Archive for category Jazz Gtr Gear Reviews

Rotosound Top Tape Flatwounds

As previous posts have shown I personally prefer the Newtone Archtop for the sound I’m after (which usually isn’t a traditional jazz sound) but I have long wondered about the Rotosound Top Tapes (only available in 12’s) as a viable alternative to D’Addario on the shops guitars. They are different tonally to me as they sound ‘bedded’ in (not unlike well used Chromes) right from the off which to be honest in my (daily!) experience of jazz guitar players is what a vast majority tonally are after.  So far so good, even as a ‘take it or leave it’ flatwound appreciator I will persevere with them and I think they sound good on laminate archtops. We’ve got a few new videos which should be on Youtube fairly soon, I will post up the links when they’re available.


As an aside, I was absolutely amazed to see hanging on the wall printed on the D’Addario packaging…… can you spot the spelling mistake……? Can’t believe they designed this and no-one saw….!


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New Ibanez Jazz Guitars

Launched last week in NAMM we have news of some Ibanez models that will be hitting the shores soon and they look great. There’s 3 new jazz guitars AFJ81 AFJ85 and a new George Benson signature guitar a LGB300. The price on the AFJ81 and AFJ85 are likely to be around £400/450 which is amazing, that’s a lot of guitar for the money. Although the spec sheet doesn’t say it they look to both be 17″ bodies as opposed to the others in the Artcore range which are around 16″ which makes them more comfortable to play for some and should have a positive effect on tone as well. For me I would (predictably) say that they have cut corners with the pickup though, a cheap ceramic which comes with it just doesn’t cut the mustard; a Bare Knuckle in the neck and you’d have an absolutely stunning guitar!

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New Affordable Jazz Guitar Amps…

One from Fender which I’m sure will be a fantastic home/studio/small gig amp. A 15″ speaker will ensure a warm full response and the pure valve amp section will give a classic tone. Look at the spec on this:

No reverb may be the only slight issue for some people and maybe it’ll break up at higher volumes but who knows, it may be surprisingly loud as there’s no gain control, just a master.
Oh yeah….and it’s going to be under £300!!

From Ibanez there’s the Wholetone WT80 which looks to be kinda based on a Polytone and delivers a clean 80w of solid state goodness. Reverb on this as well as chorus for those Sco/Metheny moments.

Oh yeah….and it’s also going to be under £300!!

Click through to our shop (Fender one not released yet, Ibanez one coming soon)

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New Eastman

We’ve got an order in for a new exciting model from Eastman which I believe is to be called the AR371 which will be sub £1000 and all laminate. This is making me lust!



Peerless Gigmaster Jazz Custom VS

We’re in the process of customizing a stock Peerless Gigmaster Jazz and can’t wait to see and hear the results! The stock guitar is fine no problems with it at all but I fancied giving it a tweak by way of

  • 60’s style Zigzag style tailpiece
  • Gibson ’57 Classic humbucker in the neck position
  • Fitting a rosewood top to the bridge (tuneamatic still included)
  • Pro set up inc fret dress an 12 gauge  D’Addario Chromes

To buy all these seperate components would be over £200 plus the pro fitting and set up costs but we are doing it for £999 including a hard case.


Review – “Newtone Archtop” series strings

Who are they for?

All Jazz guitarists who want a great sounding string which has better intonation than flatwounds and a smoother feel than normal round wounds.

I’ve known Malcolm Newton for many years as a supplier of strings to our shop, but more than that over the years he has supported our business including the guitar shows of the past and has always been a straight forward and honest businessman. You can find out more about Newtone Strings philosophy and range of products from the website

With that said about Malcolm’s strings I have to point out that I honestly only use them because they are the best (in my humble opinion!)

I used to use D’Addario Chromes (flatwounds) for years, mainly because I didn’t really think of playing anything else because that’s what jazz guitarists use right? I used to like the sound of them after they’d been on for a couple of months (hated them when they were new) but they used to sound very out of tune intonation wise at that point. It was when I changed to my current Eastman guitar that I tried and loved the Archtop strings, flatwound strings just sounded bad to my ears on my solid wood archtop.  I didn’t think that roundwound strings would be any good but then I discovered that they were in fact doublewound strings and as such have more in common with autoharp or piano strings! Basically in a nutshell, normal electric strings have one winding around a central core whereas doublewound (you guessed it!) have 2 separate windings which are thinner which gives a few benefits.

-You can pretty much go a gauge higher than normal and the tension feels more or less the same

-Seems to have a higher output than normal strings

-Don’t feel ‘sticky’ like flatwounds can do

-Less finger squeak than normal round wounds

In common with flatwounds I pretty much keep mine on the guitar until they go rusty!

Available in gauges





7 string and custom gauges also available to order

Dan Johnson

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Painter Archtops

I first heard about Tom Painters guitars via a couple of glowing recommendations on the internet which piqued my interest as I’m always keeping an eye out for new guitars for the shop then I saw this video:

Before I go any further let me talk about the difference between solid wood and laminate in jazz guitars. In flat top acoustics it’s generally accepted that “solid wood = better sounding than laminate” but in the world of jazz guitars that isn’t necessarily the case. Unquestionably one of the most popular jazz guitars of all time is the Gibson ES175 which is all laminate. It was originally a mid priced affordable instrument and the laminate contributed to keeping the cost down and as a consequence many classic era jazz guitar recordings were made on such instruments. In my opinion one of the best recorded examples of this is on the album “For Django” by Joe Pass. Solid wood guitars are generally more ‘open sounding’, full of rich harmonics, not the dark sound that many people prefer. (I will talk more of solid wood jazz guitars another time).

Modern era Gibsons (and pretty much any mass produced laminate jazz guitar) tend to be made from laminates which are thicker than the classic era ones which makes them heavier and not quite as pleasing in tone which is where Tom Painter has come to the rescue! Tom vacuum presses all his own laminates in house which means he can not only keep the quality and consistency rock solid but he is able to do custom and one off finishes with virtually any wood.  Aside from the body construction the hardware is superb, handmade pickups from Pete Biltoft are some of the best I’ve come across.

As they are all hand made, basically almost anything is possible in terms of neck width, body depth, scale etc. I commissioned a short scale guitar from Tom (which has just sold!) as there’s no-one doing a short scale at the moment, you can get vintage Byrdlands but who wants to pay that much… I’ll definitely be getting another soon. We’ve had P-15, P-16, P-16 short scale and 2 x P175 and they were all superb; I’m really pleased and privileged that Tom supplies guitars to us and it’s great that we’ve got something a little different and as far as I know pretty unique,  affordable, hand made all laminate boutique jazz guitars.

Current available stock

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