Best jazz guitar

jazz guitar

Over the past decade, jazz has become extremely popular. Whether it’s traditional swing, bossa nova or modern fusion, it’s a genre of music that is well worth checking out if you want to improve your playing.

However, when you first get into jazz, it can often be disheartening that your current guitar won’t give you that warm semi hollow tone.

Trying to find the best jazz guitar can be incredibly difficult. There are lots of different options from hollow, semi-hollow and solid-body guitars available, as well as more manufactures that you can shake a stick at.

If you feel overwhelmed and feel like it’s impossible to find the best jazz guitar, fear not. In this article we’re going to show you 10 of our favourite jazz guitars, ensuring that you’ll be able to master your purchase and be swingin’ in no time.

Best All-Round Jazz Guitar

Gibson ES 335

Gibson is one of the biggest guitar companies around. At the heart of popular music history, Gibson has provided players across all genres with the tools required to make music.

Gibson’s creator, ‘Les Paul’ was one of the early jazz guitarists of his decade and his performance with Mary Ford playing the jazz standard ‘How High The Moon’ cemented Gibson’s rich heritage of music for years to come.

In 1958, the Gibson ES 335 was born. A semi-hollow guitar that would become extremely popular amongst guitars all over the world. Let’s find out why it’s one of the best jazz guitars available.

The ES 335 is a classic Gibson electric guitar. Used by artists such as Lee Ritenour and Larry Carlton, it’s impossible to deny the 335’s popularity.

One of the reasons it’s so popular is due to being extremely versatile. At first sight, it looks like a jazz guitar, however like most semi hollow body guitars, it can cover a broad range of genres. Thus, making this guitar a suitable fit for studio musicians.

The ES 335 is a semi hollow guitar that contains two dual humbuckers that give a warm, rich tone that is perfect for any jazz musician. As well as this, this gibson jazz guitar is made out of 3-ply maple and poplar with spruce bracing, giving the instrument warm trebles and middle frequencies.

Furthermore, the mahogany neck gives the guitar sustain, something that Gibson guitars are so famous for.

As this is a semi-hollow body guitar it is much less prone to unpleasant feedback, meaning it can be used more frequently at higher volumes, making it a great choice for gigging guitarists.

One downside of this guitar is that it may be out of some people’s price range, however, fear not as with all Gibson guitars, the model of guitar is often available at a variety of different prices, making it accessible for all players.

So, if the standard Gibson ES 335 is out of your price range, you could look at Gibson’s studio version and models by Epiphone too.

Overall, this is a quintessential jazz guitar and is easily the best electric guitar for jazz.


  • Works well with most genres of music, including jazz, rock, blues, funk, country and pop.
  • The instrument is extremely stylish and elegant.
  • The mahogany tonewood enables the guitar to have a mellow tone.
  • The large body of the instrument gives the guitar more bass end and allows it to resonate more.
  • The tune o matic bridge increases sustain and tuning stability.


  • The price of this semi hollow electric guitar may be too expensive for some users.
  • The quality control on some Gibson guitars is less than desirable.

Best Archtop Guitar

Eastman AR372CE

At the heart of every famous jazz guitar album, there is always an arch-top guitar. This classic jazz guitar type was a firm favourite of guitarists such as Tal Farlow, Barney Kessel and George Benson.

One of the best makers of this classic archtop design is Eastman. Originally gaining their reputation as violin makers, Eastman now makes some of the best jazz guitars in the world.

Offering a wide range of guitars of all sizes and types, Eastman makes high-quality instruments hand-crafted in Beijing, China. One of our favourites is the AR372CE.

What makes the Eastman AR372CE a fantastic choice of archtop guitar is its body wood, pickups as well as excellent craftsmanship.

The 24 ¾ “ scale length is clearly influenced by the Gibson ES175 and the laminated maple guitar wood features predominantly on the body top, back and sides.

As maple is a hardwood, this increases the guitar’s acoustic resonance and allows it to have an even bass and treble response.

As well as this, the ebony fingerboard and 3 piece maple neck complement each other well, providing excellent sustain, warmth and top end.

Furthermore, the main attribute that gives this guitar its vintage jazz tones is the pickups. This guitar features Kent Armstrong HPAG-1, these pickups use alnico 5 magnets. These give the guitar a strong, punchy sound that is perfect for cutting through the mix.

