Top 10 Blues Guitars – Reviews of the Most Popular Bluesy Models

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Last Updated: Mar-19-2018
We’ve given our blues-focused article a bit of a shake to freshen things up. We’ve removed a few older guitars and added in others. In fact, all the new models we feature are from Epiphone. There’s their tried and tested Epiphone Les Paul Standard, while one of their hollow-bodied offerings, the Epiphone ES-335 PRO, caught our attention. Finally, we also inserted the delightful Epiphone Hummingbird Pro as a great beginner’s acoustic offering.

What’s that soulful sound? That’s the sound of the blues! What makes a blues guitar? That’s not such an easy question to answer. In fact, blues guitar is one of the most dynamic music styles with so many sub-genres – jump blues, blues rock, boogie-woogie, Delta blues… the list goes on.

This means defining ‘the best guitar for blues’ is a difficult one indeed. Some players want electric, some want acoustic. Some want solid bodies, some want hollow. Some want resonators for slide, some want them for fingerstyle. However, as we’ve shown in our chart below, there are certainly some models which are incredibly well-suited for blues playing. Check out our selections – a mix of electric, acoustic and resonators – for a little inspiration.

We took the liberty of sifting through the market in an attempt to find such a fine instrument and came out with a set of 10 champions worthy of the flattering title. Make sure to check it all out in the rundown below.

Top 10 Blues Guitars:

Image Electric Guitar / Rating Summary Check Price
+ - Fender American Special Stratocaster Fender American Special Stratocaster

Total of 4.84/5  

Driven by the standard three single-coil pickups.

+ - Epiphone Limited Edition ES-335 PRO Epiphone Limited Edition ES-335 PRO

Total of 4.78/5  

An affordable and beautiful blues machine made by Epiphone.

+ - PRS Custom 22 PRS Custom 22

Total of 4.64/5  

Strong contestant for the title - the best blues guitar.

+ - Squier Classic Vibe Thinline Telecaster Squier Classic Vibe Thinline Telecaster

Total of 4.60/5  

Combination of two classic bright Tele pickups

+ - Epiphone Les Paul Standard Epiphone Les Paul Standard

Total of 4.64/5  

Versatility, style and tone from Gibson’s little brother.

+ - Airline Bighorn Red Airline Bighorn Red

Total of 4.44/5  

Solid-body guitar with a memorable sound.

+ - Gretsch G9200 BOXCAR Gretsch G9200 BOXCAR

Total of 4.54/5  

An acoustic sound with extra grind and bite to it.

+ - Martin 000-15M Martin 000-15M

Total of 5.18/5  

A fine guitar for the warm blues tone.

+ - Epiphone Hummingbird Pro Epiphone Hummingbird Pro

Total of 4.72/5  

An affordable retro icon with quality modern upgrades.

+ - Squier Affinity Telecaster Squier Affinity Telecaster

Total of 4.72/5  

Delivering that bright, twangy vibe.

What Makes A Good Blues Guitar?

As we’ve mentioned, there’s no one-size-fits-all blues guitar. But good blues guitars will share some characteristics. With hollow and solid-bodied blues guitars, power and articulation is important, although you don’t want something too extreme – nobody is playing great blues on a modern shredder with searing-hot active pickups. Generally, something with a vintage feel in both look and tone will give you a good blues sound.

As for acoustic guitars, blues will always sound better on something with a bit of warmth, preferably on the twangy side. Look for models featuring mahogany or cedar and preferably with a solid top, which will open up with warmth as it ages. Any good-quality resonator can be a good choice too, especially if you’re looking at playing with a slide.

Needless to say, we always want our instruments to be durable, reliable and the best value for money we can find. If you have the budget for an expensive guitar then go for it! But, as we’re about to see, you can also find some brilliant blues tones on a guitar that costs well under $500.


