You are currently viewing 5 Best Acoustic Guitars for Blues in 2024 – Tommy’s Picks

Last Updated on February 10, 2024 by Teemu Suomala

Tommy Tompkins Profile Picture 2

Author: Tommy Tompkins

Playing guitar since 2004. Primarily an acoustic guitarist who plays and writes traditional American folk music, with a background in melodic metal and a solid foundation as a bassist.

photo reveals owner of guitaristnextdoor.com

Editing & Research: Teemu Suomala

I first grabbed the guitar in 2009. I started this website in January 2020 because I couldn’t do window installation anymore due to my health problems. I love guitars and have played dozens and dozens of different guitars through different amps and pedals over the years, and also, building a website interested me, so I decided to just go for it! I got lucky and managed to get awesome people to help me with my website.

I also got lucky because I have you visiting my website right now. Thank you. I do all this for you guys. If you have any recommendations, tips, or feedback, just leave a comment, I would love to chat with you. I have also been fortunate to produce content for several large guitar websites, such as SongsterrMusicnotesGuitarGuitar, and Ultimate Guitar.

I spend my spare time exercising and hanging out with my wife and crazy dog (I guess that went the right way…).

To ensure the highest quality content possible and to protect guitar players from misinformation we let experienced guitar players to fact-check our articles. This article is fact-checked by an experienced session guitarist and guitar content creator Altin Gjoni. Altin runs his own music business The Working Guitarist. He has also produced content for many big guitar websites such as Guitarspace.org and Cort Guitars.

Every one of these axes is here based on extensive research and decades of combined guitar experience of me(Tommy) and Teemu.


Best Overall Blues Acoustic – Gretsch G5024E Rancher

Reviewer: Tommy Tompkins

Sound
Playability
Overall Quality
Value For Money
Fingerpicking feel

Summary

G5024E gives strong, clear but still detailed tones. No matter the position you want to play your favorite blues chords and licks from.

And when you fret a note, you actually feel the fretboard since the frets aren’t super tall. This helps you really connect to your acoustic guitar and the music, arguably one of the most essential tips to playing the blues.

Pros
-Arched-back design boosts volume
-Great acoustic tone with a decent electronic system
-Stunning looks paired with superior construction and sound
-You really feel the instrument when playing
-Comfortable and slim neck
-Versatile, delivers from delta blues to blues rock

Cons
-Non-cutaway limits high fret access
-Synthetic bone nut and saddle

The #1 blues acoustic guitar for 90% of the players.

4.5

How Gretsch G5024E Rancher sounds:

YouTube video

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The Next Best:

Runner-up – Gretsch G9200 Boxcar

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Our Overall Rating

Summary

Pros

  • Loud, beautiful resonator sound
  • High-quality all-mahogany build
  • Perfect for both slide and standard blues playing styles

Cons

  • Metallic resonator tone is not ideal for all genres
  • Not the easiest to play(still comfortable tho)

Gretsch’s Boxcar is like a piece of music history made modern and affordable. This is a great dobro with pro-level sound quality and true-to-form resonator playability.

You might not get much use from the G9200 outside the blues and folk genres, but if that’s your domain, you can hardly do better in your choice of acoustic guitar.

Best for Beginners – YAMAHA FD01S

N/A
 

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Our Overall Rating

Summary

Pros

  • Great quality at a very low price
  • Spruce + mahogany tonewood combo for playing in all genres
  • Optional beginner’s bundle with bonus accessories and learning materials available
  • Beginner friendly playability

Cons

  • Sub-par tuning machines don’t stay in tune very well
  • Sometimes ships with damage

Don’t let that low price tag full you—this Yamaha is no toy. This is a solid model with great potential for blues and beyond.

If you know anyone interested in learning blues guitar, the FD01S makes a great gift as a very affordable solid top acoustic guitar.

Best Budget – Ibanez AW54OPN

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Our Overall Rating

Summary

Pros

  • A solid top acoustic made from more sustainable woods
  • Rich, warm, earthy tones from all-okoume construction
  • Comfortable ArtWood/AW neck profile for quick blues licks
  • Good for acoustic fingerstyle blues because of its slinky playability

Cons

  • Lacks the clarity of spruce tops
  • Will sound very muddy with old strings

I really love the Ibanez AW54OPN. 

Its muddier tone might not be for everyone tho.

