Best Blues Guitars 2019 – Reviews and Top Picks

Blues is one of the most dynamic and complex music genres. With so many variety of sub-genres and such a large number of Blues guitarists it may seem so easy to find the best guitar for Blues. Yet, there has never been an instrument specifically labelled as a “Blues guitar” on the market. As a matter of fact, some might say it is possible to play Blues on any electric or acoustic guitar. Indeed, famous Blues musicians play on many different guitars. The genre is so versatile, guitarists want different things from their instruments: different sounds and tones, suitable for different styles of play and so on. It’s hard even to put down what a Blues guitar should sound like!

Complicated, isn’t it? Well, yes and no. Blues is a complex genre, but with this complexity comes the freedom of choice. I believe that the best Blues guitars are those that give you power and freedom to improvise and experiment with sound, tones and techniques. Blues is deeply intertwined with other music genres like rock, rock’n’roll, jazz and fold, and your jamming will certainly take you to one of those directions one way or another. Besides, some of the guitars do have these famous Blues tones to it. There is great versatility to Blues guitars and I’ve taken a liberty to compile a list of most popular and different sounding guitars, which will fit your personal style.

  • Gibson Les Paul Traditional 2019 Electric Guitar
  • Rating:
  • Body type: Solid body
  • Body shape: Les Paul
  • Body wood: Mahogany
  • Neck: Rounded
  • Neck material: Mahogany
  • Pick up: Dual BurstBucker Pro Humbucker
  • Fretboard wood: Rosewood
  • Frets: 22
  • Bridge: ABR-1 Tune-o-matic bridge with Aluminum Stopbar
  • Tuners: Vintage Deluxe
  • Fender American Special Stratocaster
  • Rating:
  • Body type: Solid
  • Body shape: Stratocaster
  • Body wood: Alder
  • Neck: C-shaped
  • Neck material: Maple
  • Pick up: Texas Special™ Single-Coil Strat pick ups
  • Fretboard wood: Rosewood
  • Frets: 22, Jumbo
  • Bridge: 6-Saddle Vintage-Style Synchronized Tremolo
  • Tuners: Schaller-style tuners
  • Squier by Fender Classic Vibe 50’s Hand Telecaster Electric Guitar
  • Rating:
  • Body type: Solid
  • Body shape: Telecaster
  • Body wood: Pine
  • Neck: Modern C
  • Neck material: Maple
  • Pick up: Custom Alnico V Single-coil Tele
  • Fretboard wood: Maple
  • Frets: 21, Medium Jambo
  • Bridge: Vintage Style string-thru with brass barrel saddles
  • Tuners: Vintage-style Tuning Machines
Name
Body type:
Body shape:
Body wood:
Neck:
Neck material:
Price
Name
Body type:
Body shape:
Body wood:
Neck:
Neck material:
Price
№1
Solid body
Les Paul
Mahogany
Rounded
Mahogany
№2
Solid
Stratocaster
Alder
C-shaped
Maple
№4
Solid
McCarty 594 Singlecut
Mahogany
Asymmetrical Pattern Vintage
Mahogany
№5
Semi-hollow
Double cutaway
Maple
Slim Taper D
Mahogany
№6
Solid
Double cutaway
Mahogany
Slim Taper
Mahogany
№7
Solid
Double cutaway
Mahogany
Slim Taper
Mahogany
№8
Solid
Les Paul
Mahogany
SpeedTaper D-profile
Mahogany

Gibson Les Paul has a legendary status among guitar players. The 2019 version of the axe is no different. Made to resemble traditional Les Pauls from 1950’s the guitar has Gibson classic tone wood, body and neck shape, finish, electronic setup and, most importantly, authentic Gibson sound. By the way, this one is for tough guys: Gibson Les Paul Custom Alpine White

Body type:
Solid body
Body shape:
Les Paul
Body wood:
Mahogany
Neck:
Rounded
Neck material:
Mahogany
Pick up:
Dual BurstBucker Pro Humbucker
Fretboard wood:
Rosewood
Frets:
22
Bridge:
ABR-1 Tune-o-matic bridge with Aluminum Stopbar
Tuners:
Vintage Deluxe
PROS