The Top Rated Electric Blues Guitars:

Fender American Special Stratocaster

Fender American Special Stratocaster

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We’ll kick things off with an undeniable classic for all ages – the one and only Fender Stratocaster, the American Special model. Driven by the standard combination of three single-coil pickups, this puppy was crafted right in the US of A, featuring an alder body, a maple neck with a 9.5-inch radius maple fingerboard, a pack of 22 jumbo frets, and black dot markers.

The pickups in question are the Texas Specials, while the rest of the mix also includes a vintage-style tremolo and a satin urethane finish. The sound is of course classic Strat, the mellow yet punchy, well-rounded sound that helped defined the sonic attack of classic rock and blues. One of the best guitars for 1000 dollars and a shoo-in for more lists than this blues-driven rundown, that’s for sure.

Epiphone Limited Edition ES-335 PRO

Epiphone Limited Edition ES-335 PRO

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First things first – it’s not a Gibson ES-335. Not at this affordable price… However, Gibson subsidiary Epiphone do a stellar job of creating their own ES-335 which proves a brilliant blues machine. Sporting the familiar double-cutaway archtop body, this guitar is made of laminated maple/birch across the body, with f-holes in the lower bout and a selection of finishes to choose from. Electronics are impressive and provide a huge range of tones, from clean and warm to gritty and driven. These come in the form of two Alnico Classic Pro humbuckers, with coil-splitting capabilities for an even more versatile experience. Check out more on the Epiphone Limited Edition ES-335 PRO in the full review.

PRS Custom 22

PRS Custom 22

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If you like your audio output to be loaded with a bit more of a modern edge, but still deeply rooted in tradition, our strong contestant for the title of the best blues guitar is the PRS Custom 22. This fella utilizes a mahogany body and a mahogany neck, reeling in an organic sonic attack with plenty of natural boom and resonance.

The six-string also features a rosewood fingerboard, a pack of 22 frets, 25-inch scale length, and of course the company’s signature flying bird inlays. The sound offered by this beast is quite powerful, but also fully under the player’s control, which is crucial for the slightly more mellow blues and jazz style. Needless to say, if you want this puppy and its two PRS pickups to roar in rock and even metal manner, it can easily be done with merely a few knob twists and switch adjustments.

Squier Classic Vibe Thinline Telecaster

Squier Classic Vibe Thinline Telecaster

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They say that a Telecaster is one great guitar for the blues, but they also say that semi-hollow guitars do a fine job for this style. So, why not both? Our next contestant comes from Fender subsidiary Squier and it’s called the Classic Vibe Thinline Telecaster.

We’re looking at a light semi-hollow body crafted from mahogany, along with a single piece maple neck, a set of 21 medium jumbo frets, a maple fingerboard and black dot markers.

The combination of two classic bright Tele pickups, the booming nature of mahogany and extra resonance of the semi-hollow body reels in an interesting sonic mixture that’s very well suited for the blues style.

The looks are pure class, there are three available finishes – Vintage Blonde, Butterscotch Blonde, Natural, and 3-Color Sunburst – but we have to say that in our opinion, Natural takes the cake. A great mixture of classic Tele and solid-body guitars for blues!

Epiphone Les Paul Standard

Epiphone Les Paul Standard

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The Les Paul is a classic blues machine, but you don’t have to drop a grand or two to arm yourself with one – as the popular Les Paul Standard from Epiphone proves. The gritty blues tone you’re looking for comes from the two Alnico Classic humbuckers at the bridge and neck position, with versatile controls for pretty much every kind of style. The build of the guitar is admirable and sports the timeless Les Paul design with a single-cutaway body made from mahogany, as well as an endlessly playable set mahogany neck for great sustain. The components are equally solid, with stable tuners and the traditional tune-o-matic bridge. Great for blues, but a versatile machine for any style. Find out more in the full Les Paul Standard review.

