Gretsch for jazz


Country Gent
Jul 18, 2016
Sydney, Australia
I know I know.

But why don’t jazz players (outside of fusion and avant- garde ) like gretsches? I know part of it is the bigsby. And part of it is the clearer tone than PAFs.

I’ve never understood the anti-bending thing in jazz. Sure Wes never bent strings. But Wes played fencing wire gauge strings. Chets jazz saw tasteful bigsby use. But it was hidden under a ‘country’ handle.

But these things aside, surely the more complex tonal colours of dynas or filters would appeal to jazzers? (And of course present company - those members who are primarily jazzers- excepted.)


Apr 18, 2009
Not here.
Julian Lage is one of the biggest jazz guitarists of the last decade, and his signature Collings electric is based off of a 50s Duo Jet that Lage used extensively on several albums 👍


Mar 19, 2022
Cincinnati OH
You could make a long list of 50s/60s jazz players that used Gretsch at one time or another.

But I think it's fair to say that Gibson, Epi, and Guild were beating them in that era, including among jazz guitars with brighter single coil pickups, with the latter two using the same De Armonds as Gretsch on some guitars.

Avoiding guitarisms like bending, open strings, favored keys, and duplicated notes in chords helped them to be peers with horn and piano players, and helped them sound like jazz. I'm not a real jazzer but I keep those same tendencies because I think instrument specific approaches have a lot of tradeoffs that don't work for me.


Country Gent
Aug 19, 2008
Dyna could do the jazz thing, Julian Lage showed us a tele could be used to play jazz, and the cliff Gallup duojet could be a wonderful guitar for having a warm jazz tone (dialing both the tone pot and vol pot). But I don't think the weak filtertron ohmage aren't warm enough ... I know and love to tone switch (when you play loud or/and overdriven) but it cut a lot of the filtertron clean tones experience...

Then the bigsby isn't the best sustain friend... then the short scale of the 6120, country clubs is not the favorite choice for strings tension and tuning stability. Thus, you may consider the white falcon with the V tailpiece for jazz player... but We may agree this guitar is totally decadent looking instrument 😙😅

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May 25, 2022
New York
Thinking back, two things happened at about the same time. Home stereos began to sound good and Gibson switched from P90 pickups to humbuckers. Long before that, the unamplified wide hollow body guitar became a favorite of jazz guitarists because it was louder than a flat top. By the 60’s, the wide body with a humbucker came to define the jazz sound. It’s the sound we heard coming from the Magnavox or McIntosh.

So for traditionalists, that became the sound. Nothing else sounded quite right. But there were other jazz guitar sounds, even in the 60’s. Gabor Szabo played Brazilian jazz on a round hole guitar with a sound hole pickup. It sounded nothing like a Gibson or Guild.

Jazz isn’t a sound. It’s a collection of styles based on rhythms, modes, and melodies. I don’t think of myself as a jazz guitarist but I play a few numbers I like, including jazz vocals. Of my five electrics, I like blended pickups on my Anniversary best, followed by the N4 noiseless pickups in series on my Telecaster. I can’t imagine what I’d do with a wide body PAF guitar. It would be too warm and muddy for me. That’s not to say I don’t appreciate what others do with guitars like that, but it’s not my sound. So a Gretsch for jazz? Why not? Jazz is about originality, even if the originality is interpretation. It’s not about sounding just like someone else.
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Friend of Fred
Feb 12, 2009
Where the action is!
So for traditionalists, that became the sound. Nothing else sounded quite right.
I think that's the biggest part of it. It's like asking why nobody uses a Les Paul for surf music. Sure, you can do it. It might even sound good in its own way, but it's not the tone you expect to hear in surf music.

And I'm sure jazz guitarists are just like the rest of us guitarists and gravitate towards the guitars that their heroes and mentors played. Once Gibson or Gibson-like hollowbodies with humbuckers became the standard, it probably created a tough cycle to break.


Jan 12, 2019
Newbury Park, CA
I really like the Jazz tones I get from my 6122 Gent. I also like the early Grant Green Jazz tones from an ES330 (P-90s). I like all of the Fender neck p'ups for Jazz tones as well. Although, I play Blues, not Jazz. So, maybe that doesn't count.

The "original" PAF was designed to sound like a P-90, but without the hum. For the most part, Gibson succeeded. And though I prefer P-90s to just about everything else, the #2 is definitely the classic Filters.