Blues music dates back to the early 19th century when slaves in Southern America used it as the voice to express their hardships, frustration, and hard luck. They were basically songs sung by the slaves who toiled in cotton fields back then and that’s why you see many African-American singers dominating this music genre today. While the original Blues were never played on any guitar, the earliest proponents of acoustic guitar blues that we know of include Charley Patton, Son House, Willie Brown, and Robert Johnson.
Blues music is meant to be felt deep down the soul and only the best acoustic guitar for blues is capable of conveying the raw and rugged feeling of this genre. The problem, however, is that there are so many sub-genres of Blues such as jump blues, cool blues, Memphis blues…the list goes on, and that makes it difficult to define the best guitar for blues.
Top 6 Acoustic Guitars For Blues Review 2020
Nonetheless, as we have shown in the table below, there are surely some models that stand out of the crowd, particularly when it comes to reaching those deep tones and leaving them resonating in the air the Blues way. You have to know the strengths of these Blues acoustic guitars in the in-depth reviews section. Then there’s a buying guide with all the details regarding choosing your perfect Blues acoustic guitar. We look at a guitar’s scale length, nut width, back wood, weight, and warranty, and why these factors influence your buying decision.
Cordoba C9 Crossover – Editor’s Choice
- Weight: 10 lbs
- Back wood: solid African mahogany
- Nut width: 48 mm
- Scale length: 25.2’’
- Warranty: 3-year limited
More features: polyfoam case included, rosewood fingerboard, 19 frets
The famous Spanish manufacturer makes some of the best classic guitars on the market today and the Cordoba C9 Crossover is one of their finest. The C9 is one of the original models of Cordoba’s Luthier series and so you can expect top-notch quality. This is an all-solid wood guitar, made of either Canadian cedar or European Spruce top, with solid African mahogany making up the sides and back. Of course, everything is finished in high gloss.
Its hand-carved mahogany neck has a very thin profile and features a 48mm nut width plus a rosewood fingerboard. A 2-way truss rod is also built into the neck for easy adjustment of the neck as needed. Another important feature is its fan bracing pattern, which grants the centre of the soundboard plenty of room to vibrate and respond effectively to string tensioning. This ensures the guitar produces an exceptional tone that’s even louder compared with an unresponsive soundboard.
Furthermore, this model benefits from what Cordoba calls Spanish heel construction. In short, building the guitar starts by attaching the top to the neck, adding the sides, and finished by installing the back. This technique allows the guitar to vibrate in its entirety. You will also appreciate some of the aesthetic touches such as the vintage mother-of-pearl-weave rosette, Savarez Cristal Corum strings, and a rosewood bridge. The C9 is also supplied with a beautiful polyfoam case for transport and storage. A 3-year warranty sums up the quality of this model.
Overall, the C9 can really sing and that’s anything from blues to jazz and classical music. The cedar and mahogany blend for a warm, smooth sound that is hard to fault for the price point. This a great choice for the guitarist who loves the look and sound of a traditional acoustic guitar.
- High-quality Spanish heel construction
- Great sound
- Uniform vibration
- Comes with a polyfoam case
- Excellent value for money
- Nothing negative reported yet
Martin StreetMaster 000-15M – Upgrade Pick
- Weight: 11.8 lbs
- Back wood: solid mahogany
- Nut width: 42 mm
- Scale length: 25.4’’
- Warranty: 2-year limited
More features: satin finish, 20 frets, katalox fingerboard, steel strings
The Martin StreetMaster 000-15M is a very simple guitar. No flashy inlays or fancy bindings, just a beautiful piece of mahogany with an antic satin finish. This wood makes not only makes for durability and stability but also delivers abundant amounts of deep, full, and reverberating sounds. The neck is incredibly sturdy yet still easy on the hands and highly playable. The fingerboard is a katalox piece with 20 frets plus a set of white dot markers.
This acoustic guitar features 6 steel strings that deliver a louder and brighter bluesy sound. In fact, this guitar is capable of expressing a variety of musical vibes such as crispy clean clears, gritty punches, and warm basses, thus suitable for a wide range of styles and genres.
The Streetmaster is remarkably lightweight at 11.8 lbs and the size is perfect for sitting down on a stool just noodling around. The scale length is 25.4 inches, which is considered long for an acoustic guitar and widely regarded as the scale of choice for modern fingerstyle players and flatpickers. This particular scale length offers more headroom in its tone, but the problem is that as the scale goes up, the string tension responds the same way. This is why longer-scale guitars are a bit difficult to play compared with their shorter counterparts.
