If you’re learning to play guitar, you may not be aware that different models offer different sound capabilities. For those looking to pay the blues, a guitar needs to be able to create the tone and twang that this style of music is known for. Of course, there are a few different styles of blues to play, including Texas Blues, Delta Blues, and Blues Rock, just to name a few. Which one you choose depends on your personal taste and the same goes for choosing the best electric guitar for blues. Once you’ve found it, you can start playing like B.B. King, Huddie “Lead Belly” Ledbetter, or Junior Kimbrough.
In order to find the right blues guitar, you need to check out the specific features each model has to offer. The scale length tells you the length and tension of the string, while the neck and body woods affect the length of the vibration, the tone, and the resonance. How many frets are also important, depending on the note range you need. Pickups can alter the sound, ranging from twangy and bright to warm and thick. The warranty covers unexpected issues.
Top 5 Electric Guitars For Blues Review 2019
To help you decide which one is the right electric blues guitar for you, we spend hours researching manufacturer’s and brand information, checking product features, and reading hundreds of customer reviews. Then we chose the top five, created a comparison table, wrote in-depth reviews, and even added a buyer’s guide to help you pick the right one.
- Scale length: 24.75”
- Body wood: mahogany, maple top
- Neck wood: maple
- Pickups: P-90 Dogear Classics
- Frets: 22
- Warranty: lifetime limited
More features: taper D-profile neck, 12’’ fingerboard radius, medium jumbo frets, Bigsby™ B70 Vibrato tailpiece
The Epiphone Wildkat looks gorgeous, with a pearl white finish, gold sparkle binding, and gold hardware, all of which will catch the attention of beginner and expert guitarists alike. Of course, a guitar has to be more than just its appearance, it has to sound fantastic as well. The Wildkat meets these high standards.
The guitar itself has a smaller body than normal guitars but is still extremely comfortable to hold and play. It is semi-hollow, which lets you create the vintage sound the blues greats are known for.
This limited production guitar has a mahogany body, with maple for the top material and the neck. There is a 12-inch fingerboard with pearloid dot inlays. For the pickups, it uses P-90R Dogear Classics on the neck and P-90T Dogear Classics on the bridge. Together, these give you the classic tones needed for creating the best blues sound possible.
There are 22 medium jumbo frets, giving you a wide range of notes to play, even if you want to reach those high ones used by rock musicians. The bridge is Locktone Tune-o-matic with a stopbar, which work together to enhance sustain and resonance, creating sharper notes with great clarity. The tailpiece is a Bigsby B70 Vibrato, giving you the ability to bend the pitches of the notes or even the entire chords for a wide range of effects.
- Minimum adjustments required
- Pickups may become microphonic and squeal at higher volumes
- Scale length: 25.5’’
- Body wood: mahogany, poplar burl top
- Neck wood: maple
- Pickups: Quantum 7
- Frets: 24
- Warranty: 1-year limited
More features: 7-string guitar, jatoba fingerboard, fixed 7 bridge, jumbo frets
The Ibanez RG7421PB is a 7-string solid body electric guitar. It has a resonant, well-balanced mahogany RG sapphire blue flat body and is lightweight and easy to play. This body is topped with burled poplar, which is smooth and stylish.
The Wizard II-7 3-piece maple neck has a 15.75-inch radius, making it fast, slim, and comfortable to hold. Movements are quick and easy on this neck, but it still maintains the substance needed for fretting those chords.
Another great feature this Ibanez guitar has to offer is the Fixed Bridge 7, which has a floating vibrato tailpiece. For the lowered tunings, there is more stability and looser tension on the strings. If you need to change tunings, you can do so easily without loosening the plastic locking nuts or altering the vibrato.
For the pickups, this model uses high-output Quantum ceramic humbuckers on both the neck and the bridge, both of which include a 5-way blade pickup switch. This allows you to adjust the tone to suit your musical needs. There is a Jatoba fingerboard, which includes 24 jumbo frets and pearl dot inlays, making it easy to switch chords or achieve those high notes usually heard in rock, so you can mix up your genres however you see fit.
Other features of this right-handed guitar include the separate controls for the volume and the tone and the standard tuners. Best of all, the Ibanez RG7421PB has a great price.
