Marc's Jazz Guitar GearNov 23, 2020
Through this website, I get asked what type of amps, guitar, pedals (and even string gauges) I use on a daily basis. So here's the page where I'm listing all the equipment I play with as part of my regular jazz guitar gear. I don't always bring all of the stuff to gigs and rehearsals with me, but I get to pick and choose from that humble rig.
And now for the beauty of the web: this page is also dedicated to YOUR jazz guitar gear. You'll find the discussion at the bottom of this page (comments). So, here you can share your rig (with optional pictures) and comment on gear or other visitors' jazz guitar equipment. You found the right the place to discuss!
However, if you want a jazz guitar gear walkthrough on HOW TO GET the best possible jazz guitar tone, click here: How do I get "THE" jazz guitar tone.
Here we go!
Chambered-body: .strandberg* Sälen Jazz Natural
The .strandberg* Sälen Jazz Natural has a chambered Mahogany body capped with a solid Maple top and Mahogany veneer. I had been eyeing this guitar when a student of mine showed it on a class, and my interest was piqued. The design was made with ergonomics, comfort and speed in mind. While it has a "futuristic" shape, it still gives off a classic look.
This instrument, as of August 2022, is my main guitar for the YouTube lessons and the Accelerator class. It takes time to get used to but the quality of tone, build and precision is truly evident.
The specs can be found online on their website.
Check out the video blog on why I chose the .strandberg* guitar:
Solid-body: G&L Bluesboy
Sparkly blue with black pickguard. Humbucker + single-coil = the perfect combination for jazz, blues and rock. Oh yeah. The Bluesboy is more often seen as a "thinline" model (semi-hollow with one "f-hole"), but I preferred to get the solid body model and move on with my life.
My G&L Bluesboy is probably a 2006 or 2007 model (because the specs and the construction don't exactly correspond to what's on G&L website, according to my excellent luthier). Our guess is that it basically sat in the store for 2-3 years because nobody wanted to buy that color.
Nevertheless, it's now my main axe for all types of gigs. Oh, how flashy of me to bring a sparkly blue guitar and play dom7(b13 b9) chords everywhere. ;-)
Semi-Hollow: Godin Montreal Premiere
Yup. I did it again. Back in March 2015, when I knew the blue axe above would be in the shop for at least a week, I looked around the music store. And I came home with this baby.
The price had been marked down several times, because it's actually the "floor model" (in the showroom, played by customers everyday). Nevertheless, it felt and played nicely. I'm glad Godin is starting to make guitars to look like guitars and not like alien ships. ;-)
The only downside: the original pickups are fridge magnets, very cheap. Like putting $50 tires on a Ferrari. I changed them to a pair of Seymour Duncan SH-55 (Seth Lover's) ... note that I got the idea because the original humbucker in the G&L is an SH-55.
This has been my main axe in my jazz guitar gear since 2015. Great for rock and blues. And also extremely responsive in the dynamics department. "Good enough for jazz" as they say.
(SOLD in 2012) Semi-Hollow: Gibson ES-137
The 137 is like a "hybrid" guitar. It's not as thick as a 175, yet not as slim as a 335. It's somewhere in between. Gibson tried to make a few hybrids like this (such as the 135) and they were all big flops.
The ES-137 is the first of these hybrids that Gibson is keeping in production to this day. It's sturdy, sounds good, has no tailpiece, a plywood top (yes), mahogany block in the middle (avoids feedback), and is equipped with 2 humbuckers. Highly recommended.
It's considered to be a good "student guitar" for jazz guys. Some of my friends, colleagues and teachers go for archtop guitars in the 5k-10k dollars range. Coming out of the store with the brand new 137 cost me barely 2000 Canadian dollars.
So it's not a "collector guitar". It's simply very well made and reliable. The main downside is that it won't gain value. Even in 15 years, it will not be worth more (unlike expensive ES-175's, ES-335's or LesPaul's). Sold it in 2012, but it can be seen in several videos on the YouTube channel of this website.
Classical: Takamine EC 132 SC
This is the piece of jazz guitar gear that doesn't come out of the house too often! It's basically a good classical with a cutaway and a pickup.