This Martin is, therefore, ideal for experienced guitarists, who at least can splash out more than $1,300 for a good acoustic guitar. This fella also comes with a case and is backed by a 2-year warranty.
- Simple design and good looking
- Solid mahogany construction
- Fantastic tone all-round ideal for Blues
- Incredibly lightweight
- Supplied with case
- Could be too expensive for some
Blueridge BR-40T – Best Travel Acoustic Guitar For Blues
- Weight: 3 lbs
- Back wood: mahogany
- Nut width: 33 mm
- Scale length: 22.9’’
- Warranty: lifetime limited
More features: maple bridge, high gloss finish, 20 frets, solid sitka spruce top
If you are after a super-lightweight guitar, the Blueridge BR-40T is your perfect match. This is only 3 pounds and we bet you can’t find anything lower than that. The BR-40T is a classic offering that is made of solid mahogany back and sides and a solid Sitka Spruce top with scalloped braces. These combine for a robust sound and resonance plus it renders you clean articulation as well as a crisp tone.
The neck is slim and this provides swift, easy action and long-lasting stability. This is the kind of thing for the modern player. The fingerboard is made of East Indian Rosewood for silky smooth playability, while Nickel plated 14:1 open back tuners offer smooth and precise action for keeping you in tune always.
This guitar benefits from an adjustable truss rod that ensures perfect neck alignment at all times. Playability is magnificent. The nut width is 33mm and the frets are quite large, even and delightfully polished. Combined with a very comfortable neck profile, they make for outstanding playability. Even the tone is remarkably strong and uniform. This guitar produces a clear and classic voice all up and down the fretboard. On the low end, this instrument can really thunder, particularly if you dig into the 42 gauge G string, great for Blues, Folk, and Rock.
With a short scale length of 22.9”, the BR-40T requires very little tension to bring the strings up to pitch and can perform bends and vibrato more easily than a longer scale acoustic guitar. Furthermore, the combination of a mahogany top with laminated back and sides offers a fantastic sounding guitar that’s actually priced within the means of any guitarist, including aspiring students. An added benefit is that the laminated wood is crack-resistant, which adds resonance to the tone.
All things considered, this BlueBridge guitar offers the right mix of playability and tone at a very good price point.
- Mahogany top construction for durability and robust sound production
- Smooth playability
- Excellently finished in high-gloss
- Comes at a decent price
- Good for students and experts alike
- Neck seems too narrow for some
- Must be adjusted to play on the longer scale
Yamaha FS850 – Best Value Pack For Blues
- Weight: 7 lbs
- Back wood: mahogany
- Nut width: 43 mm
- Scale length: 24.9’’
- Warranty: not specified
More features: gloss finish, 20 frets, rosewood fingerboard, scalloped bracing
The Yamaha FS850 is another great piece available in the lower price range. It’s a full-size concert acoustic guitar featuring a solid mahogany top with mahogany back and sides – all with a natural finish. The top board has a scalloped bracing pattern that helps maintain durability while bringing out the natural sound of this guitar. The fingerboard and bridge are both constructed of rosewood, and the saddle and nut are made of urea.
This instrument has a compact body with a cutaway, which is a magnificent feel for Blues acoustic lead. Sound-wise, the combination of its low profile and its solid wood top give a slightly narrower sound with almost compressed highs and a little less bass oomph. The small FS850 body also offers enhanced comfort with no loss of volume.
An adjustable truss rod allows for stabilizing of the neck, while ABS bridge pins secure the strings in place. Additional features include mahogany and cream body binding, a tortoise-patterned pickguard, die-cast tuners, and abalone with black and white soundhole inlay.
Ideal for solo performers or band players, the FS850 can be purchased as “guitar only” or as a “bundle pack”. The bundle comes with an accessory kit including a stand, picks, strap, and polishing cloth, and Yamaha’s hardshell guitar case that virtually fits any standard-sized concert guitars. You also choose from a myriad of color options and tonewood options. Picking the bundle pack seems a value bet given the decent price of everything. A good choice for practicing, recording and performing at small venues.
