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Do you need a Jazz Guitar to Play Jazz Music? 

Do you need a Jazz Guitar to Play Jazz Music? 

If you’ve had any practice in the jazz field, watched any live jazz guitarists, or listened to any jazz music, you probably have wondered whether the semi-hollow guitar is the holy grail of jazz music, in guitar terms.

You will find that a lot of jazz guitarists tends to gravitate towards using solid body guitars, but there are several cons that follow along with this choice.

Our main goal today is to delve into the world of jazz and attempt to figure out what a jazz guitar and if you really need a jazz guitar to play jazz music. Just as a heads up, the opinions in this article aren’t going to align with what other articles on the internet. There is no one true answer to this question, which is why this is one of the beauties of jazz music.

It’s true that you will find a lot of amazing jazz guitar players who use solid body guitars.

Using a solid body guitar puts a great limit on your dynamic range, but pair a jazz guitar with a set of humbuckers and you’ll get yourself a jazz guitar that a lot of famous jazz musicians use; the pairing of a Telecaster and a set of humbuckers is the most famous combo, as this combo provides a very true jazz sound.

There are some musicians that use semi-hollow or even hollow electric guitars to provide better tonal range for their jazz music, as well as an increased resonance. However, some musicians don’t like to use a semi-hollow or hollow guitar because these types of guitars can be uncomfortable to play and they produce a unique sound.

jazz guitar

What’s the perfect jazz guitar?

Playing a jazz guitar isn’t about finding the perfect sound for all of your jazz needs. Matter of fact, you don’t need a jazz guitar to be able to play jazz music. The most important part of jazz guitar is playing a guitar that’s comfortable.

If you can’t play a guitar comfortably, you’re not going to be able to produce efficient music. A lot of musicians who use semi-hollow and hollow guitars have this problem, not being comfortable when playing their instrument. Semi-hollow and hollow electric guitars typically have an unusual shape that just isn’t for everyone.

jazz band

If you completely put aside any regards for playing styles or personal preferences, the perfect jazz guitar is going to be the guitar that you get custom made for you.

Anytime that someone discusses a custom made instrument, especially guitars, the price tag that comes along with these instruments is the biggest problem for people. Getting your custom guitar produced by the best luthier by your location is going to cost a decent amount of money.

Get that jazz sound

The jazz guitar is much more different than most other guitars, as it puts a heavy focus on technical ability and music theory. This is mainly because the style that comes with jazz guitar was developed at it’s basic form before other guitar techniques became more popular.

A lot jazz musicians hybridizes the jazz style with other music genres or use atypical aspects of music theory. A lot of jazz musicians have strong backgrounds in music theory, so a lot of these jazz guitarists can use modes and scales in their music.

Getting that jazzy sound that’s so famous doesn’t really come from a specific guitar. You can play a jazz sound on a regular acoustic or electric guitar, if you are playing the proper chords. The presence of dominant seventh chord is one of the best indicators to identify a jazz song.

Seventh chords are one of the most common and important chord progressions in jazz music. Matter of fact, a lot of jazz songs use seventh chords exclusively in their chord progressions; this is one of the main reasons that seventh chords are non-existent in modern day music.

Seventh chords are also commonly found in Renaissance, Classical, and Baroque music, but you don’t really need any musical training to be identify the differences between jazz and baroque music!

Choosing a guitar

In case you aren’t in the position to be able to afford customizing your own guitar, don’t worry! Here are five classic jazz guitar models to consider adding to your collection.

Gibson ES-175

This guitar has a warm and round sound that’s very clear and articulate, but also airy. The Gibson ES-175 does a great job of handling distortion, overdrive, and compression well and plays amazingly with blues, fusion, rock, and jazz.

Gibson ES-175 Classic Electric Guitar | Amazon

The ES-175 debuted in 1949. With a comfortable body size and stylish pointed cutaway, it quickly became the most popular guitar of the jazz world.

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Gibson ES-335 Dot

The Gibson ES-335 Dot is a thin line guitar with a semi-hollow body that creates a sustain of a solid body with the rounded woody quality you need for jazz music. The thin body of this guitar prevents feedback, which makes this guitar ideal for environments that have high volume.

Gibson ES-335 Dot

Also, the thinness of this guitar makes it extremely easy to play in a standing position. This instrument produces a smooth and full bodied tone which is rich in the mid tones and the bottom ranges, which a rounded top range.

Fender Telecaster

The Fender Telecaster provides musicians with a warm and modern tone, which allows guitarists with a clean style that really allows these musicians to truly personalize their guitar voice. The Fender Telecaster can be paired with blues, rock, country, and jazz.

Best Overall Pick
Fender Player Telecaster HH | Guitar Center

The quintessential Fender electric experience. Combining traditional design with a wide assortment of features and upgrades. Excellent playability, handling anything from hard rock to soft jazz with dead simple tone control knobs.

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Ibanez Artcore AF-75

If you’re looking for a durable and affordable guitar, the Ibanez Artcore provides musicians with a solid playing experience for jazz musicians of all backgrounds, music tastes, and playing abilities. This is a rather popular guitar in the jazz world, as it provides musicians with a muted jazz tone.

Ibanez Artcore AF75 Hollowbody Electric Guitar | Reverb

With a fully bound maple body, the Ibanez Artcore AF75 hollowbody electric guitar proves a modern classic for any player seeking a vintage hollowbody look and thick sound that won't break the bank. 

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Epiphone Joe Pass Emperor II

 Search Do you need a Jazz Guitar to Play Jazz Music?

This guitar was especially built for jazz music, as it provides musicians with an uncompromising authentic jazz tone- a deep warmth that has just enough warmth combined with treble to make your leads truly sing.

Read More: How To Learn Guitar: A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners

Epiphone Joe Pass Emperor II Archtop Electric Guitar | Amazon

Late guitar legend Joe Pass lends his name to one of our most popular archtops. The comfortable to play Joe Pass Emperor II is slightly smaller than the jumbo jazz-boxes and features a single trapeze tailpiece to a Rosewood floating bridge, voiced by a pair of full-size Alnico Classic Humbuckers and matched aesthetically by Abalone "Tree of Life" headstock inlay and block fretboard inlay.

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The biggest thing that you should take away from this article is to not buy a guitar solely based upon what other jazz musicians tell you. The jazz musicians that you’re talking to have found their perfect jazz guitar and haven’t yet realized that while a guitar may work for them, it won’t work for other people.

Purchasing a jazz guitar is a very personal experience, as a jazz guitar isn’t like other instruments. Jazz guitars have a lot more subtle criteria that they need to meet before being purchased, unlike your regular acoustic guitar or a metal electric guitar.

guitar jazz

Don’t go around thinking that you need to spend thousands upon thousands of dollars into a semi-hollow electric guitar just because another jazz musician told you that that’s what they ended up doing.

In order to correctly answer ‘do you need a jazz guitar to play jazz music’, we need to go and talk about what a jazz guitar really is. The answer to this question is going to vary, depending upon who you’re asking, as jazz is one of those genres of music where a large variety of musicians use an even larger variety of guitars to achieve this effect.

The methods and personal playing styles of these musicians are extremely personal and each musician will have their own unique stance on their take on jazz.

A jazz guitar can be just about anything with a pickup and a neck. The real distinction between what makes a good jazz guitar all boils down to the finer distinction that comes in when you begin to talk about specific tone qualities. 

Let us know what you think below by leaving a comment or continue reading our guide to finding the best Gypsy Jazz Guitar.