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I don't like the sound of traditional jazz guitar


elctmist

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The 'guide me through jazz' thread got me thinking cos a lot of people listed jazz guitarists and they are almost never the first people I think of when I think of this music.

 

In fact, I don't like the sound of traditional jazz archtops at all.

 

The traditional jazz guitar sound -- rich, but thuddy and kind of dead -- just seems like a negation of what you can actually do with a guitar.

 

You want to sound like a horn player, you say? Well wouldn't a trumpet or saxophone have been a better instrument choice then?

 

I don't really start to dig jazz guitar players til we get to Sharrock's stuff on Pharaoh Saunder's 60s albums. And that stuff sounds a lot like the VU to me. Then with electric Miles and whatnot we get to the really good stuff.

 

Am I a pleb? :o

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I really like the sound of Jazz archtops, or at least like it in certain applications. There's a certain natural reverb inherent to the sound, and the sound is both rich but extremely defined and articulate simultaneously.

Edit: Call me a heretic, but I really like the way polytone SS amps sound with an archtop coming in.

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I love the sound of an archtop. What I really hate is that bull{censored} chorus/delay sound that drenchs most "modern" jazz guitarist sounds. Methany, Stern, Scofeild, Ambercrombie, etc. All amazing players. All guilty of major tone offenses at one time or another. Ambercrombie may be my favorite jazz guitarist period. But throw the goddamn roland JC-120 or digitech rack delay chorus whatever into the {censored}in' drink already for chrisssakes. And methany. I hate his tone even when it's not over processed. (Which it usually is.)

 

I love the tones of Grant Green, Wes Montgomery, Kenny Burrell, etc. Montgomery's tone was always changing; you can tell the guy was constantly trying different amps.

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I think it's just attrocious what modern jazz guitarists are using for "tone." It's either muddy, dark, and entirely lifeless, or it's sterile, shrill, and hyper over-processed. Either choice is notably SS and lacks any true character, imo. There's no sag, no dynamics, no life, no fluidity whatsoever. The guitar solos could easily be programmed sequences. It's a damn shame too, because most of them are incredibly accomplished musicians.

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I was just listening to internet radio and reading this thread, and I was all ready to go on a huge "Jazz boxes through PolyTones sound like swallowing a bag of marshmallows and singing through a chicken" rant, but the coolest track came on. It was really short, which is too bad. Let's see... Michael Mussillami Trio, with Joe Fonda and George Schuller. Heard of him? It was a quick little free thing, but the guy has this Silvertone through a Fender sound going on and it was really, really nice and not at all like the stuff we're complaining about. I'll have to check this guy out.

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I'm a jazz player and although the big thuddy jazz box has its place, it is a sound I have stayed away from (and a decision that has cost me gigs).

 

But truth be told, the thuddy flat tone is something of an anachronism, especially outside US jazz circles. The overwhelming majority of players these days are either opting for a more alive, more obviously electric tone, or completely opting for a acoustic tone. The thuddy tone is largely keep alive by jazz guitar "purists" (or fundamentalists) and bandleaders with very fixed ideas about (and thinly veiled contempt for) the guitar.

 

The thing to remember is that guitar has long struggled for legitimacy as a jazz instrument. Some venues resist booking guitar-led acts and many jazz afficionados have few if any guitar-led platters in their collections (and sometimess the guitar albums are only their as a novelty or for the sake of historical completness). Although Jazz guitar has had it's stars from Django/Christian/Montgomery onwards, they have seldom approached the stardom of the big name horn and key players. This effects the role of guitar in many ensembles and how much it can stand out in a mix. In fact a number of bandleaders I have worked with only ever consider guitar is they are looking to make their project more "funky."

 

Anyway, if you want good vintage jazz tone, check out Grant Green, especially on Matador and His Majesty King Funk; two great albums with distinct and lively jazz guitar tones.

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Originally posted by fernmeister


But truth be told, the thuddy flat tone is something of an anachronism, especially outside US jazz circles.

 

 

True. Problem is, in New York at least, that the sound has been replaced with Bill Frisell's sound. I know a bunch of people that cop it exactly, and some of them are still favorites of mine, as is Frisell. But it's already getting old. Frisell doesn't use it any more.

