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Sadowsky Jim Hall Archtop Guitar – Jazz Guitar Today Review



Jazz Guitarist and JGT Contributor Marc Silver takes a good look at the Sadowsky Jim Hall Archtop Guitar

In recent years we have seen jazz guitar players sporting all manner of axes from the solid body, semi-hollow body, and hollow-body archtop families. And within those broad families, there is a wonderful diversity of shapes, sizes, and timbres to match the diversity of the artists who play them. This review focuses on an instrument from the venerable hollow-body archtop world… a guitar design (and sound) that has been most closely associated with players such as Wes Montgomery, Kenny Burrell, George Benson, Pat Martino, Pat Metheny, and Jim Hall, to name just a few.

Sadowsky Jim Hall Archtop

While all of the artists mentioned above have signature guitars from various manufacturers, our spotlight is on the Jim Hall Archtop Guitar from Sadowsky Guitars. The collaboration between Roger Sadowsky and Jim Hall was a simple, but challenging one… build a great-sounding, but more affordable, laminated-wood guitar to replace Jim’s irreplaceable D’Aquisto guitar that had become too valuable to gig with.

When the box arrived I let it sit overnight to acclimate from its cold journey. The next morning it was time to unbox the guitar. It was exceptionally well packed so it took me a few minutes to get the case out of the carton. The moment of truth… I opened the case and was immediately hit with a very pleasing “new guitar smell,” as well as a beautiful sunburst finish that beckoned me to pick up the instrument for closer inspection. The fit and finish were immaculate. It was obvious someone had taken the time to make sure the details were done right.

Okay, it smells good and looks great… but how does it play?

First of all, the Sadowsky Jim Hall archtop was lighter than I was expecting. Even though it has a 5-ply laminated maple top, the top is surprisingly thin and resonant. This was a requirement of the late great Jim Hall because he liked to turn down his pickup to get a more acoustic sound when comping. Coupled with a somewhat narrower body depth, this guitar has excellent acoustic tone and projection. Another critical benefit of the laminated woods and body depth is feedback reduction. I had this plugged into a Deluxe Reverb just a few feet away from me and I had zero feedback issues at various stage volumes, even with a healthy amount of bass to get that recognizably thick, woody sound so many players crave from a jazz guitar.

The single Sadowsky humbucker is a PAF-style pickup that provides the classic sound of an electric archtop. The tone control has a notably wide range. Because of this, it has a full spectrum of useable tones, which provides a bit more bright-to-dark tonal versatility than usual for a single-pickup archtop. I was impressed with the sound at every segment of its tonal range.

The action and intonation are exceptional on this slightly-wider neck.

The neck is quite comfortable and fun to play. The Sadowsky Jim Hall Archtop Guitar is a beautifully-designed, masterfully-executed, great-sounding instrument that fits the bill of being a gig-able, world-class jazz guitar (good enough for Jim Hall to play) at a reasonable price for this level of quality.


  • 16” body width at lower bout
  • 2-¾” body depth
  • 5 ply flame maple laminate construction
  • Maple neck, dovetail neck joint
  • Ebony fingerboard with 1-3/4” nut width, 24.75” scale length
  • 14 frets to the body
  • Ebony bridge pickguard and tailpiece
  • Sadowsky True-Tone compensated ebony bridge
  • Ivoroid binding
  • Gold hardware
  • Custom wound vintage PAF style pickup with gold cover
  • Pickup duplicated from original Guild/DeArmond pickup from Jim’s guitar

$5200 including custom hardshell case

Thanks to Marc Silver for the review. Marc is a guitarist, composer, and author, best known for writing the classic instruction book Contemporary Guitar Improvisation (Utilizing the Entire Fingerboard), which has been teaching guitar players around the world how to improvise since 1978.

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