Watch the Gear & Tone online guitar lesson by Jason Loughlin from 30 Country Jazz Licks You MUST Know
Country jazz started in the early toddler years of the electric guitar. Everything from big archtops to telecasters are used in the genre, with no one guitar that defines the style. There are some very cool guitars associated with this style however: Players like Billy Byrd and Grady Martin were among the first to play Paul Bigsby’s solid body electric guitar, of which there were 23 made and 23 accounted for. Really beautiful instruments. There's also the Bigsby inspired Jim Harvey guitars like the double neck that Paul Buskirk played. Modern guitar builders like TK Smith are reviving these designs with the same level of artistry.
The sound is all about a clean guitar tone. Players like Jimmy Bryant were rumored to go directly into the board at times. Most reverbs were added after the amp signal. Plate reverb or spring would be added to the whole band. Sometimes players would use the amp's built-in spring tank. Remember, early amplifiers did not have built-in spring reverb. The first effect added to amps was tremolo, which you'll hear occasionally. The most common effect at the time was slapback echo, with one quick repeat at or around the same volume as the initial attack used by players such as Les Paul and Chet Atkins. Both were always experimenting with new sounds. Les also utilized the double-speed guitar trick by recording at half speed and then playing back at the correct speed, and Chet was arguably the first to use a wah wah pedal by putting a passive tone knob into a pedal. You can hear one of the first examples of this on Chet’s “Boo Boo Stick Beat” from the Teensville record.