- Pickups may need upgrading
- Scale length: 24.84’’
- Body wood: Canadian wild cherry
- Neck wood: silver leaf maple
- Pickups: Godin Custom Kingpin P90
- Frets: 21
- Warranty: lifetime limited
More features: double-action truss rod, rosewood fingerboard, 16’’ fingerboard radius
If you prefer a guitar that offers a vintage sound to go along with the classic look, the Godin 5th Avenue CW may be the right model for you. This stylish guitar is designed to reflect the old 1950s archtop models, without sacrificing the playability of the more modern instruments. It is the perfect guitar for playing Delta Blues, but also sound great with rock, jazz, country, or any style of music you like to play.
The body of this Godin model is made of Canadian Wild Cherry, with a Silver Leaf Maple neck and rosewood on the fingerboard. The semi-gloss finish makes the guitar shine, plus allows your hand to slide smoothly on the neck for easy chord changes. There is also a cutaway body design for added comfort.
There are Godin Humbucker pickups for the bridge and neck, which can be used separately or together, giving you classic tones with the clarity and presence you want, with a modern flair thrown in for a unique sound.
As well as these features, the Godin 5th Avenue CW also includes a floating pickguard, an adjustable bridge, and classically shaped F-holes that add to its fantastic look and sound. It even comes in three different color options, so you can choose the one that fits your personal tastes as well as your style of music.
Great sound acoustically or plugged in
- Easy to play
- May need some adjustments out of the box
Fender Classic Series ’50s Telecaster Best Electric Guitar For Fingerstyle Blues
- Scale length: 25.5’’
- Body wood: ash
- Neck wood: maple
- Pickups: Vintage-Style Single-Coil Tele®
- Frets: 21
- Warranty: 2-year limited
More features: maple fingerboard, 1.650’’ nut width, 3-saddle American vintage strings-through-body tele® with chrome barrel saddles bridge
The Fender Classic Series ’50s Telecaster is designed to be as close to the original style as possible, with authentic hardware and vintage body shape, plus a few modern touches thrown in for easy playing. The body is made of ash, with a maple neck, and completely covered with a gloss nitrocellulose lacquer for smooth movements and a great shine.
The shape of this incredible electric guitar under 1000 dollars is also vintage, with the classic Telecaster body and a thick U-shaped neck. The maple fingerboard has a 9.5-inch radius, which is a bit flatter than the original, but offers a more comfortable fret-hand feel, plus it includes those tall vintage frets that allow you to bend notes with ease.
For the pickups, Pure Vintage ’52 Single-Coil Tele are used, with a 3-Position Blade that allows you to use each one on its own or both together, with a simple switch adjustment. These are designed to create the authentic classic sounds and the performance this guitar is known for. The Master Volume and Master Tone knurled dome knobs are right next to the pickup switch, within easy reach for quick adjustments while you play.
Other features worth noting are the vintage style bridge with three brass barrel saddles, the 1-ply pickguard, the nickel/chrome finish on the hardware, and the multiple color options. Included with this guitar is a hardshell case with a padded interior and a vintage design.
Padded hardshell gig bag included
Multiple color options
- Great sound
Strap buttons quite small
- A bit heavy
- Scale length: 25.5’’
- Body wood: alder
- Neck wood: maple
- Pickups: Seymour Duncan Trembucker P-Rails
- Frets: 22
- Warranty: lifetime limited
More features: rosewood fingerboard, die-cast chrome tuners, vintage tremolo, Wilkinson VS50-6 bridge
Beginners or those on a budget may not be able to afford the top-of-the-line guitars for blues, but this doesn’t mean they still can’t get their hands on a great instrument, as the Yamaha PAC112J proves. It comes with an amazingly low price (you can easily get an amp, a set of cables and the electric guitar itself for under 300 dollars) but doesn’t sacrifice on the materials or the sound quality.
This guitar has a solid alder body, a maple neck, and a rosewood fretboard. Together, these materials create a great sound for any type of music. It comes in six different colors, as well, so you can choose one according to your personal taste. All of these colors come with a white pickguard, adding a lovely contrast to the guitar’s appearance.
There are two single-coil pickups, located in the neck and the center position, plus another humbucker pickup on the bridge. The 5-position switch allows you to adjust the tone according to the type of music you’re going to play, going from a clean sound to one full of the heavy distortion more heard in punk rock than in blues. Volume and tone knobs are also easy to access while you play.
