Using a nylon string in a jazz band?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by Average Joe, May 26, 2015.

  1. Average Joe

    Average Joe Member

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    Is there any downside or aspects of playing in a jazz combo where a (amplified) nylon string would fall short?

    Most of my practice time at home is done on a nylon string. It's a sound and feel I like a lot and in the comfort of my living room it seems to me that the sound is pretty suited to jazz playing. But I've never played on in a band context. Most nylon players in jazz seem to favour solo guitar or duos/sparse instrumentation. Sylvain Luc for instance. Is there a reason you don't see something like the Godins more often in a full band context?
     
  2. Dave Wakely

    Dave Wakely Member

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    Luc aside (and not a man to brush aside lightly), many Brazilians would doubtless tell you there's no problem at all. You might however want to think about possible fret noise, decent amplification requiring thought (and $$$$) and some nylon string guitars not being particularly tonally versatile. But then, neither are many jazz players :)
     
  3. jazzguitarfan

    jazzguitarfan Member

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    I have Godin Multiac that I've used on quite a few jazz gigs, from trio to a 6 piece band (more Latin based music). It works well. I run it through an Acoustic Image Clarus (original) and Raezer's Edge Twin 8.
     
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  4. SS&HH

    SS&HH Member

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    Marc Antoine, only uses nylon string, his band plays some pretty kick ass jazz. I've seen them live. He's got a full band, horns, synth, bass, drums etc. Maybe eight piece or so. Each member of his band is really on top of their game.
     
  5. DCross

    DCross Member

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    I used to play solo restaurant gigs on a Takamine nylon string - both jazz and classical music. Loved it. The tone, especially amplified, is definitely "jazzy" in nature.

    I think it's fine, both as a solo instrument as well as in a jazz band context.
     
  6. dewey decibel

    dewey decibel Member

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    How are you going to amplify it I think is the question. The more amplified volume you need the harder it gets to keep it sounding natural, and you start to loose the nice things about playing a nylon string guitar in the first place IMO.
     
  7. Bossanova

    Bossanova Member

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    Correct, I always prefer the sound of a mic placed in front of the soundhole as opposed to other means, pickups, etc.. Never hurts to experiment.
     
  8. hunter

    hunter Supporting Member

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    I gig an acoustic electric nylon string every week, sometimes several times a week in a 5-6 piece band with three percussionists. I gig an relatively inexpensive Cordoba model that functions as a pure acoustic as well as an electric. Not stellar but good utility. I really enjoy working within the somewhat narrow parameters of nylon string and the feel of nylon is good. The best part is I can produce a decent sound using only fingers, no pick please. While I was primarily a hybrid or flatpick style player on steel string, playing nylon has allowed me to leave the pick behind. My technique hasn't fully caught up on the fast stuff but I am to the point where certain things are much better played fingers only. A conventional electric is easier to deal with, allows you to sound good using a pick if that is your comfort zone, has a bigger sonic palette with multiple pickups, pedals etc., handles loud volumes without feedback better and produces a more familiar sound (depended on the context or your jazz band of course). Nylon is more prone to feedback, has limited sound options, tends to have less sustain to carry notes and can get clacky if attacked too hard which can happen if the band volume spirals out of control and you push to keep up. Also you can basically forget bends on nylon so, if your style is heavily bend dependent, prepare to change. Since you practice on nylon that probably isn't a problem. When you get everyone on board it can be a great sound.

    It is pretty easy to get lost in the mix if the band gets loud so everyone has to be participating. I have enough finger attack control to get rhythm and solo volume dynamics with my fingers but recently added a MVP volume pedal which allows me to set a min max volume and that has proven to be a nice addition. A good means of amplification is important too. I have had good success using a preamp and running direct into the board. My preferred method these days is use my acoustic amp for stage and limited house sound and di from the amp to the board to fill out the house. With a decent sound rig, passable nylon sound can be had with dual source and single source systems.

    hunter
     
  9. Bossanova

    Bossanova Member

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  10. derekd

    derekd Supporting Member

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    As noted, plenty of guys play jazz with nylons. Throw in Earl Klugh, also.
     
    Last edited: May 26, 2015
  11. Danny W.

    Danny W. Member

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