But if you’re into that earthy folk vibe in your fingerstyle blues, the AW54 gives you that silkiness with a playing feel that’s just as smooth.

Premium – Martin 15 Series 000-15M

image displays Martin 15 Series 000-15M

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Our Overall Rating

Summary

Pros

  • Completely solid wood; amazing tonal quality and richness
  • Small body size ideal for smaller players and fingerstyle
  • Premium Martin quality at a reasonable price
  • Professional sounding acoustic guitar
  • Close to a perfect blues acoustic guitar
  • The rich sound works really well with blues.

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Smaller size might not be ideal for every player

This probably won’t be the first guitar you ever buy, but it could definitely be the last.

With the Martin 000-15M, you get a professional-grade all-mahogany acoustic with a deep, smokey tone perfect for belting out any style of the blues.

With the highest attention to detail put into every aspect of its construction, you can get this model with no doubt that you’re gonna be playing a really top-notch acoustic.

Compare The Key Specs of The Top Blues Acoustic Guitars:

graphic compares Best acoustic guitars for blues

Compare The Tonewoods:

Graphic compares acoustic guitar tonewoods

Body Top: Solid Spruce

How transform into a Party Jukebox everyone Admires in 5 days?

Sides: Laminated Mahogany

Back: Laminated Mahogany

Neck: Mahogany

Fretboard: Rosewood

Specs from Gretsch’s site

Body Top: Laminated Mahogany w/ Resonator

Sides: Laminated Mahogany

Back: Laminated Mahogany

Neck: Mahogany

Fretboard: Padauk

Specs from Gretsch’s site

Body Top: Solid Spruce

Sides: Laminated Mahogany

Back: Laminated Mahogany

Neck: Nato

Fretboard: Rosewood

Specs Source: USA.Yamaha

Body Top: Solid Okoume

Sides: Laminated Okoume

Back: Laminated Okoume

Neck: Nyatoh

Fretboard: Ovangkol

Specs from Ibanez site.

Body Top: Solid Mahogany

Sides: Solid Mahogany

Back: Solid Mahogany

Neck: Mahogany

Fretboard: East Indian Rosewood

Specs from Martin’s site

For more cool info about tonewoods, check this acoustic guitar tonewoods article.


The blues and acoustic guitars are a match made in heaven!

I have tested all sorts of acoustics since 2004, and to be honest, some of those were great for blues, some…well, not so much.

The good news is… I have gathered the greatest blues acoustic guitars here so that you can find your own angelic pairing.

These blues boxes are well-rounded acoustic powerhouses—up to much more than just the standard 12-bar task. So in both bad times and good, you can count on these acoustic guitars to be the blues music-makers you need.

Let’s first look at these fine blues axes, and at the end of the post, you can find the FAQ section that helps you to make the best choice possible.

More about blues:

If you want to learn to play acoustic blues, this is the only guide you need.

If you are also looking for an electric guitar for blues, check this: 5 Best Electric Guitars for Blues.

If you want to learn some easy blues songs, check this: 27 Easy Blues Songs on Guitar For Beginners (With Tabs)

Check our favorite blues riffs and licks to learn here.

Check our 10 Best Blues Guitarists of All Time list here.


Our Favorite Music Store in The World!

Why?

– Excellent Customer Service (4.7/5 Trustpilot Score)

– Fast & Free Shipping

– Gear is Inspected, Tested, & Ready to Play When it Arrives to You (We love this)

– Fair Prices

Visit Sweetwater:

Our Reviews of The Top 5

Best Overall – Gretsch Guitars G5024E Rancher

Specs

Body StyleDreadnought
TopSolid Spruce
Back & SidesLaminated Mahogany
NeckMahogany
Neck Shape?
Fretboard21, Vintage-Style frets, Laurel
NutSynthetic Bone
Nut Width1.6875″
ElectronicsFishman Sonicore Pickup and Isys + Preamp System
SaddleCompensated Synthetic Bone
Scale-Length25″

Playability

If in search of the cream of the crop acoustic guitars for blues…Enter: Gretsch Rancher.

Oh boy, where do I get started on the Rancher? It’s one of my favorite acoustic guitars for under $500…

Playability is all the goodness you’d expect from an intermediate-level dreadnought plus a little more. What I mean is, in addition to the slightly narrow natural rosewood fingerboard (oh so smooth), the Rancher is also equipped with small, vintage-style frets.

Find more great acoustic guitars for intermediate players here.

