Denis Chang on buying a gypsy jazz guitar
- The problem for most people around the world is lack of access to high quality instruments, and lack of exposure to the wide variety of playing styles that exist within the genre. The latter is very important, because the style can be approached in so many different ways, and in which case, one particular sound or setup might be preferable than another. There are various styles of Gypsy Jazz guitars and setups available for the contemporary player.
However, I should say that traditionally, these guitars were meant to be played unamplified. If there was any need for amplification, it was a minimal setup. Unfortunately, I feel that this is a bit of lost art. Most modern players come from a background where extensive use of technology is the norm. This basically means that a tremendous amount of tone is coming from technology. In Gypsy Jazz, tone traditionally came from the hands and fingers. In order to get the best possible tone, guitarists played a certain way, and in order for the guitar to resonate in the best possible way, it had to be set up a certain way. This usually meant a bit of a higher action than what most contemporary guitar players are used to. Remember the term “high action” is relative. For most acoustic Gypsy Jazz players, low is considered high to people coming from other styles.