 

Big agreement about Green, though. James "Blood" Ulmer, too. Both sound to me like what jazz guitar purist types ought to be doing with their jazz boxes.

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My neighbor is a great jazz guitarist and every time he grabs one of my guitars, he switches to the neck PU and rolls the tone control all the down. It is a nice mellow sound, but so predictable. I guess it is just like most rock guys who crank distortion and go straight for the bridge PU.

 

Jack

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I think it's important to keep in mind the historical context which bred this sound. Charlie Christian and Wes Montgomery couldn't really cop a different tone with the equipment available to them. In the forty years since, the overwhelming majority of jazz guitarists (especially those who aren't famous) try to cop the same tone, be it out of reverence or whatever other reason they might come up with.

 

I don't dislike the sound at all, and certainly in the hands of guys with original chops and concept (Metheny comes to mind) it's still a valid sound. In the hands of most guitarists, however, it's exactly the same as an average fusion bassist playing a Fender fretless or an average trumpet player playing half notes with a harmon mute. There should be an unwritten law amongst jazz musicians (or perhaps musicians in general) that you're not allowed to cop the same sound as a trendsetter unless you're doing something different with it.

 

I am guilty of using this sound for a while, primarily because that's what was expected of me in a big band context. If I ever play in another big band, I'll probably do it again. In the meantime, I now use pretty much the same setup for jazz as I would for anything else. As far as I'm concerned, modern jazz tone begins on Steely Dan records. I'll start there and progress further out. :)

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I have this cd with some more commercial jazz tunes on it, and the guitar player uses a fender jazzmaster through a small ampeg combo. I really like his sound as the total opposite of the gibson - jazzchorus sound.

 

The tone Pat Metheny had some twenty years ago with his roland guitar synths was a tone I could still stand. When jazz moves to a more fusion kind of sound, I start to get picky... no chorus and delay on all the time for me.

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Originally posted by fernmeister

I'm a jazz player and although the big thuddy jazz box has its place, it is a sound I have stayed away from (and a decision that has cost me gigs).


But truth be told, the thuddy flat tone is something of an anachronism, especially outside US jazz circles. The overwhelming majority of players these days are either opting for a more alive, more obviously electric tone, or completely opting for a acoustic tone. The thuddy tone is largely keep alive by jazz guitar "purists" (or fundamentalists) and bandleaders with very fixed ideas about (and thinly veiled contempt for) the guitar.


The thing to remember is that guitar has long struggled for legitimacy as a jazz instrument. Some venues resist booking guitar-led acts and many jazz afficionados have few if any guitar-led platters in their collections (and sometimess the guitar albums are only their as a novelty or for the sake of historical completness). Although Jazz guitar has had it's stars from Django/Christian/Montgomery onwards, they have seldom approached the stardom of the big name horn and key players. This effects the role of guitar in many ensembles and how much it can stand out in a mix. In fact a number of bandleaders I have worked with only ever consider guitar is they are looking to make their project more "funky."


Anyway, if you want good vintage jazz tone, check out Grant Green, especially on Matador and His Majesty King Funk; two great albums with distinct and lively jazz guitar tones.

 

Yo Fern! Welcome back man. Good to see you decided to stop lurking. :)

 

I don't think of tone as being neccessarily anachronistic relative to phrasing. You don't hear about guys copping Joe Morris' tone. It would be pretty easy to do. It's hard to stand out there naked like Morris or Ulmar. They plug guitars into amps with nothing in between which is something players have been doing for decades.

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Originally posted by telepaul



Yo Fern! Welcome back man. Good to see you decided to stop lurking.
:)

I don't think of tone as being neccessarily anachronistic relative to phrasing. You don't hear about guys copping Joe Morris' tone. It would be pretty easy to do. It's hard to stand out there naked like Morris or Ulmar. They plug guitars into amps with nothing in between which is something players have been doing for decades.

 

Thanks.

 

As for Joe Morris, man you need serious balls to play like that! Jazz without a safety net!

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