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Blues Guitars – What Is The Best Blues Guitar

blue stratocasterIf you already play guitar you know how important having a guitar you really like is to your playing. And of course, what works for you may not work for me.

And even within a particular guitar type the guitars themselves may be quite different. I play Fender Stratocasters but I’ve picked up many other Strats that just don’t feel good to me. I like mine with a certain feel. I’m sure you like your guitars with a certain feel too.

And don’t get hung up on using guitars your blues heros play. Find what is right for you and let’s you connect your own soul to the blues inside you. That’s the key to great blues playing.

What Is The Best Blues Guitar

The best blues guitar is the one you like the most. For some ideas, here’s the top guitars you typically see blues guitarists using. And which is the best blues guitar is really a matter of choice.

And it’s often the case that a guitarist may play several different guitars depending on the song. So one style and even one brand and model, does not fit all. You may learn to love many types of guitars.

But for me it’s Stratocasters…

Why? Who knows really. They are just what I’ve grown to love over the years. But that’s just me… and Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimi Hendrix, Ronnie Earl, Eric Clapton, Robert Cray, Buddy Guy, John Mayer, etc.

Anyway, here’s a range of guitars that you might want to check out. You’ll see any and all of them in use by the stars of the blues. And they all sound good.

honeyboy-b-dayFender Stratocaster

This guitar was first introduced by Fender in 1954. It has become perhaps the most important electric guitar in history. At the time it was an extremely radical guitar design. Nothing else looked like it.

And it wasn’t just the design that was different. It featured several playability improvements over the Fender Telecaster including…

  • Better intonation
  • Better tone
  • Player comfort was improved
  • A better vibrato unit

Leo Fender had been asking every guitarist that came to the Fender factory what could be improved on the Telecaster. The Stratocaster embodied all those improvements.

Of course today these facts are old news. We expect all of the features now. And some guitarist never use the Strat vibrato unit so who cares. But for me it’s critical. I love to add a little vibrato to my chords as I play. It’s become integral to my sound.

Blues Guitarists Who Used A Stratocaster

Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimi Hendrix, Ronnie Earl, Eric Clapton, Robert Cray, Buddy Guy, John Mayer, Ike Turner, Howlin Wolf, Pee Wee Crayton, Jeff Beck

Gibson Les Paul

Used by more Blues Rock players than other types the Les Paul is a most-loved guitar by many rock guitarists in general. It’s big fat sound screams power and it’s fat tone cuts through any mix.

Blues Guitarists Who Used A Les Paul

Jimmy Page, Joe Bonamassa, Duane Allman, Peter Green, Warren Haynes, Walter Trout, Hubert Sumlin, Mike Bloomfield, Billy Gibbons, Derek Trucks

Gibson ES-335-345-355

This top-of-the-line Gibson guitar series is “blues famous” mostly because of Lucille. Yes B.B. King’s guitar is a ES-355, called Lucille, which comes from the Gibson “335” family. Lot’s of other blues and jazz players use it but B.B. is the king of the ES-355. His unmistakable tone comes directly from this type of guitar and he would sound very different with anything but a Gibson hollow-body guitar.

Gibson has a Lucille model guitar made custom to B.B. specifications. It’s different from a regular 355 in that it has no F-Holes at the top. This helps reduce feedback.

B.B. KingBlues Guitarists Who Used A ES-335 Series

B.B. King, none other known blues guitarists (let me know if you know any)

Big Hollow-bodies (Epiphone, Gibson, etc)

Hollow-body, big bodied guitars are a favorite with Jump and Jazz Blues players like Duke Robillard and many of the West Coast Blues players. It has a fat yet unique sound often because they use single-coil pickups instead of the typical humbucking pickups that are more common.

Fender Telecasters

Less common in blues than the Fender Stratocaster, the Tele is having a resurgence throughout all forms of music. It’s sharp, biting tone cuts through well and with it’s several pickup configurations, it’s a versatile guitar.

Blues Guitarists Who Used A Telecaster

B.B. King (in his very earliest recordings), Albert Collins, Robben Ford, Roy Buchanan

Feel free to contact me to add more players to this list. Just email me here.

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4 Comments

  1. Well my @ravqzub Well my playing style and amp stntiegs probably don’t help that out but I am working on that I’ve been backing down the gain some recently I’ll probably try to do 3 gain stntiegs from now on to show off the guitars better everything on 5 , then 7 , and then 10 (and of course a run on the clean channel) hopefully that will help thanks for commenting/watching!

    Reply
  2. Other blues guitarists that use a 335, 345 – 355. I’m a little surprised you can only name one.

    For starters, how about…
    Chris Cain
    Elvin Bishop
    Freddie King
    Larry Carlton
    Eric Clapton
    Otis Rush
    Son Seals
    Dickey Betts
    Alvin Lee

    Reply
  3. Hi friend,
    Hi guys,

    This is Joe from Germany.

    Sure there are well known Blues guitarists playing E335 – c’mon, how comes you suggested it’s just BB King. What about John Mayer, great Version of Ain’t no sunshine at YouTube, Robben Ford, many concerts, YouTube, Keith Richards, and there might be some more. And of course many others playing jazzy Blues like Larry Carlton, Robben Ford…

    Listen up guys , let’s create a list of important (not well known) and well known Blues guitarists playing the E335. Who’d like to join? Post your lists and comments for the Community.
    Thanks and Cheers
    Joe

    Reply
  4. Many factors can go into choosing a guitar. The least important would be whatever famous person also uses one. Granted, copping a player one might admire can have a lot to do with the guitar and the decision to go with single or dual coil pickups has much to do with the basic tone you might hear in their recordings. I warn that there’s some chance that what one thinks they are hearing and what they are actually hearing might be different guitars.

    A good example would be many folks assuming Jimmy Page was a Les Paul player for the first Led Zeppelin recordings… Such is not the universal case. I saw the last leg of the Yardbirds playing together prior to Led Zeppelin releases. Jimmy was all about a Telecaster and a Danelectro through a Rickenbacker amp. That carried through the early Zeppelin album.

    A tone target is important, playability is important, playing feel and comfort is important.

    Making a wise choice will save expense in the long run. Spending wisely makes for a happier player.

    Reply

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