For six weeks, I have been panting with anticipation for the arrival of my new Sadowsky Jimmy Bruno Jazz guitar, and on Friday, that anticipation was made into delight with the early-morning arrival of that beautiful guitar. The first thing I noticed after opening the box was not the guitar, but rather a small, white, envelope waiting for me on the third fret and held in place by an E string on each side. I opened the envelope and read a handwritten note from guitar builder Roger Sadowsky who personally signed a kind note encouraging me to: “Enjoy your new guitar.”
My Jimmy Bruno guitar is quite beautiful and extremely well-crafted. Lifting the guitar out of its case, however, created a moment of Déjà Vu as I felt as if I had seen this guitar before in the guise of my Ibanez Artcore AG75!
The Sadowsky Bruno has a similar laminated sort of body and heft and weight and size and “hand feel” and, for a moment, I was a little freaked out that I was holding the bigger, badder, but more beautiful and better-bred brother of my Artcore!
Was this Sadowsky Bruno 14 times better than what I paid for my AG75?
It was time to find out.
Playing the Sadowsky Bruno unplugged provides the same dim and thin experience as the AG75. Laminated guitars are not meant to be played unplugged, so I hooked up my new Sadowsky to my Fender Champ amp and the world changed.
Unlike the AG75, the Sadowsky Bruno is made to do Jazz and only Jazz. There is only a neck pickup on the guitar. You buy a Sadowsky Bruno because you want that buttery, creamy, Jazz tone — and if you want to play some harsher, brighter, BeBop, or something with a bridge pickup twang, you’re going to have to find another guitar. The Sadowsky Bruno is built for a single, intentional, niche and the guitar not only fills that musical notch, it overfills it with tremendous depth of sound and divine intonation.
The Sadowsky Bruno plays effortlessly. The setup out of the box is perfect — by design — because Roger Sadowsky inspects and sets up every guitar he sells before he ships it to you. That special luthier’s touch takes time and that’s why, after you’ve paid-in-full for your Sadowsky guitar, you’re going to have a two-day delay before it ships so Roger can take the time to set up the guitar for you. When asked what type of strings I wanted installed on the guitar, I said I wanted the heavy Sadowsky Jimmy Bruno Signature Guitar Strings.
The only small curiosity I have with Roger’s personal setup of my guitar is that the G string gets stuck in the nut. That’s actually a common problem with Jazz archtops using a wound Third string — but, I thought, for sure, the nut would be correctly cut with Roger doing the final inspection and setup.
You should not be able to turn a tuning knob 3/4 of a turn one way and then the other and not have the note change at all in pitch — when there is no change in pitch, that means the string is getting caught in the nut, and that is bad for your guitar and really bad for your string because the string is being stretched between only the nut and the tuning peg.
I’m sure I can fix the problem with some graphite in the nut for that string slot on the next change, but still, I was surprised to have such an annoying, but common, problem on this high-end level of a professional guitar.
Here are the details of my Sadowsky Jimmy Bruno guitar:
Finish: Sienna Burst
The Jimmy Bruno Model features 5-ply maple laminate body construction with the following specifications:
14 3/4″ body width at the lower bout
2 3/4″ body thickness
1 11/16″ nut width
Mahogany neck with Ebony fingerboard and cat’s eye pearl inlays
24 3/4″ scale, 22 frets, 15 frets to the body
Ebony bridge, tailpiece and pickguard
Sadowsky True-Tone compensated ebony bridge saddles.
The ebony fretboard is wonderful and smooth. The overall sound is dark and moody. The neck is thin and fast. The neck pickup is haunting and mysterious. I don’t like the input jack so close to the endpin, though, because the cord sticks out and bangs into my desk.
My new Sadowsky Bruno does not like my new Wegen Gypsy Jazz pick, or playing percussive La Pompe-style Jazz guitar. The sound of the guitar is creamy and cool and not crunchy and dry. This guitar is precisely made to play Jimmy Bruno Style Jazz, not Django Reinhardt Gypsy Jazz.
I decided I wanted a Sadowsky Jimmy Bruno Model Jazz guitar because taking lessons from Jimmy online made me covet this guitar. I loved how the guitar fit Jimmy and I liked the tone Jimmy gets out of the guitar.
Now, when I practice my lessons, I can mirror Jimmy much more accurately because that beautiful music he has coming from his guitar now — believe it or not! — comes from my guitar in unison, and that is the beauty of purchasing these signature model guitars.
