We've put together the best guitar amp combo partnerships for blues to suit every budget and style. You're very welcome...

We’ve put together the best guitar + amp pairings for blues to suit every budget and style. You’re very welcome…

Certain things just go together, wine and cheese, salt and pepper, tequila, salt and lemon…I think you are getting the picture. The same symbiosis occurs in the world of guitars. There is an element of self-fulfilling prophecy. If someone has a number of hits with a particular set up (guitar & amp combo) then others will replicate and if enough do it, we now have a classic sound. Then we are in a perennial chicken and egg situation regarding tone and style. Was it the guitar and amp combo that crossed the road first etc. The world of blues has many divisions of style and aggression and the simplicity of the blues has meant that it has crossed over into many other forms of music.

Modern Blues

1. No Limit Budget ££££

The Classic sound of 50’s Les Paul can and has worked well in conjunction with many famous brand amplifiers. However, more and more guitarists are gravitating towards the tube screaming tones of Blackstar.

One great example of Blackstar innovation is the Jared James Nichols signature amp. With a button that cuts power from 20 to 2 watts this is perfect for both live and practise but without losing tone. This hot-headed amp is a perfect partner to the glorious Gold Top. If you want epic tones then this is definitely the way to go.

Add the corresponding Blackstar Jared James Nichols JJN-212VOC MKII speaker cabinet and you’ve got everything needed to take over the world!

2. Pro Budget Around £1000

If many thousands of pounds are not at your disposal but you still need legendary tone then how about a guitar inspired by a 50’s Gold Top. Jared James Nichols Old Glory was inspired by a chance encounter with Joe Perry of Aerosmith and his single pickup 50’s Les Paul. The Old Glory is geared towards a simple yet blistering approach to the blues. The bridge even has a plate that says blues power.

Married to classic Tube tones the Marshall DSL20CR is another 20-watt powerhouse. With a choice between crystal clear cleans and super-hot lead the DSL20CR is a great partner to the Old Glory.

3. Beginner Budget Around £500

So you are starting out in the world of guitar, you know who your heroes are and want to put your best foot forward early on. The Slash AFD Les Paul Special-II Outfit not only has that special name but with superb manufacturing has great tones and great accessories. With a built in Tuner, Zebra humbuckers and a solid build the AFD is a rock-solid start to your guitar life.

The Fender Champion 100 Combo is a tour de force of sound. With built in adjustable effects a great clean tone and can produce super heavy tones this 2×12 beast will work both for practise and live.

Fiery Blues

1. No Limit Budget ££££

When looking for that soulful blues crunch of Hendrix or SRV look no further than the classically finished Fender Ltd AM Performer in Olympic White. With classic hot single coil pickups and a maple fretboard this is a blues leviathan. With a silky-smooth neck and classic “C” profiled neck this is the perfect blues guitar.

Combine this with its brand mate the Fender Tone Master Twin Reverb and you will searing hot crunch and crystal-clear tonality. The Fender Tone Master is a legendary amp and delivers great sounds. This duo however, will set you back so is strictly for the advanced hobbyist or touring professional.

2. Pro Budget Around £1000

The Telecaster is often overlooked as a blues machine, but its versatility is and has been a draw to blues players for generations. This Player Series Telecaster in Polar White has all the elements needed to produce red hot lead tones. The single coil Tele pickups and tight Pau Ferro fretboard are an amazing combination giving great sustain and bends that won’t choke thanks to the profile of the neck.

When combined with the combo horse power of an Orange Crush Pro CR60C amp with its own unique British blues tone you be able to wield an almost Jimmy Page-esque tone.

3. Beginner Budget Around £500

With finances on everyone’s mind, whether you are buying for a relative or for yourself there has to be a compromise. Thankfully not on tone or sonic possibility. The Squier Classic Vibe 70’s Stratocaster is straight out of the Stevie Ray Vaughan handbook. With a classic finish and scratch-plate, this is a blues machine. The pau ferro fretboard will produce tight snappy tones and the single coil pickups are high output and will help produce a fierce tonality.

The Fender champion 40 like the 100 has adjustable effects and two channels of clean and dirty glory. Still very capable of producing high gain that goes well beyond the fiery blues tones we are looking for; the Fender Champion 40 is a very versatile amp.

Clean Blues

1. No Limit Budget ££££

Some of the most popular guitarists of our time have been playing with a crystal-clear tone only applying a little crunch when needed. One of the finest examples of electric guitar craftsmanship is the Gibson ES-335 Figured Semi-Hollow Electric guitar in Sunset Burst. Capable of producing singing crystal clear, clean tones. The ES-335 has an immensely playable neck made out of quarter sawn mahogany and with a rounded profile and binding this is the very epitome of soulful blues.

Combined with a Marshall Studio Vintage SV20C, a classic Gibson, Marshall crossover. The SV20C is in a class of its own when it comes to clean vintage tones. The SV20C has Celestion V-Type speakers used in so many classic amps previously. If money is no object, then these two will produce a timeless tonality.

2. Pro Budget Around £1000

The Vintage styling of the Ibanez AS73V lend themselves perfectly to jazz or blues and therefore swagger brazenly into our list of best guitars for clean blues. However, the pickups are good enough to produce some excellent hot tones as well so bear in mind the AS73Vs versatility. Finished with authentic vintage hardware the Ibanez looks the part as well.

The Marshall MG101FX is a great amp for versatility, with built in FX and four channels this is something of a 1×12 powerhouse. With plenty of connectivity it is more of a modern amp but will produce the right amount of Marshall gain to get those snappy blues lines. This amp is perfect for live use but is compact enough for practise. This combination could also be a fine fit for the fiery blues combos.

3. Beginner Budget Around £500

The Ibanez AS63 doesn’t quite have the horsepower of the AS73 but will produce beautiful warm tones at a fraction of the cost. Retaining the look of a classic blues machine but with a modern finish with those beautiful pastel shades, the Ibanez AS63 is a solid choice at this price point for the kind of clear snappy tones required. The warm tones are provided by the Ibanez infinity R pickups.

Again, another Ibanez + Marshall partnership, and again, a combo with premier versatility. The Marshall CODE50 is a top tier modelling amp with superior connectivity allowing you download tones and amp types from an online library, as well as dial those tones in directly through the amp. This versatility again allows you to produce the tight clean tones for that classic blues sound. You can also turn the gain up, change the amp type play backing tracks and all for a beginner budget.

Conclusion

Subjectivity and objectivity play a large role in defining any buying guide or any of our choices for that matter. As individuals there is no definitive way, route or path but there are footprints where others have walked to help you on your way.

The above combinations are in the main interchangeable. Plenty of musicians use a Les Paul for clean jazz tones and the Stratocaster has been used for every type of music genre from clean blues to heavy metal. Here I have simply put together guitars and amps that either give you that tone straight out of the box or are versatile enough to provide a range of sounds at the kinds of prices that fit a range of budgets.

Next, I will traverse the complex world of Jazz and some of its sub genres and look at some great guitar and amp combinations.