One aspect that people may be concerned about is that this guitar is made in china. However, Eastman is well-known for its high build quality. The fact that this guitar is made in China allows the user to have a higher quality instrument at a more accessible price range.

As well as this, the AR372CE comes with 12 gauge strings out of the factory. If you’re a seasoned professional, this string size is fine, but for others, it may be a struggle. If you want to change the strings, the neck will need adjusting to compensate.

This can be adjusted by yourself or by a professional, this is just something to bear in mind if you are considering this guitar.

Overall, this is a fantastic quality archtop guitar for its price range and would be a fine addition to any jazz guitarist’s arsenal.


  • It looks stunning and delivers classic jazz and blues tones with ease.
  • It’s great for gigging musicians due to it coming with a hard case.
  • This instrument is slightly smaller than a traditional jazz guitar, making it great for players with small hands.
  • Use of high-quality woods on the guitar including ebony and laminated maple.


  • Trapeze style bridges aren’t for everyone.
  • The stock strings are 12’s and maybe too heavy for some users.
  • The fact it’s made in China may put some people off.

Best Semi-Hollow Body Guitars

D’angelico Premier SS Semi-Hollow

Originally founded in 1932 by luthier John D’Angelico in Manhattan, New York. D’Angelico makes some of the best jazz guitars around.

Used by musicians such as Chet Atkins, Eric Clapton and Bucky Pizzarelli, D’angelico are well worth checking out if you want a decent semi-hollow jazz guitar.

One of their most popular models is the ‘Premier SS Semi-Hollow’.

Similar to the PRS SE Hollowbody II, the D’angelico Premier SS semi-hollow is perfect for the guitarist who seeks vintage jazz and blues tones without the cumbersomeness of a large-bodied guitar.

The vintage semi-hollow design of this guitar is extremely stylish and pleasing to the eye. You’d almost be mistaken for thinking that this guitar was built in the 50s and 60s.

Although D’angelico’s history is commonly associated with jazz music, this guitar isn’t just a one-trick pony. The tones of this semi-hollow electric guitar are perfectly adequate for most musicians.

Two onboard volume and tone pickups control each bridge and neck pickup and the onboard pickups are great for any aspiring guitarist who wants to play jazz but also dabbles in other genres such as country and blues music.

However, some users may find them a bit bland. Personally, at this price range, we think the addition of some Seymour Duncan pickups would have been preferable over the cheaper Duncan Designed models. This would’ve elevated the guitar and transformed the overall sound of the instrument.

Similar to other semi-hollow guitars, this guitar features a laminated maple top back and sides and a maple neck. However, what makes this guitar stand out from other models of electric is the addition of an ovangkol fretboard. This tonewood offers great sustain with a blend of rich and snappy tones.

This instrument is roughly the same size as a les paul but is more similar to the construction of a Gibson ES 335 due to the centre block in the guitar’s body.

One downside of this instrument is that some users have complained about the factory setup on this jazz instrument. So if you wish to purchase this guitar it’s worth bearing in mind that it may need a set-up to be at optimum playability.

Overall, this is easily the best jazz guitar in the semi-hollow guitar category and is well worth checking out if you want a great jazz guitar at an affordable price.


  • It’s roughly the same size as a Les Paul and is comfortable to play.
  • The guitar is extremely stylish, elegant and classy and pays tribute to its rich Italian heritage.
  • The neck profile is thin and easy to play.
  • The guitar is extremely well-priced and offers fantastic value.


  • The factory setup is less than desirable.
  • The Duncan Designed pickups aren’t the best.

Best Hollow Body Jazz Guitar

Godin 5th Avenue Kingpin P90

Robert Godin the owner and founder of Godin guitars has been producing for over 46 years, initially creating guitars out of Quebec, Canada, Godin are known for producing some of the best jazz guitars on the market today.

Now, Godin is a more established brand, their development of guitars has led them to produce fine instruments under many different sister brands such as Seagull, Simon & Patrick, LaPartrie, Art & Lutherie and Godin.

One of Godin’s most popular hollow-body guitars is the ‘Kingpin’, available in a variety of different configurations, this is a guitar that takes influence from the jazz tradition and provides the users with a warm sound that is simply unforgettable.

