Today, we’re diving into the realm of dreamy tones – I want to show you 5 BEST guitars for ambient music.
This genre, known for its ethereal textures and atmospheric depth, demands a specific type of instrument to truly capture its essence.
I’ve spent countless hours experimenting with different guitars, and I’m here to share my top 5 picks for the best guitar for ambient music. And trust me – all these fives models are worth the money.
If you want to learn how to play that dreamy music, check out my full guide – How To Play Ambient Guitar.
Squier J Mascis Jazzmaster
- Body: Basswood
- Neck: Maple, C profile
- Fingerboard: Indian Laurel
- Pickups: 2 Jazzmaster single coils
- Special Features: Vintage style floating tremolo, Adjusto-Matic bridge
Why It’s Great for Ambient
Out of my experience, the Squier J Mascis Jazzmaster is a KILLER axe for all indie, alternative and ambient genres.
The basswood body offers a warm, balanced tone, crucial for creating lush, layered ambient textures. Its single-coil pickups, while traditionally associated with a brighter sound, actually lend a distinct character to reverbs and delays – a staple in ambient music.
The floating tremolo allows for subtle pitch variations, perfect for those dreamy soundscapes.
The C-shaped neck and jumbo frets on this Jazzmaster make playability a breeze, especially when you’re experimenting with intricate chord shapes and scales typical in ambient music.
The Indian Laurel fingerboard adds a smooth feel under your fingertips, enhancing the playing experience.
Here’s my in-depth video review of that guitar.
Fender Vintera II 50s Jazzmaster
- Body: Alder
- Neck: Late 50s “C” Maple
- Fretboard: Rosewood
- Pickups: 2 Vintage-style ’50s Jazzmaster single coils
- Special Features: Pop-In Vintage-Style Tremolo, Gold Anodized Aluminum Pickguard
Why It’s Perfect for Ambient
The Fender Vintera II 50s Jazzmaster screams vintage and it’s not just about the looks. The alder body and rosewood fretboard combination is a classic, offering a warm, yet articulate tone. The vintage-style pickups are designed to replicate the sounds of the ’50s, which surprisingly suits ambient music well. They have a slightly mellower output, ideal for achieving a soft, yet expressive ambient tone.
The late ’50s “C” neck profile is a bit chunkier, which some players might find more comfortable, especially when playing for long hours. The vintage frets and 7.25″ radius fretboard give it a distinct, old-school feel that’s quite different from modern guitars.
Here’s a really good sound demo of that Jazzmaster.
- Body: Semi-Hollow Maple
- Neck: Mahogany, Rounded C
- Fretboard: Indian Laurel
- Pickups: 2 Alnico Classic Pro humbuckers
- Special Features: LockTone Tunomatic bridge, Stop Bar tailpiece
Why It’s Ideal for Ambient
The Epiphone ES-335 is a standout in the semi-hollow world. The semi-hollow design naturally produces a warm, resonant tone that’s a perfect foundation for ambient music. The Alnico Classic Pro humbuckers add richness and depth to your sound, essential for creating those immersive, sonic landscapes.
The rounded C neck profile is comfortable, especially for players with larger hands. The combination of a semi-hollow body and Indian Laurel fretboard results in a guitar that’s not only great sounding but also enjoyable to play, providing a smooth and fluid experience.
Here’s my in-depth video review of the ES-335. And here’s my in-depth review.
Squier Classic Vibe 60s Stratocaster
- Body: Nato
- Neck: Maple, C profile
- Fretboard: Indian Laurel
- Pickups: 3 Fender-designed alnico single coils
- Special Features: Vintage-style synchronized tremolo, 5-Way switch
Why It’s a Top Pick for Ambient
Now, don’t underestimate the Squier Classic Vibe 60s Stratocaster because of its affordability. This Strat packs a punch with its three alnico single-coil pickups, providing a crisp and clear tone. The 5-way switch allows for a variety of tonal options, which is crucial when you’re trying to find that perfect ambient sound.
The C-shaped neck and narrow tall frets make it easy to play, and the tremolo system adds versatility to your ambient soundscapes. Plus, its lightweight design makes it comfortable for long playing sessions.
Here’s my own video review of that Squier CV Strat.
- Body: Hollow Maple laminated
- Neck: Nato, Soft “C”
- Fretboard: Laurel
- Pickups: 2 Broad’Tron BT-3S humbuckers
- Special Features: Push/Pull Coil Split, Adjusto-Matic bridge
Why It’s Superb for Ambient
The Gretsch G2622T stands out with its hollow body design, offering a naturally resonant and open tone, which is a bliss for ambient textures. The Broad’Tron humbuckers offer a unique blend of clarity and warmth, suitable for creating rich, enveloping ambient sounds. The push/pull coil split provides additional tonal versatility, a big plus for ambient players who love experimenting.
The soft “C” neck profile and medium jumbo frets offer a comfortable playing experience. The Gretsch’s unique aesthetics, combined with its playability, make it not just a musical instrument but a piece of art.