Old school Gibson

Tones of sustain

Exceptional sonic flexibility

Warm overdriven tone

Cons

Pickups sensitivity

Serious investment

Here you have it – unlimited ticket to Blues-ville. Fender Strat series is a legend in the Blues world played by Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix. Did I hear you say “expensive?” Hold your horses, American Special Strat is a budget model in the product line. it might have some feedback issues on higher tones, but other than that it’s a guitar worth buying. Simply because any self-respecting guitarist should play a Strat at least once

Body type:
Solid
Body shape:
Stratocaster
Body wood:
Alder
Neck:
C-shaped
Neck material:
Maple
Pick up:
Texas Special™ Single-Coil Strat pick ups
Fretboard wood:
Rosewood
Frets:
22, Jumbo
Bridge:
6-Saddle Vintage-Style Synchronized Tremolo
Tuners:
Schaller-style tuners
PROS

Iconic in the world of Blues

Fender’s synchronized tremolo bridge

Bulletproof electronic setup

Tone definition and sonic flexibility

Cons

Feedback on the high tones

Every Fender fan will get shivers when they see the Squiver, as it mirrors the design of the classic “blackguard” Telecasters and oh many they’ll be blown away by this baby. The guitar has a pine body (rather rare for modern guitars yet resonant and reliable wood) with the black pickguard – exactly how the Teles were made. It has great sturdiness and power to the sound and tones. There are might be issues with tuning and little buzzing, but couple upgrades and twitches will fix that in a flash.

Body type:
Solid
Body shape:
Telecaster
Body wood:
Pine
Neck:
Modern C
Neck material:
Maple
Pick up:
Custom Alnico V Single-coil Tele
Fretboard wood:
Maple
Frets:
21, Medium Jambo
Bridge:
Vintage Style string-thru with brass barrel saddles
Tuners:
Vintage-style Tuning Machines
PROS

Classic 50’ build and “blackguard” Tele vibe

Vintage sound

Dynamic sound response with a strong midrange and high-end bite

Price

Cons

Might have issues with staying in tune

Buzzing

The latest incarnation of the legendary Paul Read Smith McCarty model debuted in the 90’s, with vintage vibes and kick-ass upgrades. The guitar is different from other PRS models by just few little things, which make it look more vintage and nostalgic. The McCarty Singlecut takes its name from a seemingly unusual 24.594” scale length, similar to the Les Paul Standard model. It has slightly deeper body with a different neck feel, due to a slightly thicker, asymmetrical Pattern Vintage profile. It is a very pricy model, but you’ll get an exceptional electronic setup, mind-blowing sonic abilities and a real gem to play on.

Body type:
Solid
Body shape:
McCarty 594 Singlecut
Body wood:
Mahogany
Neck:
Asymmetrical Pattern Vintage
Neck material:
Mahogany
Pick up:
58/15 LT (Low Turn) Humbuckers
Fretboard wood:
East Indian Rosewood
Frets:
22
Bridge:
PRS 2-Piece Stoptail
Tuners:
PRS Phase III locking tuners
PROS

Sonic perfection (unplugged and plugged)

Vintage humbucking and single-coil tones

Individual control over each pickup’s volume and tone

Phase III locking tuners

Super long sustain

Cons

Price

The Epiphone series (owned by Gibson) is a genuine rock classic. ES-335 was the very first one in the series, and the ES-335 PRO lives up to its legacy. If you want an axe that sound like Gibson, but doesn’t cost couple thousand grants – this will be the choice. An axe features classic Alnico Pro humbuckers and Tune-O-Matic bridge, creating a real solid sonic resonance and response. It does need some extra upgrades, but which guitar doesn’t? We all tweak it to our liking.

Body type:
Semi-hollow
Body shape:
Double cutaway
Body wood:
Maple
Neck:
Slim Taper D
Neck material:
Mahogany
Pick up:
Alnico Classic Pro humbuckers
Fretboard wood:
Frets:
22, Medium Jambo
Bridge:
Fixed, Tune-o-Matic
Tuners:
Vintage Wilkinson Classic tuners
PROS

Price

Versatile playability

Superior resonance

Controls (humbuckers + pickup switch)

Cons

Poor finish

Need upgrades

Just look at this beauty! Ladies and gentlemen, it is an actual rock queen. The iconic double-horned cutaway makes it ready for any large stage. Don’t be fooled, it is a rock guitar but the electronic setup is phenomenal and allows you to take out any sound and style you want, including those rich deep Blues tones. SG High performance means the premium materials, hi-tech electronics and hardware and exceptional craftsmanship. It sounds wicked, but it also means that it’s expensive so be ready to spend a small fortune.

