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Best Electric Guitar for Blues – Buyer’s Guide & Reviews

The electric guitar has been used in blues music since the 1940s.

The late, great, Muddy Waters bought his first electric in 1944 and quickly hit the clubs, asking for an amp everywhere he went with his band.

“Can’t nobody hear you with an acoustic,” he used to say, as he electrified Chicago.

In this article, we review the best electric guitars for blues and cover all the main differences between the most popular guitars in this genre.

At a Glance: Our Pick of the Best Electric Guitars for Blues

Ok, here’s what we’ll cover.

Blues Electric Guitars

While the acoustic guitar was the originator of blues music, the electric guitar has taken the style to a new level. When it comes to electric guitars for blues you have three main options:

  • the Fender Stratocaster
  • the Fender Telecaster
  • the Gibson Les Paul

…or a copy of any of these (Les Paul style guitars being the most popular). These three electric guitars have dominated the world of music and have been used in most guitar-based music ever since they were first released, over fifty years ago.

Product Round-Up and Reviews – Best Electric Guitar for Blues

Fender Vintage Modified Telecaster

Fender Vintage Modified Telecaster Electric Guitar Custom - 3-Color Sunburst - Maple Fingerboard

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The Fender Vintage Modified Telecaster is a budget-friendly instrument with a bite.

It has a C-shaped neck which makes it easy to play, so it’s perfect for beginners, and there are volume and tone controls for each of the two pickups, giving you excellent controllability.

It ships with one single-coil pickup and one humbucker, giving you the option of switching between the two types of sound (or a combination of both, which is cool).

The neck is maple, which is less popular than rosewood due to its brighter tone, but it might suit players seeking that cutting sound.

While it’s not the best Telecaster available, it will certainly be suited to players on a budget.

PROS

  • The C-shaped neck makes it comfortable and to play and easier to reach chord shapes.
  • The combination of single-coil and humbucker pickups makes it versatile.
  • Volume and tone controls for each pickup gives you excellent controllability.

CONS

  • Basswood is inferior to some other woods and might not suit some players.
  • Maple fretboard isn’t as smooth as a Rosewood fretboard.

Epiphone Les Paul Standard PlusTop PRO

Epiphone Les Paul STANDARD PLUS-TOP PRO Electric Guitar with Coil-Tapping, Heritage Cherry Sunburst

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The Epiphone Les Paul Standard PlusTop PRO offers an excellent sustain, thanks to its set neck and angled headstock.

It’s also made of mahogany, which gives it a rich, warm tone that is popular in blues music.

There’s a rosewood fretboard for a smooth playing experience which also contributes to the warmth of this guitar.

The pickups are humbuckers as you’d expect, which gives the sound a Slash-like beefiness.

The jumbo frets make it a little easier to play too.

It will suit rock blues players (the grandfather of rock blues, Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page plays one of these) who want something beefy and substantial.

It’s not so good if you’re looking for an authentic blues sound – you want a Fender for that.

PROS

  • Set mahogany neck and body offer a rich tone that lends itself to the blues.
  • The rosewood fretboard gives you a smooth playing experience and a warm tone.
  • Volume and tone controls for each pickup give you excellent controllability.

CONS

  • There’s no tremolo, or option for one.
  • All pickups are humbuckers, so you can’t access that single-coil tone.

Epiphone Limited Edition ES-335 PRO

Epiphone Limited Edition ES-335 PRO Electric Guitar Cherry

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The Epiphone Limited Edition ES-335 Pro is a semi-hollow rock ‘n’ roll machine that looks vintage and similar to those used in 60s blues music.

There’s a mahogany neck that has a distinctive 1960s ‘D’ shape, similar to a C but a bit wider.

There are four controls to adjust neck and bridge pickup tones and volumes separately, and both of the pickups are humbuckers which reduce the risk of feedback often associated with semi-hollow bodied guitars.

It will be less suited to petite players, and as it’s a semi, its not ideal if you’re looking for something purely electric or acoustic.

PROS

  • Slim Pau Ferro fretboard offers a similar sound to Rosewood but with an added brightness.
  • Humbucker pickups reduce the risk of feedback.
  • Maple body and mahogany neck give it a rich resonance.

CONS

  • There’s no tremolo.
  • The pickups are both humbuckers, so you won’t get single-coil sounds.
  • It’s quite big and chunky, so it might not suit the smaller player.

Fender American Special Stratocaster

Fender American Special Stratocaster, Maple Fretboard - 2-Color Sunburst

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One of the best new Stratocasters around, the Fender American Special Stratocaster is a beast of a guitar.

This one has a C-shaped neck, making it easy to handle and to get into chord shapes and its rosewood fretboard gives it a smooth, warm sound.

There’s a five-way pickup selector, which was introduced in the 1970s during the CBS years, offering you greater tonal flexibility.

As you’d expect it comes with a whammy bar, so you can start playing some of those Jeff Beck pitch bends.

This one is for the serious enthusiast who wants a quality product that will last them a lifetime.

PROS

  • Rosewood fingerboard on a C-shaped neck offers a comfortable playing experience with a warm sound.
  • The amount of possible differences in tone gives you exceptional flexibility and versatility.
  • Quality item, not cheap, but worth it.

CONS

  • All of the pickups are single coil.
  • It’s very expensive.

Gretsch G5420T Electromatic Hollow Body

Gretsch G5420T Electromatic Hollow Body Guitar with Bigsby - Orange

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The Gretsch G5420T is an excellent hollow-bodied guitar that offers a pure and powerful tone.

There are humbucker pickups that help to reduce the feedback commonly associated with hollow-bodied guitars.

There’s a rosewood fretboard which gives you a nice smooth playing experience plus a tremolo like the Strat (see above) to give you extra means of expression in your playing.

There are two tone controls and two volume controls, giving you extra controllability as well as versatility, and there’s a three-way toggle to switch between pickups.

It will be suited to those looking for true transparency of tone and a clean, acoustic sound that is amplified, and even sounds great played through an acoustic simulator pedal.

PROS

  • Includes a tremolo.
  • Humbuckers help to reduce the risk of feedback and humming.
  • Rosewood fretboard ensures a smooth playing experience and a high-quality tone.

CONS

  • Both pickups are humbuckers, reducing your option of having a single-coil sound.
  • The large body might not suit smaller players.

So, Which Should I Choose?

Everything we’ve reviewed has its merits, there isn’t a dud one here.

If you’re looking for something high-end and versatile, opt for the Fender American Special Stratocaster Guitar which is a classic that’s been proven perfect for blues and beyond, time and time again.

If you’re after a more heavy-sounding guitar, to play rock blues that kicks ass, the Epiphone Les Paul Standard PlusTop PRO is another fine choice.

Good luck!

Ged Richardson

Ged is the Founder of Zing and guitarist for London based gypsy jazz band 'Django Mango'. When he's not writing or noodling, he's tinkering with his vintage Campervan.


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