Recommended entry level Jazz Guitars in alphabetical order (with quotes from posts):
"Aria is another brand to consider with the FA70 & FA71. There is a vendor on Ebay is currently (7/15/02) selling new FA71s with a hard shell case for $575 + s/h."
"I play mine in a community big band with live gigs about once per month, including lots of outside venues. I really like the look, feel and sound, even for the occasional 'lite' rock, blues and funk."
"I picked up one of the Cort Larry Coryell guitars in a shop recently and was very impressed. I think they're a great guitar for the money. There's an interesting perspective on Epiphone and Washburn brands vs. brands such as Cort/Samick at i.e. they're all made in the same factories anyway so you are probably better off not paying extra for the brand name"
"I have played two of them in stores and I would not have paid $400 for either. they sounded tinny, and left a lot to be desired in neck shape, fret dressing, finish etc. Junk!! In that price range, I think the Epiphone's are better, the Washburns, and the Ibanez's are better instrument."
"Dean is a company that many don't associate with jazz guitar but they have the Jazz Stylist Standard & Deluxe model which can be had for $400 - $700 new. For a semi-hollow, look at their Del Sol Chafin model, approx $700 new."
"The affordable benchmark is the Epiphone 335 (Inexpensive Gibson). These can be found anywhere on line new for for $399. I played the the Gibson 335 and 137 next to the Epi and my ear preferred the Epi".
"When I was deciding between getting a semi or a hollowbody, I tried as many as I could. Of the 335 type, the Epi was one of the best, with the Washburn HB35 on par. Another cheap but good option."
"All I know is that I didn't know they made Archtops, and this one sounded pretty good! I compared it to a Washburn J6, and a Emperor Regent... the Hohner sounded the best, by far."
"A full-bodied jazz guitar of sterling craftsmanship and impeccable tone. It is constructed with a spruce top, maple back and sides, and attached to an Artstar-style neck. A rosewood bridge enhances the mellowness to the sound provided by its 2 Super 58 pickups. Large block inlays and full binding enhance its overall appearance"
"For those of you looking for an inexpensive "jazz" guitar, I just bought a Nouveau 16 from Kraig Phillips for $725, and it smokes! I made a list of desirable qualities (scale length, fingerboard width, body size, materials, pickup, etc.) and searched until I found a guitar that met all of my qualifications. I was prepared to spend up to $4000 (I am a full-time pro, tired of compromising even with "high-end" guitars, of which I have several), but the Phillips 16 met all of the qualifications, and I ordered it sight unseen. It came so perfectly set up that I was able to use it on a gig the next day, without even changing the strings."
"Washburn does make models that give a good bang for the buck. The J6S Montgomery is a full size hollowbody that can be had for $400-$600 on the used market. They also make 2 different 335 copies, the HB30 & HB 35 that range from $300 to $600 range. I own a J6S and I'm very satified with, except for some abuse by the previous owner"
"It was during that search that I discovered the Washburn semi-hollowbodies, the HB-30 and the HB-35. The HB-30 had better craftsmanship than other guitars in it's price range, and came equipped with the Buzz Feiten tuning system as a standard feature. The translucent red finish on the flame sycamore top makes it a real eye-catcher, too. I thought my mind was completely made up when I found a brand-new HB-35 for sale by Brian Goff at Bizarre Guitars in Madison, WI. He had a drop-dead gorgeous blond HB-35 that was right at my target price (around $500). I snapped it up and was floored by the deep flame, the flawless binding (everywhere), the bright work, and a really well-designed bridge and tailpiece...not just a Tune-O-Matic clone, but a really well thought out and machined rig (I can't verify this, but I believe it may be manufactured by Schaller. There is a small, swirly "S" on each of the saddles). Then I plugged it in and.oops! The Korean pickups were not happening for me. The bridge pickup was fine, but the neck pickup was beyond dark. It was awful. You could get a nice range of tone by balancing the two of them, but forget about using the neck pickup on it's own. I immediately replaced them with a set of Schaller Golden 50's (the pickups Trey Anastasio uses in his custom built archtops and that are standard on Heritage archtops), and everything was right with the world. While the guitar was on the bench for the pickup swap, I was really able to appreciate the craftsmanship. The tone block is a solid mahogany 2x6, which gives the guitar remarkable sustain considering it's all-killer, no-filler hollow ES-335 tone."
"I finally decided on an archtop, and got a Washburn J6s. Tried all the cheap alternatives to the big names (Washburn J10, Samick, Epiphone, DeArmond) and found this one to be the best, particularly since it's cheaper too. I've upgraded the pots and switch, and am thinking about better pickups, but maybe I'm a cheap guy, since I like the sound of the originals."