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Samick LaSalle JZ4

Samick LaSalle JZ4

Author's Rating: Rating: 5/5 stars
1 Review from

By:   ahand
Apr 27, 2007
Samick LaSalle JZ4

Samick LaSalle JZ4: The Real Power Behind The Throne

Author's Rating: Rating: 5/5 stars

Pros: Good jazzbox, built for those with some experience

Cons: May be a bit too wild for novices

The Bottom Line: 
The value in this guitar is in the extra jazz sound, not the wood. A good buy.

Author's Review
It's popular to dismiss just about every American-Korean made guitar as being actually manufactured by Samick, and that you can just get it cheaper by buying the actual equivalent.

Which, of course, isn't entirely true. Those guitars that Samick actually does make are to U.S. specs that are given to them by Epiphone and others, and QC'd later there or in the U.S.

The irony, now that so much production has shifted to China, is that Korean made guitars are suddenly being viewed as "better quality," with Japanese guitars often percieved as better than American.

In the case of Samick, they do have a fine Greg Bennet signature line, which includes this JZ4. The JZ4 is sort of a cross between an Epiphone Emperor Regent in that it has a small neck mounted pickup on a traditional archtop, and a bit of the Gibson L5 in that it's a bigger jazzbox with a solid spruce top.

In this case, at an 800.00 street price, you're not just getting a cheaper version of an Epiphone.

The guitar it most resembles in terms of ergonomics and shape, is the Gibson L5, or the Washburn J6. That is to say, the "Wes Mongomery" guitar. It's a big jazzbox, yet it has a very light feel, and isn't overbuilt. Thus you can easily get that fat jazz tone, or a sweet acoustic jazz tone at low volume. It's got as good a "fat tone" as anything in this price range in stock configuration.

Of course, a lightly built big jazzbox with a solid top has a disadvantage that many who play middle range archtops like the Joe Pass may not experience as much.

Massive feedback at just about every volume level.

I mean massive. Move too close, feedback. Stand up to adjust your amp, feedback. Face your amp to see your settings, feedback. Play an open string, feedback.

This is the point where players often give up on their new jazzboxes. Play one long enough, you'll realize that in most situations, you won't get feedback. A lot of the "lore" of jazzbox feedback comes from those who try to play at concert volume without bothering to learn their guitars first. A jazzbox isn't a Les Paul.

Being a lighter guitar means that it does have a nice acoustic tone, great for practicing. It's an attractive guitar, and well made, as all the Greg Bennet line is.

At it's price point, it does have a lot of competition. The Epiphone Broadway and Emperor Regent are in the same class, and are a bit more forgiving a guitar for the jazz novice. The Samick is for those who'd like a more hard-core jazz guitar. If you can find an old Washburn J6, I'd recommend that instead, but those aren't as easy to find.

Samick spent years helping Epiphone and others build a great reputation for fine, afforable guitars in the shadows. With the JZ4, it's obvious that they weren't a bunch of CNC cookie cutters after all.

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