that the Sheraton has a maple neck, or that it's incapable of producing a warm jazz sound. I've played Sheratons, and heard others play them, and think they're very good sounding guitars. But it's hard to gauge what you're talking about without hearing you, and knowing what settings you're using on guitar and amp. Can you post details of that and a clip?

    John

  11. #10

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    Try using using Thomastik-Infield Jazz Swing 12's and try moving your picking up closer to the neck.
    The Ti's are less Brighter than the D'Addarios. And picking further away from the bridge is an Old trick you probably know already. The Epiphone Sheraton is an Excellent Guitar. A swiss army knife of sorts..
    JD

  12. #11

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    You can get some nice smooth tones from a Les Paul, so the semi-hollow nature of your guitar won't be the issue per se. I see you have already lowered the pickup etc.

    Benson could probably get his tone from a Stratocaster strung with round wound 10s (I think I actually saw a clip at some time), so it's very much a question of what the player is inputting. Do you get "warm, smooth tones" on classical?

  13. #12

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    Where and how you pick make a huge difference in the final sound. How the pickup is set and dialed in is also very important. A Sheraton should be getting you into the ballpark with little problem.

    As with the others here, I doubt the maple neck is your culprit.

  14. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Peter C
    You can get some nice smooth tones from a Les Paul, so the semi-hollow nature of your guitar won't be the issue per se. I see you have already lowered the pickup etc.

    Benson could probably get his tone from a Stratocaster strung with round wound 10s (I think I actually saw a clip at some time), so it's very much a question of what the player is inputting. Do you get "warm, smooth tones" on classical?
    On classical I do. After reading your comment I searched this vid on YouTube and actually found it. Awesome! There is a different tone, but still a Benson tone. Thanks for the recommendation!

  15. #14

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    Try Dunlop Jazz II picks, in black. Scuff up the tips a bit. Inexpensive, non-invasive. Bumping up the diameter of the top two strings won't hurt, as has been mentioned. Good luck!

  16. #15

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    There's no magic answer of course, but I don't think your problem is equipment. If George Benson played your guitar through your amp he'd sound like George Benson.

    Here are a few things to try:

    • Slightly heavier strings
    • Heavier, thicker pick
    • Roll back the treble on the amp
    • Roll back all the tone controls on the amp
    • Roll off some treble on the guitar
    • Try a lighter touch with the pick
    • Try a tighter or looser grip on the pick
    • Try different pick angles
    • Lower the pickup poles on the first two strings
    • Raise the bridge slightly


    Tone is a lifelong quest for most guitarists. Enjoy the ride.

  17. #16

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    Jonathan0996 pretty much summed up all the possible solutions ;-)

    You could also consider to use a heavier gauge for only the top two strings (that's what I do). (*edit: already mentioned, sorry)

    Citizenk74's suggestion is not be underestimated: sand the tip of your pick, round off the sharp edges! It makes a huge difference in tone! (That's why I don't like new picks, they need to be worn in - sanding speeds that up.)

    Some thoughts: I have an early 90ies Sheraton and when played acoustically, compared to my Gibson ES-333, it sounds much, much brighter (and a lot more voluminous, too). It's tone signature is very 'scooped' compared to the Gibson, a big dip in the mid-frequencies. The all-maple construction of the Sheraton is likely causing that (although the centre block in mine is a lighter mahogany kind wood, probably sapele or meranti?). Some years ago I changed the pickups for a set of Seymour Duncan SD59 pickups, as it seemed an upgrade. Big mistake! The SD59s enhanced the scooped character of the guitar waaay too much! She sounded shrill and lacking. I switched to a Stewmac Golden Age for the neck and that sounds much fuller and rounder. Final thought, I hope not too discouraging: since I got my Gibson ES-333 (with classic 57 pickups) the Sheraton does not get played much anymore..... the Gibson simply overclasses the Sheraton and has that fat round tone even with new picks....
    Last edited by Little Jay; 06-05-2020 at 03:16 AM.

  18. #17

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    Jonathan covered the bases in a great post.

    I don't have much to add, but maybe this could be helpful.

    If you know somebody who plays with a tone you like, have him try your guitar and see if he gets his sound.

    A lot of this stuff is in touch. It may be helpful to prove to yourself that the tone you want is possible by hearing somebody else get it.

    Jonathan mentioned picking lightly. That may be helped by having the amp set loud and leaving the guitar's volume up - thereby forcing yourself to pick lighter.

    One other point. I can't believe that 'even Wes got his tone. Who knew a guitar could sound like that? I've never heard anybody get anywhere close except on an L5 playing with thumb. He played a stock L5. His wasn't the only one, but who else sounds like that, even though everybody loves that tone? My advice: lower the bar.

    Oh ... still one more. See if new strings help. when you take the old string off, feel the kinks where the string touches the frets. those can't sound good, can they?

  19. #18

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    I second the above recommendations for changing the pick and trying TI strings. I use Dunlap green Tortex picks--I have noticed some individual picks seem to produce a too-bright tone. Maybe there's some roughness that is catching the string?

    (Once I spent way too much time trying to figure out why my guitar was making an annoying plinking noise. Then I realized it was the new pick. Changed picks, and problem solved.)

    Also you didn't say if you bought the guitar new, but if used a previous owner might have adjusted the pickup and pole piece height, which can make a big difference.

    I agree the neck has very little to do with the tone. Semis like the Sheraton should in theory be perfect for smooth jazz, as long as the guitar is set up right.

    Last point, I am not sure what pickup the Sheraton has--Epi Classic 57s? A pickup change could be considered, and I would specifically suggest the Stew Mac Parsons Street Alnico 2's. My understanding is that a weaker magnetic field and lower output (i.e., less hot) leads to a mellower tone. Many blues guys and shredders want the opposite, of course.

  20. #19

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    dump the pickups, those sheratons are great, but the pickups stink... put a seth lover or gibson 57 and try .12 or .13s
    also i don't know the boss amps, but i've not heard great jazz tones from them
    can you post clips?

  21. #20

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    I agree with Joe. TI jazz-swing 12s should do it. They warmed up my 335.

  22. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by patshep
    dump the pickups, those sheratons are great, but the pickups stink... put a seth lover or gibson 57 and try .12 or .13s
    also i don't know the boss amps, but i've not heard great jazz tones from them
    can you post clips?
    With 12s, is bending possible? Because I also play blues. Here the link of the George Benson tone on the Amp:

    This guy also made other tones, for example BB King.

  23. #22

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    Try setting your amp’s volume control very high, so that your guitar’s volume knob must be rolled back quite a bit at normal playing volume. With passive magnetic pickups, the guitar’s volume control interacts with the impedance of the pickup. Rolling back the guitar’s volume pot smooths out the frequency response. I have better results with that than rolling back the tone pot.

  24. #23

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    A ton of good advice here, but first things first. If this is a new guitar, or at least new to you, make sure the basic setup is right for you. For example, I have noticed that neck relief makes a big difference in tone. A lot of people on this forum love completely flat necks, but that can induce plinky tone, particularly on the high strings as you are noting. If there is not much relief, turn the truss rod a little to open it up a bit and adjust the action at the bridge before you start replacing pickups.

  25. #24

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    also i'd like to add that the sheraton has a maple neck, which i think gives it more zing... but i did play many many jazz gigs with mine back in the 90s and it wasn't too bright, brighter than my 175 by far, but it was a wonderful guitar, and had very few problems over the years

  26. #25

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    I bend strings on TI Jazz Swings 12 set all the time.