When searching for the best jazz guitar, it’s hard to ignore an archtop guitar as good as the Godin 5th Avenue Kingpin P90. Taking influence from the Gibson ES 125, this archtop guitar comes with Canadian Wild Cherry on the back, sides and top of the guitar. The neck is made from silver leaf maple and the fingerboard is rosewood.

These tonewoods allow this hollow body guitar to have a large, bold acoustic sound that is perfect for avid jazz players or singer-songwriters.

The vintage F-holes, trapeze style bridge, floating pickguard and cream binding give this semi-hollow guitar an aesthetically pleasing vintage look. One downside of many vintage guitars is that they are often difficult to play, however, that’s one tradition that this guitar doesn’t follow as it is extremely enjoyable to play.

Not only does it look the part, but it also sounds great too. The Godin 5th Avenue Kingpin comes with a single P90 pickup which sits comfortably in the neck position. At first look, you may be fooled into thinking that this hollow-body guitar only works if you play jazz.

However, the onboard P90 provides the user with purity and warmth that works well for a range of different genres. For further tonal colouration, you can also manipulate the onboard tone controls.

The one downside to hollow-body guitars such as this is that they often have uncontrollable feedback at higher levels, so if you’re someone who plays at loud volumes, this may not work for you.

However, if you want a traditional archtop guitar, the Godin Kingpin 5th Avenue P90 is worth trying.


  • Traditional jazz box that looks and plays fantastically.
  • It is extremely well priced.
  • Graphtech bridge and a tusq nut are clear indicators of quality and value.
  • It’s extremely easy to use due to the single pickup and volume and tone control.
  • The satin finish gives the player comfort and increases the ease of playability.


  • There is no bridge pickup on this particular version, although Godin does offer other guitars with more pickup options in the 5th avenue range.
  • No cutaway might not suit some players.
  • Unlike semi-hollow guitars, this instrument may be more susceptible to feedback.

Best Solid Body Guitar For Jazz

Fender Telecaster

Although an unlikely choice, the Fender Telecaster has been at the heart of jazz history.

Usually, the Fender Telecaster is associated with genres such as country, blues and pop, however, jazz greats such as Ted Greene, Mike Stern and John Scofield have all favoured the telecaster at some point in their careers.

Its simplicity and playability all contribute to it being one of the best solid body jazz guitars available.

The Fender Telecaster is a fantastic choice of electric guitar due to the versatile tone it produces. Whether you’re a jazz guitarist or a rock guitarist, you need a telecaster in your tool kit.

Firstly, although the guitar is simple, it’s surprising how many tones you can coax out of it. The neck single-coil pickup provides a warm sound that works great for blues or jazz music; switch to the single-coil bridge pickup and the tones coming out of your guitar will be suited for any style of country music.

If you don’t like the stock pickups, you can always upgrade the pickups in the guitar. One popular mod that jazz guitar players will do is to add a Charlie Christian pickup in the neck position.

Furthermore, it’s not just the pickups that let you adjust the tones of this guitar, the manipulation of the onboard volume and tone controls can produce some interesting sounds too.

This solid body guitar comes available in a variety of colours and neck and body wood choices, so whether you seek the brighter tones of maple or something slightly mellower like rosewood, Fender has many options available.

As well as this, if the standard telecaster isn’t your thing, Fender also has several custom options that are suitable for every type of guitar player.

Fender offers versions of the telecaster at every price range. At a more affordable price, you can pick up a ‘classic vibe’ telecaster from their sister company Squier or if you want something more expensive, you may like a custom shop telecaster hand-crafted in their USA factory. Fender offers a range of telecasters for every budget.

Overall, this is a fantastic solid-body guitar that works fantastically for playing jazz and a whole host of other genres.


  • It’s comfortable and extremely easy to use.
  • Available with rosewood or maple neck.
  • It’s very lightweight compared to other guitars.
  • If you’re unhappy with certain aspects of the guitar, they can be easily upgraded.
  • It’s extremely versatile and can come other a wide range of musical styles.


  • Single coil pickups aren’t for everyone.
  • Some players may find the lack of contour curves on the body uncomfortable.

