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zaskar1

advice needed on getting into jazz instruments

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hi all

 

i was thinking of learning to play jazz, and should i get a beginner instrument like an epiphone or just

jump in and get a gibson.

as the gibson is at least 5x the cost of an epiphone, i guess if i didnt like it

i wouldnt be out that much money.

as i havent played hardly any archtops, what would you suggest

probably would start out with chord based pieces, and then branch out to more complex

 

i have been playing acoustic for many years, and have some classical guitar training,

so i am not totally a novice.

 

z

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When you say "jazz instruments", I'm going to assume you mean full bodied archtops.

 

I will be the first to tell you these types of guitars are not for everyone. They do not play or sound like the flattop you're used to playing, they are a breed all their own.

 

Even I "stepped up" to the Gibsons I now play. My first full bodied archtop was a Samick built "Washburn" L-5 style/size instrument. I played it for a few years before I dropped the big bucks on my L-5CES. My advise, as I did, would be to buy a quality built brand name Asian made instrument for starters, see if you take to it, and then start planning/saving for your ultimate dream Gibson.

 

You'll also have to make a few decisions in various archtop designs, such as 16" body, 17", 18"? Soundboard mounted pickup, floating pickup (fingerboard mounted or pickguard mounted), or none? Full thickness body, medium or thin? Wooden bridge saddle, or tune-o-matic style? Etc, etc, etc.

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hi

 

L5larry, thanks for the advice regarding getting

an asian guitar

i recently purchased an epip emperor joe pass

waiting for it to arrive.

i will see how i do with it before committing significant funds

 

regards

z

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hi

 

L5larry, thanks for the advice regarding getting

an asian guitar

i recently purchased an epip emperor joe pass

waiting for it to arrive.

i will see how i do with it before committing significant funds

 

regards

z

 

That's a great instrument to start off with. Good luck.

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I'm not a "jazz" player by any stretch of the imagination. However I consider my Joe Pass a darn good guitar for playing it. The tone is almost letter perfect. If you fuss with it, you can get the exact sound that most "jazz" players have. I personally don't think you can beat it for the price and what you get. Yes, I put on a Tune-O-Matic bridge and Grover Imperial heads to improve the appearance and tuning accuracy. Still one of my all time favorite guitars, and the action is amazing. I believe it was made in Korea. At least try one if you can. I don't think you will be disappointed. Just use the neck pup and you'll be happy.

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I have a Broadway that I picked up a few years ago, I like it a lot. I also have a Regent (single pickup) if i HAD to choose, I'd keep the Broadway, plays a bit better than the Regent, and I prefer the two pups verses the one. For the money, (under a grand) it's a pretty safe option, you wont be out a lot of dough, and they usually move pretty fast if you price em right if you want out at some point.

 

There's a lot of options these days too.

Ibanez, Washburn both have models easy to reach cash wise.

 

D'Angelico is making some for around $1,200.. and there is also Eastman in a bout the same price range.

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Hello Zaskar1, and welcome here.

 

In my opinion you did right ordering an Epiphone Emperor Joe Pass guitar. If I wanted to buy a hollowbody jazz guitar, she would be the first one I'd try. Like Kaiser Bill pointed out, I guess I would also switch to a Tune-O-Matic bridge.

 

Please tell us when you got her, and post pics, please. Wanna see... [love]

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.... Like Kaiser Bill pointed out, I guess I would also switch to a Tune-O-Matic bridge.

 

Not trying to start any controversy here, but as a jazz player, I would never do that.

 

I hand carved an ebony bridge to replace the ABR-1 on my L-5 a few years ago, and wish I'd done it long ago. It's a major tone changer. It really emphasizes the "woody" tone the classic archtops are known for.

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Larry...I have the utmost respect for you and your opinion...I still have the carved rosewood bridge that came with the guitar...just in case I ever sell it to a real musician like yourself. I'm just a country picker and a wanna be steel guitarist.

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I'm a novice but would like to play Jazz too.

Right now I'm learning flat picking and how to read music.

Throw in a bit of strumming chords.

I'm taking lessons and just finishing Hal Leonard Guitar Book 1.

 

Finding others with similar ambitions and abilities will be a challenge.

 

Last night I went to hear a community jazz band at a local club. They played 2 45 minute sets of Motown. Last year I heard them play an evening of big band familiar tunes. I'm dreaming that will be me some day.

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... Last year I heard them play an evening of big band familiar tunes. I'm dreaming that will be me some day.

 

Starting about 30 year ago I used to go to the local college to hear their "big band" concerts. It wasn't a student band, it was a "community" band. I remember sitting there with my FIRST wife and saying, "someday I'll be the guitar player in this band".

 

Well I have been for the last 10 years (although we were expelled from campus a few years ago). So, keep your eyes on the prize, and make it happen.

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hi

 

L5larry, thanks for the advice regarding getting

an asian guitar

i recently purchased an epip emperor joe pass

waiting for it to arrive.

i will see how i do with it before committing significant funds

 

regards

z

Hi!

the choice of the epi joe Pass to start Jazz is a very good one.

I did the same choice some years ago , coming also from the acoustic world, and this guitar was so comfortable ( size, neck)

that I adapted to it very quickly, and it opened to me the doors of the Electric guitar world because after some more years I

moved towards the semi acoustic world quite easily( ES 335 family) .

About the bridge, I liked the original one, I thought that it added some more woody sustain , specially on the bluesy bends.

 

So congrats dfor your choice, the best you could have done [thumbup]

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hi all

 

thanks for all the informative comments.

as i am still working, i do product development

for a computer company, i havent had much time to investigate and play my epi emperor "joe pass".