This makes it so that when you fret a note and especially when bending, you actually feel the fretboard since the frets aren’t super tall. An organic playing feel like this helps you connect to your instrument and the blues music, arguably one of the most essential tips to playing the blues. Of course you don’t always feel the fretboard, when playing blues chords for example. But in blues soloing, I like what this Rancher and its frets & fretboard have to offer.

This Gretsch has a slim neck that makes it suitable for small hands and easy to handle overall. But non-cutaway shape limits the upper fret access, so for some folks who love soloing up and down the neck, this Gretsch might not be the best choice.

Sound

Built with the classic tonewood combo of spruce and mahogany, the Rancher is good for not only all blues styles but pretty much any type of music that calls for acoustic.

It delivers pretty much the quintessential acoustic voice—when you think acoustic guitar, you think something like the G5024E.

There’s a bountiful amount of bass, but not so much that it overwhelms the higher ends. So you can riff and chord in any position with the same strong, clear sound.

You really get a bit more volume in the Rancher than the average acoustic dreadnought body style, and that’s for two reasons.

  1. The back is arched, which increases the body cavity. More space in the body = bigger voice.
  2. This one’s kind of obvious, but the Rancher is an acoustic-electric guitar. You can plug in and the Fishman Isys III Preamp System sends your songs out loud and clear. Plus, it gives you the option to tweak your blues tones using onboard 3-band EQ.

Here’ the non-cutaway shape gives you something….you get fuller sound and more projection than with any acoustic guitar with a cutaway.

Hear how this acoustic guitar sounds:

YouTube video

Quality

Although Gretsch is more known for their hollow and semi-hollow body guitars, their G5024E Rancher is a top-quality dreadnought.

The solid top is obviously a strong selling point, but in almost every way this guitar stands out. It’s got a unique triangular soundhole, big ol’ classic strap buttons, a beautiful rosewood bridge, and even unusual “thumbnail” fret inlays.

If you want an acoustic that will have people’s attention even before they hear it, the Rancher’s a real eye-catcher.

The only con in quality and built is the use of Synthetic bone nut and saddle. That’s a little bit like putting trash tires on your new car. This doesn’t ruin the guitar, but I would personally upgrade to the bone or tusq at some point.

Check our picks for the best acoustic guitars under $500 here.

Summary

Pros

  • Arched-back design boosts volume
  • Great acoustic tone with a decent electronic system
  • Stunning looks paired with superior construction and sound
  • You really feel the instrument when playing blues
  • Comfortable and slim neck
  • Versatile guitar, delivers from delta blues to blues rock

Cons

  • Non-cutaway limits high fret access
  • Synthetic bone nut and saddle

This is actually the second time the Gretsch Rancher has made it to the top of our lists. Not only is it the best blues acoustic guitar, but it’s also 2021’s top-rated acoustic for under $400.

Find more acoustic guitars with offset soundhole here.

Our Ratings:

FeatureRating from 1-5
Sound4.5
Playability4.5
Overall Quality4.2
Value For Money5
Fingerpicking feel4.5

Who is this for?

Anyone who is looking for a full and articulate sounding blues acoustic guitar. If you value a slim and smooth neck with overall comfortable playability and don’t mind Rancher being a non-cutaway, this is a great option.

Even though it’s available at close to beginner prices, the Rancher sounds and plays so well that I’d take it both on stage and in the studio.

Whatever your style, this is an undeniably great acoustic and one of the best blues acoustic guitars.

What others are saying:

I recently purchased the Gretsch G5024E from Sweetwater and am completely blown away ! I’ve owned several guitars, but this Gretsch looks, plays and sounds as good as any higher priced guitar and better than most. The sound is amazing with both highs and lows coming through just right. The neck and playability is awesome. The fit and finish on this guitar revival any guitar I’ve seen. A great guitar at a great price…you can’t go wrong, especially at this price! – GJohnson from Tennesee

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Runner-up – Gretsch G9200 Boxcar

Specs

Body StyleResonator
TopLaminated Mahogany
Back & SidesLaminated Mahogany
NeckMahogany
Neck ShapeSoft V
Fretboard19, Medium Jumbo frets, Padauk
NutBone
Nut Width1.75″
ElectronicsNo
SaddleBone
Scale-Length25″

Playability

When you want to really get in touch with the old blues roots, a traditional resonator guitar like the Gretsch G9200 Boxcar is one of the safest bets.

