Acoustic guitars can, of course, be used to play jazz but it won't stand out in a band and hardly allow you to solo for a big crowd. So here, I suggest you go for an electric jazz guitar not only because it is sort of the signature of the genre but it also creates a much clearer sound compared to the rather soft and low-pitched sound of an acoustic guitar. Yet, I'm sure that the huge variety of choices on the market is still going to make it hard to decide which is the best electric guitar for jazz.
So to save you some time, BreatheCarolina.net has made a list of factors that you might want to consider before purchasing an electric jazz guitar. Also, this article listed out over 15 most recommended electric guitars for a jazz player. So read on and I bet at least one of the listed instruments will meet your needs as the best electric guitar for jazz.
best electric guitar for jazz Comparison 2020
Best for old-style jazz
Best introductory jazz guitar
Best value for budget guitar
Best hollow body under $1000
Best semi-hollow body
** You will find our detailed reviews of the best electric guitar for jazz below, also, click these following links to view the current prices and customer comments on Amazon.
Top best electric guitar for jazz Reviews 2020
Epiphone Les Paul Studio LT
Since the beginning, Gibson has been well known for offering some of the best electric guitar for jazz. The Gibson Les Paul is probably the legendary guitar as it is classical and was played by the most influential artists of the genre. However not everyone can afford a Gibson, so if you want to start off with a classic guitar within the budget, this could be the one for you.
At only one-tenth the price, this Epiphone Les Paul Studio LT manages to create a similar classic look with the original Les Paul, only thinner and absolutely lighter in weight. The sound it produces is fine for a beginner, and with a few upgrades for the pickups and the tuners and it can sound just great.
Epiphone ES - 335
Here is another classic-looking guitar at a slightly higher yet still affordable price. As you can easily notice, its design is based on the legendary Gibson ES-335. When Ted McCarty designed the Gibson ES-335 in 1958, a solid piece of mahogany was inserted through the center to improve sustainability and help eliminate feedback. This Epiphone ES-335 has the exact same design, except for this time, the material is maple. Another detail set this Epiphone apart from the Gibson is the dotted fretboard is replaced with block style fretboard.
Besides look, this guitar playability is perfect for its price range. The pickups have a dynamic range of sound, and the guitar is equipped with heavy-gauge strings, suggesting a design for jazz guitar. Certain improvements can still be done for better performance, but to start off, this is a good enough choice.
Epiphone WILDKAT Royale
Here is another charmingly beautiful guitar from Gibson’s subsidiary, Epiphone. This is as classic-looking as a semi-hollow guitar can get. The white and gold finish is what first drew all my attention to this guitar. I’m pretty sure that’s why it has got “Royale” in its name. And I assure you that this guitar goes far beyond the fancy look.
D'Angelico Deluxe EXL-1
John D’Angelico is known as the very first archtop guitar maker of the jazz age and . In this Deluxe version, the original design has been elevated. The slim C-shaped neck along with the thin fret wire allows your hand to glide faster and easier on the frets. The rounded cutaway hollow body perfectly recreates the look of the 50’s guitar, yet it still marks its place in the modern guitar line. Besides design, the bright and warm tone it creates when plugged in makes it the best electric guitar for jazz you could get at a mid-range price.
Guild Starfire V - Best Value For Mid-Priced Semi-Hollow Body
Guild Starfire range was first introduced to the public in 1960 and new models have been continuously released since. This line is a huge success of Guild and was played by many famous guitarists, including George Benson.
The Guild Starfire V comes with Bigsby vibrato and a master volume control, an impressive upgrade to previous models of the same line. This would make the best electric guitar for old-style jazz due to the sound and vibe it creates.
Ibanez LGB 30
Being one of the guitars inspired by the legendary jazz guitarist George Benson, the LGB30 is definitely not a let-down.
The Ibanez George Benson LGB30 has all the classic features of a jazz guitar, from the hollow body to the range of colors and the f-holes. The overall look of this LGB30 gives a high-end guitar feeling, but the price is still affordable, from $1000 to $4000, which is not a too high price for those willing to invest in a product in the long run.
This is another Ibanez guitar highly recommended for beginners since its price range is a whole lot lower, around $250 to $350. It still has the classic archtop look of but is much thinner than the LGB30, which is actually a good thing because that makes it easier to carry in both standing and sitting position for a long period of time.
