Updated: February 16, 2021 by Bobbie Hanson
Welcome to our review of the best blues guitars.
Blues music can be traced back to the Mississippi Delta in the 1890s. Originally, it was characterized by powerful vocals accompanied by the acoustic guitar. It was sung in sorrow.
The style was christened “blues” in 1925 and has evolved to become one of the world’s most popular music styles, with new people trying to learn how to play the blues guitar every day. If you’re searching for the best blues guitar, chances are you’re one of those people. Let’s explore what the market has to offer.
Our Top Pick
If you’d prefer cut to the answer, we especially recommend the Epiphone Limited Edition Es-335 Pro Electric Guitar. This hollow-body electric guitar has all the features you could need in a blues guitar. It delivers a vintage blues sound and comes at a pocket-friendly price.
The Top Blues Guitars Reviewed
Introduced to the market towards the end of the 1950s, the Epiphone Limited Edition Es-335 pro electric guitar is one of the best blues guitars you can purchase today. It is a hollow-body electric guitar, the ideal design for blues.
- Double cutaway shape
- Semi-hollow or chambered body
- Maple construction
- Gloss finish
- SlimTaper D neck
- Mahogany neck
- 75-inch scale length
- 22 frets
- Small block inlays
- Alnico Classic Pro bridge
- Control layout Master volume, volume 1, volume 2, tone 1, tone 2
The ES-335 PRO features an arched top and back built of Maple, with two F-shaped sound holes for enhanced sustain and resonance. Other features that set it apart from its competitors include a double-cutaway mahogany neck with 22 jumbo frets, rosewood fretboard, and small inlays.
It comes with powerful Alnico Classic Pro Humbuckers pickups. These pickups deliver tones that are rich in warmth and fullness that perfectly matches with blues. With coil-split, you can conveniently switch between bridge and neck pickups, or use both.
Each pickup is equipped with its own tone and volume knobs, making the ES-335 PRO a highly versatile instrument. Also worthy of note is the Tune-O-Matic Bridge, which can be easily adjusted to regulate the performance of your string. However, you may need to change the stock strings to get the best performance.
- Advanced features
- Quality construction
- Great tone and sustain
- Vintage blues sound
- Stock strings not of the best quality
- Jumbo frets may have rough edges
Overall, the Epiphone ES-335 is a great option for anyone who wants a vintage blues sound. It has all the grit punch and creaminess you would want in a blues guitar. It’s also reasonably priced for the features it has to offer.
Overall Rating 4.9/5.0
If you’re looking for that classic bluesy rock sound, you might want to try the Fender American Special Stratocaster. This guitar has been played by greats like Steve Ray Vaughan, Eric Clapton, and Jimi Hendrix, among other guitar legends.
- 5-inch fretboard radius
- Large ’70s style headstock
- Chrome hardware
- Maple neck
- Modern “C” neck shape
- Standard 4-bolt neck plate
- S/S/S pickup configuration
- Greasebucket Tone Circuit
- 22 Jumbo frets
- Vintage-style tremolo arm
- Synthetic bone string nut
The Fender American Special Stratocaster offers easy string-bending, and a fast, modern feel, thanks to its 9.5-inch fretboard radius, 22 Jumbo frets, and a satin-finished neck. The guitar comes equipped with Grease Bucket Tone Circuit that lets you explore dark, thicker tones without compromising clarity.
Another outstanding feature of this guitar is Fender’s popular Synchronized tremolo, which allows you to explore pitch variations. It also comes with Fender Deluxe Gig Bag for convenient transportation. However, it is quite weighty and may not be a good option if you prefer a lighter weight guitar.
- Built with premium-grade materials
- Also great for other music styles
- Offers awesome playing experience
- Beautiful Fender Deluxe gigbag included
- Quite pricey
- A bit heavy
Boasting high-quality construction, the Fender American Special Stratocaster is not only great for blues but can also support various other music styles. It’s a great option if you’re looking for a versatile guitar. It has all the components needed to explore different tones.
Overall Rating 4.8/5.0
If you’re looking for the warmth and lovely tone of a 100% mahogany body, the Martin 000-15m – Natural would be a perfect option for you. Built with pure mahogany, this guitar delivers a warm sound with a harmonic-rich midrange.
