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When you think of jazz, hollow body guitars are generally the go-to. They have a beautiful, smooth sound that jazz players prefer.
But does that mean solid body guitars are a bad choice? Not at all. There are plenty of solid body guitars that will give you the warm, full, piano-like tone you require for all your jazz gigs.
In this guide, we’ll be looking at the best solid body guitars for jazz.
Fender American Professional II Telecaster
The twangy, country- and rhythm-guitar-oriented Fender American Professional II Telecaster seems like the complete opposite of the right choice for jazz players. And yet, it has been favored by many a jazz guitarist through the years, even if there was a bit of an adjustment period for players who saw it as a viable opportunity.
Guitarists like Barney Kessel, Herb Ellis, and even the legendary Joe Pass have been seen with Teles in their hands as they zip along the fretboard.
This Tele is especially beautiful, with a pine body, maple fingerboard, and maple neck. Of course, if you prefer another color or a different configuration (humbucker in the neck can be quite nice for jazz), that’s for you to decide!
Overall, customers were quite happy with this axe, citing its playability, appearance, and versatility as its high points. And we all know how important versatility is to a jazz player.
Item Weight: Unknown
Package Dimensions: 45.28 x 19.69 x 7.87 inches
Godin Signature LGXT
If you’ve been around the block, then you will have seen the Godin Signature LGXT in the hands of a few jazz players through the years – I have!
The great thing about Godin is that you get a lot of guitar for the money, and the LGXT is a truly special axe with some great features.
The LGXT comes with three voices – electric guitar, acoustic guitar, and a synth controller. The body is made of a silver leaf maple center with poplar wings and a figured maple carved top. Honduras mahogany was used for the neck, and the fingerboard is made of ebony. Doesn’t that sound oh so luxurious?
Some think of this guitar as a cross between a Tele and a Les Paul (both of these guitars made this list, incidentally), and it has been seen in the hands of players like John McLaughlin.
If you’re looking for a beautiful, comfortable, playable, expertly crafted guitar that will give you serious bang for buck, and give you access to a tonal palette possibilities unimaginable with most mortal axes, you should give the LGXT a look.
Item Weight: Unknown
Package Dimensions: Unknown
Fender American Ultra Jazzmaster RW
Although the Fender American Ultra Jazzmaster RW isn’t always used for jazz, so far as hollow body guitars go, it can get the job done.
The axe comes with an alder or ash body, two Ultra Noiseless Vintage Jazzmaster pickups, “Modern D” neck, and locking tuning machines.
This guitar can be great for a variety of genres, like surf or Latin, and of course rock. But with a name like Jazzmaster, you would expect it to live up to its name – and it does! Of course, it still has that characteristic Jazzmaster sound you just can’t get with any other guitar, and that could be another reason to pick one of these up.
If a solid body guitar is what you’re looking for, then you should consider this one.
Item Weight: 11 lbs.
Package Dimensions: 44.72 x 18.8 x 5.98 inches
Epiphone Les Paul Studio LT
Though you might not choose the Epiphone Les Paul Studio LT specifically (it’s still a beautiful guitar, but Gibson is usually the preferred choice), it might not hurt to begin looking at the Les Paul as a viable guitar for jazz. Although it will have a permanent association with rock guitarists like Jimmy Page, Peter Frampton, and Ace Frehley, the reality is it’s more than just a rock machine.
The creator of the Les Paul himself, the late and great Les Paul was a skilled guitarist who also played jazz. Clint Strong and Jim Hall also seem to get along with the axe quite nicely.
Flip the pickup selector to “Rhythm,” roll off some of the gain and the highs, and you’ll be off to the races.
This Les Paul Studio LT features a mahogany top, body, back, neck, and fretboard. Most buyers agree it’s a quality instrument with a great look and a killer tone.
Item Weight: 8 lbs.
Package Dimensions: 40 x 3.5 x 14 inches
Paul Reed Smith CE 24 Classic Bolt-On Solid Body Electric Guitar
Paul Reed Smith makes beautiful, high-quality guitars, including this – the CE 24 Classic Bolt-On Solid Body Electric.
PRS guitars are favored by a variety of players in different genres, be it Carlos Santana, John Mayer, Mark Holcomb, or otherwise.
But as many have remarked, Paul Reed Smith guitars are like “fine-tuned Les Pauls,” so without much of a need to adjust or adapt, they can make for great jazz guitars. Again, roll off some of the highs and the gain, and you should be off to the races.
If you prefer the semi-hollow configuration instead, that’s perfectly understandable, but since we are sticking to the solid body theme here, we’ll leave that to you.
The CE 24 features a maple top, mahogany back, and even a push-pull tone control with three-way toggle.
You’d be hard pressed to find too many negative reviews on PRS guitars, because they are just that nice.
Item Weight: 18 lbs.
Package Dimensions: 44 x 20 x 5 inches
G&L Fullerton Deluxe ASAT Classic Bluesboy Electric Guitar
We’ve already established that Teles are effective and popular among jazz players. Well, G&L (founded by Leo Fender, George Fullerton, and Dale Hyatt) is another company that makes exquisite Tele style guitars, and the G&L Fullerton Deluxe ASAT Classic Bluesboy Electric is another axe worth considering.
This guitar comes with an ash body, rosewood fingerboard, maple neck, and humbucker in the neck position. It sounds quite a bit warmer out of the box than you might expect, which already tells you that it could be very suitable to jazz. You’ll still want to roll off some of that treble, mind you.
Overall, the G&L features amazing craftsmanship, is comfortable to play, and it looks quite amazing besides.