Best Modern Jazz Electric Guitar

PRS SE Hollowbody II

PRS is easily one of the best guitar companies around. Their excellent craftsmanship and attention to detail enable them to produce instruments of extremely good quality.

Although the average USA made PRS will set you back $2000+, their SE line gives players on a budget access to their instruments.

One of the best modern jazz guitars is the PRS SE Hollowbody II, let’s find out more about it.

One of PRS guitars most expensive instruments is the ‘Hollowbody II’, priced at over $3000, for the average music lover, this is well out of most people’s price ranges. However, over the past decade, PRS have expanded their SE line and in 2020, they brought the SE Hollowbody II.

This guitar is perfect for the guitarist who doesn’t like traditional larger semi-hollow body guitars and seeks something smaller. The PRS is a modern alternative to guitars such as the Gibson ES 335.

However, although some may be concerned about the smaller size, the Hollowbody II produces a sound that is clear and precise but still has the warm tones associated with large-bodied guitars due to the onboard humbuckers.

This electric guitar has a rich sustain due to the laminated maple body, mahogany back and sides and mahogany set-neck. Unlike the 335, this guitar lacks a solid block in the middle of the guitar, allowing the guitar to resonate freely.

This laminated flame maple top simply looks stunning and comes in a variety of colours including charcoal burst, tri-colour sunburst and peacock blue smoke burst.

As this guitar is made in China, some may consider it to be too expensive. However, PRS have seriously upgraded the hardware and materials to compensate for this.

Although some may argue that the bird inlays look stunning, we also understand that they aren’t for everyone, so something that PRS may look at is to add two options, one with standard dot inlays the other with birds. The other thing to bear in mind is that this model doesn’t come in a left-handed version.

Overall, this guitar is well worth checking out if you don’t like bigger sized 335 style guitars and want access to an incredible jazz guitar that also can rock too.


  • The dual 58/15 humbuckers provide the user with a warm, balanced tone.
  • The ebony fretboard, bird inlays and finish are aesthetically pleasing.
  • The addition of F-holes adds to the elegance and class of this instrument.
  • Comes in a range of bursts and finishes.
  • The guitar comes with a hard case.


  • Slightly expensive for a Chinese made guitar.
  • The piezo pickup is only available on more expensive models.

Best Jazz Guitar Under $1000

Epiphone Joe Pass Emperor-II Pro

In the jazz guitar world, Joe Pass is easily one of the best guitarists from the last 100 years. Known for his virtuosity and playing guitar with jazz great Ella Fitzgerald, Pass is a jazz icon that will never be forgotten.

It’s no surprise that Gibson’s sister company, Epiphone, have provided Joe Pass with a signature model and kept it in production years after his death.

This is easily the best jazz guitars for under $1000, let’s learn more about this iconic instrument. the best semi-hollow body guitar for under $1000.

The Epiphone Joe Pass Emperor-II Pro is one of the top jazz guitars available in its price range. This hollow body guitar features laminate flamed maple on the back and sides of the guitar and a solid spruce top.

Furthermore, the neck is made out of hard maple whilst the fretboard is Pau Ferro. The blend of these woods gives this hollow-body guitar a warm and chiming bell tone.

The gold hardware, F-holes, Ivory and Black binding and natural or sunburst finish give this guitar an extremely attractive visual appearance which almost makes it impossible to put down.

Punching well above its price, this large hollow body features two of Epiphone’s Probucker pickups. These pickups can be coil split too, making the instrument one of the best jazz guitars available due to the variety of tones at your disposal.

On traditional hollow-body guitars, the most common nut material is bone. However, Epiphone has come into the 21st century and added a Graphtech Tusq nut that is guaranteed to last much longer than bone. Also, the addition of Grover tuners gives this guitar excellent tuning stability making it great for studio or stage.

The only criticism of this hollow body guitar is that some users have found that the jack socket does come loose from time to time.

Although this guitar won’t make you play like Pass, if you’re looking for one of the best jazz guitars under $1000, definitely give this model a look.


  • The guitar has a plethora of tones available due to the onboard humbuckers using coil-split technology.
  • The overall finish and hardware are extremely attractive and aesthetically pleasing.
  • The addition of a spruce top is unheard of on a guitar in this price range.
  • The instrument’s build quality is excellent, sporting Grover Tuners, Graphtech Nut and a floating rosewood bridge.


