Archtop Jazz Guitars

November 2, 2017

Archtop Jazz guitar J18

Gibson ES-137

Gibson ES-137 Classic

The ES-137 is designed to be an archtop that does not have feedback problems (semi-hollow body). It is similar to the Gibson 135 model, but is lower in price and has the added Mahogany center block that helps to reduce feedback. Though it is not in the same category as the 175, it is a great guitar for a student or intermediate level player that is looking for a good sounding, nice looking and affordable archtop guitar.

Price Range $8000 - $9000 Pickups Two Humbucker Pickups Cons
  • Could be pricey for some first time archtop buyers.
  • Not very versatile, pretty standard classic jazz tone.
  • The new ones are not as well made or as collectable as the vintage models.
  • It is one of the highest quality archtops that Gibson makes.
  • Relatively affordable compared to other high end archtops.
  • Maintains its resale value over time.
  • Great tone, easy to play and has a great jazz look to it.
  • Solid spruce top
  • Solid maple sides and back
  • Five piece maple neck
  • Gold hardware
  • Ebony fingerboard
Used by Wes Montgomery, Eddie Lang, Tuck Andress, Lee Ritenour, Larry Carlton, Freddie Green, Pat Martino, Django Reinhardt (during his tour with Duke Ellington). Jake Langley and many others. Gibson Super 400

Gibson Super 400

The Gibson Super 400 is one of the most sought after pre-electronic archtop guitars on the market. They are hard to come by as most people who buy them hang on to them for many, many years. This is due to the quality of the guitar, but also to its ability to increase in price over the years.

The guitar debuted in 1934 and is the largest guitar ever produced by Gibson. Besides the early acoustic version, Gibson also released a version with P90 pickups and later with a Charlie Christian Pickup.

Price Range 00 One neck humbucker pickup
  • Some feedback problems but not many.
  • Not as collectable as the Gibson signature guitars.
  • Some players do not like to play "signature" guitars.
  • Finely built guitar that is durable and collectable.
  • Great tone that comes from the use of higher quality wood.
  • Great look and easy to play.
  • Three piece set in neck
  • Spruce body
  • Maple back and sides
  • Bound ebony fingerboard
  • Ebony bridge
  • Cosmo black colored hardware
Ibanez Joe Pass Used by George Benson

Ibanez Joe Pass JP-20

The JP-20 is an out of print signature guitar from Ibanez that sold during the 1980's when Joe was under contract with the company. These guitars are hard to come by now a days, which is a testament to the quality of the instrument, so if you happen to see one on Ebay or at a rummage sale, make sure to pick it up!

Price Range 0 - 0
  • Not as well made or collectable in nature as the original Artist series.
  • Uses cheaper woods than higher priced semi-hollow body guitars.
  • Very affordable
  • Well made for the price
  • Light weight and durable.
  • Warm tone
  • Great buy for someone who is just starting to get into jazz or into archtop/semi-hollow guitars.
  • Mahogany neck
  • Double cutaway all maple body
  • 22 frets
  • Bound rosewood fretboard
  • Chrome hardware

Fender Telecaster

Though known better in the country/rock world as the guitar of choice for many players, the Fender Telecaster has snuck its way into the jazz guitar idiom over the decades. Known for its warm tone, playability and build solid enough to take a beating, this guitar is a favorite among studio and traveling musicians of all styles.

Fender Telecaster Price Range Acoustic
  • Needs to be miked to be heard with an ensemble.
  • Very "traditional" sounding, not a modern sounding guitar.
  • Larger body than some may be used to.
  • Very affordable, especially for a brand name like Gretsch.
  • The acoustic nature of the guitar gives it a very authentic WWII sounding tone that is reminiscent of George Van Epps and others from that era.
  • Great for playing small intimate settings.
  • Laminated maple body with spruce top
  • Maple neck
  • Rosewood fingerboard
  • Vintage open back tuning pegs
  • Rosewood bridge
  • Matte urethane finish

Epiphone Joe Pass Emperor

The Epiphone Emperor is a classic jazz guitar that stands up against many higher priced guitars and holds its own. The laminated body makes it similar in nature to the Gibson 175, but the body shape and look are more reminiscent of the early Gibson electric archtops of the 1950's.

This is a great guitar for someone who is looking to take it on the road or just play it regularly. Since the price is so low, one does not have to worry about a few dings or scratches than if they were playing the Gibson version of this guitar.

Price Range $3300 - $3700
  • Out of print and hard to find!
  • Well made for the price at the time they were being sold.
  • Good tone with a classic jazz feel.
  • Nice looking and durable instrument.
  • Collectable in nature.
  • Maple top, back and body
  • Gold plated bridge and tailpiece
Herb Ellis

Gitane John Jorgenson Signature Selmer Style Guitar

The Gitane John Jorgenson Signature model is the company's attempt to bring back the same quality Selmer style guitar that Django used at a moderate price. The guitar looks and sounds fairly authentic and any gypsy style player would enjoy this guitar. Aside from the positive points it must be said that outside of the gypsy genre this guitar has limited use.

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