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Bassists playing with jazz guitar

Discussion in 'Off Topic [DB]' started by bluemonk, May 4, 2005.


  1. bluemonk

    bluemonk

    Dec 17, 2002
    Michigan
    A friend of mine plays jazz guitar (a jazz box) and is using a Polytone amp. When playing with another jazz guitarists, he noticed that his guitar sounded less round and warm than his friend's, so he's thinking about a new amp. First, I suggested nickel strings (he uses SS flats), but I wonder if any of you play with jazz guitarists. What amps are they using for jazz standards?
     
  2. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    San Francisco, CA
    Erm, thats kinda weird. Polytone's are usually the standard for jazz guitar. I think Jim Hall uses one and I know Kurt Rosenwinkel surely does.

    The other standard that I know of is a Fender Twin (with or without Reverb). I had a 65 Twin reissue and that baby was sweet. With 60 watts you had more then enough headroom and your ears would bleed if you turned it up to 5. Super warm and tone for miles. Only thing that sucked was that it was kinda heavy. My old guitar teacher was into a Fender Blues Deluxe, which is a smaller, less powerful version of a Twin, but it still had tubes and was pretty sweet.

    If the polytone isn't warm enough, sounds like he needs to go to something that uses tubes. If I were still playing guitar, I would def also try an AI Contra. I heard somewheres that it's a pretty good guitar amp too.

    Also, the strings do make a difference (I've always loved flatwound vs. roundwound) and don't forget that the bigger gauges give a fuller sound too. I used to use .11 gauge set. .10 was getting to be a little too small. But in the case of guitars, I think the amp makes the bigger difference.
     
  3. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Maui
    The little AER lunchbox sized amp is pretty cool, we have one in our gypsy group. The archtop sounds great though it as well. Our rhythm guy has a similar Roland amp that also is very nice for about 1/3 the $$$.

    I've played a couple of different archtops through my AI Contra. Seems promising.

    Strings; the Thomastik George Benson set is pretty happenin'. Like buttah.
     
  4. bluemonk

    bluemonk

    Dec 17, 2002
    Michigan
    Thanks, guys. We'd thought about the Fender Twin, but not the others. Gives us a good start.

    Any other suggestions/observations?
     
  5. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    San Francisco, CA
    Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that you should try to get the highest action you can handle (where playability is reasonably good). Hehehe... I can finally use the word "action" without getting scolded. :)

    Anyhoo, higher action will bring out a nicer sound too. I used to use D'Addario .11 Chromes flatwound on a Guild thinline guitar. Oh yeah, pickups make a difference. You'll probably want humbuckers if you don't already have them.

    Lastly, how you pick and the picks you use make a difference. I love 1mm picks - nice, and strong. I'd only pick with the other blunt ends of the pick. Gave me a nice fat sound and never broke a single pick.

    All of that + a good tube amp should get you a nice fat sound. Somethings definitely wrong if you dont.

    EDIT: Thinking about all this, I don't think it's the amp (unless the amp is weird or something). I've played through polytone's and they're pretty fat. I would look at the strings, get a good setup done, and try to raise the string height. Tell him to look at his picking... maybe he needs to pick closer to the neck rather than the bridge. I mean, a jazz box and a polytone. That should already be pretty fat sounding by themselves. What kind of jazz box is it?
     
  6. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    Ontario
    Neck humbucker, tone rolled back, and heavy-gauge flatwound nickels. Marcus is definitely right on the Benson sig set from TI -- great strings. Considering how widely used polytones are by jazz guitarists, then I think after that the tone's up to him.
     
  7. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    String height itself , after a certain point (and like bass) has little to do with the tone. Benson, by all reports, plays his strings as low as possible and I would characterize his sound as pretty big.
     
  8. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    San Francisco, CA
    All I can say is that I tried it high and low, and setting it to a higher action made a difference to my ears. I got the idea from Stevie Ray Vaughan who had his action as high as the sky for part of his monster tone. But how you pick has alot to do with it. Apparently, George Benson picks in an unorthodox way from what Tuck of Tuck & Patti says.
     
  9. I do a lot of work with a guitarist who plays an American Archtop through an Evans combo. He's tried a number of rigs, but he always goes back to the Evans. It sounds great.
     
  10. avocado_green

    avocado_green

    Mar 22, 2005
    Detroit, MI
    Humbuckers are always a plus. I always use both pickups on, Round 13's (GHS Boomers), high action, 7-string guitars (for fatter chord voicing) , and I only use my fingers for jazz. I've used solid bodies, but Hollow-body instruments tend to have more life. Someone mentioned the D'addario chromes- I used those for a while and liked the sound, so I'll recommend them. I use a Carvin Acoustic amp and have always enjoyed my jazz sound, It's nice and fat. I would say that your friend already has a nice amp, he should look at the rest of his setup and experiment.

    Don't let him complain about buying new sets of strings, though. Guitarists have it easy in that department.
     
  11. mje

    mje

    Aug 1, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    When it comes to guitar I'm mainly a rock player, but I've experimented with skinny strings and fat strings, flats and rounds, and different amps and guitars, and after listening to a lot of guitarists I'd have to say tone is in the fingers first and foremost- and in how you set the tone controls after that. I remember an article on Johnny Smith that noted he had no tone control on his guitars- he said it's all in the fingers. And did anyone ever had a more perfect, rounded, jazz guitar tone?

    The classic setup is fat flatwounds, archtop, neck pickup, roll the treble off. But there are guys who get a fat tone from a Telecaster. Matter of fact, a lot of guys I like play jazz on a Tele- some with skinny roundwounds.

    High vs. low: Also a matter of individual technique, I think. High action means you can hit the strings harder, but as you go to thicker strings (and higher tension) you can lower the action and the strings won't buzz.

    I find I get a good jazz tone with .013 flats on my Korean archtop, stubby thick pick, using my bass rig- Clarus/CXL-110. But I can also get a really nice, rounded tone on my Telecaster, .010 roundwounds, treble rolled off, skinny pick using my little Tech 21 amp. ;-) Go figure.
     
  12. mje

    mje

    Aug 1, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    Oh yeah- the guitarist I've been jamming with lately (playing bass) uses a Stratocaster with .010s. He gets a really nice jazz tone ;-)
     
  13. bluemonk

    bluemonk

    Dec 17, 2002
    Michigan
    I've passed your comments along to my friend and am learning from them myself as well.
    Thanks!
     
  14. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    Ontario
    I use a similar setup for guitar and get a nice jazz tone. Strat copy (Peavey Raptor 2) with Ernie Ball Power Slinkies through a Yorkville XS400 combo (bass amp with a tube preamp.) Personally, I find using your fingers helps a LOT -- think Wes Montgomery kind of technique. It's entirely possible to get a great jazz tone with a pick on this setup, but I'm just not as good with a pick as I am with my fingers.