  • Some players may prefer a larger neck.
  • The factory setup could be better.

Best Budget Jazz Guitar Under $500

Ibanez AF75BS

Ibanez is usually a company associated with the metal genre. However, Ibanez also provides instruments for some of the world’s most famous jazz musicians, boasting signature models for guitarists such as George Benson, John Scofield and Pat Metheny.

As well as this, Ibanez guitars have instruments available for all budgets, one of our favourite affordable jazz guitars is the AF75BS.

The Ibanez AF75 is one of the finest archtop guitars in its price range. It’s very rare to find this many features on a guitar for under $500.

This guitar uses a linden top, back and sides (Linden is another word for basswood), Walnut Fretboard, set neck, Gibraltar performer bridge and Ibanez’s own classic elite pickups.

This fully hollow electric guitar is able to produce excellent jazz, blues and rockabilly tones. Furthermore, despite the pickups being ceramic, they produce a clear and punchy sound, however, if you’re a seasoned professional, you may find these pickups a little lacklustre.

The AF75 comes with 10-52 gauge strings and is extremely well set up straight out of the box. It’s well intonated, stays in and tune and has relatively low action, meaning it feels great underneath the fingers.

Overall, this is one of the best jazz guitars in its price range and is perfect for the guitarist who wants to delve into the world of jazz at a reasonable price.


  • A great choice for beginner jazz players due to the price and build quality.
  • The guitar is well set up which is rare on a mass-produced guitar.
  • Its hollow body construction enables the guitar to project well acoustically.
  • The colour and finish of this instrument are excellent considering the price.


  • The colour choices on this particular model are limited.
  • The pickups work great but an upgrade would vastly improve the tone of this electric guitar.

Best Gypsy Jazz Guitar

Gitane DG-300 Professional Gypsy Jazz Guitar - Modèle John Jorgenson

This wouldn’t be the best jazz guitar article without the inclusion of a Gypsy Jazz guitar.

One of the finest gypsy jazz guitarists of the past 50 years is John Jorgenson, known for his work with Elton John and Jerry Donahue, Jorgenson also portrayed Django Reinhardt in the film ‘Head In The Clouds’.

His experience and virtuosity as one of the best jazz players led him to have his own signature model with popular gypsy instrument makers ‘Gitane’.

The Gitane DG-300 is one of the best jazz guitars around for Gypsy Jazz. Let’s learn more about this unique acoustic guitar.

If you’re a guitarist who wants to add an excellent maccaferri style guitar to your collection, the DG-300 by Gitane is well worth a look. Featuring exotic woods and excellent build quality, this is a serious instrument fit for players of all levels and abilities.

With vintage Selmer guitars reaching extortionate prices, the DG-300 offers Gypsy Jazz guitarists an authentic maccaferri style guitar at a fraction of a price.

Tonally, this instrument has a tight sound, with bright trebles and a soft bass end that is lively and dynamic, this is due to the overall construction and smaller soundhole.

Because of this, it may be more suited to lead playing than rhythm because of the reduced mid-range, however, that’s not to say that it isn’t possible to play chords on this instrument. It just means that it may not cut through the mix as well as others.

Compared to other guitars, the scale length of this instrument is much longer than others coming in at 26.63 inches, it may take a bit of getting used to when first playing it, however, the thin U shaped neck profile and reduced string tensions does aid the playing experience.

To conclude, if you’re a gypsy jazz guitar enthusiast who doesn’t want to spend a small fortune on an instrument, this is one of the best jazz guitars of its type.


  • Great for a Gypsy Jazz enthusiast on a limited budget. 
  • The guitar features excellent quality woods including a solid spruce top, Brazilian rosewood laminate back and sides, mahogany neck and ebony fingerboard. 
  • This instrument is of extremely high quality and is made to Jorgenson’s exact specifications. 
  • The gloss finish is tasteful and stylish.


  • This instrument doesn’t come with onboard electronics.
  • The long scale length might not work for some guitarists.

Best Nylon String Jazz Guitar

Godin Multiac Nylon Encore

The Multiac series of guitars by Godin is extremely popular amongst jazz musicians such as Lee Ritenour, Sylvain Luc and Carlos Santana.