Check out this really good sound demo of that Gretsch.
5 Best Guitars For Ambient – Comparison
|Squier J Mascis
|Fender Vintera II 50s JM
|Squier CV 60s Strat
|Late 50s “C”
|21 Narrow Tall
|22 Medium Jumbo
|2 Jazzmaster Single Coils
|2 Vintage-style ’50s Jazzmaster Single Coils
|2 Alnico Classic Pro Humbuckers
|3 Fender-Designed Alnico Single Coils
|2 Broad’Tron BT-3S Humbuckers
|Lead Circuit, Rhythm Circuit, 3-Way Toggle
|Volume, Tone, 3-Way Switch
|2 x Volume, 2 x Tone
|1 Master Volume, 2 Tone, 5-Way Switch
|Volume 1, Volume 2, Master Tone, Master Volume with Push/Pull for Coil Split
|Adjusto-Matic with Vintage Style Floating Tremolo
|Pop-In Vintage-Style Jazzmaster Tremolo
|6-Saddle Vintage-Style Synchronized Tremolo
|Vintage Style Floating Tremolo, Gold Anodized Aluminium Pickguard
|Vintage ’50s Aesthetics, Gold Anodized Aluminum Pickguard
|Semi-Hollow Body, Locktone Stop Bar
|Classic ’60s Aesthetics, 3-Ply Parchment Pickguard
|Push/Pull Coil Split, 3-Ply Tortoise Pickguard
|Lake Placid Blue
Which One Would I Choose?
As a long-time fan of J Mascis and his work with Dinosaur Jr., my affinity for the Squier J Mascis Jazzmaster goes beyond its technical specifications. This guitar is a testament to Mascis’ influential style, and it perfectly encapsulates the essence required for crafting ambient music.
Right off the bat, the aesthetic of this guitar is a head-turner. The vintage white finish paired with the gold anodized aluminum pickguard isn’t just visually appealing; it’s a nod to the indie and alternative scenes that J Mascis himself has been a significant part of.
The basswood body of the Jazzmaster provides a warm and balanced tone, which is crucial for the layered and nuanced sounds that are characteristic of ambient music.
The ease of play, thanks to the C-shaped maple neck and Indian Laurel fingerboard, makes this guitar a joy to play for extended periods, allowing me to immerse fully in the music.
But what really draws me to this guitar, as an admirer of Mascis’ work, is its sound. The two Jazzmaster single-coil pickups produce a tone that’s bright and clear, yet capable of delivering the shimmery, reverb-drenched soundscapes that are synonymous with ambient music.
The lead and rhythm circuit controls offer a wide tonal range, from delicate, ethereal sounds to more pronounced, articulate notes – a versatility that’s essential for capturing the dynamic range of ambient compositions.
The vintage-style floating tremolo is another standout feature. It allows for expressive vibrato effects, adding depth and texture to ambient pieces, much like how J Mascis adds vibrancy and emotion to his music.
Combined with the Adjusto-Matic bridge, it ensures the guitar maintains stable tuning, essential when experimenting with different sounds and tunings.
Of course, even with my admiration for J Mascis and his signature model, it’s important to acknowledge the pros and cons:
- Versatile Tone: Ideal for the varied textures of ambient music.
- Comfortable Playability: Thanks to the well-designed neck and fretboard.
- Inspiring Aesthetics: A design that’s as creative as it is beautiful.
- Wide Tonal Range: Enhanced by the lead and rhythm circuit controls.
- Tuning Stability: Ensured by the Adjusto-Matic bridge.
- Single-Coil Pickups: May not appeal to those who prefer the thicker sound of humbuckers.
- Floating Tremolo: Can be challenging for players not used to this system.
- Basswood Body: Some players might seek more sustain than it offers.
In conclusion, the Squier J Mascis Jazzmaster is not just a guitar; it’s a piece of musical inspiration. Its ability to channel the spirit of J Mascis and Dinosaur Jr., combined with its suitability for ambient music, makes it a top choice for musicians seeking to blend indie rock energy with the ethereal qualities of ambient soundscapes.
Whether it’s the indie-rock charm of the Squier J Mascis Jazzmaster, the vintage vibes of the Fender Vintera II 50s Jazzmaster, the warm resonance of the Epiphone ES-335, the versatile tones of the Squier Classic Vibe 60s Stratocaster, or the unique Gretsch G2622T, each guitar has its own story to tell.
As for my personal favorite, the Squier J Mascis Jazzmaster, it’s not just about the specs – it’s about the feeling and the connection to the music and the artists that inspire us. Like J Mascis and Dinosaur Jr., each of these guitars can inspire you to create, explore, and perhaps even revolutionize your own musical journey.
At the end of the day, the best guitar for ambient music – or any music, for that matter – is the one that feels right in your hands and speaks to your soul. So, go out there, give these guitars a strum, and see which one resonates with you the most. Who knows? Your next favorite guitar might just be waiting to be discovered!