Body type:
Solid
Body shape:
Double cutaway
Body wood:
Mahogany
Neck:
Slim Taper
Neck material:
Mahogany
Pick up:
Burstbucker Pro (Rhythm + Lead)
Fretboard wood:
Richlite
Frets:
24, Medium Jumbo
Bridge:
Aluminum Nashville Tune-O-Matic with Titanium Saddles
Tuners:
Grover Locking Rotomatics w/Keystone buttons
PROS

Premium build

Advance electronic setup

Sound stability at the highest speed

Dynamic voice and intonations

Cons

Price

The Epiphone Limited Edition 1966 is an updated reissue of Gibson’s venerable ’66 SG – the first model-year to carry a fancy “batwing” pickguard. It doesn’t just have a kick-ass look, but it has some serious tunes and juicy flavours. The low-action setup will give you a real Gibson vintage vibe. It’s an awesome deal for such a low price.

Body type:
Solid
Body shape:
Double cutaway
Body wood:
Mahogany
Neck:
Slim Taper
Neck material:
Mahogany
Pick up:
Alnico Classic PRO 4-wire humbuckeer
Fretboard wood:
Rosewood
Frets:
22
Bridge:
LockTone Tune-O-Matic
Tuners:
Wilkinson Tuners
PROS

Solid electronics due to Alnico humbucker pickups

Exceptional tone and thick sound

Worth more than the price tag

Cons

Occasional fret buzz

Let’s make it clear; it’s Chinese built, but it sounds, looks and plays like a custom Gibson Les Paul made in the U.S. The main difference with the other Epiphone and Gibson models is its roaring growling sound due to the controls and electronics. The heavy metal guitarists might love it, but it is certainly able to pull the Blues vibes out of it.

Body type:
Solid
Body shape:
Les Paul
Body wood:
Mahogany
Neck:
SpeedTaper D-profile
Neck material:
Mahogany
Pick up:
EMG-81/85 Humbuckers
Fretboard wood:
Rosewood
Frets:
24
Bridge:
LockTone Tune-O-Matic/LockTone Stopbar
Tuners:
Sealed
PROS

Aggressive and powerful

High output EMG-81/85 humbucking pickup combination

Speed Taper neck

Price

Cons

Heavy metal tendency

Thin neck

Buyer’s Guide – What is a Good Blues Guitar?

I can understand your confusion when it comes to buying a Blues guitar. You are about to buy your first axe hoping to become the next “King of Blues,” so you are looking for something with “Best Electric Guitar for Blues’” on a tag (spoiler— you won’t find any). Then you’ll turn around and go looking for the legendary B.B. King’s Gibson ES-335 (spoiler, it’s $5,000). Then, you’ll walk out, stuffing your dreams back into your pocket.

That’s a worst-case scenario. You should obviously do your research and this will also help you with that. Simply, a versatile, powerful guitar with solid electronic setup is a great base for a good Blues guitar. Blues is a very diverse genre that incorporates a bunch of different tunes, sounds and techniques, so the guitar should be flexible, easy to control and adjust. Another characteristic you should look for is the sound sustain. If an axe can stay in tune for ages it’s nice, but if there is strength to the sounds all the way up and down the fretboard – it’s even better. Sonic flexibility and articulation is crucial, Blues jamming may take you down to so many different genres and you might need everything from deep, sexy Blues sounds, to overdriven, punchy rock sounds.

Which guitar I should buy?

When buying a Blues guitar you should base your choice on your personal style. There is no such thing as one-size-fits-all Blues guitar, which makes it pretty tricky, but knowing your style simplifies the choice by a huge margin. Knowing your style means that you know which guitar has the best body shape for your style.

