The first jazz guitars were actually folk guitars. It took some time for electricity to be added to these instruments, first through amplifiers, & then with the arrival of electric guitars. The first of these, that still exists today, is the Gibson L4 or L5 models.
Steel strings are favored for a more metallic resonance, as well as amplification on electro-acoustic guitars for a greater sound potential.
To get started playing Jazz guitar, there are several models you can choose:
- The Selmer guitar: it is very often used for playing gypsy jazz, is good for solos as well as accompanying other stringed instruments. However, its rather weak sound can quickly be covered by other louder instruments.
- The acoustic guitar: if you want to play Latin jazz, this is what you need! Favor nylon strings and a solid body. You can also play different types of jazz other than Latin, but in these cases consider buying a guitar with a rounded body that will be more resistant to the tension of metallic strings.
- Electric Jazz guitars. Choose a Swing/be-bop full-body guitar, ideally a model that includes an adjustable microphone and built-in amp.
Remember, no matter what type of electric guitar you choose, make sure you purchase a good quality amplifier!