With its long-body design and vintage Soft-V neck profile, the playing feel of this acoustic blues guitar transports you back in time.

Unlike other resonators with square necks, you can play this one Spanish-style (horizontal) or with a slide. And V-shape makes use of your thumb easy too (if you are into that).

1.75″ (44.45 mm) nut width gives you more room than the Gretsch Rancher. So if you are an electric guitar player, this Boxcar’s neck can make a bit wide. But on the other hand, you have more room for fingerpicking.

Overall, this resonator guitar doesn’t give you the easiest playability, or slim neck either. But this guitar is still really fun and comfortable to play. It also fits really well for running your blues licks and chords through it.

Be sure to check out our top choices for acoustic guitar slides.

Sound

You can find more great resonator guitars here.

The resonator cone in the Boxcar gives it a sound much different than your typical acoustic blues guitar.

First off, it’s pretty loud thanks to that natural amplification.

Second, the aluminum centerpiece in the top adds a charming metallic quality to your tone, almost like your guitar’s playing from an old speaker.  It’s not harsh though, because the all-mahogany tonewood choice takes mellows things out and takes the edge off. It’s really responsive to fingerpicking, whereas playing with a pick will give a nice jangle perfect for grittier Southern blues.

For old-school blues, this guitar is definitely one of the best picks.

Hear how this blues guitar sounds:

YouTube video

Quality

As you can see, I recommend Gretsch guitars pretty frequently because even their most affordable models are well put-together.

They’re one of the go-to brands for vintage reissues and are famed for their dedication to reproducing high-quality remakes of classic guitars. Their 9200 Boxcar resonator guitar is made to the same standard as their other models and even features special bonuses like dependable Grover tuners and a real bone nut.

Summary

Pros

  • Loud, beautiful resonator sound
  • High-quality all-mahogany build
  • Perfect for both slide and standard blues guitar playing styles
  • Comfortable vintage playability

Cons

  • Metallic resonator tone is not ideal for all genres
  • Not the easiest to play (still comfortable tho)

Gretsch’s Boxcar is like a piece of music history made modern and affordable. This is a great dobro with pro-level sound quality and true-to-form resonator playability.

Our Ratings:

FeatureRating from 1-5
Sound4.5
Playability4.3
Overall Quality4.1
Value For Money5
Fingerpicking feel4.2

Who is this for?

If you are looking for an old-school blues guitar sound and playability-wise, this is the best pick in my opinion.

You might not get much use from the 9200 outside the blues and folk genres, but if that’s your domain, you can hardly do better in your choice of axe.

There is also a Gretsch Boxcar with a square-shaped neck available. Keep in mind that it’s meant to be played lap-style (or lap steel guitar-style). So obviously this round neck (soft V) Gretsch G9200 Boxcar, which is played like a normal guitar, is my go-to choice.

What others are saying:

I didn’t know what to expect when I bought this tone machine. Slide or fingerpick, it has everything to make you better at whatever you play. From DVR’s “Cocaine” to Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” and all points in between. Buy it and amaze yourself. It’s that good. – Eric from TN

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Best for Beginners/Most Affordable – YAMAHA FD01S

N/A

Specs

Body StyleDreadnought
TopSolid Spruce
Back & SidesLaminated Mahogany
NeckNato
Neck Shape?
Fretboard20 frets, Rosewood
NutUrea
Nut Width1.69″
ElectronicsNo
SaddleUrea
Scale-Length25.24″
Specs Source: USA.Yamaha

Playability

Like the Rancher, Yamaha’s FD01S is a full-size dreadnought with a comfortable nut width of 1.69” (43mm). And when you add the standard C-shape neck to this, you got a really easy-going beginner acoustic guitar for blues.

One really surprising thing about this acoustic guitar (well, there are a few, but this one affects playability) is the rosewood fingerboard. You just don’t see that many guitars at such a low price, and it’s a real bonus in the FD01S.

Occasionally, this model ships with sharp fret edges, so that’s something to keep in mind. But, it’s not a costly repair and it’s even something you can do yourself if you’re up to the challenge.

Sound

This is definitely one of the best cheap blues acoustic guitars around. Why?

Guitars under $200 rarely have anything but laminate woods, but the FD01S features a solid spruce top. Paired with mahogany sides and back(laminated), you get a great dreadnought tone, sparkling in the highs and chunky in the mids and lows.