The EC 132 is nice to have because I practice classical pieces on a regular basis. I don't know nylon-string guitars very well and I'm sure this Takamine is basically a "plastic toy" for the *real* classical virtuosos... but, as John Scofield says : "Works for me!"
I wouldn't dare bring it to a gig though. I'm afraid of feedback at high volumes. It would require a thorough tune-up and some serious soundchecking before I feel confident.
Tube Amp: Fender Blues Junior
Really nice tube amp with one 12-inch speaker. Single channel with boost. Decent spring reverb. Gain control (yeah!) and classic 3-band EQ. As is. Only had to repair it once since I got it. (Thank god!) I acquired this amp from one of my teachers after graduating. (Thanks Gary!)
It's a tube amp so it needs love and care. I know the Blues Junior can be sensitive and that's why I don't always bring it with me on gigs. Tubes, you know. But this is the piece of jazz guitar gear that impacts my "sound" the most. I like setting it up so it's just on the verge of cracking, with mids set relatively high. It brings all the life to jazz guitar chords.
Solid-state: Roland Cube 60 (the 1990's version)
Fairly versatile (and loud) amp for jazz. I use the overdrive channel so I can control the amount of gain in the sound. The reverb on it is ok enough to gig with. I bring the Roland with me when I'm taking the subway to get to my gig or rehearsal.
I don't want to damage the tubes or electronics in the Blues Junior with all the shaking and carrying. That Roland is the part of my jazz guitar gear that saves my life. (-:
I also bring the Cube when driving for long distances and we're missing space in the trunk. This amp can be squished in a corner or piled upon without any problem. It's build like a tank, kind of. Just don't mess too much with the input jack (or headphone output) ... I once had a 1/4 to 1/8 headphone adaptor stuck in there!
Reverb: Electro-Harmonix Holy Grail PLUS
Well. It is what it is! If you like a "wet" sound, you gotta get a reverb (or a delay) in your jazz guitar gear.
I always like to have a bit of "space" in my sound. I've never been a fan of trailing delays, but just a tad of this fake "hall reverb" really does it for me.
If I'm playing in a big room, I barely use the Holy Grail. I guess what I like is that "big room" emulation in a tiny club or studio. A completely dry sound just kills my creativity...
Electro-Harmonix Freeze Pedal
You have to hear it to believe it. Since I've added the freeze pedal to my current jazz guitar gear lineup, I can hold chords down for however long I please (without hurting my fingers!).
How? Well, that freeze pedal is (basically) a piano sustain pedal, but with electric circuitry. Play a chord, and then hold it.
It's kinda crazy, but makes for a cool effect when chords are held for longer than 2 bars. Perfect for introduction to songs, or long vamps in a jazz guitar trio. Check it out! :-)
Accessories / Others
I've been to hell and back finding the right string gauges for various guitars! From .09 to .13 (and obviously trying out flatwounds and plastic coated gimmicks). Now, I'm pretty sure the quest is over!
For my Godin Montreal Premiere: D'Addario 0.10 Electric (known as the "regular" nickel wound).
For my G&L Bluesboy: D'Addario 0.105 - 48 Electric (yes, it's an in-between gauge) also nickel wound. Called the Light Plus.
For my Takamine: Savarez Corum, regular tension (French imported strings).
Picks: Dunlop Jazz III's
Oh yeah. I've also tried many, many, many types of picks but this is what I feel the most comfortable with. Dunlop Jazz III picks!
Cables : George L's
Buy two connectors and get the length of cable you want! Sold by the foot. Lifetime Warranty.
The George L's are great because they are virtually un-breakable. There's no soldering at all. The cable just goes right into the connector (with your hand) and there's a little screw. Zat sit!
I've also been to hell and back with cables. I would usually replace them every 3-6 months. The few George L's that I own are still lasting and I've gigged with them for years! One of the best additions to my jazz guitar gear: no more lost signal.
Ok, now it's your turn!
** Note from the editor** This post was updated on 11/27/2020 to add new thumbnail, revise spacing for mobile, and edited meta description.