Best Jazz Guitars: Master Jazz With These 6 Guitars

It’s hard to find the best jazz guitars. These instruments are a little bit specialized because Jazz is a harder style to play. Why you can use any old instrument for playing jazz, you’ll have a better experience with a guitar that is specifically set up for this style of music. Here is what you need to know while looking for jazz guitars as well as a few suggestions on instruments you might consider.

In a hurry? Here are our top picks..

What Kind of Guitar is Used in Jazz?

Are many different guitars that you can use in jazz. The most common type of guitar is an archtop style guitar. This guitar features F-holes that give the instrument a powerful sound. You get both electric as well as acoustic sounds out of an archtop style electric. You can also use acoustic instruments for jazz guitar but electric guitars are often the preferred choice.

Instruments used for this style will have a fixed bridge. You usually don’t see locking tuners or systems such as the Floyd Rose on a jazz guitar. Unless you’re playing advanced styles such as jazz fusion, you’re not going to see tremolo systems on jazz instruments. You can use whatever guitar that you find most comfortable. Most instruments are capable of playing this style of music Some of them are better than others.

What Are Archtop Guitars Good For?

The archtop guitar is the common instruments that we use for jazz guitar. It’s also perfect for other styles of music such as rock and roll, rockabilly country, and so on. The reason why it is used for jazz is it has a very clean and distinct sound. The notes on this type of guitar pop out at you. This is critical for this type of music because you’re playing a lot of complex chords.  You can get both electric models as well as acoustic.

Most of the chords in jazz music aren’t found in regular rock and roll, country, and other styles of music. It makes the notes of these chords clean and crystal clear. The archtop can be semi-hollow or hollow. They also feature f-holes on the instrument. Some of these instruments also have a specific tremolo system such as the Bigsby tremolo.

What is a Jazz Box Guitar?

The term Jazz box is another name for a hollow-body instrument used for playing the style. This type of instrument is usually larger than the regular semi-hollow body guitar. The Instruments are quite large and they are not for everyone. They can be a little bit cumbersome to play because of their size. They usually come with one pickup and in most cases, it’s a humbucker. The term Jazz box is not used as often. We usually just refer to them as hollow-body guitars or semi hollow-body guitars.

Guitars Types

There are three main guitar types that you can use for playing jazz. These include the solid-body guitar, hollow body, and semi-hollow body. Let’s look at all three of them.

Solid-Body

The solid-body guitar is your typical electric guitar. Think Gibson Les Paul, Fender Stratocaster, and so on. These guitars are suitable for playing jazz, but they’re not quite as good as the semi-hollow body and hollow-body. Manufacturers such as Fender have added an F-hole to some of their guitar lines. The Fender Telecaster Thinline has an F-hole which gives it an electric-acoustic sound and it can be used for jazz guitar as well.

Hollow Body

This guitar has a full hollow body inside. It has both an electric and an acoustic sound. On the outside or F-holes which help to amplify the sound. You get a big tone for jazz guitar playing out of this instrument. The main problem with it is it tends to feedback with the amplifier is. You really can’t use any sort of distortion or gain with this instrument. It’s mainly used to play clean jazz guitar lines. These Instruments that date back to around the 1920s. They can be are cumbersome for beginners due to the size. They have one pickup, one tone, and one volume knob. Acoustic archtops have an angled pickguard on the top.

Semi-Hollow Body

The semi-hollow body gives you both the benefits of the solid body and a hollow body style instrument. You can use a little bit of gain or distortion with the semi hollow-body. There is a block of wood down the middle of the instrument. These Instruments often have two pickups while the whole body usually has one. They also sport F-holes on the outside of the instrument. They often have two humbucking pickups, two volume knobs two tone controls and a pickup selector switch. They often have an angled pickguard on the top t protect the guitar from scratches. They come with and without tremolo systems.

Jazz  Strings

When buying a guitar for playing jazz, you have to consider the strings. Most instruments for jazz music are going to have heavier than normal strings. For example, a set of nines or tens on a regular solid-body instrument is normal. For a jazz guitar, you’re probably going to want to go with gauge 11 or higher. The reason for this is you want strings that are heavy enough for the complex chording and jazz guitar soloing lines. There are not a lot of bends or other guitar tricks when you play jazz. The heavier strings will make the music ring out more.