Its loud voice and strong presence give you a great acoustic guitar to learn the blues basics on. And, you’re not bound by a resonator or mahogany muddiness, putting every genre at your fingertips. For extra resonance, the FD01S has a thin, natural finish that should allow the top to vibrate more. To me, this is not a huge deciding factor and sounds more like a little marketing talk…but it’s a little plus still.

But overall, this guitar gives your sound more of those sweet, pleasant harmonics that make acoustic blues interesting.

Hear how this acoustic guitar sounds:

YouTube video

Quality

I’ve never really come across a really lowquality Yamaha acoustic guitar

At this point, they’ve basically got the art of mass-producing good guitars down to a science, so even their most affordable models, like this FD01S, are better than your average acoustic.

Sure, the tuners are kinda wack. They really don’t hold pitch for very long and it can be annoying to retune often. But this is just an upgrade away from being no issue. And sometimes, tuners are just fine.

The only other issue is that for some reason this acoustic guitar often arrives damaged—nothing major, just some chips or scratches in the finish usually. But in some cases, the guitar has been in really bad shape after arriving.

I think it’s because it’s an older model and has probably spent a lot of time in a warehouse.

At any rate, all you’d have to do is ship it back for a replacement; and at this cost, it’s well worth the effort.

Summary

Pros

  • Great quality at a very low price
  • Spruce + mahogany tonewood combo for guitar playing in all genres
  • Optional beginner’s bundle with bonus accessories and learning materials
  • Beginner friendly playability

Cons

  • Sub-par tuning machines don’t stay in tune
  • Sometimes ships with damage

Don’t let that low price tag full you—this Yamaha is no toy. This is a good acoustic guitar for the money with great potential for blues and beyond.

And for not much more added cost, you can include an accessory bundle packed full with everything a beginner could need to get playing the acoustic blues, including free video lessons!

Our Ratings:

FeatureRating from 1-5
Sound3.5
Playability3.7
Overall Quality3.2
Value For Money5
Fingerpicking feel3.7

Who is this for?

Best for beginners who want and durable solid-top acoustic guitar for blues at a really affordable price. Plus, if you value beginner-friendly playability, this is a great option.

If you know (or are) anyone interested in learning blues guitar, the FD01S makes a great gift as a very affordable solid top acoustic guitar.

What others are saying:

A great guitar for a beginner. The action is good, the intonation is good, and it has a good sound that will keep beginning guitar players playing. Because of the price, it is also good for more experienced guitar players to use as your “not afraid of what happens to it” guitar. – alyd7618 from United States


Best Budget – Ibanez AW54OPN

Specs

Body StyleDreadnought
TopSolid Okoume
Back & SidesLaminated Okoume
NeckNyatoh
Neck Shape?
Fretboard20 frets, Ovangkol
NutPlastic
Nut Width1.692″
ElectronicsNo
SaddlePlastic
Scale-Length25.6″

Playability

If you know anything about Ibanez, you know they pride themselves on fast, smooth playability.

To this end, they’ve equipped their AW54 with the Ibanez-exclusive AW neck profile. This is both more narrow and more shallow than traditional acoustic necks, with 1 to 3 millimeters difference at some points.

15.7″ radius paired with 1.69”(43mm) nut width, adds to the fast-playing feel and make this one of the best acoustic guitars for playing blues leads.

Working on blues leads with this guitar is fun, easy, and pain-free.

Although they’ve used ovangkol for the fingerboard, this is readily becoming an accepted replacement for rosewood. But I would still prefer Rosewood. But if blind tested, the difference would be hard to spot.

Sound

The AW54OPN started its first years of production as an all-mahogany model, but in recent years Ibanez switched to using okoume.

Both of these woods are very similar in composition and density, but I think the overall tone of okoume is darker than mahogany.

Since okoume is the whole body of this guitar, the tone can be almost too warm, especially if you play hard. But with the right kind of picking hand, you can tease out a really sultry sound from the AW54.

Another factor making it a good acoustic guitar for lead blues is its open finish. This adds lots of sustain to an otherwise soft-voiced guitar. Just make sure to keep fresh strings on this or you’ll wind up with almost no note definition when your strings get dull.

Hear how this acoustic blues guitar sounds:

YouTube video

Quality

We always try to find the best of the best for you, but I’m still surprised that you can find an acoustic guitar with such a low price and good quality.

