Other Guitars

Talk To Me About Jazz Guitars


The old Ampeg M-15 called the "Big M" is a great amp, and inexpensive, also


The old Ampeg M-15 called the "Big M" is a great amp, and inexpensive, also

– DCBirdMan

Thanks, I didn't remember which one it was in my previous post. That being said, most old ampeg combos will do 60s jazz guitar well. I had an old ampeg jet that sounded wonderful with whatever guitar I used.

Also, jazz on a les paul custom sounds right since they were originally designed to be used in a jazz or jazz-like context by the man himself. My goldtop p90 les paul does that classic warm jazz guitar sound well when I want it to. Again, you can use whatever guitar you want to play jazz. If it's a certain classic jazz tone you're looking for, we can help you out based on that.


Thanks all... not gonna dump the 5120. Just get her cleaned up. Maybe some TV's to improve the tone.

Not sure if you all are having an intervention or are enabling me...

"Hello my name is Doug and I am gassing for a new guitar, but justifying it by saying it's for my Jazz playing."

But seriously, I do appreciate the feedback (no pun intended) on what to look for. I play through a Blues Junior (Texas Red edition) and also a Fender Champion 600 reproduction.

Thanks all!


I second the used Epi Broadway suggestion. I have a Joe Pass I love but I would go Broadway if I had to make the choice again as I only ever use the neck pickup. Personally I love the "blanket over your amp" tone in jazz guitar and get closest to the sound in my head with PAFs.


For jazz I use either my ES335, my Gretsch 6122 (with flatwounds), or, of course, my Gibson Tal Farlow. Never could get much out of a solid body - jazz wise. I play through a Fender tweed amp, though blackface models are excellent too. I've had a couple of SS, including the famed Polytone, but I still prefer the Fender tube sound for virtually any style, including jazz.

I tend to use a fairly clear, clean tone with lots of low mids. Humbuckers, with the treble on the guitar backed off just a bit. IOW, I'm not a "blanket over the amp" guy. Still, the tones have a lot of punch and are rich and full.

The 6122 provides a wonderful alternative color, warm and woody with the TV pups. Not entirely classic, but still very rich and useable. Especially for finger, or Chet style jazz. Still, for me at least, the PAF equipped Gibsons continue to epitomize the jazz tonalities I seek most often. Burrell-esque on the Tal, Carlton-esque on the 335. Love it. Love it all...


A Hagstrom HJ800 stock is a real nice well made Jazz box neck joins body at 16th fret for easy access. Solid wood spruce top. Can be had used under $600 easily. I don't do jazz bought one and modded it with bigsby, p94, master volume wired up like my Guild X500 now that is a Jazzer.


my Guild X500 now that is a Jazzer. - Ray Boals<

I know I've taken this part of your comment out of context Ray, but the Guild X500? Now that is a jazzer!


I think perception makes up a good deal of one's thinking as to what constitutes this moving target as it were, 'jazz' guitar. By that I mean the following. When you see, either in person or online, a combo of some number usually including but not restricted to drums, upright bass, piano and the guitarist sitting with a sunburst Gibson hollowbody, is there anyone who expects to hear a Kiss tribute set?? Of course not. Prior to them playing anything, you're preparing yourself to hear jazz. Now when the guitar isn't one of the more popular hollowbodies favored by the jazz community but the guitarist plays smooth jazz, you simply accept the fact that this player knows his stuff and can get the traditionally clean, smooth sounds, be it dark or brighter, he wants from his gear.

As is most frequently the case, it's what you do with your equipment that will give you the sound you're chasing. For most jazz tones, you can get it - or close - by using the neck pickup alone, roll off the treble knob, turn down the amp's bass a bit, treble even more and boost the mids a tad if you have that control. Regardless of the guitar or amp, that'll pretty much get you there.

The other aspect of wanting a jazz looking guitar for gigging comes back to the audience's preconceived notions of what a jazz group's equipment should look like. An upright bass vs a solidbody or wire-frame electric upright is also part of that perception. The Gibson or equivalent hollowbody, a wood upright bass and the members dressing more formally rather than relaxed is part of the traditional look of a jazz ensemble.

If I were to be playing in a jazz ensemble I'd be using a Gretsch hollow/semi-hollowbody but I wouldn't choose one with the traditional orange color, I'd use my Super Chet as it's a deep cherry color that wouldn't attract unnecessary attention to me. Yes, I know it has lots of abalone but that wouldn't be distracting the way a bright color would be. I'd be wanting to blend in with the group, not stand out.


by using the bridge pickup alone

Using the neck pickup alone will get you there even faster


by using the bridge pickup alone

Using the neck pickup alone will get you there even faster

– fws6

You're right of course Frank, that's what I meant but obviously juxtaposed the names. I corrected it. Thanks for the catch.