Item Weight: Unknown
Package Dimensions: Unknown
Ernie Ball Music Man Axis
I can admit that the Ernie Ball Music Man Axis is thinking a little outside the box. Having owned one for over a decade, though, I can tell you that this is a versatile guitar with considerable warmth, and with that neck pickup engaged, you can get some real smooth sounds out of this axe.
Its tuning stability is superb, and it has a lot of headroom, which could be just what you need for your next jazz gig.
This axe features a maple top, basswood body and back, maple neck, and of course a Floyd Rose double-locking bridge system. Other than that, it’s quite simple – it has a pickup switch and a volume knob. Tone adjustments can be made on your amp. If you don’t like fiddling with controls, this is your guitar.
It’s not a cheap guitar by any means, but it is worth the price.
The only thing I will say is that the Axis has hot jazz pickups and is obviously great for hard rock and metal, and it would be kind of a shame to only use it for jazz. Maybe crank up that gain occasionally, and rock out for its sake, alright?
Item Weight: 22 lbs.
Package Dimensions: 48 x 18 x 8 inches
What Should I Look For In A Solid Body Jazz Guitar?
As a jazz guitarist, you have quite a bit of experience behind you already. To that extent, you’re going to be the best judge of your own needs.
And the fun part about jazz is that, ultimately, you can use whatever guitar you want! It just depends on how you’re planning to use it, and your ability to dial in your ideal tone.
Of course, it could be that solid body guitars are new territory for you and you’re not quite sure how to navigate it.
Either way, we’ve prepared some additional info to help you find your next guitar, just in case.
Find Your Ideal Tone
At the end of the day, we want you to feel comfortable with the tone of the guitar.
Jazz is a genre where, generally, guitarists opt for a warm, subdued tone that complements the percussive attack of piano, the rattle of the upright bass, and so forth. And that means “fitting in” where you need to fit in the mix of other instruments.
And while there’s nothing saying you can’t take things in a different direction or innovate as you see fit (just as jazz fusion legends like Allan Holdsworth did), at the end of the did, most jazz players find they need that “old standby” ready at will.
You can do a lot with effects and EQ, and your amp speaker probably plays the biggest role in your tone, but the point is to start with something you like and adjust from there. That makes all the difference.
Look For Comfort & Playability
Ideally, the axe should feel right in your own hands.
Comfort and playability mean different things to different people, so some experimentation is usually par for the course.
Some prefer thicker necks. Others enjoy certain neck shapes. 22 frets. 24 frets. Cutaway or not. All these factors and others play a part in overall comfort and playability.
A guitar matched to your hands and technique can make a big difference overall in your ability to play what you want and express yourself creatively.
Short of trying out guitars for yourself, there’s no easy way to determine what you like. Fortunately, as a jazz guitarist, you probably have quite a bit of experience already, and that experience can serve you well in your hunt for the perfect axe.
Consider Your Budget
Although there’s no need to spend $3,000, $4,000 or more on a guitar, jazz players usually find themselves coming in at the $1,000 to $2,500 range of guitars, because let’s face it – a high end guitar usually costs that much.
With that in mind, budget is a consideration that shouldn’t be overlooked.
If money’s not an object, no worries. But if buying a guitar would set you back and put you in debt, we’d suggest reconsidering or finding an alternative. It’s generally not worth going into debt for a guitar.
Either buy a guitar you’re able to afford now or save up for later. It takes some discipline, but it’s worth it.
What Are The Best Solid Body Jazz Guitar Brands?
Here’s an overview of some of the top solid body jazz guitar brands available!
The legendary Fender Guitars is alive and well, and these days, they are branching out into every corner of the guitar world, even the obscure, where others dare not go. Some might call that innovation… Time will tell.
Either way, Fender Guitars offers quality guitar gear at a variety of price points, serving a myriad of needs. And they’ve got a lock on Teles and Jazzmasters.
G&L Musical Instruments
G&L Musical Instruments is sometimes overlooked or forgotten, perhaps because they are not as “mainstream” as Fender. And yet, Leo Fender’s involvement with G&L tells you everything you need to know.
G&L offers quality, premium grade instruments that are just as good as – if not better than – Fender products.
So, if you think the Tele might be worth a go, have a look at G&L’s ASAT models too.
The Gibson Les Paul is an incredible guitar, and classic models are treasured and valued in practically every genre. It even works for jazz.
But if you’re looking for solid body alternatives, some guitarists even claim the SG makes for a great jazz machine. Virtuoso Eric Johnson’s use of the Fender Stratocaster is iconic, but did you know he’s also been pictured with SGs? Yep. Look it up.
Gibson has great solid body and hollow body options for jazz players.
PRS Guitars is undeniable. They’ve risen through the ranks since 1985 to become a fast favorite of Carlos Santana, Collective Soul, Nickelback, and many other luminaries. And that’s because they make great quality gear!
Regardless of the genre you play, PRS Guitars should be on your radar.
The Canadian Godin Guitars doesn’t always get the attention it deserves, but gradually it’s starting to catch on, and for good reason. They make great quality products, especially for the price.
The LGXT is a shoo-in, no doubt, but Godin also offers amazing hollow body models for those jazz purists out there. If you’ve never looked at their product selection before, I would get on that!
Top Solid Body Guitars For Jazz, Final Thoughts
At the end of the day, it’s all about finding a guitar that works for you! There’s no need to adhere to standards or conventions. Every rule has been broken, and after all, jazz is ultimately a rule-breaking genre.
So, it’s entirely possible you already have a guitar in your collection that would do the trick, but if you don’t, have a look at the above selection. You really can’t go wrong with one of these.
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