Sure, Ibanez started using cheaper woods, but that really doesn’t affect the quality of the construction. You still get a solid top, pretty decent tuners, and a comfortable neck at a total budget cost.

One thing to note though:

You should always use a case humidifier to properly store your acoustic guitar, but it’s extra important with this model. The open-pore finish of the AW54 makes it especially vulnerable to climate damage.

Find out all you need to know about storing your acoustic in this article.

Summary

Pros

  • A solid top acoustic made from more sustainable woods
  • Rich, warm, earthy tones from all-okoume construction
  • Comfortable ArtWood/AW neck profile for quick blues licks
  • Good for fingerstyle blues because of its slinky playability

Cons

  • Lacks the clarity of spruce tops
  • Will sound very muddy with old acoustic guitar strings

I’m the kind of player that likes to keep things on the down-low. I love a soft, subtle tone—one that doesn’t sing too loud and allows for a lot of intimacy in technique.

For that reason, I really love the Ibanez AW54OPN as a blues acoustic guitar. 

Our Ratings:

FeatureRating from 1-5
Sound3.8
Playability4.3
Overall Quality3.8
Value For Money5
Fingerpicking feel4.5

Who is this for?

If you are searching for a dreadnought acoustic guitar that enables you to play blues licks and fingerstyle smoothly, plus provides a warm and gentle tone, this Ibanez is a great option.

Its muddier tone might not be for everyone. So if you are in search of brighter and clearer tones, Gretsch G5024E Rancher is a better option.

What others are saying:

I just got mine today and I love the sound of this guitar and even more the neck, the action is really low and easy to play. The intonation is spot on. I am surprised the guitar doesn’t cost a lot more. I never write reviews and not sure what to say except it is a great guitar at a great price. – Morris from NY

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Premium/For the Pros – Martin 15 Series 000-15M

image displays Martin 15 Series 000-15M

Specs

Body StyleRound Shoulder Dreadnought
TopSolid Genuine Mahogany
Back & SidesSolid Genuine Mahogany
NeckSolid Genuine Mahogany
Neck ShapeModified Low Oval
Fretboard20 frets, Solid East Indian Rosewood
NutBone
Nut Width1.6875″
ElectronicsNo
SaddleBone
Scale-Length25.4″

Playability

You know when you pick up a Martin, you’re picking up quality. This company’s craftsmanship extends to every part of their acoustics, the neck and fingerboard being no exception.

The 000-15M is set up with a mahogany neck fashioned in Martin’s “modified low oval” profile. This is similar to the popular fast-playing modern-C in many ways. But the low oval has a bit more girth at the bottom for comfortable chording.

Of course, you’re gonna get a rosewood neck on a Martin for that naturally-oily feel that players love. And the 000 body size of this Martin makes it a great choice for smaller players, even though it’s still much larger than a parlor guitar

This 000, or Orchestra Model, size, is less deep and wide than a dreadnought, making this a responsive guitar that you don’t have to play hard.

The smaller size of this Martin might not be ideal for really big players with large hands, but best way to make sure is to test.

Sound

This is no okoume knock-off. Martin made the 000-15M with pure, genuine mahogany. You’re guaranteed a creamy, lush acoustic voice that seems to flow seamlessly from note to note with blues and beyond.

And the real kicker?

It’s all solid wood! I praise it as a virtue when a guitar has only a solid top, but this guitar really has no laminate wood at all. 

That’s pretty awesome, and you can really hear the difference when you listen close. The fullness of the harmonics and overtones is a lot more present in this acoustic blues guitar than in most others.

And just because it’s small doesn’t mean you have to take it easy. 000 acoustic guitars can still be played loud—you just won’t have quite the bass response that a dreadnought provides.

Hear how this blues guitar sounds:

YouTube video

Quality

Martin does many things to ensure the quality of their acoustics. They’ve got quite a name to uphold, right?

So what makes the 000-15M special?

There are several things

  • Quartersawn wood ensures your guitar’s longevity and tonal brilliance. 
  • A super-thin finish lets your guitar vibrate to its fullest extent.
  • The tuning machines hold pitch for days, the intonation is spot-on, and everything is built to last.
  • And even though they’re using exotic woods, Martin uses sustainable-sourcing practices in every step.

There’s a lot more that goes into making the perfect Martin acoustic, and you can get a much better idea of it here.