The chrome tremolo has a vintage style, plus lets you bend the strings on the guitar to create a modulation effect for varying the pitch. The tuners are die-cast chrome, which adds to the classic look of this guitar, plus holds up well over time.
Great low price
Easy to play
- Sounds great
May require minor initial adjustments
- May have some fret buzz
Acoustic vs electric guitar – which one is better for blues?
When it comes to choosing between an acoustic and an electric guitar for the blues, it all depends on your personal preference. First, you should consider which musicians you like to listen to and which ones have the style you want to play. An acoustic is fine for many blues songs, but it lacks versatility. An electric guitar allows you to play using a clean tone or adds some distortion for a rougher sound and a heavier style. This gives you a bit of an advantage, giving you the best of both worlds in one instrument.
Like many musical instruments, an electric guitar can come with a high price tag. Of course, you don’t need to spend a great deal of money to get a decent model. There are many guitars that are affordable for beginners or those on a budget, like the Yamaha PAC112J, which only costs about $200.00. The cheaper ones are a bit more basic, though, so if you want all the best features and materials, be prepared to spend a bit more.
Features to consider while buying the best blues electric guitar
If you’re in the market for the best blues electric guitar, you should look at the following features, to be sure you are getting the quality and sound you are looking for.
Scale length and neck
The scale length is measured from the guitar’s nut to the bridge and refers to the length of the vibrating string. Different lengths offer different tensions, with longer scale lengths tightening the tension, which creates a brighter shimmer and a more defined low end. The shorter scale length reduces the tension, creating warmer tones and allowing you to bend the strings easily.
The neck is the long slim piece between the body and the headstock, where the fretboard is located. The profile and the width of this piece vary, usually with a C or U shape. The depth and width need to fit the hand nicely, or it could affect the comfort and ease of fretting. Those with smaller hands need necks that are narrow and shallow, while larger hands work better on a thicker piece.
There are 3 main neck types to choose from. Bolt-on necks are bolted right to the body of the guitar, which is cheaper to manufacture and easy to replace when needed. The downside is that it offers lower resonance and sustain than the other two options.
Set necks are glued right into the guitar’s body, then clamped in place until the glue has dried completely. This offers more stability, plus the resonance and sustain are better with this construction. It does make replacement a challenge, though.
The last neck type is the neck-through guitar, which has a neck that extends through the guitar’s entire body, with special fins glued onto the sides. This type of neck is the most stable, plus adds the maximum amount of sustain and resonance. Though this also makes repairs more difficult, it also decreases the possibility of damage.
Fretboard and frets
The fretboard is on the neck, holding thin metal bars that run down the entire length. These bars are the frets, which work as note separators that allow you to play each note and chord. Commonly, guitars have 22 frets, though those used for rock or metal usually have 24 frets for playing higher notes. For the blues, the fret count shouldn’t matter until you’ve figured out your own particular style of playing.
Body style and shape
There are three main body styles, each of which alters the amount of resonance produced when you play. A solid body creates louder sounds and more sustain, without adding feedback into the sound. It’s favored by rock, metal, or punk musicians. Hollow or semi-hollow are the other two types, both of which offer a fuller, richer sound with more resonance and lots of bass. These are better for playing the blues, as well as jazz, country, pop, and soft rock.
The body shape doesn’t affect the sound, but it does alter the way it is built. A solid body is easier since it’s all one piece the builder can shape as he likes. Hollow bodies aren’t as versatile, so need to be more carefully designed. The shape you choose depends on your style, though, so pick one that suits you.
Inspect the tonewood
The type of wood used for the various parts of the guitar is important since it affects the sound. Each wood creates a specific resonance, which affects how long the strings vibrate, as well as how they move. The wood also lets the pickups move properly.
Mahogany is a popular choice for everything but the bridges and fretboard, due to its strength, density, resonance, and color. Maple is popular for the necks because it is dense and hard, with an attractive grain pattern. This wood is also used as a top laminate or veneer on some expensive solid body guitars or as laminated top wood in archtop models.
Ash is another common choice for the bodies of solid body instruments because it is hard, plus is quite resonant for great sustain and brighter tones. Alder is similar to ash, though cheaper to use.
