Best Jazz Guitars under $1000

Maurice Lundgren

As far as modern music genres go, jazz is one of the most complex forms of music you can find today. You really can’t get the depth and creativity that you can find in jazz from different genres, and well it isn’t well-liked from everyone, but I can comfortably say that everyone can learn to like it. In my younger days, I wasn’t really into jazz, since rock and roll was my thing, but as I started getting more into guitar playing, I started listening to some interesting patterns and some beautiful tones coming out from jazz guitarists. That is when I started becoming obsessed with jazz music, and I wanted to try every new thing that I could from jazz music, I wanted to explore further into this world.

I noticed that in jazz there are no artists with lacking talent, they are all supremely talented and with immense musical knowledge, unlike in other genres where an artist just can be very successful from the vibe and popularity of the sound he or she creates. In jazz that doesn’t happen, you have to be the best, and they all push themselves a lot to create and to be better all the time. On top of that, they always seek for the best equipment, and jazz guitars fit right into that category. Well, if you are here you probably are in the market for a nice jazz guitar without crossing the $1000 price, and, boy oh boy, you are in for a treat since there are some great selection of jazz guitars under the $1000 price. Ranging from beautiful hollow-bodied that deliver those amazing sharp tones to semi-hollow bodies and maybe we will throw a solid body in the mix since some models can produce those jazz sounds as well.

Today on this guide you will learn how to purchase the best jazz guitar under $1000. I will reveal the top picks in the market, what to look out for in a jazz guitar, and answer some frequently asked questions. This article has been written based on my personal jazz experience, countless hours of research and expert opinion. Without further ado, let’s get on with it.

The 5 Best Jazz Guitars Under $1000

For those that want to see the best jazz guitars under $1000, you will get them here and don’t you worry these are all fail-safe picks and will deliver amazing value for the price, meaning that you won’t be disappointed by them.

5. Fender Player Telecaster

I am going to start this list with one of my favorite guitars of all time, the Fender Telecaster, but the Player series of the model. This model delivers amazing values and can handle plenty of jazz tones without any problem, the guitar sounds almost airy and resonant despite being a solid body model and I can recommend this to any jazz guitarist that wants a versatile tool.

The Fender Player Telecaster has the classic Tele shape that we know and love and since its release, it has taken the guitar world by storm. It has a simple single cutaway shape, that looks excellent, a little bit retro and vintage, but all in the right places, just beautiful.

This guitar is made out of alder tonewood that delivers a balanced and bright response making it perfect for jazz as well, on top of that the cutaway body gives access to all the 22 frets. The neck is made out of maple and has the Fender’s modern C-shape, which is moderately thin and delivers excellent playability for a wide variety of genres. There are two setups when it comes to the fretboard, in either maple or pau ferro, and on top of all this, the Fender Player Telecaster comes in a wide variety of finishes you can choose from.

In terms of electronics, the Fender Player Telecaster is equipped with the standard setup of single-coil pickups on the neck and bridge position. However, each of the pickups delivers their distinct sound that mixes vintage vibes with the modern qualities, and both of the pickups are specifically designed for the series. In terms of hardware, everything is pretty standard as in every Telecaster to date, super solid reliable and everything complements the overall quality of the guitar.

In terms of sound, the Fender Player Telecaster is pretty much iconic in every sense of the word. Clarity, smoothness, brightness, and airiness in its tonal palette, allowing you to steer this guitar in different directions without any problem. Jazz players will rejoice with this beast and you can keep this guitar as your go-to for every genre in your arsenal, a top-class guitar.

4. Gretsch Guitars G5420T

When it comes to hollow-body guitars there are few brands you can rely on, and one of those is Gretsch Guitars, but one of their most notable guitars is the G5420T which will make for the best jazz guitars under the $1000 price. This guitar is a classic and has been used by many legendary musicians throughout the years, and it is a must-have.

Taking a look at the Gretsch Guitars G5420T, you will notice that this thing looks like a proper beast in every aspect, a beautiful one though. It has all the classic hollow body guitar lines that will catch your eye, and on top of that, it comes in a variety of attractive finishes you can choose from, ranging from Orange Satine, Fairlane Blue, Aspen Green, and classic Glossy Black, all of them which are super safe choices.

The construction of the guitar is perfect as well as it has a single-cutaway hollow body shape that is made out of laminated maple. It also has oversized f-holes that act as sound holes and look great. You will also spot the silver pickguard that has the Gretsch logo on it, and it has also white binding and black and white purfling, very simple and extremely stylish. The neck is made out of maple and has a glossy finish, while the fretboard is of rosewood with 22 medium jumbo frets.

In terms of electronics, it is packed with two top of the class Blacktop FilterTron humbuckers that are located at the bridge and neck positions. Both of them have individual volume controls and they are accompanied by a single master tone control knob. The headstock is very retro, and on the other hand, you will spot my favorite Bigsby Adjusto-Matic tremolo bride that worked to perfection.

