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What Are the Best Electric Guitars for Playing the Blues?

by Big Al on March 9, 2011

What are the best guitars for playing the blues?The blues is a uniquely American sound like no other. Up until the 1930s, blues performers played their tunes on acoustic guitars that gave the music kind of a down home, folksy feel.

As is the case with every musical genre, the invention of the electric guitar had an immediate impact on how blues licks are played by the musician, and listened to by the audience. You can even go as far as saying that electrifying the blues gave birth to the exquisite sounds that would later branch out to become rhythm and blues and rock and roll.

The connection between blues and rock became even stronger when eager young musicians in American and Europe began listening to records featuring blues legends such as Elmore James and Muddy Waters.

Today’s blues enthusiasts are likely to be influenced by the ethereal blues sounds of Jimi Hendricks or the gut-busting blues licks of Stevie Ray Vaughn. They both used an electric guitar to take the blues to soaring new heights of musical expression.

It’s a pretty easy road to follow when you’re looking to find the best electric guitars for playing the blues. If you want to duplicate a particular riff that you fell in love with after hearing it played by your favorite artist, then you should begin your search by finding which electric guitar they favored over others.

However, this should only be a starting point for you. In reality, the best guitars for playing the blues are the ones that will make you sound like a professional.

Even though you will start out trying to sound like a popular blues guitarist or rock musician, after a while, your blues guitar playing will develop into a unique style that’s truly your own. As a beginner, you may start out playing one type of electric guitar, but eventually gravitate to another brand that feels like a better fit for your personality and personal style.

By far, the two most popular brands of electric guitar for blues are:

  • Fender
  • Gibson

Sure, there are other brands of guitars out there that can handle this type of music. But, there’s simply no way to ignore the fact that the most admired legends of blues and rock turn to top electric guitar makers when they want the very best in versatility and quality of sound. That famous “whaw whaw whaa…” sound you hear emanating from an electrified blues tune has a tonal clarity that you can only find from either a Fender or a Gibson.

Okay, now that the brand is resolved, deciding what model of electric guitar to get is going to be a bit trickier. Every musician has his or her favorite, and choosing one over the other is really a matter of personal preference.

The most popular models are:

Fender Stratocaster – a guitar that makes you work for every note, but the payoff is sweet. Famous players: Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Gibson ES-335 – an extremely versatile guitar that can jump from smooth to down and dirty. Famous players: Chuck Berry, Alvin Lee, Freddy King and T-Bone Walker.

Whether you’re a beginner, or an experienced blues guitar player, the one thing you share in common with blues greats is a love for the blues and a desire to play it on the best electric guitars in the world.

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Adrian Campbell March 13, 2011 at 5:18 pm

The tones that Gibson provides would be my favorite blues guitar tonality. The sounds are so raw with great low tones. Even if you talk about a Les Paul, which is recognized as more of a rock guitar, you can still hear the “blues roots” in the tone.


Bella Geen March 14, 2011 at 4:22 pm

Thank you for sharing this article with us and for discussing the models that are both popular and good for playing the blues. I am an energy efficiency advocate and I have a site about it, and in line with this I would like to know if these guitars are energy efficient? How much energy does it consume?


Big Al March 14, 2011 at 5:26 pm

They don’t consume any energy at all. They have no active circuitry. The only thing that consumes energy is the amplifier they are plugged into, and that can be different for every amp, of which there are thousands.


G August 17, 2011 at 2:23 pm

When you are talking about electric guitars, the guitar itself draws essentially no energy. All of the power goes to the amp, so you need to ask this question about the amp. Naturally, the bigger space you need to fill with sound, the more powerful an amp you need, so there are limits to how much you can control this. However, in the last decade or so, there has been a tendency toward the use of smaller wattage amps, not for energy efficiency but for sound. These amps are often overdriven and then miked into the board. That would cut down their energy consumption somewhat, but the wattage of these amps is so small compared to any large PA system, that I’m not sure the difference would amount to much.


James March 27, 2012 at 9:16 am

An acoustic guitar draws no power. If you’re really so concerned about the environment why are you getting anything that uses electricity?


Adrian Campbell March 14, 2011 at 9:12 pm

@ Big Al – Being a musician myself, I would have to say those Fender, Marshall, Peavey, and Mesa-Boogie amps can really consume some energy. Up to 1000 watts for some of the really high end ones.
Adrian Campbell recently posted..The Paradigm Shift in the Music Business


Big Al March 14, 2011 at 9:14 pm



Eddie Wright March 15, 2011 at 3:54 pm

That is very accurate information. Personally, I favour the Fender Stratocaster, but you are absolutely right, it’s personal preference. So which amp do you recommend for a recreational blues player?
Eddie Wright recently posted..Greyfriars Bobby


Big Al March 17, 2011 at 4:22 am

I’ll direct you to this post about that:


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