Are Gretsch Guitars Good for Jazz?

There are numerous manufacturers of jazz instruments. Gretsch is a good company that makes this type of instrument. There are other manufacturers such as Gibson, Epiphone, Fender, Ibanez and so on. Most guitar manufacturers have a few jazz style guitars in their lineup.

Best Jaz Guitar Reviews

1. Epiphone Dot Archtop Electric Guitar – Best Beginner Jazz Guitar

Epiphone DOT ES Style Semi-Hollowbody Electric Guitar, Cherry Red

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Gibson makes high-quality instruments. The problem is that they are quite expensive. Their lower-cost lineup is called Epiphone. You will find Excellent guitars for jazz in this line such as the Epiphone Dot Archtop.

This instrument features a laminate maple body. It has a maple top along with a rosewood fretboard. You get high output Alnico classic humbuckers, which give this guitar an excellent tone. It has a 24.75 scale length so it is easy to play for most individuals. This is an excellent instrument and it recreates the classic sound of the Gibson Es-335 guitar which is well renowned for its jazz sound.

This Semi hollow-body guitar has great resonance thanks to the F-holes. You get two tone controls, two volume knobs, a pickup selector switch, and chrome hardware. The neck is a D profile so it’s quite comfortable. You get a tune-o-Matic bridge as well as a stop bar tailpiece. This instrument stays in tune well because of these features. You will be playing great jazz in no time with the Epiphone Dot. This is one of the best jazz guitars with a reasonable price tag.

Pros:

  • Great pickups
  • Good tone
  • Well-built guitar

Cons:

  • A bit expensive
  • Some buyers had quality control issues

 

2. Ibanez Artcore Series AS73 Semi-Hollowbody – Best Priced Jazz Guitar

Ibanez Artcore Series AS73 Semi-Hollowbody Electric Guitar Transparent Cherry

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When looking for the best jazz guitars, the price can be a huge factor. Many jazz-style instruments are quite expensive. You will get a high-quality instrument at a lower price point with the Ibanez Artcore Series AS73. Here is what this guitar provides for you.

This instrument features a double-cutaway to make it easier for you to hit all the 22 Frets on this instrument. It has a set mahogany neck. the fretboard is a bound rosewood. It comes with chrome hardware. You get two tone controls, two volume controls, and a pickup selector switch.  It comes with two Ibanez Classic Elite humbucking pickups which give the instrument excellent sound. The bridge is a Tune-o-Matic style so your guitar will stay in tune. You have everything you need in a lower-cost jazz instrument.

Pros:

  • Low-cost jazz guitar
  • Good pickups

Cons:

  • No case included
  • Might not have everything and an advanced player wants

 

3. Godin 5th Avenue Archtop  – Best Classic Style Jazz Guitar

Godin 5th Avenue Archtop Jazz-Style Acoustic Guitar (Cognac Burst)

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Difficult to find a high-quality acoustic jazz guitar. You will find it that the Godin 5th Avenue Archtop is an excellent instrument for anyone that wants to play traditional Jazz and is looking for an acoustic guitar to do it with. Jazz guitarists looking for a pure sound will love this instrument.

The Godin 5th Avenue is a traditional acoustic archtop and perfect for jazz guitar. It features a back and body material made with  Cherry wood. You get regular F-holes on the top of the instrument. The scale length of this instrument is 24.84. It comes with a silver leaf maple neck and it has a Rosewood fingerboard. It has an adjustable tusq bridge made by Graphtec. The Venice Bridge help stabilize the tuning of the instrument. It features die-cast tuners, and angled pickguard, and cream binding.  This guitar doesn’t feature a pickup.

Pros:

  • Traditional archtop acoustic look
  • Made with solid wood

Cons:

  • No pickup
  • Not ideal for beginners

4. Gretsch Streamliner Hollow Body – Best Double Humbucker Instrument for Jazz

Gretsch Streamliner Hollow Body Aged Brooklyn Burst w/V-Stoptail & Broad'Tron Pickups

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Gretsch is well-known for its high-quality instruments.  The Gretsch Streamliner has a traditional look to it, but it’s built for modern jazz playing. Here is what you get with this Gretsch.

