Those who have try their hands at jazz know that this musical genre is like no other. Therefore, a special style of music is deserving of a special type of guitar. Similar to blues guitars or metal electric guitars, these jazz guitars are a breed of their own with a very particular aesthetic, audio and playability demands.
Luckily, a large variety of options are available on the market for jazz players today, which are all competing for the title of the best guitar.
Want to sound like one of the classic jazz greats? Wes Montgomery or John Scofield perhaps? We have made some recommendations below by highlighting what we view as the best jazz guitar models:
Our Jazz Guitar Recommendations
Looking for a more affordable version of the previous guitar? For those who are looking for a decent semi-hollow body electric guitar for jazz with the capacity to go from roaring rock to light jazz, the Epiphone ES should definitely be considered. It is among the best jazz guitars in its price range and it can perform some nifty tricks.
It has a laminate maple body and the top is also made of maple. This guitar jazz is outfitted with a standard rosewood fingerboard, a well-made mahogany neck, white dot inlays, a 22-set of frets and its scale length is 24.75 inches. In addition, the manufacturer added an extremely resonant mahogany center block.
This jazz guitar sports a classic Tune-O-Matic bridge, a black Epiphone pick guard, a set of impressive Grover tuners and an extravagant headstock. These components all work together to do a remarkable job to make sure that the guitar is kept in proper shape where it concerns precise tuning, high sustain and good intonation. It does a pretty decent job with the fret and while light fuzz and buzz can take place from time to time, the Epiphone ES-335 is typically quite solid.
A couple of Alnico Classic humbucking guitar pickups are the driving force behind the electronics. There are also individual control knobs for Tone and Volume and a distinctive three-way pickup selector switch. Another great feature of this guitar is its notes, which are rooted deeply in jazz; however, still have the capacity of going as deep as the territory of metal and crunchy hard rock.
Godin LGXT Guitar
A Godin LGXT is practically a mixed breed of the Les Paul and Telecaster, even though it has been equipped with its own unique mix of features. Although it is not as well-known as some of the others, it is a high-end jazz guitar that is a force to be reckoned with. John McLaughlin is among the famous jazz players who have played it.
This guitar is a chimera that has a number of different voices. It is equipped with two humbuckers and they can be split to get a Tele sound. Additionally, it has a piezo pickup which gives it a sound of an acoustic guitar; this can be blended with the humbuckers. There is also an equalizer for additional tone-sculpting.
In addition, it can be used as a MIDI controller to play such sounds as the electric organ and others. It is also important to note that you have the option of writing note sheets and tabs by simply playing the guitar. This can be done by feeding the MIDI input into the appropriate software.
This is incredible versatility that places it in a category among the best jazz guitar ever made. Best of all, it is suitable for the majority of other genres as well. Additionally, there is a tremolo bridge and a Strat-like playability can be felt in its neck. All of its components are of exceptional quality and you will be able to partake in the remarkable feel and sound you will get from it.
Yamaha is the name behind this leading model of the Hollow series and an excellent choice for jazz music. With its magnificent double-cut body, it is a combination of the finest hardware appointments allocated to this series. The general tone and styling of this guitar evoke a vibe from the 1950s and 1960s. In addition, its body is made of maple and is a completely hollow body. The arched top of the amazing six-stringer SA2200 is made out of flamed maple.
The guitar provides a modernized take on an iconic classic. It has a variety of player-focused features and it is uniquely crafted to the highest of standards. It masterfully combines tone, appearance and playability. Its mahogany neck provides a base for the rosewood 22-fret fingerboard.
It has a laminate sycamore body and the guitar also has a soft maple center block that is designed to provide additional support. This feature also assists in eliminating unwanted feedback when it is being played through an amp. It is finished in brown sunburst which gives it a vintage jazz vibe.
The top is decorated by a bound plastic pickguard and it has white binding and dual “f” holes. The sole choice in the color palette is stunning violin sunburst and it has a high-gloss finish. Its bridge section has a stoptail bar and a tune-o-matic bridge, which are both plated in gold to match the other hardware. It is also outfitted with two Alnico V humbuckers to deliver a versatile and dynamic tonal range. It can also produce sounds ranging from clean jazz vibes to raunchy rock tones.
Epiphone Joe Pass Emperor II
This is a true archtop guitar complete with a classic ‘arch’ and Select Spruce top reinforced by bracing and a sound post for ideal jazz tone. Its sides and back are made out of laminated flame maple and it is available in beautiful finishes. Additionally, the top has a bounded tortoise-style pickguard.
The guitar has a 3-piece hand-set laminated hard maple and its fingerboard is made from rosewood. It also has 20 medium jumbo frets, stunning pearloid block inlays and this is topped off with the vintage-style ‘tree of life’ design for which the best Epiphones archtops are renowned since the late in the 1930s.
The pickups have an elusive jazz tone as they are made from the same alloy as the OG; this is 18 percent nickel silver unit covers and bases — in addition to sand cast Alnico II magnets and top-quality 4-conductor lead wire. In addition, every pickup is vacuum wax potted to remove microphonics.
The neck position contains a ProBucker-2 and in the lead position there is a slightly hotter ProBucker-3; both have coil-tapping through their individual volume controls. The guitar also has impressive nickel hardware in sophisticated gold and a vintage-style tailpiece in gold scroll. It is factory strung with D’Addario 10-46 gauge strings. Additionally, setting its intonation is simple with its floating rosewood bridge that it is equipped with thumbwheels for fast height adjustment.
