In finding the best jazz guitars, it is important to look at some of the historical icons in the genre. The tone of any jazz instrument is of the utmost significance. Many famous jazz guitarists have developed signature sounds that have come to be viewed as standards in jazz music.
By looking at players who made a distinct mark on jazz with their signature tones and techniques, you can discover the reasons behind their choice of guitar, and this might influence your decision.
Charlie Christian was the first musician to make a name for the electric guitar in jazz. His work was so pivotal that jazz enthusiasts often talk about jazz “before Charlie Christian” and jazz “after Charlie Christian.” He played a critical role in developing the type of jazz known as bebop. Guitar legends like B.B. King and Eric Clapton followed in his footsteps and learned their craft from the efforts of Charlie Christian.
Charlie Christian was an arch-top man. He is the reason that the Gibson ES150 is such a legendary instrument. The arch-top guitar became a standard piece of equipment in jazz music. It features a hollow, resonant body, and f-holes. They are designed to produce a clear voice with little sustain that is free of distortion or feedback. If you want to focus on maintaining a traditional jazz sound, then an arch-top guitar is definitely the way to go.
Les Paul was not only a jazz guitarist, but he was an innovator who actually made some of the best jazz guitars. The solid body electric guitar appeared in the jazz world, much due to the efforts of Les Paul. These instruments got rid of the two things that no jazz guitarist wants – feedback and lack of sustain. Solid body electrics play an important role in jazz, and one of the most notable instruments is the Gibson Les Paul guitar. Many more affordable imitations of this instrument are also popular choices for jazz guitarists, like ESP and Heritage guitars.
Django Reinhardt revolutionized the world of jazz. He was an acoustic guitar man, and he played a flat-top acoustic guitar made by Selmer, which was capable of resonating above the large bands in Europe. The instrument is commonly known as a Maccaferri, which happened to be the last name of the creator. While Selmer is not necessarily a leader in the guitar world (only about 1,000 of this particular model were manufactured), other companies have created successful models that are similar to Django Reinhardt’s instrument. Typical acoustic guitars that are commonly found in jazz music include Gallato and Dell’Arte models.
The best jazz guitars are designed with the functionality of the music in mind. Jazz should not be distorted or heavy, and the guitar does not typically play a role that requires a great deal of sustain. Arch-top, solid body electric, and flat-top acoustics can all accommodate the needs of the genre, and the best instruments are the ones that have stood the test of time, yet still come out on top!
I hope you found this article useful! The right jazz guitar for you is definitely important, but not as important as gaining a deep understanding of jazz scales and chords. Without mastering these you won’t be able to improvise jazz in a musical way.
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