For fretboards, like the one on the Godin 5th Avenue CW, rosewood is a common choice, due to its hardness and density. Ebony is also hard and dense, with a smooth, silky feel.
The pieces of metal or plastic beneath the guitar strings are called pickups, which are mostly responsible for the tone. These pieces pick up the strings vibrations, transferring them to the amp, making them like small microphones for the strings. There are two main types.
Single-coil pickups, like the ones on Fender Classic Series ’50s Telecaster, are known for brighter sounds, sometimes with a bit of a twang. Humbuckers create warm, thick tones. Their name comes from their ability to “buck” the “hum” you get with single-coil guitars.
Tailpiece and bridge
The bridge and tailpiece work together to influence the guitar’s playability and tone. There are several different combinations to choose from. The Tune-o-matic is quite common and allows intonation of each string as well as string height adjustments.
Two-point rocking tremolo or fulcrum vibrato combos use individual string saddles that can be adjusted for the height and intonation. They are mounted on a rocking bridge with a perpendicular plate extended through the guitar body.
A locking vibrato is like the two-point rocking tremolo, allowing height adjustments or individual intonation. It is spring-loaded, rocking on two bolts found in the top of the body.
Bigsby is a spring-loaded vibrato, which is a large, heavy device. It includes a rotating bar where the strings are attached.
A six-point rocking tremolo is a through-body, spring-loaded device, giving the guitar individual string intonation and adjustable height. Some believe it creates more vibration for better resonance.
A trapeze tailpiece is common on hollow bodies, using a string termination attached to the tail for less string tension at the top.
A string-through body has the strings routed over the string saddles through holes located throughout the guitar’s top to the back. The strings are then anchored in metal ferrules, giving it a cleaner look and enhancing sustain.
Accessories for blues players
One great accessory for blues players is a capo, which you clamp over the guitar strings at different frets, so you can transpose easily. Slides allow you to create deep vibratos and glissando effects, plus they come in a wide range of materials and shapes. Fingerpicks are another good option, for higher volume without adding power.
The warranty on a blues guitar covers you for any type of malfunction or faulty parts, so be sure to check this out before you spend your money. The longer the warranty, the more likely you’ll be covered if any expected issues with the guitar occur.
Electric guitar maintenance tips
- Use either spray, paste, or gel cleaners for glossy bodies, wipe with a soft cloth, then buff with a separate soft cloth
- Flat finishes need only a micro-fiber cloth for light cleaning or Dunlop 65 Polish and Cleaner for heavy dirt
- Watch for cracks in the finish where wood is revealed and avoid getting cleaner in these areas
- Ebony or rosewood – use oil soap and steel wool, rubbing and polishing until dirt is gone and frets are shiny, then use paper towel to wipe away excess
- Maple – Use a razor blade, laying it flat on the fretboard, then scrape it across the surface of the wood. Cover the fretboard with fret-mask or painter’s tape, polish the frets with steel wool, blow off dust, and remove mask.
- Wipe with a damp microfiber cloth to remove dirt and fingerprints
- Keep guitar at room temperature
- Keep guitar in humidity of 50% to avoid warping or cracks
The best way to learn to play blues on electric guitar is to take a lesson, or at least watch a video made by someone who knows how to do it properly. They can offer tips, tricks, and methods, like those found on the video below. You can also hear what they’re doing, and copy the sound for more accurate playing.
For playing the blues, nickel strings are best. They give you a clear, articulate sound, plus are versatile, so can be used for rock or jazz as well, giving you multiple genre options without forcing you to swap strings.
The blues has a soulful sound unmatched by any other genre of music, so you need the right guitar to play this type of music. All five of our reviewed models are great options, but some rise above the rest.
The Epiphone WILDKAT looks great, colored pearl white with gold accents. It uses mahogany and maple woods, with a Locktone Tune-o-matic bridge and the Bigsby B70 Vibrato for bending those notes.
The Ibanez RG7421PB also uses mahogany and maple, with blue flat coloring and 7 strings. This one uses a Flexed Bridge 7 with a floating Vibrato tailpiece and Quantum ceramic humbuckers with a 5-way switch.
Our third choice for the best electric guitar for blues is the Godin 5th Avenue CW, which has a vintage 50’s look, cutaway body, and classically shaped F-holes. It also has an adjustable bridge, floating pickguard, and a 3-way Godin Humbucker pickups.