Epiphone CASINO Thin-Line Hollow Body
Its pickups hold the key to the jazz sound of the Casino. This model has 2 P-90T Dog-ear Classic single-coil pickups; the pickups are manufactured by Gibson and, since the 1960s, have been a feature of the Epiphone Casino. They gel seamlessly with a hollow body setup, which provides a good range of tone. This means players can take full advantage of both the acoustic and electric features of this electric guitar.
The Epiphone Casino Natural also features high-quality materials and components. Its neck is made from stunning and durable mahogany, which is finished remarkably so that it is easy and smooth for jazz guitarists to play.
Pau Ferro is used to make the he fingerboard, which is something that is common with Epiphone jazz guitars. Additionally, it has a beautiful Pearloid inlay. Its body is designed with two f-holes and the maple wood used to make it is laminated. Furthermore, the top is made out of a 5-ply laminated maple. The guitar is truly stunning to behold. It is not hard to see why, at the height of his fame as a member of the Beatles, John Lennon was so content to have it slung over his shoulders.
The slim-taper “D” profile of the neck makes it easy to access the 22 frets. Its D’Addario 0.10-0.46 strings are perfect for the Casino and it remarkably complements the natural tone. Volume and tone can be controlled on the guitar itself as there are two tone knobs and two volume knobs.
Gretsch G2420T Streamliner
The G2420T Streamliner jazz guitar gives a stylistic nod to the iconic 1950s 6120 Chet Atkins hollow body and its features and format are also similar to the flagship predecessor of the Gretsch brand. The cornerstones of the design are a 2.75- inch deep, completely hollow body archtop laminated maple body, with a single rounded cutaway and trestle bracing.
They are available in three finishes – candy apple red, goldrush and Riviera blue. The visual impact is nicely enhanced and framed by creatively executed aged-white binding and the front and back has 3-ply b/w/b purfling. Its reddish-brown tortoiseshell pickguard would probably not be the first choice of some users against the red-metallic hue of the candy apple finish; we think silver, black or parchment would have been a better choice. However, others undoubtedly love its customized look.
Another alteration in the jazz guitar design is the replacing of the full-block inlays with the hump-blocks made famous in the mid-1950s, for which Gretsch is well-known. They are inlaid in a stunning medium-brown laurel 12-inch radius fretboard that features aged-white binding. Its nato neck is scaled to 24.75-inches and has a nut width of 1.68-inches. Gretsch refers to the neck shape as a “thin U;” however, many players have noted that in their hands it feels reminiscent of a completely rounded C profile. It has a depth of .875-inches at the first fret and is a little under 1-inch in depth at the tenth. All in all, it comfortably fills the hand and plays jazz remarkably up and down its length.
Ibanez Artcore AS73
This remarkable semi-hollow body guitar is designed to ensure ease of use, it produces a remarkable tone and it holds its tune easily so musicians don’t have to constantly struggle with their guitar while it is being played. The Ibanez Artcore collection has greatly surpassed expectations that a number of individuals had regarding the purchase of a moderately-priced hollow or semi-hollow body. The guitar is designed to provide players with affordability, a captivating cosmetic appearance and a full, warm tone.
The guitar has a maple body, mahogany neck, a bound rosewood fretboard, double-cutaway styled body, Classic Elite pickups, chrome hardware and ART-1 bridge. This combination goes a far way in providing the guitar with its warm and robust jazz tone. Additionally, the Classic Elite pickups deliver a broad and balanced output.
For some jazz players, when they first get a hold of the guitar, it will take them some time to adjust by playing around with the sound. A number of players are pleasantly surprised at the general quality of the AS73. This is because Ibanez had developed a reputation for producing and marketing jazz guitars to children and teens for hobby playing that may only last for a few years.
The AS73 does a remarkable job with holding its tuning and as such, it is a great option for jazz guitarist beginners. Players will not have to be concerned about having to consistently adjust their tuning during performances or practice, which will boost their confidence.
Having been played by a number of legendary classic jazz musicians over decades, the Gibson ES-335 still commands a great deal of respect because of its superior sound and design quality. It commands this type of attention from some of the finest musicians across the globe because of the remarkable sound quality it produces. It is also renowned for being quite comfortable for users to play. Its meticulous design and attention to detail also add to the high-quality sound it produces.
Its neck is a one-piece mahogany design set beneath its 22-fret fingerboard, which is made out of rosewood. All the hardware on the guitar is made out of Nickel, making it durable and strong. Additionally, this assists in producing the most response from the guitar when it is played. Therefore, the hardware has more purpose than simply adding to the visual appeal of the guitar.
This jazz guitar is available in a variety of colors and as such, it is not hard to find one that suits individual taste. This is great because the ES-335 is not cheap and you should be able to choose the color when you’re spending that kind of money.
Specimens from early in the 1980s usually have a higher asking price; however, all of the reissues are constructed from a semi-hollow maple body and is equipped with two humbuckers, a rosewood fingerboard and they come with distinct dot inlays. Over the years, its popularity has placed the Gibson ES-335 into the hands not only traditional jazz guitarists but also a number of a famous guitarist such as Eric Clapton and Dave Grohl.
This is probably our favorite jazz guitar and what we would consider to be among the best guitar options for this genre of music.
From the best classic semi hollow body to big bodied best jazz guitars and archtop guitar – and even some solid body guitar options, these jazz guitars are available at a broad range of prices for jazz guitarists. The ones we have recommended have been thoroughly vetted and given the stamp of approval. Many on the list will deliver years of exceptional service to those who play fusion, traditional or more contemporary styles of jazz.
Jazz guitars are as multifaceted and idiosyncratic as the musical genre they produce. As such, making an attempt to choose which the best jazz guitar will most likely inspire lively and probably even improvised debate. The choice will largely come down to preference and budget best for you; a definitive verdict is not likely to happen.