It’s no longer a secret: we have some of the very best luthiers in the world sitting right here on our own doorstep. BJH guitars like many are a "one man band," and they are fast becoming recognised as one of the leading archtop manufacturers, with a range of six and seven string instruments. Hand built, the 17" model, with a selected spruce top and maple back and sides, together with a 21-fret ebony fingerboard, bridge and tailpiece has a response and resonance that is truly remarkable. There is also a choice of single floating or fixed Kent Armstrong custom pickups which are well matched to the acoustic qualities of the instrument and deliver a deliciously smooth jazz vibe. Needless to say, these instruments don’t come cheap. But then again – neither does a Rolls-Royce

The Tanglewood company has a name for making excellent instruments at budget prices, and the JZ-503-BL is the latest in a long line of deep bodied jazz guitars that offer excellent tone and playability. The JZ range is essentially an upgraded model of the original AS-36, and comes with a more powerful set of humbucking pick ups and branded Grover machine heads. It certainly has all the jazz style, with a single “Venetian” cutaway and flamed maple top, back and sides. The 85/90mm deep all laminate body resonates well, and there is a fully adjustable brass bridge on a rosewood base. Electrically, it’s good to see a three way toggle switch that doesn’t wiggle and wobble, and the side jack that comes complete with a gold end pin. Coming in Tobacco Sunburst and Blue, the TS is also made as a left hander.

This is one of those instruments that just begs to be played! Modelled on the classic twin-cutaway 330 shape, this semi with a fixed bridge is just bursting with top end components and quality timbers. Gibson have sourced the highest possible grade AAA maple for the top table, into which has been set two top of the shelf ‘Burstbucker’ pick ups, which not only give the Vegas High Roller its unique sound, but also give it the style and looks to match. Add to this a run of trapizoid pearl markers, gold hardware and pearloid tuners and you begin to get the idea.

The Jazz City is a unique full bodied ‘f’ hole jazzer from the newly arrived Peerless stable. Not that the Korean Peerless company is new to making guitars (they’ve been making guitars for various other well known brands since 1970), but this is the first time that they have set out on their own, confident in the quality of their product. With a solid flame maple top and laminated maple back and sides together with a maple neck, this full size 17 inch baby with a 75mm body depth, produces a beautifully focussed, clean, round tone that you might expect from maple. The adjustable bridge, tailpiece and 22 fret fingerboard, which is decorated with mother of pearl inlay, is produced out of stock rosewood, while the nut is traditional bone.

The whole is topped off by a set of gold plated Grover machine heads set on a headstock that is very similar to the large crown of the D’Aquisto. The “house designed” humbucking pick up with its gold tone and volume controls is set into the body in the ‘mid-way’ position a la Gibson ES 175D and although well balanced, it is not an ideal match for the maple top, giving a very lively and bright sound. We would have preferred something more mellow, along the lines of a ‘Seth Lover’ or a ‘59. Unusually, the instrument comes in a satin/matt sunburst finish with a rather classy abalone/white binding that you will either love or hate! Strung as standard with a set of D’Addario 12’s, the Jazz City has a good overall balance and a feel that will please even the most discerning player. It comes in a plush, traditionally shaped hard case.

Although most of the Fret King range of guitars is aimed fair and square at the rock player, the Country Squire with its semi-acoustic, single ‘f’ hole-chambered construction, is a much more versatile instrument. Jazzwise sampled the all-UK built Green label model made in the Fret King factory in Lancashire. With a body made up in two piece swamp ash, this Telecaster lookalike is a beautifully crafted, superbly balanced guitar. The sample came with a rosewood board on a bolt on maple neck, and had a 1960s style shallow C neck profile with a 10-inch fingerboard radius. Fret King have used a smaller than normal trussrod in the neck to maximise the amount of wood and by implication create greater sustain and response. Electrics are served by two single coil, vintage voiced, Alnico V pickups in the neck and centre positions, with a Fret King Humbucker in the bridge position. A five way Tele-style switch offers various combinations, with position 4 giving a very punchy humbucker and central single coil.

The acoustic chambers in the body of the Country Squire make it a very resonant instrument and this along with the almost solid wood neck gives the player what might be expected – incredible sustain. The fretboard is almost akin too playing on a marble slab and that 10inch fingerboard radius makes note-bending a cinch. Whichever combination of pickup is used, the sound produced has a refined fluidity with a warm, rich tone. The tone is vintage to a tee. (DG) For more go to

Page 9 of 9

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website

If you do not change browser settings, you consent to continue. Learn more

I understand

Making The Cut Mpu 300x500px

Subcribe To Jazzwise


Call 0800 137201 to subscribe or click here to email the subscriptions team

Get in touch

Jazzwise Magazine,
St. Judes Church,
Dulwich Road, 
Herne Hill,
London, SE24 0PD.

0208 677 0012

Latest Tweets

Our colleagues at @TheJazzCafe have two very fine nights coming up - with US sax don Donny McCaslin and his powerfu…
Follow Us - @Jazzwise
Gary Bartz with We Out Here, Rob Luft, Elaine Mitchener and Blue Note Refreshed added to EFG London Jazz Festival l…
Follow Us - @Jazzwise


© 2016 MA Business & Leisure Ltd registered in England and Wales number 02923699 Registered office: Jesses Farm, Snow Hill, Dinton, Salisbury, SP3 5HN . Designed By SE24 MEDIA