What's Hot With Jazz Guitar: Affordable Jazz Guitars #8

by Doc Dosco

Affordable Jazz Guitars: Samick JZ4

This week I am going to feature the Samick JZ4. I can't keep buying guitars to review them, so I am going to pass along the opinion of others on the next few guitars I cover. I don't own one of these guitars but Andy Stott, one of the members of the Yahoo Jazz Guitar Group does, so with his permission, I am going to feature the review on the Samick JZ4 he sent me.

Hi Doc,

I've had my JZ4 for nearly two months, and so far am delighted with it. It's light, it has a nice action, good intonation with a rosewood bridge (it comes with a tune-a-matic as well). I'm so glad I spent a little more and got the guitar from a jazz-specialist like JHale Music who has a luthier on-site. It played beautifully out of the box with no dodgy frets or burrs and I've no doubt that as long as I don't try to do a thing, it will continue to please.

I love it, but I'll be a little more picky for the sake of giving a helpful insight: The rosewood fretboard is a little grainy, and not as hard as I'd like, but then you're not getting ebony at this price. The single floating pick-up is nothing special, but it's well-balanced, and I can get a range of sounds from it that go from warm and dark to the almost-twangy. I'm about to change my old and malfunctioning amp, and I'm fairly confident it'll sound even better through a better one. Some reviewers on Harmony Central and other sites say that this guitar doesn't have acoustic tone, but that's baloney. Mine is strung with a set of D'addario 12s and is louder than my nylon string acoustic, and has a subtle woody brightness that's perfect for chord melody. I also turn it down and strum during a couple of tunes with my band, and you can hear me bashing away over the kit just fine. The neck tapers out from the nut a little, and though I don't have especially large hands, I was used to playing a classical neck, but had no problem adjusting to this guitar -- I've never felt that it didn't have room, even at the start (it definitely has more room than the Epiphone Joe Pass' I've played). The binding and finish are really nice, though not always immaculate (by which I mean there's a couple of teeny black marks in the binding and what looks like a piece of wayward varnish on the headstock. Nothing awful like glue blobs or wayward wiring though.)

My only complaints are cosmetic: The pickguard is a little plastic and flimsy. I don't like the lurid gold harp tailpiece that much, and neither do I like the Samick "S" logo, which if you added another "S" it would make it look like the official guitar of the German panzer regiment. New tailpieces are readily available from Stew-Mac, and when I'm playing it, I never think about the cosmetics anyway. I've never had any of the set-up, intonation, electrical or neck problems that other people have had with guitars in this price range, so I'll take sound and playability over looks any day (and looks are subjective, right?) I'm really glad I didn't buy the Stromberg I was looking at, as I think they have a tendency to sound dead. If I bought again in this price range and didn't get the Samick, I'd either get the Epiphone Emperor Regent, or the Ibanez Artcore 105FNT (which also has a weird "S" on it!)

All in all, I'm very pleased, and you can hear me attempt to play at: http://mrmonkeysuit.typepad.com/relaxin_at_camarillo/

Hope that helps. Let me know if there's any other info you need.

Andy Stott

The Samick JZ4 seems to sell for around $700 in most cases. There are lots of reviews of the Samick JZ4 at Harmony Central:


Also see:


Doc Dosco is a jazz guitarist, composer and audio consultant living in Los Angeles, CA. His website is located at http://www.docdosco.com, where you can find more information on the 'What's Hot with Jazz Guitar' columns, audio clips of Doc's playing, and many additional features. Doc endorses Heritage Guitars and is featured artist on their website. He also endorses the new Pignose Valve Tube Amps -- great for jazz (and anything else!)

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