- Pretty much affordable
- Solid mahogany body
- Available with a range of accessories
- Feels comfortable in hand
- Delivers warm, unique sound with a deep, rich tone
- Quieter than some other guitars
Ibanez AW54OPN – Budget Pick
- Weight: 4.5 lbs
- Back wood: mahogany
- Nut width: 42 mm
- Scale length: 25.5’’
- Warranty: 1-year limited
More features: 20 frets, rosewood fretboard, x bracing
The Ibanez AW54OPN is perfect for those looking for their first dreadnought acoustic guitar that doesn’t break the bank. Outfitted all over with solid mahogany, this guitar will offer the depth and articulation that you’d expect from a dreadnought, along with strong fundamentals plus rich overtones. Whether you like fingerpicking or strumming, you will appreciate the fast response of this instrument.
The neck and top features solid, while the fingerboard and bridge are made of traditional rosewood. Ibanez employed an X bracing on this guitar to reinforce the natural warm tone of mahogany and offer a wide-ranging tone that doesn’t become indistinct as playing goes on. The dreadnought body shape itself offers plenty of acoustic projection. You can expect full, rich, and warm tones owing to the mahogany. It’s also possible to achieve a boomy bass with powerful notes anywhere in the mid to higher ranges, making it an excellent choice if you’re seeking the best acoustic guitar for delta blues. This guitar is truly a game changer when compared to the sounds of other guitars in its price range.
Although the appearance is that of a traditional acoustic guitar, Ibanez added modern touches as seen with the chrome die-cast tuners, D’Addario EXP strings, Ivorex II nut and saddle, Open pore natural finish, and Advantage bridge pins. The Advantage bridge pins, in particular, have a significant effect on tuning and tensioning the strings.
All in all, this acoustic guitar is suitable for any Blues guitarist, whether beginner or experienced player. Beginners will appreciate the slim neck and high-quality build that will encourage a longer learning time, while advanced players will love showing off every inch of this guitar.
- Available at pocket-friendly price
- Solid mahogany top for deep sound
- A slim neck makes it super comfy to play
- Unique Advantage bridge pins
- Falls out of tune fast
Taylor GS Mini – Best Beginner Acoustic Guitar For Blues
- Weight: 11 lbs
- Back wood: mahogany
- Nut width: 43 mm
- Scale length: 23.5”
- Warranty: 2-year limited
More features: 20 frets, x-bracing with relief route, varnish finish, ebony fingerboard
The Taylor GS Mini is exactly that – a compact that’s very portable to play just about anywhere. While small guitars are naturally expected to have a less booming sound, the Taylor GS Mini performs contrary to this notion thanks to the materials used in construction. The guitar’s top is made of solid Sitka Spruce, something you only see with high-end models, while the back and sides are made out of Sapele. The finish is then complemented by Matte, again a feature often found in high-end guitars, and the bridge and fretboard feature ebony wood. All these make for a guitar that is superior to most full-sized beginner options when it comes to sound quality. You can expect a warm and bright tone and also enjoy flawless bass, treble, and mid-range.
The fact that the body of the GS Mini is slimmer than full-sized guitars makes it comfortable for both adults and kids willing to learn how to play this instrument. Additionally, Taylor uses their patented NT neck joint to enhance playability, but you will want to raise the guitar’s action in order to play more aggressively. The tuning machines are also very accurate.
With its price tag (it’s, indeed, one of the best acoustic guitars under $500) and low-profile, the GS Mini is among the pricey guitars that are classified as beginner models. The full tone sound it produces along with a dynamic range is satisfying when strumming, fingerpicking, or even flatpicking. So if you are looking for the best acoustic guitar for blues fingerpicking, or maybe something to take on the road with you, this little guy suits the bill.
- Amazing sound quality
- Comfortable to play
- Stays in tune for long
- Made of durable materials
- Easy to carry around
- Has a finish that makes damage visible
- Some people think it’s overpriced
Know your blues style
There are several styles of Blues, which means your go-to instrument should meet the sound requirements of each type.
Traditional country blues
These are all about the American South and country life. Many songs are about the struggles of African American men including railroad work.
Characterized by high tempo and plenty of jazz elements, these blues are usually played with a full band accompanied with instruments such as the saxophone.
They were found around the ‘40s and ‘50s. These are usually played with brass instruments or sometimes accompanied by a full blow horn.
True to their name, these are very calm and relaxing.
West Coast blues
Exponents of this style were Texas musicians who moved west to California. This music is heavily influenced by the swing beat.
Heavily influenced by Slide music which was originally played in Hawaii. In fact, Memphis blues became popular owing to one “Memphis Blues” song written by WC Handy.