In the sound department, the Gretsch Guitars G5420T delivered tones of classic Gretsch tones that you expect. You can play jazz with these as it sounded pretty warm when it needed to, super clear and the response pretty accurate and flat. You can also overdrive it for heavier styles, one of the very best.

3. Godin 5th Avenue Kingpin II

The Canadian music industry has shined thanks to Godin and for today we will thank the manufacturer for producing a guitar like the Godin 5th Avenue Kingpin II. This guitar is one of the best hollow-bodied jazz guitars in the market encompassing everything that an archtop guitar should be, with a modern twist to it, making it easier for the player.

Like every instrument in the company’s lineup the 5th Avenue Kingpin II is also inspired by the North American vintage vibes, this also goes on to the construction as the guitar is made out of Canadian wild cherry completely. On top of the construction, this guitar comes with three attractive finishes you can choose from ranging from natural, burgundy or the Cognac Burst which is pretty rare and to be honest my favorite.

It has a single-cutaway shape like a proper archtop guitar and it has tons of detailing like the floating tortoiseshell pickguard and the classic f-holes. The neck is made out of silver leaf maple and on top has a rosewood fretboard that is extremely playable and has 21-frets which are all accessible.

In terms of electronics and hardware, the company has chosen more of a modern approach to the issue, as it is packed with a modern TUSQ bridge from GraphTech that is perfect for sustain. Moving on the company has installed a pair of P90 Kingpin single-coil pickups to deliver the timeless performance to this amazing tool.

In the tone and sound department, the Godin 5th Avenue Kingpin II sounds distinct and iconic, achieving everything that a jazz player may want from a guitar. Single-coils are not the best for jazz most of the time, but here they deliver tons of clarity and warmth delivering the perfect tones for jazz guitaring. Simply one of the best without any doubt.

2. Hagstrom Tremar Viking Deluxe

Nearing the end of the list we have one of the best jazz guitars in the market the Hagstrom Tremar Viking Deluxe. The Swedish manufacturer has truly made one of the best instruments in the market for a long time amassing a huge number of fans including professional musicians such as Kurt Cobain, David Bowie, and Jimi Hendrix, this semi-hollow body guitar is truly excellent.

The company has stated that the Hagstrom Tremar Viking Deluxe is dressed to kill and I can say that it is true indeed, coming in with the shape and finish of the original Viking of the ’60s. However, it feels very contemporary with its amazing 24.75-inch scale length and laminate flamed maple body that is covered with the ultra attractive deep glossy black finish that combines beautifully with white body binding.

Moving on the neck of the guitar is made out of Canadian hard maple that is set into the body, and inside you will find the H-Expander truss rod that delivers plenty of low action to the thin neck. It has a double-cutaway shape making it very playable and give access to all 22 frets on its Resinator fretboard that gives it plenty of smoothness.

In terms of hardware and electronics, the Hagstrom Tremar Viking Deluxe is equipped with a pair of Hagstrom HJ-50 humbucking pickups at the neck and bridge position, which are then controlled with individual knobs for both tone and volume. The hardware of the Viking is pretty good as well as it has a self-lubricating GraphTech Black Tusq XL  to keep things in tip-top shape.

This thing sounds better than it looks, to be honest delivering all the correct jazz tones that you would want to, it is not your run of the mill electric guitar. It has a great vintage mid-range feel to it, and it delivers great smoothness and warmness needed for jazz tones, definitely a masterpiece in its own right.

1. Epiphone WILDKAT Royale  

On top of the list, we have a beautiful guitar coming in from Gibson’s subsidiary Epiphone, the Wildkat Royale. Despite being a subsidiary and known for lesser quality guitars, the company has delivered some beautiful models throughout the years and when it comes to jazz guitars under $1000 it proudly presents the very best.

This guitar has the same aesthetical prowess and looks of the most semi-hollow body guitars in the market since the 50s, but it has a nice touch on it that makes it super attractive to everyone. For example, it has a mahogany body that has a maple ton giving it a beautiful edge to it, the neck is made out of maple and it has the slim-taper D-shape giving it attractive playability. On top of it, you will spot the rosewood fretboard as well and it looks like a premium one.

In terms of hardware, it is pretty exceptional as it has everything that you would want to form a guitar like this, delivering all the right qualities. Such as the Adjusto-Matic bridge and the Bigsby tailpiece that is pretty much the standard for today’s guitars.

In the electronics department, the Epiphone WILDKAT Royale is equipped with an authentic experience, as it is packed with a P90R and P90T Dogear Classic’s pickups that both of them have their volume and tone knobs, plus the pickup selector switch delivering amazing control.

In terms of sound, this semi-hollow guitar will deliver all the bright and warm tones that you would want form a jazz guitar, and it is the definite best under the $1000 price, definitely the most attractive guitar for jazzists without a doubt.

Things You Should Look For In A Jazz Guitar

things you should look for in a jazz guitar under $1000

Like for every guitar, there are some tricks and tips when it comes to jazz guitars, and if you don’t know any better, I would recommend you do your research first to get the best results possible. Let’s get on with it, shall we?

