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JefferySmith

Epiphone Jazz Guitar

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I never really considered my Byrdland as a jazz guitar, though its roots are definitely jazz. When I think jazz guitar, I think large arch top with one pickup near the neck, and a spruce top.

 

Do any of you play jazz (in the Wes Montgomery style) on an Epiphone? If you do, what is your preference?

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Absolutely! I play mostly jazz with my ES-335 Pro through a Fender Deluxe Reverb. Sounds excellent. I've tried Epi's ES-175 and it's a great guitar. I just prefer tithe versatility of my ES-335 Pro. However, I think that it's more about how you play more than what you play.

 

Good luck.

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I never really considered my Byrdland as a jazz guitar, though its roots are definitely jazz.

 

Byrdland definitely IS a jazz guitar. But like any guitar, it can be used for any style if you can get the sound you want from it.

 

When I think jazz guitar, I think large arch top with one pickup near the neck, and a spruce top.

 

You need to expand your definition of a 'jazz guitar'. Many of the old traditional players used 2-pickup guitars with laminate (plywood) construction - maple or spruce. ES-175 is the most common. L-5's had solid tops and were found in 1 and 2 pickup versions. Telecasters have been used for jazz.

 

Epi has been making archtops aimed straight at the Jazz community for decades : Broadway, Emporer, Emporer Regent, Zephyr Regent, Joe Pass, etc. Not sure why you would think jazz and Epiphone guitars are mismatched.

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Up until Gibson bought Epiphone (1957), and for a time afterward, Epi's were top-shelf guitars, and all the equal of Gibson's of the time. It wasn't until later that "Epiphone" became Gibson's "discount" brand.

 

Epi archtops of the 40's and 50's are highly sought after guitars. Two international artists whom play (and prefer) vintage Epiphone archtops are Ranger Doug of "Riders In The Sky", and Phil Upchurch of George Benson "Breezin" and Muddy Waters' "Electric Mud" fame.

 

I believe Gibson has now made Ranger Doug a "Gibson" version of his prized Epiphone.

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Up until Gibson bought Epiphone (1957), and for a time afterward, Epi's were top-shelf guitars, and all the equal of Gibson's of the time. It wasn't until later that "Epiphone" became Gibson's "discount" brand.

This has been discussed before, but to reiterate, Epiphones remained professional grade instruments through the Kalamazoo years, selling for only a few dollars less than their Gibson counterparts (more for marketing purposes than anything else). When production switched to Japan in 1970, Gibson's game plan for Epiphone had fully converted to the budget brand that it continues to represent.

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I appreciate the thoughtful responses above. I didn't pull the trigger on a Zephyr when they were still available.

 

Today I have been listening to the "100-year-history of jazz guitar", a set of CDs I bought about 6 years ago. What truly amazes me is the amount of tremolo that early players used. To the point of being distracting. The early Ventures also went a bit over the top with whammy bar on their Fenders.

 

Again, thanks for your input and expertise, guys.

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I didn't mean to imply that Epiphones and jazz are mismatched, though it may have sounded that way. The thing that sort of concerns me is not Epiphone, but rather the state of affairs at J Hale Music, who really seems to be targeting higher end jazz players. I haven't bought from him for years, but did pick up D'Angelico, Heritage, and Eastman from him over the last decade or so. His inventory and prospects for carrying future jazz boxes seems to be dwindling.

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Up until Gibson bought Epiphone (1957), and for a time afterward, Epi's were top-shelf guitars, and all the equal of Gibson's of the time. It wasn't until later that "Epiphone" became Gibson's "discount" brand.

 

Epi archtops of the 40's and 50's are highly sought after guitars. Two international artists whom play (and prefer) vintage Epiphone archtops are Ranger Doug of "Riders In The Sky", and Phil Upchurch of George Benson "Breezin" and Muddy Waters' "Electric Mud" fame.

 

I believe Gibson has now made Ranger Doug a "Gibson" version of his prized Epiphone.

Phil Upchurch!!! Also on John Lee Hooker's "Urban Blues." Saw him live with Ramsey Lewis around '70, too!

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I play jazz a la Wes Montgomery, Joe Pass, Kenny Burrell, et al (as well as other styles) on my Joe Pass Emperor II, Broadway and Elitist Broadway, and they all get that warm round "jazz" tone. If you're set on the single neck pickup, the Zephyr Regent (16" lower bout, maple top, 24.75" scale) or Emperor Regent (17" lower bout, spruce top, 25.5" scale) are your ticket. And if the older sound of P-90's is what you're after, the Zephyr Blues Deluxe is just the thing.

 

Remember, in the early days of electric guitars, big ol' hollow bodies is all there was, so they were used for jazz, country & western and early rock and roll. Telecasters were introduced in '49, which mainly appealed to country players with their bright, steely tone, and Strats in 1954 as rock was being born. Scotty Moore with Elvis, Bill Haley and Chuck Berry all used "jazz" guitars for their pioneering rock and roll licks. Humbucking pickups didn't appear until 1958 --- along with the semi-hollow thinline construction of the ES-335.

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I think that "jazz guitar" is kinda like anything else in that it's in the eye of the beholder.

 

"We" are the problem, not the guitars. Parabar nailed that one.

 

Charlie Byrd used a classical guitar for jazz. Why not! - yup, that's an exclamation point 'stedda question mark. Oh, it's gotta be electric? How about Django?

 

I think that a jazz guitar is the guitar you use to play jazz. I'll wager I'm not the only picker who wishes he could play jazz on any guitar as well as Roy Buchanan could play jazz on a tele.

 

I honestly wish I had realized what I'm saying here when I was a kid of 18-25-40 and swapping guitars like crazy when I'd play saloon music in a different group with a different style.

 

I have a cupla-three full hollow archtops and a nice Epi Dot. I reeeally enjoy playing 'em all. I'm not sure what you'd call how I mostly play fingerstyle for about any sorta music I play from swing to 50s standards to cowboy and folkie. Even Christmas music.

 

I've played "out" with about all of 'em. Guess what I play most, regardless of "style of music?" A little "cheapie" Epi PR5e.

 

Would I rather have a handmade archtop to fit "me?" Of course. Would I happily accept an Epi Joe Pass or a nice new Gibbie hollow? Absolutely. But I have to make them be "jazz guitars," 'cuz they ain't gonna make me a jazz guitarist by themselves.

 

m

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