St. Louis blues
This type is a combination of jump blues, piano blues, and ragtime.
Distinguish blues guitar from the rest
There are quite a few differences between a blues guitar and the rest of the herd. For the purpose of shopping and without having to delve into everything, we have listed the parameters that are unique to blues guitars. These include:
- A bright and warm tone
- Concert-shaped or cutaway profile
- A slim neck
- Onboard preamp and pickup system
- A tiny string gauge – 0.042 or lower
These basics can help you pick an acoustic guitar that is more at home with blues than any other genre.
How to take care of an acoustic guitar
Your acoustic guitar will need frequent maintenance to stay in top-notch condition and continue delivering those southern vibes. Guitar maintenance involves general care, removing strings, cleaning, and putting on strings. If your fingers tend to sweat, for instance, you’ll need to wipe the strings with a cloth after every play. This will prevent corrosion. To clean the entire guitar, apply some drops of lemon oil to your cloth and wipe all around. Well, some things are better elaborated than told, so this video can help:
You can find an acoustic guitar for blues at virtually any price point, from under $300 to over $2000. It really depends on how much you are willing to spend, your level of expertise, the features of the guitar, and brand. If you are fairly new to guitars, you can get a beginner’s acoustic guitar for anywhere from $200 to $500. Mid-level range models cost about $500 to $1,500, while high-end ones are in the region of $2,000 or more.
The following features will help you choose the perfect acoustic guitar for blues
Size and weight
Acoustic guitars come in various sizes and finding the right size is only the first step towards enjoying playing the instrument and getting the best sound. A guitar’s size has an impact on playability in terms of you being able to hold it comfortably and the quality of the sound.
Generally, larger guitars are serious sound boomers and vice versa. So whether you’ll be playing in a large room where you want everyone to hear the sound or maybe you will be traveling with your instrument more often, you need to get a size that matches your goals. For instance, the Taylor GS Mini with its compact design makes an excellent choice for travel.
Weight is another thing to consider, especially in relation to your frame. It doesn’t make sense giving a child a huge guitar and they are only learning to play. Likewise, a big guy would look funny with a mini instrument. So get one that’s congruent with your body size as well.
We’ve just mentioned that a guitar’s size impacts sound and playability and here are the most common body styles:
Concert and Grand concert
These are ideal for guys with petite frames and those with small hands. They are comfortable, the sound is bright and the mid-range is remarkably good. The grand concert is a bit larger, though.
Auditorium and Grand Auditorium
These are known to have incredible amounts of volume and better balance than smaller models. They also have a small waist, making them comfortable to hold.
This is characterized by a very large soundboard, a 14-fret neck, and square bouts. It’s the best thing for delivering powerful driving sounds.
Deep resonance, big booming sound, and loud projection – what else do you expect of a jumbo?
A good option for guitarists who are always on the move and for children learning to play the guitar. They are usually portable and comfortable. Some manufacturers have found a means to make mini-guitars without compromising on the sound quality. The Taylor GS Mini is a good example.
The top largely affects the tone quality of the guitar. It amplifies the sound transmitted from the strings and the quality of the wood used will determine how loud the sound can get. So in general, you can expect a very loud sound from a larger soundboard.
Acoustic guitar tops are commonly made of wood or laminate. Solid wood usually vibrates, but that’s an advantage as it makes it produce a rich sound at great a volume. Laminate is cheaper and it’s the way to go for beginners.
That said, acoustic blues guitars are often made of solid mahogany on the top, back and even sides. This material is preferred for its punchy qualities and gives a dark, rugged sound. It’s perfect for bringing out mid-range tones, which gives more clarity to the sound and gets even better as it matures.
Bracing comes in two versions; ladder and X bracing. Bracing is actually how the wood supporting the top is arranged inside the body of the guitar. In the case of ladder bracing, the wood is arranged like a ladder, creating a roomy, airy top support that gives a higher, top-end tone. This is the traditional bracing technique, therefore, if you are looking for an authentic 20s and 30s blues sound, an acoustic guitar with ladder bracing is the real deal.
X bracing, on the other hand, is a modern style usually seen in flat top guitars like the Ibanez AW54OPN. The wood supporting the top is literally arranged in an X shape, providing a tighter, mid-range sound that’s also louder than ladder bracing.
Neck shape and nut size
Acoustic blues guitars feature either a C-shaped neck or a V-shaped neck. The C shape is the most common design. It is shallow, thus easy for small hands to get around.
