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Best Jazz Guitars

Welcome to a new series of articles where we are looking into the best guitars in many different genres. Many choices of the best guitars are based on the popularity amongst professional musicians and even some famous guitarists and what they choose to play. I hope you enjoy this whole new series and take advantage of all of this information. 

Best Jazz Guitars at a Glance:

Giving a quick look at what is coming up, 2 of the top guitars that stick out the most on this list are the Washburn J600 and the Epiphone Masterbuilt Zenith Classic. Both are amazing in their own right, the Washburn has great versatility, with the great picking tones and booming sound. The Epiphone is a great guitar for heavy-handed musicians. It has a great response to hard playing which brings out the tone even better. 

Here’s what each Jazz guitar on this list is best for:

  1. Washburn J600Most Well Rounded
  2. Epiphone Masterbuilt Zenith ClassicLight Jazz
  3. Cigano GJ-10Best for Gypsy Jazz
  4. Gibson ES 275Big Band
  5. Cigano GJ-15Second Choice for Gypsy Jazz
  6. Gretsch G2420Chording

Jazz Instruments: Why They’re Unique

Jazz is one of those complicated genres that has its own sub-genres just like metal. There are many styles of jazz so we are going to pay attention to the main characteristics of it. Jazz is known for its technical and very warm tones. It is clear but warm. That is why hollow bodies are one of the most popular styles of acoustic guitars for people within this business. All of these guitars are built for clarity of single notes as well as beautiful chording tones for all to appreciate and enjoy.

Three main characteristics that define a jazz guitar are the,

  • Large Bodies
  • Hollowbody Electrics
  • Flat Top Acoustics

The Top Ranked Jazz Guitars

1.Washburn J600

Best For: Most Well Rounded

Manufacturer: JAM Industries

Why We Like It: 

Washburn is one of the unsung heroes of guitars. They come out with amazing guitars that, while they are pricy, are worth every penny. With this archtop, hollow body, single pickup sound, you will fall in love with it every time.

Things to consider:

It is on the heavier side so this would not be the best for players of lighter builds.

Price (before shipping): $799.00

2. Epiphone Masterbuilt Zenith Classic

Best For: Light Jazz

Manufacturer: Gibson

Why We Like It: 

The Zenith Classic is a modern remake of the classic style of hollow body arch tops. This type of guitar was fairly common for many old blues guitarists as well as jazz guitarists and is still a great choice for all modern acoustic players of today. I have had the opportunity to play a few and really enjoyed the neck size. It was like a mix between the flat wide neck of an SG and the form-fitting neck of a Les Paul. Overall, a lovely guitar to play and would be a great addition to any collection. 

Things to consider:

Make sure if you attach the pickguard yourself (the pickguard comes unattached in case you want to not have it on) that you look up tutorials and thoroughly follow the instructions. You do not want to mess up this gorgeous instrument.

Price (before shipping): $599.00

3. Cigano GJ-10

Best For: Gypsy Jazz

Manufacturer: Saga Music

Why We Like It: 

So Gypsy Jazz is one of my personal favorite genres. Especially the styles of Django Reinhardt. This guitar was chosen because it is in the style that he used to play very often and others have used it as well. 

If you want to get a taste of how amazing this instrument can truly be, check out this video and enjoy. Django was known for his strange playing style where he would primarily play with just 2 of his fingers, the index, and the middle. It is a difficult style but if you can master it, sounds great.

Things to consider:

Steel strings for the jazz guitar do not last the longest. We recommend checking out either Argentines and Galli’s for those that play often. Once you have received it, you will most likely want to take it to your local luthier or guitar shop just to get it setup. During shipping, the action may become a bit off, but that is nothing a setup won’t fix.

Price (before shipping):  $548.26

4. Gibson ES 275

Best For: Big Band

Manufacturer: Gibson

Why We Like It: 

The only modern version that was still readily available of the 275, was the Thinline version which is not as large of a body as I would prefer, but it is still a great guitar. One of my favorite jazz singers, Diana Krall, has a guitarist who plays for her that uses what I believe is the ES-275. I’ve watched multiple concerts of hers and always love the tone of the guitar and the clarity with which it is played. If you want to watch part of her concert as well as the guitar, I have the video available here. For the guitar solo, fast forward to 1:09. It has an incredible tone and wonderful warmth.

Price (before shipping): $4,099.00

5. Cigano GJ-15

Best For: Gypsy Jazz

Manufacturer: Saga Music

Why We Like It: 

This is a similar styling to the first guitar we mentioned on the list, however, the largest differences lie in the soundhole and neck. The neck extends all the way into the opening of the soundhole to give you that extra reach for the highest strings. This does not affect the tonal quality of the lower end of the spectrum, and it gives you the reach for the even higher notes that you may need.

Things to consider:

This guitar works best with lighter gauge strings to allow for the easy bends that it was designed for.

Price (before shipping): $602.13

6. Gretsch G2420

Best For: Chording

Manufacturer: Fender

Why We Like It: 

Gretsch is a company that has its name built into the history of music and will stay there with masterpieces such as these. This is the type of guitar that jazz musicians have been using for a long time and will continue to use. I have always enjoyed this style of guitar and I am pretty sure that you can find versions of this guitar with a Bigsby bridge if you look for it. This guitar delivers a warm but piercing tone whenever you need it. 

Price (before shipping): $449.00

More On Guitars

Guitars have become one of the most popular instruments out there for anyone to play. People love the mobility and versatility of the instrument because it can be used in so many genres in so many different ways. From the screaming dive bombs of Steve Vai, all the way to the gentle strumming of Charlie Byrd, the guitar works for everyone who puts in the time with it. It is a melodic angel when it needs to be and a screaming banshee when twisted in just the right way. 

But every guitar is characterized by a different tonal quality as well as playability. You have to pick just the right one to match your playing style as well as the genre style of what you are playing in. I hope you enjoyed this installment of our Best Guitar Series. Make sure to look for the next installments where we will be discussing more genres of guitars.