Jazz guitars have come a long way. Though they have been around since the early 19th century, the major contribution of guitar in jazz style music came only in the 1940s and beyond. The unique choices of artists and players and impeccable advancements in technology have made jazz guitars today the ultimate fashion instruments. The styles, cut, finish and accessories - all offer a range of alternatives. From using improvisations such as modes and scales to various ornamenting styles, jazz guitarists are in for a musical odyssey.
While it would be difficult to demarcate the best choice, we give you a fair idea of what to look for in a good jazz guitar.
Although, jazz music can be played on any type of guitar, be it acoustic or electric, a typical guitar for jazz is an eclectic mix of steel strings and wood. In some respects, it is impossible to differentiate it from a Classical Guitar. Some are crafted to have an arched back that produces a heavy tone while others may just have a cutaway, which allows you to play high on the neck.
Answering the question in focus, the archtop acoustic guitar with violin-style F holes is what is called as the standard ‘jazz guitar’. Hence it can be comfortably labeled as a good jazz guitar. Over and above this, you may have an individual choice and preference. If you are ready to shell out some money, a guitar for jazz becomes even better with its big sound boxes, a floating bridge and a magnetic pick-up.
Most jazz guitars in today's times come with an ensemble of all the above features. They are about 17 inches in size with a depth of around three inches. They are light in weight and come with small finger rests. The bridges and tailpiece are also lightweight. The surface finish is usually kept natural so that the wooden grains are easily visible. The backs of archtop guitars are most commonly made of Curley maple or Quilted maple. Floating pick-ups are used for electrification of these guitars. And all of them come with a volume control knob.
One can opt from handmade models to the mass-produced arch-top models. Handmade guitars come with the luxury of hand picking style and finish. Nothing can beat handmade models if a reputed guitar maker carefully crafts them. Even if you are going in for a mass-produced model, select a good brand. This will save you from being penny wise and pound foolish.
To play fine music and steal the adulation of your fans, you must bear in mind some discerning characteristics about your jazz instrument. Firstly, a good guitar must have an excellent sound. Secondly, it should be durable. And lastly, it must have appealing aesthetics.
Even after you have decided upon your style of music, selected your composition and bought yourselves the ultimate musical piece, you still have miles to go. But with dedication and practice you can join the league of some all-time great jazz guitarists like Charlie Christian, Wes Montgomery, Joe Pass and George Benson.
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