Blues is a music genre that never really goes away. There are a lot of Blues elements that can be found in different types of music, like pop, jazz, rock, and even heavy metal.
This makes complete sense, considering that Blues has been around for more than 100 years! If you’ve ever played an instrument in a jazz band or learned how to play the electric guitar, you’ve more than likely learned how to play some Blues chord progressions and blues scales. And of course, we can all recognize the classic blues artists, their guitar solos and songs.
In order to properly take on playing the Blues genre, you’ve got to understand and master a few concepts such as evoking emotion, technique, feel; even if you understand these concepts, you need a blues guitar to perform these concepts on in order to achieve the desired effect.
There are a lot more components that play into Blues besides pentatonic scales and I, IV, V chord sequences. You can convey different moods in Blues depending on what type of instrument you play and which songs do you want to interpretate.
Since Blues is commonly conceived as a genre that’s easy to play, a lot of people assume that finding the perfect Blues guitar is an easy task. Finding the perfect guitar for your needs is never an easy task, let alone finding the perfect guitar to play Blues on.
In a hurry? Need the Bottom Line up Front? If I had to pick just one, I would go with the Squier by Fender Classic Vibe Thinline available here as my top blues pick.
Of course, continue reading for the full analysis…
What makes a good guitar good for Blues?
Before we get into talking about specific models that are great for Blues, we need to talk about what truly makes a great Blues guitar.
If you’re looking to play a solid body guitar, you need to make sure that:
- Your guitar has a bright sound
- Articulation and groove come through when playing, with an equal mix of both
- A guitar that is not plastic
- I personally suggest a semi-hollow body guitar, as they have an amazing resonance. Their sound isn’t exactly massive, but it certainly does fill up an entire room
On the other hand, if you’re looking to play an acoustic guitar, you’re going to want to look for a guitar with:
No matter what type of instrument you end up purchasing, you’re going to want your guitar to be reliable, durable, and the best bang for your buck.
Now that we understand some of the aspects that make a guitar great for playing Blues, here are our top Nine choices for Blues guitars.
Top Nine Best Blues Guitars
If you’re just looking to read into the list that discusses the best Blues guitars, look no further! Here, I’ve compiled a list of the Nine best Blues guitars. I’ve split this list up into two different sections: acoustic guitars for Blues and electric guitars for Blues.
Best Acoustic Blues Guitars:
If you’ve ever been to a music store or hung around any friends who were into music, chances are you’ve heard of Fender. Fender is a company that produces high-quality guitars that are above the beginning player’s price range.
However, the Fender CD-60CE is a different story; this is a basic acoustic-electric guitar that provides players with a solid base to learn on. Matter of fact, the Fender CD-60CE is one of the best performing and most popular acoustic guitars at a
This acoustic-electric guitar sports a standard dreadnought body with a cutaway, ensuring that the body on this guitar is simple and not complex. As for Fender’s choice of tonewoods, they chose to go with laminated mahogany. While laminated mahogany isn’t the best tonewood to use, Fender had to make some cuts in order to deliver an acoustic-electric guitar that was affordable for beginning guitarists.
However, they do make up for the laminated mahogany with scalloped X-bracing. The neck of the guitar is also a piece of mahogany that sports a Rosewood fretboard along with a compensated saddle.
Fender chose a reasonable onboard active preamp and tuner, which all comes with the Fishman Isys III. You also receive a three hand EQ to shape your tone with; there’s just enough power in the pre-amp to make a small difference in the tonal quality.
The Fishman Isys III isn’t the best model that Fender could have put in their CD-60CE, but it does a good job of reproducing tones when you need them!
The hardware on the CD-60CE isn’t anything that’s any different than any other acoustic-electric guitar that’s in this price range. You’re provided with a Rosewood bridge that comes with a composite saddle. Fender installed a set of die-cast tuning keys, which maintain tuning and intonation while you’re playing, as long as you don’t push the guitar too far.
When I first played the Fender CD-60CE I was surprised at the tonal quality, because I honestly was expecting to be lacking. This guitar provided me a balanced tone, quality projection, and a great amount of warmth to balance the color.