The V shape design is mostly seen on vintage guitars. It can be a soft V, which is a bit rounded, or a hard V that’s very pointy. If you like to have your thumb over the edge of the fretboard, say you want to play D/F# chords, a pointy neck shape will get the job done.
Nut size ranges from 43mm to 51mm, but acoustic blues guitars vary from 44mm to 47mm. The wider the neck, the easier the access to each string. Wider necks are also suitable for fingerstyle playing and techniques such as hybrid picking.
Fretboard and frets
The fretboard is the piece of wood that extends all the way along the neck of a guitar. Frets are the tiny metal strips placed along the fretboard.
Acoustic blues guitars often feature 12 frets but some have 14 frets. A 12-fret guitar is best suited to people with smaller frames because there is less distance to reach when playing in open positions. It also has a lower bridge than usual, which allows it to sound full and warm. 12-fret guitars were used in the early blues, so they are a great option for those looking to recreate the traditional blues sound.
14-fret guitars are famous for their bright sound and high frequencies. Having 14 frets allows you easy access to higher frets, especially when there’s a need to slide from fret 12 to 14. 14-fret models suit larger individuals or anyone who just loves the brightness that they give.
Those looking to play past the blues will be at home with a ‘normal’ guitar, such as a solid dreadnought made of mahogany and with a wide neck.
The choice here is between nylon and steel strings, but it comes down to your music preference. Nylon strings create a softer, mellow tone and are preferred for playing classical, flamenco, and some folk music. Steel strings, on the other hand, produce a louder, brighter tone and a deep, bluesy sound just like the classic acoustic guitar. So if you need something specifically for blues, you’ll want to stick with steel strings.
There’re different strings variations that might influence your final buying decision. In case you’re a professional who’s looking for breathtaking sound, you might want to opt for a twelve-string guitar for maximum customization. Also, if you-re left-handed, pay attention to the left-hand acoustic guitars pre-strung specially for you.
The only accessory that most guitars come with is a case. This is essential for when transporting the instrument or storing it away. Some such as the Ibanez AW54OPN will require you to buy the carry case separately. A few others like the Yamaha FS850 are sold together with accessories such as stand, polishing cloth, strap, and case, while still maintain a decent price point. Obviously, you’ll have to buy some of these accessories given care and maintenance is a must for your guitar’s durability.
Warranty is a good thing, but you got to know what it covers and what it doesn’t. We’ve heard of a US manufacturer who won’t cover any damage caused to your guitar outside the United States! What if the product is affected during shipping? What if you need to put some speakers in and something goes wrong? These are the issues you need to ascertain.
Well, if you can afford personal classes with an instructor, you’ll be certain to reap major dividends. You can still learn some important lessons on YouTube for free. Alternatively, listening to blues music and then trying to mimic the sound with your guitar can help develop your skill. Try these approaches and see what does wonders for you.
There’s no problem. Both acoustic and electric guitars produce exceptional bluesy sound. The core features of both guitars are the same, except that one can be amplified and the other one cannot. Acoustic guitars are simple and easy to use, ideal for beginners. Electric guitars have electronic switches that may seem complicated at first and it needs to be plugged in. Acoustic-electric is more of a combination of both. The major benefit of this guitar is that it can be connected to a soundboard without the need for microphones. It’s totally up to you.
Once the strings start to dull, sound dead, or become difficult to tune.
While there are a plethora of options on the market, every model and brand we have featured here is worth your time. Whether you’re just starting out, you’re passionate about playing guitar or looking for something to add to your collection, the guitars in this list will sound amazing in your hands. To summarize our findings regarding the best acoustic guitar for blues, below are the top choices:
The Cordoba C9 Crossover is the best overall acoustic guitar for blues. Available in premium Canadian Cedar or European Spruce top, this guitar breathes out the genuine traditional acoustic sound that empowered our forefathers to express their emotions. The ‘Spanish heel construction’, high gloss finish and some vintage touches make this guitar stand out of the rest.
Those looking for an upgrade instrument can go with the Martin StreetMaster 000-15M. Its solid mahogany with antic satin finish is sure to deliver resonating sound and last long as well. This has 20 frets, meaning you have to know what you’re doing to get the best frequencies out of it.
Lastly, for those of you, blues players, who need to tighten the budget on buying an acoustic guitar, Ibanez AW54OPN is the perfect choice. This high-quality guitar from one of the most beloved brands will impress you with every featured spec from the strings to tonewood.