I am sympathetic to the idea that jazz can be played on any guitar. However when thinking about a "jazz guitar", I think about the guitars that Charlie Christian, Oscar Moore and Barney Kessel played. Basically, a series 300 Gibson with a Charlie Christian pickup.

In that tradition later guitar players used Gibson L5, ES175, and Super 400 guitars.

Heritage guitars makes these models probably better than Gibson. Less costly, but still not so affordable.

During the Fred III and into the FMIC era the G400CV and the G6040MCSS guitars are worthy competitors. I own a G400CV. If you stumble over these at a reasonable price, go for it. Beware, these are susceptible to cracked top plates, make sure you know before purchase.

For economical models:

I like the 5120 with Gretschbuckers played on the neck pickup Get that thing fixed.

I really like this one: Unusual, but effective

If you can find a filtertron anniversary, put a Supertron on that in the neck position, you've got a winner.



You can find a good vintage Gibson archtop like an L-7. Much less expensive than an L-5 or Super 400. Nice percussive sound. Then choose your amp of choice. Just try all sorts guitar/pickup/amp choices and you'll find what sounds good to you.


To me a jazz guitar should sound clean and "boopy" and "bleepy" when you play fast phrases. That's the only way I know to describe the sound. If you care for electric function mostly, I'd go for functionality at the lowest price. There is one quite recent Ibanez who has it. Check Holger Bogen on youtube with his two pickup Ibby. If you want perfection, the D'Angelico has an L5 inspired model which offers the highest quality at such price. Again, it's on youtube and many demos sound great. You might not believe in youtube quality but Holger sounds the same on his CD so I don't see the problem.


It's been my experience, the less you talk about jazz guitars, the more time you can spend playing/learning jazz guitar. Pick a price range and model that feels good, and just look at it like a tool. IMHO of course.


In the past few years, I've gigged an Epi Joe Pass, Zephyr Blues Deluxe, ES175 and Casino...all excellent guitars; but the Casino was a real stand-out. 1-piece neck and really sweet P90s. In a side-by-side it hung with my '69 ES330 in every way...including acoustically. A shockingly good guitar. If you want to splash out more scratch, there are great deals on vintage ES125s with one pickup. There's some cool funky stuff, too. I've had/played some really fun Kays, Harmonys, etc.


I had an early run 5120 with a fixed bridge, came to me with HS Filtertrons installed. I was not studying guitar at that time ... if I still had the guitar, it would have done very well for jazz. The neck p/u tone with the HS Filter was beautiful. Just swing the Bigsby out of the way, and you're there.

If you want to try other guitars: the right choice depends not only on what is available in a given price range, but also on what you prefer, how you want to sound. Most of my jazz practice is on two Heritage guitars, an H575 Custom with Ian Anderson humbuckers, and a stock H525, with Lollar P90s. Out of your stated price range, but recommended anyway.

For under a grand, I'd be looking at the Epiphone Broadway. Or, if it's a floating p/u you want, the Epi Emperor Regent. Haven't tried either one, but have read many excellent reports on them from jazz players. MD


I kinda like this "jazz" guitar and tone.



Hard to see clearly, but that looks like the modded ES-350 he played for years. With a Charlie Christian p/u added in the neck position. Here he is talking about it:




Hard to see clearly, but that looks like the modded ES-350 he played for years. With a Charlie Christian p/u added in the neck position. Here he is talking about it:


– mad dog

Yep, that's the one indeed.



Hard to see clearly, but that looks like the modded ES-350 he played for years. With a Charlie Christian p/u added in the neck position. Here he is talking about it:


– mad dog

I'm late to the discussion, but jazz has been my primary interest for decades. I fell in love with the sound of CC pickups over 30 years ago, and Kessel (one of several jazz guitar icons to have used them, of course) has been among my idols for decades.

I've also spent many years trying to find detailed information about the spec history of CC pickups. Despite the legendary status and long history, very little information has been written about over the years (unless I missed something). In the video above, BK says the magic word: "cobalt". This is one of the keys to understanding the history of the CC. It's a big reason why they gradually fell out of favor, and declined in quality (like on those 1970's ES175CC's).

Here's a link to a CC discussion on another forum: http://www.mylespaul.com/fo...

For my money, the pinnacle of CC tone was achieved by Kenny Burrell in the early-to-mid-1960's, with his custom CC-equipped L5.

I wanted something like that for the longest time, but they very rarely surface. I was lucky enough to finally get one in 2004, and I wasn't disappointed in the tone it delivers.

Anyway, I agree with those who have already pointed out that for a newcomer, or for anyone who isn't particular about the tone they're going for, just about any guitar can be used for playing jazz (even traditional mainstream jazz a la players like Kessel). Ed Bickert (Tele) had an absolutely wonderful sound, and there are plenty of other examples of non-traditional instruments being used in the genre.

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