Ibanez Artcore AF75
The Artcore AF series is very likely the finest jazz guitars Ibanez has to offer. Excellent versatility is paired perfectly with the traditional hollow body look.
For under $500, this is a good electric jazz guitar to start off with. Hollow body guitars tend to feel fragile but this one is definitely much more sturdy since the body and neck are made from maple wood. The greatest thing about a hollow body guitar is that it can still be heard in a crowd without being plugged into an amplifier. And the sound on this AF75 is the kind you could expect on a guitar worth several thousand dollars. You might need to adjust the tuners regularly for the guitar to reach the right tone, but the number of times is definitely much less than that of other guitars of the same price range.
If you still want to get rid of the feedback when you play it loud, this would make a great alternative for the Ibanez AF75. Gretsch is one of Fender’s child companies, so you can expect great quality from this guitar.
At a slightly higher price range, this G5420T from Gretsch is a beauty and an awesome jazz player. When it comes to guitars, looks are definitely not the first element to consider but you can’t deny how beautiful the Gretsch G5420T is.
Fender Player Telecaster
I would be out of my mind to talk about jazz guitars without mentioning the Fender Telecaster. I can assure you that every single jazz guitarist has heard of and tried this guitar at least once in their life. And with its warm, hollow-body-like tone, it can make the best electric guitar for jazz among many other solid bodies.
This is one of the guitars you can take on the road for a little musical day trip without having to worry about it being damaged. The solid body design helps this Telecaster provide a warm tone with no feedback even at high volume.
Squier Affinity Telecaster
Not everyone can afford an "original" Telecaster. That's why this Squire Affinity Telecaster made my list.
Squier is another Fender's child company, only from the budget range of guitar, so you can still expect good quality from this one. The two single-coil pickups make this guitar adaptable to any genre of music. When you turn on the bridge pickup, you can hear the clean and warm sound of Country style. And when the neck pickup is on, there is the mellow jazz sound we have all been looking for.
Fender Player Jazz Bass
Fender's line of guitar was first created to produce a clear sound with the least feedback possible. Compared to the Precision Bass, this Fender Jazz Bass is an even better choice for jazz bassists.
First note is that the tail of this Jazz Bass is slightly more curvy than that of the Precision Bass, which causes the balance of the Jazz Bass to be more centered and gives your right arm a little more room to move comfortably. The two single-coil pickups, however, can produce zings while playing, but since the bass is not meant to be played solo but rather in a band, all that zings are just going to drown in.
Squier Affinity Precision Bass
If the Fender Jazz Bass is still beyond your budget, why not try this Squier Bass instead. For under $300, the playability of this Squier Precision Bass definitely worth buying. The huge reputation of Fender behind it assures you get better quality than what is expected from the price tag.
Grote Semi Hollow Single F-Hole
Here is another budget version of the famous Fender Telecaster. What I like the most about this guitar is the price. You can actually get one of these guitars with full color options for under $200. And I can guarantee it is not something you will throw away after a couple of test runs. For a not so well-known brand at a low price range, it owns quite many competitive features. I can proudly say that this Grote guitar has every right to stand in competition with the original Telecaster.
Grote Jazz Electric Guitar
If a semi-hollow with a single F-hole does not seem classic enough to you, this jazz electric guitar from Grote might be able to take your heart. Though this is a quite unfamiliar guitar brand, this Grote Jazz Electric Guitar received awesome reviews from its users.
Godin 5th Avenue Kingpin
Godin’s guitars are probably some of the most highly appreciated guitars from Canada. This is very likely the best electric guitar for jazz that you can get on the market at under $1000. It was made entirely of Canadian Wild Cherry with a maple neck and rosewood fingerboard, a good combination of tonewood a guitar can possibly have.
Yamaha Pacifica PAC012
This is another entry-level guitar at an affordable price and is a gem in Yamaha's line for beginners. The Yamaha Pacifica is considered the best electric guitar for jazz learners in terms of price, comfort, and playability. The design pays attention to both beauty and playability. The deep cutaways give it a modern look and the thin body makes it comfortable to handle. The PAC012 is also contoured in the front and back to create the most comfortable experience for players.