While I wouldn’t compare this to a $3,000 acoustic-electric guitar, it does a really good job for its price range. Yes, the CD-60CE does have some flaws, but it provides players with amazing performance, especially considering the price range.
Classic Design guitars combine the timelessness of tried-and-true body shapes with top-notch craftsmanship and modern features that will appeal to beginner and intermediate guitarists alike.
Martin is known to produce some of the world’s best acoustic guitars. If you love the sound mahogany guitars produce, you’ve got to check out the Martin 000-15M. The entire body is made up of mahogany, including the neck.
Since the entire body is made up from mahogany, this guitar produces an incredible amount of warmth, as well as resonance. On the other hand, the mahogany also provides the 000-15M stability and durability, meaning that the Martin 000-15M can handle some abuse.
While the materials in this guitar do have a lot to play into the quality of the instrument, it’s also the quality of the craftsmanship that went into making it. Not only is the Martin 000-15M one of the best and highest quality guitars on the market, but it also is priced at an incredible range.
The mahogany makes the neck of the guitar sturdy, but as someone with small hands, I still find the neck to be easy to play. My favorite part of the hardware that Martin installed in the 000-15M is the elegance in the pieces they chose. Most pickguards take away from the beauty of guitars, but the pickguard on this guitar is small enough to do the job and not take away from the beauty of the instrument.
The 000-15M also comes with a rosette, Rosewood bridge, and a set of die-cast tuners. I have heard so many of my friends tell me about how they are impressed with how long the guitar stays in tune over a period of time.
As for the tonal quality of the 000-15M, you should expect a sound that’s heavier on the bass frequencies, with a full-bodied and warm tone. However, the sound is bright enough to play along well with a Delta Blues style. If you’re looking to play more than Blues, this guitar also has the ability to provide players with gravely articulations and a warm treble sound.
Don’t forget that the price tag of the guitar also includes a Martin hardshell case. For under $1,500 you can purchase yourself a blues acoustic guitar that’s jam-packed with high-quality features.
No matter what you exact musical taste is, or what your genre performance desires are, this is a guitar that will suit your needs and desires.
Best Electric Blues Guitars:
Squier Classic Vibe Thin Line Telecaster
Quality electric guitars aren’t usually cheap. But, the Squier Classic Vibe Thin Line Telecaster is not only inexpensive, but it’s also a great electric guitar for beginners to start out on. This guitar’s body is comprised from mahogany, with provides with a semi hollow body with an incredible ability to produce a natural resonance.
As for the neck, it’s a maple neck that’s produced from a single piece that has 21 medium jumbo frets, a set of black dot inlays, and a maple fingerboard. The Thin Line Telecaster also comes with a classic Telecaster headstock and an F-hole, as well as a thru-body bridge that comes with a set of three chrome barrel saddles.
Cosmetically, this is a beautiful guitar. Squier included a pickguard that covers almost half of the front side to the guitar; they also included vintage style tuning pegs that really add a unique element to the Telecaster.
My main complaint about the cosmetic appearance of the Telecaster is the size of the pickguard; while it’s great to have so much extra protection on the guitar, but when it comes time to replacing the pick guard, it’s a difficult and pricey task, because you don’t want to damage the body of the guitar.
Besides that small little complaint, the guitar itself does a really great job staying in tune for long periods of time. However, there are some sharp edges and some minor buzzing on the fret, it’s not a guitar that’s too bad overall. While this does seem to a basic combination, it certainly does get the job done.
As for the electronics, Squier installed a set of quality Tele single coil pickups that have AlNiCo V magnets that have been attached to singular volume and tone control knobs. There is also a three-way pickup selector installed, that allow you to have additional control over the tonal quality of the guitar.
With the mixture of the bright pickups paired with the mahogany tonewood, you’ve got yourself a guitar that delivers booming sound along with additional resonance.
If you’re looking to play a semi hollow body with the mellow and distinctive sound, the Thin Line Telecaster is perfect for you. If you just look at the financial factor of this guitar, this is a really great six string guitar. It makes an okay beginners guitar, but I believe that’s better if an intermediate player used this instrument, but the best option would be a professional Blues or Jazz player to use this guitar.