These guitars appeal to the electric guitarist who wants access to more of an acoustic sound without the usual issues associated with acoustic guitars.

If you’re an electric guitar player looking to add some nylon string tones to your collection of guitars then the Godin Multiac Nylon Encore is a fantastic choice.

The guitar features a solid cedar top, mahogany neck, rosewood fingerboard and has a scale length of 647.7mm and a nut width of 48.26mm.

Although this is technically an acoustic guitar, the dimensions of this instrument fall more in line with that of an electric guitar. However, classical purists needn’t miss out, as Godin offer traditional nylon string guitar dimensions as part of their concert range.

Unlike classical guitars, this guitar doesn’t have a large body. This means that it is relatively quiet acoustically, however this instrument really comes alive when plugged into a PA system.

Powered by a 9V battery, as a player you have the ability to blend between the onboard transducers and piezo pickups and then for even more tonal colouration, you can experiment with the onboard EQs. This delivers an excellent nylon-string tone.

The nylon strings on this instrument make it perfect for jazz and Brazilian music. However, this style of guitar wouldn’t work in a more contemporary rock and blues setup.

The 18:1 ratio tuners hold their tuning well and the instrument is well set up out of the box. However, one thing to bear in mind is that if you want to adjust the height of the strings, you’ll have to sand down the bridge. If you don’t feel confident doing this, we suggest taking it to a luthier.

Overall, this is one of the best jazz guitars for bossa nova and solo guitar and is well worth checking out if you want the sound of a nylon string guitar and not the difficult playing ability.


  • The small body works great for guitarists who are looking to get that nylon sound but don’t want a full-size classical.
  • The neck is slim, comfortable and easy to play with as a result.
  • It sounds excellent plugged into a PA system due to the onboard bass, middle and treble controls, under saddle transducer and soundboard transducer.
  • The slim chambered body reduces feedback and allows it to be played at a decent volume.


  • Some users have complained about Godin’s after-sales services.
  • Nylon string guitars only work for very specific styles of music.

Buying Guide:

There are many types of jazz electric guitars. Unfortunately, this can often provide the user with option paralysis. In this buying guide, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about:

  • The types of jazz guitar. 
  • The type of body woods used. 
  • The material used for guitar necks. 
  • The best pickups for jazz. 

Types of Jazz Guitar

  • Solid-body guitar. 

These types of jazz guitars have a completely solid body. Some common models include the Fender Telecaster, Fender Jazzmasters, Fender Strat, Gibson Les Paul and Yamaha Pacifica. 

The main benefit of these guitars is that they are less prone to feedback than hollow body jazz guitars, furthermore, they can also be used for other genres such as rock, blues and country. 

However, some may argue that the solid body doesn’t provide as much bass or resonance as hollow guitars. 

  • Semi-hollow body guitars.

These types of guitars are fantastic for jazz. They are referred to as ‘semi-hollow ‘as only part of the guitar has a hollow body. 

Usually, this type of guitar will have a wooden block down the centre of the guitar, here guitar parts such as the pickups and bridge are mounted. 

Some popular examples of a semi-hollow guitar include the Gibson ES 335 and the Yamaha SA2200. Similar to solid-body guitars, this type of guitar works well with most genres.

  • Hollow body guitars and archtop guitars.  

A hollow-body jazz guitar is the most traditional type of jazz guitar. These are also known as ‘archtop guitars’. 

A fully hollow guitar provides a distinctive tone that suits the jazz genre perfectly and is popular amongst jazz legends such as Joe Pass, George Benson and Johnny Smith. 

Unlike semi-hollow guitars, hollow guitars do not have a centre block and the pickups and bridge and mounted into the body, some examples of this guitar include the D’angelico EXL1, Gibson L5 and the Godin 5th Avenue Kingpin. 

Although popular amongst jazz guitarists, this type of guitar isn’t as versatile as semi-hollow or solid-body guitars as they often only have one pickup in and are more prone to feedback due to them being completely hollow. 

  • Gypsy jazz guitars. 

Gypsy jazz guitars or ‘Maccaferri’ guitars are popular amongst gypsy jazz musicians. Gypsy jazz was a style of music played by artists such as Django Reinhardt, Bireli Lagrene and Stochelo Rosenberg.