Awning material is made with laminated Maple. It features a nato neck with a thin U profile. The fingerboard is made with Laurelwood. You get a secured adjusto-matic bridge that keeps the tuning stable on the instrument. It comes with a tone control, a volume knob, and a pickup selector switch. It features two humbucking pickups. In the bridge position, you get a Broad’Tron BT-2S, and in the neck position, you get a Broad’Tron BT-2S. These are exceptional sounding pickups and you can play other styles too, with this instrument. The top also features traditional f-holes.

Pros:

  • Old-school look
  • Great pickups
  • Suitable for many styles of music

Cons:

  • A little on the heavy side
  • Some players may find it cumbersome to play

 

5. Squier by Fender Classic Vibe 70's Telecaster Thinline Electric Guitar – Best traditional Instrument for New Jazz Players

Squier by Fender Classic Vibe 70's Telecaster Thinline Electric Guitar - Maple - Natural

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If you have played guitar for a while and just getting into jazz, you may find some of the larger instruments quite cumbersome to play. It can be an adjustment going from a regular instrument to one that is boxier and heavy. You will find some solid-body instruments that sound great for this style. One of them is the Fender Classic Vibe Telecaster Thinline.

The instrument is a traditional Fender Telecaster design. The main difference is it has an f-hole on the top of the instrument so it has both an acoustic and an electric sound. You can play many different styles of music with this instrument. It gives you the sounds you want, but all the benefits of playing a solid body that you’re more accustomed to.

It features Fender wide range humbucker pickups. Most Telecaster guitars don’t have humbucking pickups, this one has two of them which is an exceptional value. You’ll get a great tone out of the pickups for no matter what you want to play. It also has a tone control, volume knob, and a pickup selector switch. The bridge is a fixed-style. If you’re new to playing this style, this is one of the best jazz guitars with a solid-body.

Pros:

  • Unique solid-body design
  • Nice pickups
  • Comfortable Tele neck

Cons:

  • Lacks the tone of traditional jazz guitars
  • Different pickups design than a regular Tele

 

6. Hagstrom VIK-TSB Viking Semi-Hollow Body – Best Easy Playing jazz Guitar

Hagstrom VIK-TSB Viking Semi-Hollow Body Tobacco Sunburst

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Many instruments for jazz are quite boxy and cumbersome to play. You end up struggling on the instrument quite a bit. Haggstrom makes the VIK-TSB Viking which is an easy instrument for you to play. It has a lot of nice features and one of the best jazz guitars out there.

One thing that is great about the Hagstrom is that it has a thin neck. It also has a deep cutaway. It’s quite easy on this instrument to hit the higher Frets past the 12th fret. Many guitars don’t have this feature. You should have no problem playing clean lead lines higher up on the fretboard with this guitar. It features a nice 24.75-inch scale length which makes playing chords as well as solos comfortable. You can play multiple genres such as jazz, fusion, rock, and blues on this instrument. It has a contoured maple body and a hard maple set neck. You get two volume controls, two tone controls, pickup selector switch, and two humbucking pickups. You will get right into jazz with this instrument.

Pros:

  • Easy to play
  • Two humbucking pickups
  • Great for other styles

Cons:

  • Some users had mild quality control issues
  • You need to buy a case for it

Conclusion

We looked at several instruments when examing the best jazz guitars. I reviewed several guitars in this guide. If you are new to this type of music, I suggest the Squier Thinline Telecaster guitar. This is a traditional solid-body instrument that will get you into jazz. You won’t be frustrated with the larger size instruments on the market designed for a more traditional sound.

I was looking for a more professional and classic jazz sound, I would go with the Godin 5th Avenue Archtop. This is a nice-sounding acoustic instrument for playing this style. The Hagstrom VIK-TSB is an excellent instrument if you want an easy playing traditional jazz style guitar with modern humbucking pickups.

The winner is the Epiphone Dot Archtop Electric Guitar. this guitar might be for beginners, but it has an excellent tone and it’s modeled from the famous Gibson es-335. It will save a lot of money with this instrument, but it has everything you need to start making great-sounding music. Try a few guitars and see what you like. There is something for everyone out there. This style is a lot of fun to play and you don’t need a lot of skill to get started playing. This guide to the best jazz guitars should get you started with your search.

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