This is a professional quality guitar for under $500, which makes the overall quality and performance of this guitar amazing!
Airline Bighorn Red
Some guitarists enjoy playing just a basic Blues guitar, but then there are other guitarists who like something different. If you’re looking for a Blues guitar that’s a bit on the wild side, the Airline Bighorn Red is the perfect unconventional guitar for you.
This body of the Airline Bighorn Red is a solid that has a maple neck with a Rosewood fingerboard, 24.75-inch scale, 19 frets, and your typical white dot markers. As for the neck, it is a bit wide on the lower frets, but the higher registry and slim and easy to play on.
The hardware on the Bighorn Red isn’t anything too complex; a set of six tuners, bone nut, large pickguard, truss rod, and an adjustable bridge.
While the fret job on this electric isn’t the best, it certainly doesn’t make this guitar poor quality. There are some sharp edges, minor buzzing issues, and minor tuning issues, but the guitar is still certainly quality enough for a professional to perform live with.
You should expect some fuzziness in the electronic section of the Airline Bighorn. Set up with a set of Airline humbuckers that come with separate volume and tone controls knobs and a three-way pickup selector switch. As for the pickups, they tend to run on the hotter side and are fuzzy, but are still fixed enough to sound Bluesy.
The sound of the Airline Bighorn isn’t as clean as other electric guitars in the Blues genre. However, there is plenty of articulation that comes from the fuzz that allows players to control the emotions produced from the sound of the guitar and purchase the best songs.
I wouldn’t suggest purchasing this online, as I would go play this guitar in person before purchasing. It has a unique tone to it that not everyone is going to fall in love with- thus, why I mentioned it was a unique guitar in the beginning paragraph.
The unique sound of this guitar is aesthetically pleasing, especially for the low price range. It’s also a guitar that’s cosmetically pleasing to look at, don’t you agree?
If you’ve ever listened to BB King, you’ve heard him play the ES-335, although he called his guitar Lucille. This is a high-end guitar that many Blues playing guitarists describe to be their dream guitar. I’ve had the privilege of borrowing this beauty from one of my friends and was able to play it for a few hours.
The Gibson ES-335 is a humbucker equipped semi hollow body guitar. If you’re looking to mimic the sound of BB King, the Gibson ES-335 is very similar to his signature Lucille guitar.
In the middle of the guitar’s body, there is a wooden black that runs through, but the rest of the body is chambered; having a block in the body but having the rest of the body chambered really allows the guitar to resonate. The body is comprised of laminated maple with a tone woods that physically and audibly show that this guitar is comprised of top level craftsmanship.
As for the neck, it’s a maple piece that is combined with torrified maple as a glued in fretboard. This fretboard also has classic white dot markers and 22 frets. After all that, there’s just a basic Gibson headstock decorated with a golden logo.
Even though the neck and the body are two separate pieces (bolt-on neck), it doesn’t feel like they are when you’re holding the guitar. There’s a nice smooth transition between the neck and the body, and there is surprisingly no fret buzz or sharp edges.
The ES-335 uses Grover Rotomatic tuning machines that ensure that the guitar strings stay in tune over a period of time, even if you happen to keep them in the same tuning. Gibson chose to go with a set of classic Gibson humbucker pickups that are controlled by a single set of control knobs to use for volume and tone adjustments.
I really love using this guitar when I plan on playing a lot of chords because I find that they have an incredible full body sound and they ring out really well. The main reason behind Gibson putting the block in the middle is to help preserve the famous Gibson sustain, while also providing you with a rich harmonic sound.
Maple is known to make an articulate and bright sound, but with the addition of the arched top with F-holes ensure that the ES-335 have incredible resonance with a well-rounded sound that warms up the middle and bass.
The only complaint that I have with this guitar is that if you use a lot of distortion, the guitar beings to give some feedback. However, you don’t use a lot of gain for any type of Blues music, so if you’re strictly looking to play Blues, you don’t have to worry about this. I really love using the ES-335 with just the smallest amount of drive or when I use it on a clean channel.