These guitars are entirely acoustic, have a large body and beck and often have an oval or D shaped soundhole. 

Although maccaferri guitars are the best sounding jazz guitar for this genre, they are limited in versatility and don’t work well for other popular genres of music. 

  • Nylon string guitars.

Although nylon string guitars may be thought of as a classical instrument. They are often used in a jazz setting. 

Players such as Pat Metheny, Joe Pass and Sylvain Luc have all used nylon strung guitars at points in their careers. 

This acoustic nylon sound provides a smooth pleasing tone that works great in a jazz context. 

These guitars have a decent-sized body with a wide neck and often come in full-size and cutaway versions. Furthermore, these guitars can also be amplified. 

Similar to hollow body and gypsy jazz guitars, these guitars are limited in the genres that they can play. 

Type of Body Woods Used

Discuss the types of wood used on jazz guitars and the different sounds they may give. 

  • Alder.

This is a lightweight wood that has compact pores and a grain pattern that has a vibrant swirl. 

This wood provides the user with plenty of bass and treble but can often have fewer middle frequencies compared to woods such as basswood. 

  • Mahogany.

Mahogany is a popular wood that is predominantly used in the acoustic world but can also appear frequently on electric guitars too. 

It tends to be a heavy wood that provides the player with sustain, resonance and a deep warm tone. 

  • Basswood.

This is a relatively inexpensive wood that is frequently used on guitars under the $1000 range. It is easy to work with due to it being softwood and is often used in mass-produced guitar factories. 

The soft nature of this wood means that fewer bass frequencies are present, although this may seem like a bad thing. 

The positive aspect of this is that more middle frequencies are present due to the lower bass end, meaning you’ll be able to cut through the mix of a band with ease. 

Jazz Neck Types

The fretboard type can dramatically change the overall sound of a guitar. 

  • Rosewood.

Rosewood is a warm, resonant tonewood that produces great sustain and volume. This makes it a fantastic wood for jazz due to its mellow tone. It is often seen on Gibson, Fender and other popular models.

  • Maple. 

Maple produces a bright and punchy sound, it is rarely seen on Gibson style guitars but does appear frequently on other models such as Fender Telecasters, Stratocasters, Paul Reed Smith guitars and many more. 

This is a great neck choice if you are looking for a brighter sound for your jazz playing. 

  • Ebony.

A less common wood than rosewood or maple, ebony is also a fantastic choice of neck wood. This wood provides the player with excellent sustain, vibrant attack and durability. 

Furthermore, this wood tends to only be available on guitars at the upper end of the market due to it needing more care in manufacturing.

Best Pickups For Jazz

  • Humbuckers.

This type of pickup has a warm, rich sound that is fantastic for jazz. They are often used in guitars made by Gibson, Ibanez and Yamaha. 

  • Single Coils. 

Single coils have a brighter sound than humbuckers, however, this doesn’t mean they cannot be used for jazz. Artists such as Mike Stern, Ted Greene and Ed Bickert have all been known to use single-coil pickups in their guitars. 

  • P90s.

P90s strike the balance between humbuckers and single-coils and offer a tone that is both warm and punchy. These are often seen in traditional archtop guitars as well as Gibson and Epiphone guitars. 

What kind of guitar is best for jazz?

The best kind of guitars for jazz is hollow body type guitars. These can be semi-hollow or full hollow. 

These give a warm tone which is perfect for the jazz genre. Here are some popular examples of these types of jazz guitar:

  • Gibson L5.
  • Gibson ES335.
  • Yamaha SA2200. 
  • D’angelico EXL-1

What is the best solid body guitar for jazz?

The best solid body guitars for jazz are Fender Telecasters. Famous players such as Ed Bickert, Ted Greene and Mike Stern have all been know to play these types of guitars. 

What is the best acoustic guitar for jazz?

There are two types of acoustic jazz guitars, maccaferri guitars and nylon string guitars. 

Maccaferri guitars are perfect for gypsy jazz, a style of music popularised by the jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt. 

Nylon string guitars are great for bossa nova, a style of jazz originating from Brazil. Popular artists include Antonio Carlos Jobim and Joao Gilberto. 

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