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Best Blues Guitars

Guitars such as the L-00 and the Fender Strat have defined the world of Blues its whole existence. There are other guitars that have changed the blues sound for decades. Today we’ll take a look at the 6 best blues guitars, who makes them and what they are known for.

Best Blues Guitars at a Glance

Blues Instruments: Why They’re Unique

Blues is one of those instruments that needs soul in it. Just like R&B and Jazz, you can just tell when someone doesn’t have it. The raw emotion and heart has to be in the music just as much as the notes you are playing. That is why these guitars are so key to the music because they have as much heart and soul as the players themselves. There are certain key components that bring these pieces out of the instruments themselves.

  • Warm tones
  • Piercing trills
  • Booming notes
  • Thick strings

Hopefully, this list can help you in your search for that tone of gold.

Best Electric Blues Guitar

1. Fender Stratocaster

Fender Stratocaster
Fender Stratocaster

This guitar is the stuff of legends. So many famous players have used it as a staple especially in the blues community. Jimi Hendrix, SRV, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Buddy Guy, and so many more, had this guitar as their go-to. Now there is a lot that can be customized, there are versions with and without whammy bars, you can have a rosewood fretboard, you can have just the neck itself as the fretboard, and don’t even start looking into how many styles there are in color, finish, and pickguards.

There is also a debate of whether or not Mexican made Strats are better than American made Strats. I have played and recorded with both, I have to say that they can both be amazing.

Things to consider:

Make sure you know your Strat well. With the many options and versatility available you need to know how to get each sound you need.

2. Guild F-2512E

Guild F-2512E
Guild F-2512E

Why We Like It:

Twelve string guitars probably have one of the fullest and richest sounds out there and every time I have had the chance to sit with one I always get carried away. One of my personal guitar heroes, Stevie Ray Vaughan actually played an older version of this guitar in an old MTV Unplugged session roughly 6 months before he died in 1990. If you’d like to see that performance you can find it here, and I can promise you won’t be disappointed. Many blues guitarists rely on their use of bends to give their songs the emotional resonance but with a 12 string, they must truly rely on their raw skill.

Things to consider:

Being a 12 string, these do need more care and attention than regular six strings. This is due to the lighter strings that give you that unique feeling that are more easily broken and stretched out.

3. Gibson Les Paul

 Gibson Les Paul
Gibson Les Paul (gold top)

Why We Like It:

The Gibson Les Paul is another giant in the blues world right alongside its competitor the Stratocaster. Huge names use this just as the strat. Jared James Nichol, Joe Bonamassa, Billy Gibbons and of course, the man who it was named after, Les Paul. This is a great body style that does have a lot of weight to is but how thick and heavy it is only adds to the amazing tones that come screaming from it. One of my favorite styles is the 54 les Paul, sunburst. I really like the natural back necks with no glossy finish making it so easy to glide your hand around.

Things to consider:

I will always be one to advocate for trying a guitar before buying it. Les Pauls especially are ones you need to. I have played 3 from the same year and series and only liked how one felt, even though they were the same price, year, and model.

4. Epiphone De Luxe Classic F-Hole Arch Top

Epiphone De Luxe Classic F-Hole Arch Top
Epiphone De Luxe Classic F-Hole Archtop (natural)

Why We Like It:

This classic style of acoustic guitar is what many early blues players would use. Many went with F-Hole guitars for their warm yet plucky sound. It has a larger body for the resonance it needs to stand out in a bar with no sound system, no acoustics, just the player and the instrument. 

Things to consider:

If you are used to a regular dreadnought guitar with the standard sound hole, there will be a change in the sound. But that is what the design of the guitar is for, to make the higher notes stand out even more.

5. Gibson ES 335

Gibson ES 335
Gibson ES-335

Why We Like It:

This is yet another gibson that made its way onto the list and was played by big names such as Chuck Berry, but the biggest name that truly made this model famous was none other than the King himself BB King. One of the greats in the Blues world and a master of making the guitar sing. He utilized his personal ES-335’s which he dubbed “Lucille” by his unique phrasing of notes and making them stand out every time. 

Things to consider: This guitar is on the heavier side (despite being hollow) so be sure to have a sturdy strap.

6. Gibson L-00

Gibson L-00
Gibson L-00
  • Best For: 12 Bar Blues (Chicago Blues) and Slider
  • Manufacturer: Gibson
  • Price: No products found.
  • Compare Prices: Guitar Center | Musician’s Friend | No products found.

Why We Like It:

One of the most famous blues players to ever live was a man named Robert Johnson. His legend is wrapped in mystery and darkness, many believing he sold his soul to the Devil at the crossroads at midnight to gain supernatural musical abilities. The type of guitar that he played was extremely similar to the style of the Gibson L-00. It is the size of a parlor guitar with the attitude of a mean blues ripping 6 string. The actual model that Johnson played was a Gibson L-1, however, I do not believe that those are even made anymore. 

Choose Your Blues

Blues as a music style, swept the music scene with its anguished and emotional songs built around the troubles of the players life. It has its roots in gospel and soul music and is generally believed to have originated down around Mississippi. There are endless musicians who made their mark on the world through the blues such as Muddy Waters, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Robert Johnson just to name a few. There are even blues legends that you can see coming up today!

Guitarists like Joe Bonamassa and Jared James Nichols are two beasts of the game that are still going strong today.

All of these guitars have cemented themselves in the history of music, primarily in the Blues and will hopefully inspire many more for generations to come.