If you’re looking to go with a more inexpensive option for the ES-335, the 335 Studio is cheaper than the ES-335 and works very well. The Gibson ES-339 is very, very similar to the ES-335, but it has a body that’s slightly smaller.
As a blues guitarist who is looking for a classic Blues vibe, the Gibson ES-335 is jam packed with clarity and brightness but has just enough clarity of the middle and low ends to ensure that the tonal quality of the guitar is not dry.
This is a high-end guitar that has a high-end price tag to go along with it and is really an instrument that I only suggest to experienced Blues players because this is a guitar that takes some finicking in order to hit the perfect balance.
But, for under $2,000, this guitar really is a lot of fun!
Gibson Les Paul Studio
The classic Gibson Les Paul is arguably one of the most iconic electronic guitars that was ever invented. However, not everyone has extra money to spend on a classic Gibson Les Paul.
If you’re looking for the quality that the classic Gibson Les Paul has without the price tag the classic Gibson carries, the Gibson Les Paul Studio is an amazing contender that will cost you right under $1,000.
If you’re interested in purchasing a Blues guitar that has a warm, well-rounded sound, you need to check out the Les Paul. This guitar is more powerful than a typical Blues guitar because the Les Paul comes loaded with a set of humbucker pickups which happens to be more powerful than a set of single coils. This means that you’re going to have a louder and warmer output.
Les Paul is famous for its sustain, because of the quality thick mahogany that Gibson uses on this guitar. Sustain is wonderful to have if you happen to be an improviser who loves to bend notes of higher ranges. This guitar also comes with a maple fingerboard as well as trapezoid fret inlays.
Gibson made sure to leave the feel of the neck to be a bit on the chunkier side, as they wanted the Studio to have the same feel as the Classic. As for the body, the Studio has a carved top made from maple and a mahogany back.
Whether you plan on playing your Blues guitar with a distorted or clean sound, the Gibson Les Paul guitar will provide you with fantastic sound. A common thing that a lot of Blues musicians do when playing the Les Paul is set up their amp with the gain on and turn the volume down on the guitar itself in order to clean the sound up.
By slowing and carefully adjusting the volume knob, you get a whole bunch of different sounds produced, without even having to touch the amp!
If you’re interested in playing a Les Paul that is more updated, the Gibson Les Paul 2017 Standard has humbuckers that display a good amount of the vintage character that the Les Paul is known for but offers a bit more contemporary side.
The 2017 Standard also has coil splitting capabilities, which allows you to make your guitar sound like it has single coils, all by pulling on one of the knobs.
As for the Studio guitar, Gibson installed their signature Tune-O-Matic bridge, along with a pick guard, set of tuning pegs, and a Graph Tech nut. Gibson did a really amazing job with the fret, as there are no sharp edges and extremely minimal fret buzz.
The sound of the combo of the maple and the mahogany tonewoods provide the sound of the guitar with a mellow sound with a vigorous drive to it which comes from the mahogany. When I played this guitar, I noticed that there was a strong presence of the middle and bass, but there was enough treble brightness that made the sound truly well rounded so you can play some songs or the album of your favorite blue artists.
On the other hand, if you’re looking to spend even less money on your guitar, both the Gibson Les Paul Studio and the Gibson Les Paul Faded make great options for a Blues guitar, but cost a lot less money.
Gretsch G9200 Box Car
If you’re a true diehard fan of Blues, you have to play on a resonator guitar at least one time in your journey as a musician. The G9200 Box Car guitar is my favorite high quality, low cast six string resonator.
The build of the body and the neck on this guitar are incredible; the G9200 fashions a mahogany neck with a 25-inch scale length Rosewood fingerboard that sports 19 frets with white dot markers and an Ampli Sonic cone.
If you’re looking for a guitar that’s nothing but resonance, the mahogany that’s used in the G9200 gives you nothing but that! Mahogany is a beautiful tone with an incisive and melodious tone; if you’re not used to playing with a cone, you’ll find that there’s extra depth to the
As for the neck on the G9200, it is a bit large on the lower register, but is trim on the higher registry; as someone with small hands, I felt like the lower registry was harder to play. However, the higher registry was playable and slim enough for my hands to feel comfortable.
