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Grant Green, Bluenote, Jazz Guitarist

Jazz Guitars!

As a musical genre traditional Jazz requires a fairly specific Guitar sound – generally this has involved a very clean dry tone – with little to no effects (perhaps only a hint of reverb) – usually the neck pickup is used with the resultant sound required to be clear enough to pickup the subtle nuances and articulation of the playing.

Jazz Guitarists therefore need to carefully consider thier Guitar when setting out – luckily Jazz has been around for many years and there is a wide selection of instruments available. Traditionally Jazz Guitars are hollow body semi acoustics (though not always) and these have tended to favor P90 or Humbucker style pickups to produce the required sound – as stated there are many guitars on the market today – but here we list 5 classic Jazz guitars that helped shape the scene.

1 Gibson ES150

Made famous to the jazz community by Charlie Christian the ES 150 became his guitar. The ES150 became one of the world’s first commercially available electric guitars. With its single coil pickup fitted at the neck and its acoustic shaped body with f holes – the 150 has that sweet warm jazz tone that became a world favorite.

2 Gibson L5

Another of Gibson’s Jazz power trio (the others are the ES150 and the ES175) – the L5 features a large resonant body. With a history that goes back nearly 90 years the L5 has changed a little over this time and has featured different pickups (from P90’s to Humbuckers). As the prestige rhythm guitar it has been played by a variety of greats including Wes Montgomery.

3 Gibson ES-175

With it’s stylish Florentine single cutaway – the ES175 represented a departure for Gibson from their usual design – Debuting in 1949 – the 175 has been associated with a variety of Jazz greats from Herb Ellis to Pat Metheny.

4 Gretsch Country Gentleman/Nashville

While Gretsch are not considered jazz guitars per se – both the Country Gent and the Nashville are able to produce both versatile and authentic jazz tones. Both guitars offer a range of controls for adapting the tone of the guitar and can produce some versatile jazzy results – whilst the FiterTron pickups produce something that’s unlike it’s Gibson counterparts.

5 Fender Telecaster

With it’s sweet and mellow neck pickup tone the telecaster offers something a little different that the usual Jazz fare – Traditionally a country guitar the telecaster has been featured with Jazz artists including Ed Bickert and Mike Stern.

The author runs the blog Jazzbox-Cafe which offers a lively and fun look at the world of Jazz Guitar - offering tips on equipment and technique and a forum for those that love the genre.

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