Construction

If you checked our top picks you have noticed that most of the models on the list are hollow body or semi-hollow body models. Now I am going to explain to you what each of those names means, among the aforementioned, you will also spot semi-acoustic guitars and solid-body guitars, and I will try to explain each one in-depth so you can get the best guitar that will fit your needs.

Hollow Body Guitars

First, off you should know that a hollow body or a semi-acoustic guitar is the most popular type of guitar used for jazz. These guitars deliver more of an acoustically oriented sound, which is sharp, clear and very natural overall, compared to a solid-body guitar that you may be used to. However, it comes with its limitations, for example, these guitars aren’t pretty good for high volumes, that is the reason why most of the guitarists that perform live on high demanding concerts don’t go for hollow-body guitars, and besides this, there is no con to this kind of guitar, and I can comfortably say that the sound quality of these guitars is top of the class. This is the reason that many enthusiasts and valued artists opt to record and play music with these guitars. The response to the bass of hollow-bodies is perfect and the round tone is true as well, and I would recommend these to everyone from jazz guitarists, to enthusiasts, to absolute beginners.

Semi-Hollow Body Guitars

Just like the name suggests these are not completely hollow or semi-acoustic like the aforementioned models and are designed to deliver to be the balance between solid bodies and hollow bodies. These guitars are perfect at delivering warm tones, the pleasing resonance of the wood, superb richness and tons of harmony. With a bit of tweaking on the amp, you can achieve a semi-acoustic sound on a hollow body guitar without much hassle. The only disadvantage of these guitars is that they deliver some unwanted feedback, but with the sue of humbucking pickups, it can be eliminated. Moving on these guitars are more lightweight compared to solid body guitars making them easier to carry around, and a lot of guitarists consider these as the most versatile guitars in the market. These guitars can handle a lot of different genres, however, for jazz, they are just perfect, especially for riffing, and on top of that they can handle blues and classic rock just fine, and much more don’t stay limited with these.

Solidbody Guitars

These are the most popular type of electric guitar in the market, and if you are into guitars or own one, you most likely own a solid body model. These guitars are the best when it comes to sustain and work perfectly with super high amplification, and they don’t have any resonance at all, unlike those aforementioned models. Thanks to the latter quality, these guitars come in different shapes and sizes, they are wild cards in that aspect. I can say that usually these instruments work in the lack of resonating chambers and are pretty dependant on amplification. This is a con, but a pro as well since you can use tons of effects with these guitars. In terms of genres they are suited to, I can say that these are perfect for rock, metal, punk and other faster and harder genres. However, many jazz guitarists use these guitars as well so you can’t count them out.

Other Details

Well, to be honest, the construction is the most important thing you should know, and don’t let any expert limit you since the guitar is a personal tool, and I think three factors determine whether or not you should buy a guitar, and those are feel, looks and sound, and I should say that all of those will depend on your personal preference mostly. Learn that every guitarist has its sound and style, and you should develop your sound.

Other than that you should also check out the pickups, but the pickups will mostly depend on the type of guitar you want to buy since different pickups have different qualities that give them their distinct sound. However, it is safe to say that humbucker pickups may be the best choice for jazz guitars, but like I said it will depend on the tonal and acoustic qualities of the guitar.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What makes a jazz guitar?

This is a pretty interesting term that I have heard in the few years, and I have to say that while some guitars are better suited for jazz music you cannot say that a guitar is just for jazz. However, a jazz guitar mostly is a guitar that takes the acoustic qualities of the guitar with the increased volume and sustains of the electric guitar.

What is an archtop guitar?

An archtop guitar, just like its name implies has a distinctive arched top and is generally a hollow steel-stringed, or a semiacoustic guitar with a full-body, that created some pretty interesting tons and is popular with jazz, blues, and rockabilly musicians.

How do I get the best jazz guitar tone?

After you have made sure that you have chosen the right guitar for jazz, have tuned the guitar properly and have set up the amp properly, and you still can't achieve that jazzy tone than probably you are missing something. The most important thing is your fingers and your ear, try different things and maybe tweak with your amp a little until you are satisfied with the sound.

What is the best amp for jazz guitar?

While there are tons of amazing amp models out there, not all of them are the best for jazz. For example, rock and blues require different qualities such as distortion and power, however, on the other hand for jazz music you will need the amp to provide naturality, clarity and flat response to be perfect for the music.

Conclusion

Before you go on with to purchase a jazz guitar, I would recommend you to give the guitar a try, just take it for a spin and see how it sounds, if you can’t do that, check out Youtube videos on the sound of the particular guitar you want to buy.

I hope that I have provided you with immense knowledge when it comes to buying a jazz guitar under $1000. If you follow the guide above and test your guitar before buying you will be a one happy jazz guitar owner, and I know that you will enjoy your new instrument. Before moving on I have to mention one more time our top picks which are fail-safe and handpicked by me. With them, you will be faced with no surprises and they will deliver the best jazz tones in the market.

Until next time my fellow guitarists!