When I first began playing this guitar, I noticed that the body itself also felt smaller. The body is this guitar is not a ¾ body, but it is compact. Considering that this a compact body, there is an incredible amount of sound that’s produced from this guitar.
As for the hardware on the G9200, Gretsch used a spider bridge with a bone nut and a set of six tuning peg.
There are minor buzzing issues on the fret, but it doesn’t distract from the sound produced; this guitar also holds tuning very well, which means the G9200 also have incredible intonation.
Mahogany is a tonewood, which ensures that the guitar produces an incredible sound that has powerful qualities to it. Not to mention that the twang that this guitar produces matches very well to the raw Delta Blues style, but this guitar also produces a mellow sound that matches really well with light finger picking that pairs with old school Blues.
In all honesty, for under $500 you can purchase yourself a really amazing resonator guitar. Cosmetically, it’s a gorgeous guitar to look at and it has its own distinctive sound.
If you’re looking for a guitar that pairs along well with Blues and you’re not looking to spend over $1,000 or more, the G9200 is perfect for you!
PRS Custom 22
If you’re new to the guitar world, you’ve more than likely never have heard of the brand called PRS. That’s okay! However, you should know that PRS is a company that’s well known for creating modern day guitars with a different edge on them. One of the PRS most famous guitars is the Custom 22 guitar.
One of the main reasons that the Custom 22 guitar is so famous is because it’s an extremely versatile guitar that can be used in just about any genre of music. Featuring a mahogany body and a mahogany neck, PRS made sure that this guitar screamed sturdy.
However, the mahogany body also ensures that the Custom 22 provides players with incredible amounts of power.
The neck itself is very slim and I found it to be very comfortable to play on; I have small hands and I discovered that I was able to play this guitar for a while before my hands became tired and achy; the fingerboard is Rosewood and sports a set of 22 frets with a 25-inch scale length that is all made complete with PRS bird inlays.
All of the hardware on the Custom 22 has been designed by PRS. I only have a few complaints about the Custom 22 and the complaints that I have with this guitar are commonly shared with other guitarists.
This guitar does have some minor tuning issues; I find that if I leave it in a certain tuning for a while, the strings slowly detune.
I also don’t like how the guitar doesn’t come with a pick guard; I understand that the pickguard comes in a gig bag, but I wish I didn’t have to apply it myself. On the other hand, I enjoy the job that PRS did on the fret of the Custom 22, as it has minimal fret buzz and doesn’t really have any sharp edges.
The electronics and sound in the Custom 22 are completely in your hands. As for the electronics, this guitar sports volume control knobs, tone control knobs, PRS bass and treble humbucker pickups, and a three-way pickup selector.
Since the pickups are a bit overpowering, the sound is very powerful. While the sound is powerful, it still is fully under your control. The humbuckers in the Custom 22 are what allow this guitar to be so versatile; they provide the Custom 22 with the ability to front incredibly clean notes, but also have no problem transitioning to intense and punchy metal.
Why is this guitar good for Blues? The basic sound that the Custom 22 produces is well known in the world of Jazz guitar and Blues; it’s a natural sound that is impressionable to an assortment of effects and changes in tone.
For under $1,000 you can pick yourself up a guitar that’s not only great for Blues but can effectively play in many different music genres.
Fender American Special Stratocaster
Some of the most famous Blues players have used the Fender American Special Stratocaster; Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jeff Beck, John Mayer, just to name a few. Ever since the 1950s, the Fender Strat has been a lot of musician’s go to Blues guitar.
Ever since the 50s, the Stratocaster has been a guitar that’s been unspokenly used to compare against every other Blues guitar in the industry. The Fender American Special Stratocaster is one of the best electric guitars that’s under $1,000.
There are several different variations of the Stratocaster that are available on the market, so you’ve got to choose your guitar based on your specific needs/desire. If you’re looking for a straight up Blues sound, you should check out the Fender American Pro Stratocaster.
However, if you’re looking for a Blues sound that leans more on the Rock side compared to the Blues, the American Special Stratocaster has hotter pickups compared to the American Pro.