- 100% mahogany body, back, and sides
- Mahogany “low oval” neck with mortise/tenon neck joint
- East Indian rosewood fretboard with 20 frets
- Square and Diamond pattern fretboard inlays
- 16-inch radius compensated bone saddle
- Delmar tortoise color pickguard
- Open-geared nickel tuners with Butterbean knobs
- Single ring rosette
- Carrying case included
Designed to pay homage and recreate the first incarnations of the blues guitar, the Martin 000-15M features a body that is somewhat smaller than standard acoustic guitars. With the reduced body size comes an increased tonal sharpness. Your blues and riffs will glow with sorrow and splendor.
Like the body, the guitar’s neck is made of solid mahogany and connected to the body through a mortise/tenon joint. This enhances the neck’s stability and promotes resonance between the body and the neck.
While it is a great option for finger-pickers, the Martin 000-15M can also work well for players who use a bottleneck slide together with fingerpicking style. Unfortunately, it may not be a good choice if you’re working with a tight budget.
- Solid mahogany construction
- Replicates the earliest blues tones
- Ideal for fingerpicking styles & bottleneck slide
- Somewhat small body size for increased attack and tonal clarity
The Martin 000-15M-Natural is an excellent option for any blues enthusiast looking for a guitar with warm tonality. It features an all-mahogany body that delivers an exceptionally rich and warm sound. While it’s quite expensive, it’s worth the price.
Overall Rating 4.8/5.0
If you’re just getting started with your profession as a guitarist or you’re looking to upgrade from your cut-rate beginner’s guitar to a classier and more reliable instrument, you might want to look at what the Epiphone Les Paul Standard has to offer. This guitar features a stunning mahogany body that delivers a high-quality resonance.
It’s also equipped with Alnico Classic humbucker pickups that provide warmth. The instrument is available in a variety of colors, including Ebony, Metallic Gold, Faded Cherry Sunburst, and Pelham Blue.
- Mahogany body and neck
- Maple top
- Pau Ferro fingerboard
- 75-inch scale length
- Trapezoid position markers
- 22 frets
- 2 Alnico Classic humbucker pickups
- 2 volume controls and 2 tone controls
- 3-way selector for pickup switching
- Stopbar bridge
- Chrome hardware
Epiphone Les Paul Standard allows you to have a warm and powerful sound, just what you need to play the blues. The instrument’s body, neck, and trapezoid inlays deliver a classic look that band and solo stage performers need.
This instrument also comes with a mahogany neck with a slim-tapered design along with a rosewood fretboard, which allows for efficient action and response. You’ll have an easy time adjusting the instrument to your needs.
Furthermore, you can easily change the strings, thanks to the LockTone Tune-O-Matic bridge and the Stop-bar tailpiece. However, this guitar may be out of reach of thrifty buyers or beginners on a very limited budget.
- Great string to body resonance
- Fantastic sound, completely free of microphonic hum
- Robust Stop-tail bridge
- Consistently smooth, rich, and warm tones
- Available in a variety of color options
- Not ideal for buyers on a tight budget
- May take you some time to learn to change the strings with the Stop-bar Tailpiece
The Epiphone Les Paul Standard is an excellent option for anyone looking for an instrument that delivers superb sound. If you have quite a flexible budget, choosing this guitar might be an outstanding way to get started with your guitar playing journey. It is a great buy and an incredibly strong performer.
Overall Rating 4.7/5.0
Yamaha is known to produce some of the world’s best beginner guitars. While the brand’s guitars are largely entry-level, that doesn’t mean they are of low quality. Their Pacifica Series PACO12 is one of the best beginner guitars for blues on the market.
- Agathis Body
- Maple Bolt-On Neck
- Vintage Tremolo
- Sonokeling Fingerboard
- 5 Position Switch
The PACO12 features a sleek and hardwearing body and an easily playable fretboard. It is considerably lighter compared to most electric guitars, making it ideal for long hours of practice. While the instrument’s hardware is a little basic, it delivers an impressive performance.
It comes with Yamaha die-cast tuning machines, which ensure the strings are always in tune. The PACO12 Is equipped with the popular H/S/S pickup configuration, which along with the tuners, make the guitar sound better than its price.
The humbucker in the middle helps to enhance the sound the instrument produces. The five-position switch allows for increased versatility when playing the instrument. While it’s great for blues, the PACO12 can also handle other styles of music like jazz, rock, and vintage R&B. However, if you want to advance your skills, you may need to upgrade to a higher-end unit as this unit has limited features to advance your skills.
- Quality entry-level guitar
- Comfortable to play
- Exceptionally affordable
- Ideal for practicing
- Limited features to advance your skills
- A complete beginner may need assistance at the beginning
Overall, the Yamaha Pacifica Series PACO12 is a guitar that delivers quality beyond its price. Whether you are a novice, an intermediate-level player, or an experienced guitarist, this guitar can meet your needs. It is a versatile instrument with exceptional sound quality and durability.