Different body shapes give you different sounds that are suitable for certain styles of play. If you prefer to play acoustic and like warm, tangy, nostalgic sound, go for the semi-hollow bodies like Epiphone ES-335. However, solid bodies are more than capable of producing these warm Blues tones, but they also give you more rock and punch to it. Solid bodies are most popular among electrical guitars, but it’s important to be careful with the controls. You don’t want to go for active pickups; you may find them a bit too hot and ‘shredding’ for Blues. Single-coil or humbucker pickups are perfect though – they will give a vintage tone.

If you are a professional and are looking for something challenging and versatile – go for the expensive options like Gibson Les Paul, Gibson SG High Performance or PRS McCarty Singlecut 594. The models are very pricy, but also very powerful, complex, and damn sweet. If you are a newbie, go for the cheaper options like Squier by Fender, or any of the Epiphones. Most importantly – go to the store and try them out before buying one. The specs might be exceptional, the reviews praise it to high heaven and the look would be the guitar of your dream. But it all doesn’t matter, unless it sits in your arms like it was made for you.

Price

As you’ve probably noticed, the prices for Blues guitars range from $400-$6,000. It doesn’t necessarily mean that if a guitar is cheap that is of bad quality. Guitars are usually higher in price because of the brand, materials, electronics and the place of the manufacture. The most expensive guitars like Gibson or Fender are American-made and use premium wood and hi-tech electronics. They are more powerful and provide you with extreme flexibility in terms of sound and techniques.

Cheaper guitars, that use more affordable materials and electrical setup, are built in Asia (no surprise there). And this should not I repeat, should not stop you from getting an Epiphone or Squier. Whether you are newbie or a professional musician, these guitars would be a staple at your collection. They are almost as good in terms of electronics or sound, they are often built to the classic 50’-60’s standards (which is awesome) and, for God’s sake, they are cheaper. If you aren’t playing music to pay your bills, not planning to be a professional musician or just starting to play, why would you want to pay $4,000 for an axe you’ll jam on every once in a while? Cheap guitars might not be as powerful and have some issues (like fret buzzing), but you can always fix it with a few upgrades and it will sound just like a Gibson and Fender, or even better.

Iconic Blues guitar brands

Indeed, Blues is very versatile and every brand has a guitar that is suitable for playing Blues. Yet there are some axes that have a ‘Blues stamp’ on them. Gibson and Fender are the ones. First of all they are top guitar brands on the market and have been around for about a century, so they do know what they are doing. Secondly, they have awesome electronics and they release new upgraded models every couple years. Lastly, but definitely not least, the most popular kick-ass Blues musicians played Gibson and Fender. B.B. King, the King of Blues himself, was playing a Gibson ES-335 named Lucille. Eric Clapton played both a Fender and a Gibson, with choosing Stratocaster and Les Paul as his favourite models.

If you are looking for a guitar that will, hopefully, put you on the Blues pedestal, then you should go for these two brands. Bear in mind that they will break your bank, but they will be worth it. However, these iconic brands own and produce cheaper Blues guitars as well. If you prefer the sound of Gibsons, then you could choose its subsidiary Epiphone. Do you love Fender but can’t spend $2,000 for an axe? Then, you should choose Squier.

Conclusion

Blues has been around for over a century and it has many faces. I can’t stress enough that the best Blues guitar is the one that is powerful, versatile and flexible enough to incorporate all different sounds and tones of Blues. If you are a professional musician or have played guitars for many years and know your jam, you should set your eyes on the premium and exclusive axes like Gibson Les Paul Traditional 2019 and Gibson SG High Performance. They are more complex in electronics, and are most powerful from the list. If you are a guitar enthusiast or just staring your guitar journey – choose cheaper options like Squier Hand Telecaster or Epiphone LE 1966. They are perfect for Blues, have solid electronics and are easy to control.

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By Max Hudson
    about author

    My name is Max Hudson, born and raised in Chicago. I'm 30 years old and like many other people, I discovered guitar in my teens and have never looked back since. It has quickly evolved into a passion and has given me a creative outlet, something to redirect my time and unlimited energy toward. I want this website to be a handbook for players of all skill levels. It can become a starting point for your new hobby, where you can find the right instrument, get tips for playing effortlessly or anything else music related.

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