For the Fender Stratocaster, there are three single coil pickups with five different configuration options. There are several different tonal possibilities that you can choose from with the Strat; you can choose bright and bell-like sound on the bridge to thick and warm sound on the pickup.
If you want to know what an American Stratocaster sounds like without going to a guitar store and playing one, just go and listen to any one of Eric Clapton’s sounds and you’ll find out what they sound like. Not only is this guitar affordable, but it also offers a whole range of tonal definitions, reaches incredible ranges, and produced warm and wholesome tones.
As for the pickups themselves in the Strat, keeping your tone nice and clean sounding isn’t too hard to do, especially since the pickups aren’t too high.
If you’re looking to break up the sound on your Strat, I suggest turning up the volume on the valve amp and you will find that the sound will begin to break up. I personally love finding the balance in between the volume on the valve amp, because I feel that’s where the Strat really begins to shine.
On the other hand, if you’re looking to create a style that mimics how Hendrix played (60s Blues Rock), single coils work along very well with a fuzz pedal. Enough about the sound of the American Stratocaster! Let’s get into more detail about the body of this guitar, as well as the hardware and electronics packed into this beauty.
As for the body and neck, the Stratocaster’s body shape is well known among guitar players across the world. Featuring an alder body, the neck of the Stratocaster is the typical 9.5-inch radius with a satin finish. The American Stratocaster features a latter fretboard, but other Strats come with either a lacquered maple fretboard or a Rosewood fretboard.
As for the hardware, the bridge of the American Strat fashions six saddles that are completely adjustable and provide players with an amazing range.
At the headstock, Fender gave the Strat a full set of F tuners from Fender, which is great to have if you’re really considered about your intonation; the F tuners also do a great job of making sure that your tuning stays in place for a while, so that the guitar doesn’t de-tune itself over time.
While playing the American Strat, I’ve found that I can really be aggressive when bending my strings and I find that they stay in tune, after I’ve put them through some abuse. The main complaint that a lot of guitarists have with the Stratocasters is that the tremolo bridges are the weakest part of the guitar.
The electronics themselves aren’t too complicated; one of the most famous features of the Strat is its three single coil pickup. These three single-coil pickups are the main component into the famous tone that Strat produces.
Fender took the time to make sure that this guitar picked up all of your subtle playing techniques, so they greatly reduced the buzzing on the single coils. There are also pots inside of the guitar, which helps to ensure that the bass is kept as low as it possibly can when you turn up the volume.
It’s common advice in the guitar world that if you’re an electric guitar player, you at least need to try out an authentic Fender Stratocaster once in your life at the least and if not, own one. It’s incredible how much influence that this sole guitar has on the music that we listen to today.
For under $1,000 you can purchase yourself an incredible guitar that is certain not to disappoint.
Further Reading: Learn more about the difference between the Fender Stratocaster vs Telecaster.
Conclusion – The Final Pick on the Best Guitar for Blues
Which guitar is the best to use for Blues? There is no given answer, as each guitar provides each user a different experience when playing. Any one of the above nine choices will make an amazing guitar for someone to play blues on. Whatever guitar you decide to purchase for yourself, don’t forget that playing blues is all about a player’s emotion and feeling.
While these great guitar options are going to push you into the direction of producing the correct tone, the guitar player is what really makes or breaks the deal. And that’s a wrap! I hope you’ve enjoyed learning something new about six-string blue guitars and hopefully have found a possible buying option for yourself.
Bottom Line: As a reminder, if you are really, stuck: Go with the Squier by Fender Classic Vibe Thinline available here
FAQs About Blues Guitar
Blues has is a very popular genre, and if you want to learn how to play (and you already know how to play guitar) then a few online tutorials would do the job for you, but if you are a
Practice. It’s always the best way to become more professional. Another thing that would work is to record yourself and learn from the mistakes you make. Start with an easy song and play it more and more until you are ready to learn a more complicated one.
If you plan on becoming a professional blues player, then you have to practice 8 hours a day, if you are playing just for a hobby and to entertain your friends, then you can do it as much as you want, but make sure you do it on daily basis.
Danny grew up playing anything that looked like a guitar. Since some kids just don’t know how to grow up, he continues to write about guitars because you can do that these days.