Airline Bighorn Red

Airline Bighorn Red

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If you’re a fan of unconventional choices and the super raw vibe of Mr. Jack White, we have just the thing – the Bighorn Red from Airline. This is a solid-body guitar with a memorable sound, so if you’re tired of all the classic guitars, this is your pick. Not that there’s anything wrong with classic stuff, but it’s understandable to yearn for something a tad more refreshing.

Anyhow, this thing utilizes a maple neck, a set of dual Airlyne pickups, and a 24.75-inch scale. We are also looking at a modern bridge and a classic truss rod for neck adjustments.

The sound of this fella is like nothing on this list, but still somehow suited for sort of a wild blues approach. It’s raw, punchy, somewhat mellow and always strong. Recommended for more adventurous blues players!

Gretsch G9200 BOXCAR

Gretsch G9200 BOXCAR

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Another sound that defines a certain style of blues comes from the mighty resonator guitars. These things combine wood and metal to reel in an acoustic sound with extra grind and bite to it.

The specific model we have in mind is the G9200 Boxcar from Gretsch. This fella is highly resonant thanks to a full-on mahogany body combined with a sturdy mahogany neck.

This tonewood combo secures a booming sound with plenty of power, bite, and punch, but also a mellow side that works like a charm with light blues and slide guitar.

Additional notable features include an AmpliSonic cone, a spider bridge, a rosewood fingerboard and a 25-inch scale length.

Martin 000-15M

Martin 000-15M

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Now if you’re more of an acoustic guy, then the top option for you is of course a fine Martin six-string. This is a company with best choices for a variety of music styles, but we believe that the finest model for the blues is the 000-15M.

This is an all-mahogany beast, utilizing an all-mahogany body and a mahogany neck. This secures stability and durability on one side, and plenty of resonance and boom on the other. The tone is just bright and twangy enough to fit the Delta blues label, but still not as grind-driven as the resonator six-string we’ve just discussed.

The tone is generally soft and warm, perfectly usable for a variety of other styles. However, blues is where this Martin feels like home.

Other notable features include a wide rosewood fretboard with 20 frets and white dot markers, a rosewood bridge, a small pick-guard, a classy rosette, and some die-cast tuners.

The Perfect Blues Guitars For Beginners:

Epiphone Hummingbird Pro

Epiphone Hummingbird Pro

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There can’t be many more instantly recognizable acoustic guitars than the Hummingbird, and this beautiful Epiphone version is excellent for blues beginners. This vintage icon shows off great retro style, with the elaborately-decorated pickguard and the Faded Cherry Burst finish among other aspects. But it’s not just a pretty face – this Hummingbird has a great build and tone. The dreadnought body is made with a solid spruce top and laminated mahogany back and sides, while it comes loaded with impressive Epiphone electronics that make it a versatile instrument – one that any beginner can aspire to playing on stage. For all kinds of blues fingerstyle, flatpicking and slide, it’s a class act from Epiphone – as we elaborate on in the full review.

Squier Affinity Telecaster

Squier Affinity Telecaster

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Finally, arguably the best cheap electric blues guitar – the Affinity Telecaster from Squier. We already noted that a Tele is a good choice for this type of music and we believe that this one fits the bill the most.

The first reason is the fact that even at this cheap price, the manufacturer managed to throw in an alder body, which is a feature associated with far more expensive instruments.

Secondly, the pair of single-coil pickups really does a fine job in delivering that bright, twangy vibe that just screams blues rock. There’s enough room for various sonic modifications here through Volume and Tone knobs, and the onboard pickup selector. For the listed price, this is really a stellar deal!

The Final Word

This brings us to the end of our little blues journey, but for you it’ll only be the beginning! We hope you’ve enjoyed the read and taken a little inspiration when looking for a great blues guitar to accompany you as you embark on this exciting genre.

If you are at the other end of the spectrum and prefer heavy rock and metal… then what are you doing on this page anyway?! Go check out our article on the best electric guitars for metal. Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter and, if you have any questions, drop a comment in the section below. Good luck with the hunt for your ideal blues partner!


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