The body is made of Agathis wood, which is a fairly durable material and helps produce warmer tones. The HSS pickup configuration is the perfect choice for a feedback-free sound. These pickups along with the tuners and bridge give PAC012 great playability from jazz to hard rock.
Hagström Tremar Viking Deluxe
This Tremar Viking being recommended here is a reissue of the Viking from the ’60s and is not made in Sweden. So if you are somewhat skeptical about the origin of the product, you might not have a good first impression with this guitar. But don't let the title deceive you because this is one of those guitars where the quality well surpasses what is suggested on the price-tag. In fact, if you know how to set it up correctly, this can make the best electric guitar for jazz among the multiple semi-hollow bodies on the market. Every feature of this guitar is worth paying for, especially if you are a jazz guitarist or planning to become one.
Elements To Consider Before Buying An Electric Guitar For Jazz
Up to this point, I bet you are still uncertain about which one is suitable for you. And even if your budget is currently limited, try not to make price your first priority. A cheap guitar might sound like a low risk deal, but if you have to spend too much extra on replacing accessories, it might cost even more than a high-end guitar. On the other hand, a more expensive guitar might seem like a loss at first, but if the guitar is of good quality, it can save you from much more spendings in the long run. So let me break it down for you by giving some advice on what I personally believe makes the best electric guitar for jazz.
The Body Type Of The Guitar
Basically, there are three main styles of electric guitars: hollow body, semi-hollow body, and solid body.
Hollow bodies are quite similar to an acoustic guitar and usually feature an archtop. These guitars are considered many jazz guitarists’ preference because their design creates lots of resonance for a full, rich tone, and thick lower sounds. Solid body guitars, on the other hand, barely create any resonance, but in most cases, they are less likely to produce feedback than the hollow bodies.
Semi-hollow body guitars are the in-between type of the previous two. The solid block of wood in the center helps reduce feedback and increase stability while the hollow sides produce enough resonance for a rich tone at the same time. So in search of the best electric guitar for jazz, I would go for either a hollow body or a semi-hollow body, depending on your personal preferences and performing style. If you want to go high volume, go for a semi-hollow body, otherwise, a hollow body is a fine classic choice.
Weight Of The Guitar
The second thing you should pay attention to is the weight of the guitar. Since you will be holding the guitar on your hands or hanging it on your neck, a heavy guitar could be harder to handle in a long practice or performance. Besides the weight of the whole guitar in general, the difference between the weight of the body and the neck should also be taken into consideration. If the neck is much heavier than the body, neck dive is very likely to occur, which means your guitar's neck tends to fall whenever you let go of it. And continuously having to support the neck is certainly going to lower your flexibility and playability.
Now, if you are shopping online, you can still estimate the weight of a guitar by looking at the type of wood it is made from. So basically, there are 5 main types of wood used to make guitars - basswood, alder, mahogany, maple, and rosewood. For now, all you need to know is the latter wood on this list is heavier than the one directly ahead of it. So for example, if a guitar's body is made of basswood but the neck is made of maple then it might have serious neck dive issues. With that being said, the consistency in the use of wood on a guitar is highly appreciated. It is arguably claimed that the type of wood decides the sound of each guitar made from it, but we'll get to that part later.
The next thing to consider is the length of the guitar's neck and the form of its back. There is no general formula for this so you have to make your own decision. Whether it is C-shape, V-shape, or U-shape, whichever allows you to slide your hand on the neck flexibly without having to stretch your hand too much is the one to go for. A good guitar should have a flat neck-front for you to slide or run your fingers through it easily. The frets should not be too large nor too small, and the fret ends should never be sharp.
Ergonomics - The Contour Of The Guitar
Comfort is a very important factor to consider before buying a guitar. And the contour of the guitar body solely aims for this purpose. A little scoop in the upper back edge or a slight curve on the tail is all it takes for a much more comfortable experience. Unfortunately for you jazz lovers, this type of contour is only seen on solid body guitars. While hollow body and semi-hollow body guitars are pretty ideal for jazz in terms of the sound they produce, there is one thing about the design that causes discomfort for their players. Hollow bodies or semi-hollow bodies always come with a fat body and an arched back. This will not be a problem if you have a long back and long arm. Otherwise, chances are that the upper edge will cut into your rib and your arm when you lean on the guitar to play, which will leave red lines on your arm and even rib pain for a whole day. A solid body guitar sounds more attractive now, doesn’t it? Don’t worry, you can always go for the thinline semi-hollow body guitars. Besides, body type is not the only factor to decide what a guitar will sound like, especially in case of an electric guitar.
