Best Guitars For Blues

If you’ve got the spirit of the delta running through your veins, here’s a mini guide to four of the best guitars for blues…

Best Guitars For Blues - Buddy Guy

Though it’s easy to consider the Blues as a single musical form, the truth is rather more complicated. It is a many, many faceted musical genre. From the early Delta blues styles, to Chicago blues, to Texas blues, to British blues to, well… you name it.

Each of these varieties is unique, with their own style and sound. With this in mind, which are the best guitars for Blues?

Ask any blues guitarist, and they’ll tell you that the guitar is irrelevant- the blues comes from within. It’s difficult to argue with this- especially when you look at guys like Seasick Steve.

However, it’s fair to say, if you are looking for particular blues sound, one guitar may make achieving it easier than another.

Here’s a guide to four of best guitars for blues, and the kind of sounds you might expect from them.

Best Guitars For Blues - Stevie Ray Vaughan's 'Lenny' Stratocaster

The Fender Stratocaster

To many, the blues means guys in hats with Strats. This is due in no small part to one the genre’s most famous proponents of both the hat and the Strat, Stevie Ray Vaughan. However, for Hendrix, Clapton, Buddy Guy and countless others, the Strat was also the weapon of choice.

Best Guitars For Blues - 2013 Fender Select Carved Maple Stratocaster HSS

With a huge potential range of tones, from the punchy, woody snap of the neck pickup, to glassy out phase tones and bridge pickup power and bark, it’s easy to see why. Clean, to crunch, rhythm to lead- the Stratocaster has it nailed, as long as you don’t need bags of gain…

Squier Vintage Modified '70s Stratocaster Electric Guitar

The American Standard is still a benchmark, but with excellent affordable models such as the Squier Vintage Modifieds, to the ultra luxurious Fender Select Strats, all bases are covered.

The Fender Telecaster

Best Guitars For Blues - Fender US Telecaster

For those for whom the Stratocaster doesn’t have enough twang, there’s always the Tele. Though, perhaps, better known as a country guitar, the Tele is equally adept as blues instrument.

Not convinced? Well, Muddy waters used one, as did Jeff Beck, Albert Collins, Keith Richards (for his own blues informed style)….

Best Guitars For Blues - Squier Vintage Modified Telecaster Thinline

Teles are incredible bright and ‘twangy’, making them great for intricate, articulate playing styles, such as the ‘countrified’ end of the blues, or complex picking.

If you can’t stretch to the Fender models, there are some great Squier models at more affordable price points.

Best Guitars For Blues - Les Paul Standard 2012 Honeyburst

The Gibson Les Paul

In the modern era of blues, the Les Paul has increasingly become an instrument of choice. The British Blues scene of the ‘60s was key to this. Fleetwood Mac’s Peter Green, and Clapton, during his spell in The Yardbirds, both made Gibson’s creation their own, and pioneered a new supercharged, high gain blues sound.

Of course, Les Paul had been playing the blues on Gibson’s classic axe some time before…

Best Blues Guitars - Les Paul

Because of the two humbuckers, a ‘Paul will give you a thicker, more powerful tone, and far more gain and sustain for those screaming solos (think Gary Moore- who, incidentally, used to play Peter Green’s Les Paul…)

Despite its rock credentials, it still sounds great when clean, too.

Best Blues Guitars - Gibson Dot

Gibson ES-335 Dot

To many, the Gibson Dot is the true image of a blues guitar. To see why this is, you simply need to glance through the guitarists who’ve played a Dot over the years. Freddie King, Eric Clapton, Alvin Lee, Chuck Berry (using the blues vocabulary to his own ends), Otis Rush, BB King, Eric Johnson… I could go on, too.

A bit like the Strat, the Dot’s strength is in its versatility. Warmer than a Les Paul, but not quite so high output, its two humbuckers delivered creamy clean tones and crunch, but could turn in a ‘roar’ when needed.

The Epiphone models are great, too.

As stated previously, the blues is less about the guitar than the player, and there are other models that could easily make a list of best guitars for blues. However, the list above has the tones from most common blues genres covered…

Joe is a contributor for the Dawsons Music blog. Specialising in product reviews and crafting content to help and inspire musicians of all musical backgrounds.