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Jazz guitar is usually synonymous with having a hollow-body archtop guitar, providing a distinct and iconic sound that is integral to the jazz genre. A warm and breathy tone is a must, but so is the ability to utilize different tones to venture out into uncharted territories. Contrary to belief, a solid-body guitar can actually produce very tasteful jazz tones. Here are some of the best solid body guitars available on the market today that can give you the sound you’re looking for.
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The Stratocaster is one of the most iconic guitars ever made and is notorious for being an extremely versatile instrument. Fortunately for those on a budget, a great-playing Stratocaster can be had at a relatively affordable price, and the Squier Classic Vibe 60’s Stratocaster is a fine example of this.
The Classic Vibe 60’s Stratocaster features a body crafted from Nato with a durable glossy urethane finish. The neck of the guitar is made of Maple and has an Indian Laurel fretboard.
As is standard on most Fender-style guitars, the neck and body are joined by a bolt-on method. The neck has a C-shape design, with a scale length of 25.5” and a radius of 9.5”. This guitar has 21 frets, with classic dot inlays used as fret indicators.
The Classic Vibe 60’s Stratocaster features 3 Fender-designed alnico magnet single-coil pickups, with a 5-way switch, a volume knob, and a pair of tone knobs. Rolling back the tone knob on the neck position can really dial in some warm jazz-sounding tones.
As this guitar is designed with vintage specs in mind, the Classic Vibe 60’s Stratocaster has a vintage-style synchronized tremolo bridge as seen on many high-end Fender models. Vintage tuners are also equipped on the headstock, as well as a nut made of real bone.
A Stratocaster may not be the first guitar one would initially think of when it comes to jazz, but because of the versatility of this guitar, it makes this instrument a viable option. This offering from Squier is reputable for being an excellent budget-friendly instrument that is very comparable to high-end Fender models.
Item Weight: 11 pounds
Package Dimensions: 44.5 x 15 x 4 inches
PRS CE 24 – Best Premium
If budget is of no concern and you are looking for the absolute best solid body guitar for jazz that money can buy, the PRS CE 24 is what you’re looking for. This attractive guitar is extremely versatile, with tones that can match big hollow-body jazz boxes in a nearly identical fashion.
The PRS CE 24 features a body made of Mahogany with a veneer top made of Maple. The neck of the guitar is also crafted of Maple and has a fretboard made of East Indian Rosewood. The body and the neck are combined using a bolt-on design, which can offer easy accessibility in the upper ranges of the guitar.
The neck has a scale length of 25”, a radius of 10”, and has a slim tapered neck for smooth playability. The iconic PRS bird inlays adorn the fretboard as fret indicators. It should also be noted that this guitar has 24 frets, which makes this a 2-octave guitar.
The PRS CE 24 features a pair of PRS 85/15 humbucker pickups. A 3-way switch and a volume and tone knob are also provided. The volume knob is placed relatively close to the strings to provide access to easy volume swells. It should be noted that this guitar also has a push/pull coil tap for each pickup, splitting the humbuckers into single-coil pickups for further tonal possibilities.
This guitar has high-quality components elsewhere, with a proprietary molded tremolo bridge, locking tuners, and a nut made of a blend of synthetic material and bronze powders. The PRS CE 24 also comes with a padded protective gig bag.
Overall, the PRS CE 24 can make a wonderful solid body jazz guitar. This instrument is extremely responsive and features a tone knob that effectively removes the treble from the tone whilst preserving the low and mid-range frequencies that are integral to this style of music. Of course, this guitar can also provide a large palette of other tones that could be utilized due to its included coil-splitting technology, which could be very attractive for those who specialize in jazz fusion styles of music.
Item Weight: 22 pounds
Package Dimensions: 44 x 16 x 6 inches
The Fender American Performer Telecaster Hum is another guitar that might not be initially thought of as a jazz guitar specifically due to its widespread use in providing the twang in country music. However, Telecasters are extremely versatile guitars capable of producing tones suitable for many styles of music, including jazz.
The Fender American Performer Telecaster Hum has a body made of Alder, with the neck made of Maple with a Rosewood fretboard. The neck and body are joined by Fender’s standard bolt-on method.
The neck is crafted with a deep C-shape design, has 22 frets, and a scale length of 25.5”. Classic dot inlays are used as fret markers on the neck.
One of the most attractive features about this particular model of Telecaster is the fact that it has a DoubleTap humbucker pickup in the neck position and a Yosemite Telecaster single-coil pickup in the bridge position. Having a humbucker in the neck position is ideal for jazz as this can provide exceptionally sweet and warm tones, which can be effectively split into a single-coil via a coil-tap function.
In addition to the pickups, the Fender American Performer Telecaster Hum has a 3-way selector switch as well as a master volume and tone knob. The tone knob has Greasebucket circuitry which are specifically designed to remove the treble from the tone of the guitar whilst leaving the bass and mid-range frequencies unaffected.
This guitar boasts high-quality components elsewhere on the guitar and features a vintage-spec bridge with brass saddles, a synthetic bone nut, and nickel-chrome hardware and tuning machines. A Deluxe padded gig bag is also included with the guitar.