Types Of Pickup
This is one of the core factors that create the sound of an electric guitar. There are 2 main types of pickups on an electric guitar. The single-coils are the most basic ones that trace back to the very first electric guitar in history. This one definitely brings up the classic feel, which is something a lot of people tend to search for in a jazz guitar. It doesn't require lots of gain and provides a bright, crispy tone. But it gives out a lot of hum. Personally, that's not going to make a beautiful jazzy song.
Humbuckers, basically made of 2 single-coils installed side by side, clean up nicely with almost no hum at all. Besides providing an ideal warm and thick sound for jazz, humbuckers also allow playing at high volume with little audible feedback. But then again, there are numerous well-known artists who accompany themselves for years with single-coil pickup guitars. Plus, the single-coils do have their own twangy sound that you rarely find with humbuckers. So now it’s really a matter of personal taste. But if you ask for my advice, I would definitely recommend the humbuckers. A combination of both single-coil and humbucker pickup is also a good choice. Along with a 3 or 5 ways switch, a guitar with both types of pickups is more versatile and gives you more tonal options.
The type(s) of tonewood used to build a guitar contributes to the weight, durability, and most importantly, the way it sounds unplugged. Weight is more like a matter of personal preference, and durability depends on the way you treat your guitar. But the tone must come from the guitar itself, specifically from the wood that makes the body and the neck. This element usually comes first when it comes to guitar or any other musical instrument.
However, this comes last and is considered least important on my list because we are talking about electric guitars. And, an electric guitar's tone comes mostly from the amplifier. But that doesn’t mean you can make any crappy guitar the best electric guitar for jazz using the most expensive amplifier available, especially when you want to create a unique jazz tone. That's why paying a little extra attention to the types of wood used in building the neck and body of a guitar is necessary, as it will influence the sound your guitar produces.
Here is a brief description of the most popular types of tonewood used in making a guitar and my personal preference.
Mahogany: dark brown color, dense and durable wood; very resonant; usually used to make the body and the neck of a guitar; creates a rather soft tone
Maple: beautiful grain patterns; most popular tonewood; less dense than mahogany but still extremely durable; used to make the body, neck, and the laminated top of a guitar; creates a very bright tone and brings out the warmth in its high notes
Ash: hard and wonderfully resonant wood; gives the guitar a bright tone, mainly used for the body of high-end solid body guitars
Alder: is also resonant and produces bright tones just like ash but has a lower price; also used for the body of solid body guitar
Rosewood: various colors; very dense and hard; highly resonant; creates warm and rich tone; usually used for fretboards
Ebony: has silky black finish; one of the densest and hard tonewood; used only for fretboards, especially on more expensive guitars
Now if you are looking for a hollow or semi-hollow body, guitars built from mahogany or maple will be a good choice. A combination of a mahogany body and a maple neck will also be a good idea because you will get the perfect resonance of mahogany for the tone and an extremely durable neck. If you’d prefer a solid body guitar for the comfort it brings, go for those made of alder and you will get an amazing natural tone out of an affordable guitar. But of course, if you want something more high-end and fancy, feel free to find one made of ash and feel the difference.
As for fretboards, unless you aim for high-end guitars, you will mostly come across those with rosewood fretboards, which creates a warm, rich sound for your guitar. The only downside of rosewood is that it does not have that silky feel when you slide your finger on it. But with a fairly built guitar, rosewood fretboards will feel super smooth for your fingers to run on.
Conclusion best electric guitar for jazz Top Pick For The Best
After reading that brief introduction of a guitar's features, I hope you know what you should be looking at to get the best electric guitar for jazz. To further help you narrow the range of choices for you, or even better, to give you exactly what you need, here are my own advice for the best electric guitar for jazz to your personal needs:
Best for old-style jazz
Best introductory jazz guitar
Best value for budget guitar
Best hollow body under $1000
Best semi-hollow body
You can always go back to the list above for more options or alternatives for what I’ve suggested. Hope you can get yourself the best electric guitar for jazz and play your heart out on it. Have fun!