Overall Rating 4.6/5.0
The best electric guitars usually don’t come cheap. However, the Squier Classic Vibe Thin Line Telecaster is not only affordable, but it is also an excellent choice for beginners looking for an instrument to learn on. This instrument features a semi-hollow mahogany body, with a remarkable ability to deliver a natural resonance.
- Mahogany body
- Gloss polyester finish
- Modern “C” shape, maple neck
- Maple fingerboard with 21 medium jumbo frets
- Vintage-style tuning machines
- Single-Coil Tele Pickups with AlNiCo V Magnets
This guitar comes equipped with a set of high-quality Tele single-coil pickups with AlNiCo V magnets that have connected to singular tone and volume control knobs. It also has a three-way pickup selector, which lets you have more control over the instrument’s tonal quality.
The combination of these electronics and the mahogany body gives you an instrument that produces booming sound and enhanced resonance. When it comes to looks, this guitar is quite attractive. It features a pickguard that covers virtually half of its front side.
While the large pickguard offers optimal protection, replacing it can be a challenging and costly endeavor if it gets damaged. The guitar also spots vintage-style tuning pegs, which add a unique touch to its overall look.
Though there seem to be some sharp edges and minor buzzing on the fret, the Squier Classic Vibe Thin Line Telecaster is not a bad choice for the price. If you want to play a semi-hollow body, with a unique, mellow sound, this would be a great buy for you.
- Great resonance from the chambered body
- Fingerpicking sounds fantastic
- Sturdy and beautiful construction
- Ideal for beginners
- Exceptionally affordable
- Fret buzz
- Somewhat sharp edges
Despite being cheap, the Classic Vibe boasts some serious features and quality performance. It makes a great choice for beginners, but it can also work well for intermediate and professional blues players.
Overall Rating 4.5/5.0
Buying Guide How to Choose the Right Guitar for Blues
There are several things to keep in mind when you go shopping for a blues guitar. Here’s a look at some of the factors to consider to ensure you get the best instrument for your needs.
The nature of a pickup is one of the most important considerations when choosing a blues guitar. Regardless of the design you choose, you’ll want as a set that is versatile. However, some guitar enthusiasts prefer vintage pickups in a bid to achieve that classic blues sound reminiscent of the early ’60s, whereas others are more flexible.
Acoustic or Electric Guitar for Blues?
The decision of whether to go for an electric guitar or acoustic blues guitar will depend largely on how you plan to use the instrument. If you’re going to perform for a crowd, you would want to choose either an acoustic-electric guitar or an electric guitar. This ensures that you can be heard over the noise of the crowd as well as the other instruments.
While you can use a microphone to amplify your acoustic guitar, it will limit your motion and dampen the tone of your instrument. If you decide to purchase an acoustic-electric guitar, be sure the pickup is of great quality. Otherwise, the guitar won’t deliver an impressive performance even if it has perfect tone and sustain.
Type of Guitar’s Body
The body is another important factor to consider when choosing a blues guitar. They type of body you choose will make a huge difference in the kind of sound you get from your instrument. If you like a little more twang in your blues, consider selecting a resonator type of body.
Resonator bodies are perfect for slide guitar work but are also quite popular for fingerstyle playing. They are considerably louder than a standard acoustic guitar, while still maintaining a unique tone. Likewise, if you don’t intend to perform or play with a band, you can simply invest in a pure acoustic guitar.
The hollow body and semi-hollow body acoustic-electric guitars can also make great choices. With these guitars, you get the volume of an electric and the rich tones of an acoustic.
It’s important to define your budget before you go shopping for a blues guitar. While the most expensive guitars are often higher quality, we all can’t afford the best. You can probably be tempted to pick the cheapest model available.
However, you should resist that temptation because a cheap blues guitar will rarely deliver the desired performance. They typically have delicate construction, rough actions, weirdly thick necks, and poor tonal quality. You shouldn’t expect a great blues guitar under $300.
Blues guitars are a very popular style, and there’s a wide selection of them available on the market. When you embark on searching for a blues guitar, there are several things to keep in mind, including the quality of the pickup, the body type, and your budget.
However, you shouldn’t focus too much on the guitar’s design and appearance. You should focus on the tone fidelity that fits your needs the best. We hope this article helps you find the right blues guitar for your needs.