Item Weight: 11 pounds
Package Dimensions: 42 x 15 x 5 inches
Epiphone Les Paul Classic Custom Pro
The Les Paul is one of the most widely used solid body guitars for jazz, and for good reason. While a Gibson version might not be the most affordable, the Epiphone Les Paul Classic Custom Pro is a great alternative that can provide those iconic warm jazz tones.
This guitar features a solid body made of Mahogany equipped with a Maple veneer top. The neck of the guitar is also made of Mahogany and features a 22-fretted Rosewood fretboard with the iconic trapezoid inlays made of Pearloid.
As is true with most Les Paul-style guitars, the neck is joined to the body via a glued set-in neck (as opposed to a bolt-on neck configuration seen on many other guitars). The neck has a scale length of 24.75” which can be accommodating to those with smaller hands or those who frequently engage in lengthy intervallic finger stretches.
Additionally, the neck has a radius of 12”. The neck also features a Slim-D taper profile that is reminiscent of the Les Pauls built in the 1960s.
One of the most attractive things about this guitar is the pickups that come stocked in the instrument. This Les Paul features a Gibson USA 490R in the neck position and a Gibson USA 498T in the bridge position. Both are open-coil humbucker pickups.
Taking it a step further, the Epiphone Les Paul Classic Custom Pro features a push/pull coil tap for each of its pickups. This essentially splits the humbuckers into single-coil pickups and gives this guitar a greater range of tonal possibilities.
A standard 3-way switch is also provided for pickup selection. Each pickup has its own dedicated volume and tone knob, providing further tonal adjustments where needed.
Elsewhere on the guitar, the Les Paul Classic Custom Pro features a Tune-o-Matic stop bar bridge and tailpiece, as well as Deluxe tuning machines.
Overall, the Epiphone Les Paul Classic Custom Pro is ideal for jazz due to the fact that its size has a very similar feel to standard hollow-body jazz boxes, which can be great if you are accustomed to playing those styles of guitars. This instrument also has a rich mid-range and low end, with a high-end that is not as harsh as some single-coil guitars can be.
Item Weight: 9 pounds
Package Dimensions: 44 x 17 x 5 inches
Another great option for a solid body jazz guitar is the Danelectro Jade ‘57. This is an affordable versatile guitar that can provide some serious mellow tone.
The Danelectro Jade ‘57 has a body made of Spruce with a top made of Masonite. The 25” scale neck of the guitar is crafted from Maple and features a 21-fretted Pao Ferro fretboard with white dot inlays.
The guitar also has a pair of lipstick single-coil pickups that are signature assets of Danelectro guitars. Each pickup has its own stacked volume and tone knob, with a 3-way switch available for pickup selection.
The Danelectro Jade ‘57 also features a bone nut, Gotoh vintage tuning machines, and an Intonaable bridge and saddle combination.
Item Weight: 6.16 pounds
Package Dimensions: 41.73 x 16.93 x 3.62 inches
Jazz guitar typically has a distinct type of tone that is usually best found on hollow-body guitars, though a solid body guitar can effectively achieve much of the same tones. By keeping some of the following points in mind, you will be able to find a viable instrument that can handle jazz playing with no problem.
Humbuckers, particularly in the neck position, will likely be able to provide the warm and breathy tone that is most commonly used with jazz guitar. However, some single-coil pickups can also produce warmer tones. The key is having a highly responsive tone control knob that can dial back the treble out of the tone while retaining the low-end and mid-range frequencies.
Quite often, your budget will determine the types of guitars that are available to you. Nevertheless, a very capable guitar can be acquired without necessarily having to spend an exorbitant amount of money.
A budget typically goes hand-in-hand with your skill level and the application in which you will be playing the guitar. A professional-level guitarist will be able to justify a larger expense, whereas the same expense simply does not make sense for a beginner or intermediate player.
There are some time-tested tried-and-true brands that have built a consistent reputation for crafting solid body guitars that are appropriate for jazz music. While there are many manufacturing brands on the market, you likely can’t go wrong with a guitar from one of these brands.
Epiphone was founded in the Ottoman Empire in 1873 and moved to the United States of America in 1908. This company has been producing quality instruments for decades, often offering quality budget and entry-level licensed versions of high-end Gibson guitars.
PRS (or Paul Reed Smith) is an American company that was founded in 1985. PRS has a solid reputation for extremely well-built guitars and amplifiers, with a high degree of quality control spent with each product. Many of their instruments are luxurious to play and look at.
Squier is a Fender-owned company that was initially founded to combat the growing number of counterfeit guitars that were available on the market in the 1980s. Squier is notorious for producing well-made entry-level and budget models of Fender mainstays, and are often sought after by beginners and those who enjoy making guitar modifications.
Fender is one of the most well-known and established guitar manufacturers in the guitar industry. This American company, founded in 1946, has played an important role in modern music, with its instruments and amplifiers producing some of the most iconic and influential sounds of the last 7 decades.
Danelectro is an American company that was founded in 1947 and has been at the forefront of many innovative instrument designs including the production of the first baritone guitar as well as the electric sitar. These guitars have a distinct look and sound that are unique only to Danelectro.
The jazz guitar sound can be hard to dial in on a guitar that isn’t a hollow-body archtop, but many solid body guitars can come extremely close. Take a moment to try some of these guitars out to see which guitar produces the best jazz tone suitable for your playing style and ear.