 

from the other forums, apparently i need to optimize the amplification equipment.

i have a fender tube amp hot rod deville, and a fender acoustic solid state acoustinix afx.

tube amp sounds much better, but i didnt play around with the adjustments very much

 

anyway, a friend at the tennis club, who is a retired, just plays guitar a lot, he has a jazz trio,

steered me to some websites and online lessons which i will have a look at.

 

 

z

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Z,

 

Any guitar with good action (and that stays in tune) is fine for you to begin your exploration of jazz guitar.

 

Jazz guitar chord phrasing, riffs, fills, and lead runs all begin and end with a guitar that is comfortable in your hands, that fits your body, has good (low) action, and that stays in tune.

 

I guess what I am saying is that you should probably wish to work on the fundamentals and the technique before you think too hard about the actual guitar.

I have played (and heard) some incredible jazz guitar played on an Epiphone SG, a Gibson Les Paul, a Washburn acoustic, a Squier Franken-caster, a Fender Stratocaster, an Ibanez Art-Core, an old Framus solid-body, and a Chinese Fender Telecaster.

 

My advice is to work on your chops and technique, and then take your time on deciding which hollow-body or semi-hollow-body "Jazz" guitar you want to purchase.

 

When you hold it in your hands someday, you'll know which one is right for you.

 

Just my two cents, sir. [mellow]

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Money can play a big role in getting into more of an archtop type of guitar. I have a couple of modestly priced archtops (Epi ES 175, Gibson ES 135-GREAT for jazz, Ibanez Metheny-the less expensive one, Guild X-170) that I enjoy and play regularly (if I ever gigged, these would be my "go-to's"). I also have a couple of guitars that would be a step up (Heritage H550, 575, 530)in the range of $1500-2000 that are wonderful. As I am a collector and hobbyist, I am not ready to get into the higher end Gibsons (I reserve that for my solid bodies), but I do enjoy going into specialty shops and playing them every now and then. Just my two cents [rolleyes]

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I think Sparquelito has given prudent advice. Anyway, here is how my quest turned out.

 

 

 

I wanted an authentic jazz sound and did a great deal of research for about 6 months. I already had guitars, but nothing with the tone I was after. I got lots of excellent advise from another player (on another forum) who knew about how construction influences sound.

 

I tried locally at first (Nevada Music Farlington Hants UK) They had just a couple of proper archtops. An Ibanez AFJ91-JLF & an Epi Broadway. I may have had bad luck with those particular guitars, but neither had the sound I was hoping for. The Broadway was a surprise to me because Epis usually deliver. But like I said, I may have had an 'unfortunate' example.

 

I tried a Godin 5th Avenue Kingpin in Exeter. It was one of the easiest guitars to play I had ever found anywhere. It was fabulous to play. The sound though, was bland. I needed the sound!

 

After more research I tried Guitar Village in Farnham. They had a whole room full of big box archtops and half a roomful more elsewhere.

 

I couldn't afford anything on the Gibson wall so I just left them there.

 

I played the following

 

DAngelico EX-59

Peerless Tonemaster Player

Peerless Martin Taylor Maestro (though I couldn't afford this one either)

Hofner hct-j17

 

 

Of these I liked the Hofner & the Peerless TM Player very much. The Peerless Player was easier to play than the Hofner and sounded as good. Not entirely the same, but I loved the sound of each equally. The Hofner was far cheaper but I noticed intonation problems above the 12th fret. I asked he assistant if they had another one. They didnt but he took it away and when he returned, the problem had disappeared. I could see clearly enough what they had done to correct it. The floating bridge was positioned about 3/8" of an inch out of position. This guitar is a 25.5" scale. They re-positioned it correctly. I bought the Hofner. I got a luthier to set it up and put some flatwounds on it.

 

I am not recommending this guitar to you. The point I want to make is that you need to play these guitars yourself. Try a Broadway and a Kingpin too, you may find better ones that I did.

 

Here's one of the reviews that helped guide me.

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John Coltrane played the sax, that is a jazz instrument.

 

Buy a sax and prepare for poverty. Guitars are cheap. They might not seem to be, until you swap for woodwind, brass or strings that is.

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Not trying to start any controversy here, but as a jazz player, I would never do that.

 

I hand carved an ebony bridge to replace the ABR-1 on my L-5 a few years ago, and wish I'd done it long ago. It's a major tone changer. It really emphasizes the "woody" tone the classic archtops are known for.

 

As a longtime jazz guitarist, I couldn't agree more. A good procedure is to first carefully adjust the TOM bridge for correct intonation and then replicate the dimensions of the adjusted TOM in ebony (rosewood, as shown below, if you can't find ebony). Blank hardwood bridges are readily available from the usual suspects. Most of them are already generically compensated but can be modified with a bit of fiddly hand work.

 

 

P1050309_zpsr9wvlxdw.jpg

 

 

Some guitars (e.g. Heritage H575, probably their most popular jazz guitar) are set up with a hardwood bridge from the factory and are correctly intonated, or very close (intonation might vary slightly with different diameter strings). Flat-wound strings - the deader, the better IMO - are helpful in replicating the tone of the jazz greats of yesteryear, if that's what you're going for.

 

Edited: Like L5Larry, I am also a happy owner of a L-5CES (mine is a WesMo). IMO it doesn't get any better :) Before the L-5, I played an ES-330, Guild SF III and a Heritage H575. All are nice instruments but not in the same league as an L-5.

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