With a signature guitar, you can not only begin to play like your idol, you can also play the same guitar as your idol — and that makes the learning, the progression, and the connection, deeper, and dramatically more empathic — and that’s why a Roger Sadowsky designed and built guitar, endorsed and signed by Jimmy Bruno, can make a whole new Jazz life for a student of sound who always seeks to keep the next inspirational fire flickering and alive beyond the basic teaching and into the forward realm of mastering musicianship.
Such a pretty guitar. I bet it plays really great, too.
The guitar already plays like I’ve been playing it for years. The wood will start to come into full tone in a month or two after playing for several hours a day — so everything will only get better!
What a beaut! Thanks for sharing, David! 🙂
Thanks, Gordon. It’s a lovely guitar all around. It begs me to play it!
Thanks for the nice review, David. Glad you a happy with your guitar.
Regarding the location of the jack, may I suggest a right angle plug. Structurally, this is the best and safest location for a side jack. I have repaired too many broken ribs in my career from side jacks in their normal locations.
I promise you I will check for strings sticking in the nut slots more closely from now on!
(I can confirm that is actually Roger Sadowsky replying because his IP address tracks back to Sadowsky Guitars!)
I appreciate your comment. It means a lot to me. This is why you are so grand and successful! You do not hide. You place your name on the line and stake your reputation in public. You give clear answers and you are a transparent and honest businessman. Why aren’t you running for President instead of building great guitars? SMILE!
Hmm. I don’t have any right-angle plugs. I have so much money invested in tons of straight Evidence Audio cables. Does a right-angle plug require being looped around a guitar strap so it doesn’t pull out or press an awkward force against the guitar?
I can imagine cutting nuts is the bane of any luthier! So many precision variables that can change even from string set to string set!
Thanks again for the fine comment!
Hi Dave —
That’s neat Roger supplied a comment for you. He seems like a nice man and talented artist.
You didn’t answer the question you pose. Is the Sadowsky guitar 14 times better than the Ibanez or not?
Yes, it was fantastic Roger commented on his own review! Exciting stuff!
I thought I didn’t have to be so explicit about it, Anne! SMILE! Yes, the Sadowsky Jimmy Bruno is TWENTY-FOUR times better than my Ibanez Artcore and worth every single penny!
Oh, and also — just to be clear — all the front and back shots of the guitar are images of my actual guitar and I took the image of Roger’s note with my iPhone 4S… just in case there’s any doubt.
ordered a Sadowsky JB model almost two years ago, and it is still Number 1; it has some good competition via my old ES175, a PRS and various Fenders and a Les Paul. It has its own distinct personality, but it is an individual; 90% of my playing time is on it, though I spell every now and then to re-orient myself to the others; whenever I come back to the JB, I get re-aquainted with why I bought it in the first place
Thanks for your excellent comment. I knew when I started taking Jimmy’s class online that I would HAVE TO get my own Bruno Sadowsky. That guitar is part of Jimmy and a start of the classes. That Sadowsky is his sound and I want that same intention of intonation in my Jazz playing. You can tell the guitar plays really well and I wanted that sort of immaculate setup, too, and I’m thrilled it all came true just as advertised.
When I picked up my Sadowsky Bruno today to play it — the guitar had morphed into a deeper, richer, tone and the playability was just a bit keener. Was the guitar getting acclimated, or was I bending my ability to better match its setup? The guitar is already starting to come into tone and I’ve only had it since Friday.
Now my new 1998 L5 sits there gently weeping at me. I picked it up for the first time today — to install Sadowsky “Jimmy Bruno Set” 13s on it! I will report back in a week or so in a new strings review!
Tony Farinella at Evidence is a great guy. Why not ask him if you could send him some of your cables and have a right angle plug added to one end? Tell him I sent you!
I’m a big Tony fan —
— Way back in 2009 he mentioned his “new” Forte cables to me in email. I’m going to get in touch with him again and ask him about a right-angle connection, and I will drop your name in the exchange, too! SMILE!
Hmm. All email sent to various evidenceaudio.com email addresses bounce back as undeliverable. Even using the online contact form returns an error. I don’t know if Tony is still in business or not.
It appears Tony is alive… ALIVE, SAY I… that’s excellent news because Tony’s audio cables are the best cables in the biz and I can now begin to breathe again… he had some email trouble this morning, but it looks like it is all solved now.
I just installed Thomastik-Infeld George Benson (GB114) flat wounds on the guitar and the change is dramatic! The third string doesn’t get caught in the nut any longer and the overall tone is excellent. Finger noise is zero. Playability is massively improved.
Beautiful guitar. How often do you play it?
Thanks! It is quite a beautiful guitar. I try to play it every day — if only for a few minutes.