Summary

Pros

  • Completely solid wood; amazing tonal quality and richness
  • Small body size ideal for smaller players and fingerstyle
  • Premium Martin quality at a reasonable price
  • Professional-sounding acoustic guitar
  • Close to a perfect blues acoustic guitar
  • The rich sound works really well with blues

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Smaller size might not be ideal for every player

This probably won’t be the first guitar you ever buy, but it could definitely be the last.

With the Martin 000-15M, you get a professional-grade all-mahogany acoustic with a deep, smokey tone perfect for belting out any style of the blues. This is also one of the best acoustic guitars on the market overall.

Our Ratings:

FeatureRating from 1-5
Sound5
Playability4.8
Overall Quality5
Value For Money4.9
Fingerpicking feel4.9

Who is this for?

A great guitar to use when performing or in-studio. And overall good option if in search of high-quality all-solid wood blues guitar that offers top-notch playability with warm blues tones. All-in-all a great blues guitar.

What others are saying:

I”ve had this guitar for 6 months and now just writing a review. This guitar is definitely my number one go to guitar. I play many others but always come back to this 000-15m. It plays so smooth, and sounds so good. Only thing I”ve done is lower the action and restring with D”Addario coated custom light phosphor bronze. Super high quality guitar, you know the difference when you play it. It”s that good. – Shawn from WA

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The Verdict

I do usually prefer the sound of a kind of murky acoustic over an extra-bright one, but I also admit that really limits what styles you can play.

So, the Ibanez AW54OPN is the one I’d recommend last. If you’re particularly after that super warm, dense sound, it’s a good guitar overall. But you’ll have more chances to jam using other models.

For me, it was a real toss-up between the two Gretsches. 

Ultimately, I’m ranking the G5024E as the best blues acoustic guitar. It can do quite a bit more than its resonator cousin, and the addition of electronics really opens you up to musical opportunities.

We dove deep with 4 main acoustic guitar pickup types, check it out!


Runner-Ups That Just Missed The Top 5


How We Chose These Acoustic Guitars

  1. We decided which acoustic guitars to recommend by using our own experience, doing extensive research, visiting music stores, and asking help from our musician friends
  2. This time, we mostly relied on our past experiences playing these guitars.
  3. Even after this, we’ll still do another round of extensive research to make sure that this specific product is in fact, a real cream-of-the-crop candidate.
  4. Then we wrote this in-depth but easily digestible review about these acoustic guitars. We kept in mind who will be playing them, blues guitar players.

Most acoustic guitars we recommend are run through tests like these:

  • We go carefully through the finish and build quality of the guitar.
  • We inspect the fretwork and edges of the fretboard to make sure there are no sharp edges.
  • We play the acoustic guitar unplugged and plugged in.
  • We use different playing techniques, such as fingerpicking, flatpicking, strumming, tapping, and even percussive playing.
  • We measure and weight the guitar.
  • We try licks and riffs from different genres.

Learn more about GND’s testing and reviewing processes here.


Buyer’s Guide – How to Choose The Right Acoustic Guitar for You

Can You Play Blues on Acoustic Guitar?

Absolutely! Not only can you play blues on acoustic—you should play blues on acoustic.

The Black musicians that pioneered this style came from harder times than I could ever imagine, and their instruments were often whatever they could get their hands on. The blues was invented on acoustic instruments, sometimes guitars, sometimes banjos, sometimes cigar boxes strung up with wire.

Honestly, there’s no limit to what you can play the blues on. You can riff blues on acoustic guitars, classical guitars, and electric guitars, etc… there are no limits my friend.

Take, for instance, this guy playing the blues on a shovel:

YouTube video

Now, why should you play blues on acoustic?

If you’re a beginner, learning the blues is one of the fastest and easiest ways to introduce yourself to basic music theory, songwriting, and many technical guitar playing skills.

Plus, mastering riffs and progressions with the higher string tension of an acoustic will make your switch to electric (if you decide to go that route) smoother!

So what kind of skills and theory do you learn from blues?

Blues is one of the best genres for jamming because it has a really regular song structure, so you’re highly encouraged to learn pentatonic scales. 

These are simple box pattern scales (only 5 notes!) that you can move to any point root note on the neck, which means you can play in any key.

Learning pentatonics from the start basically lets you play along with any song in the world once you get an ear for it. If you wanna know more, this article covers them in-depth.

Even on your first day, you can learn to play a blues song using the 3 blues chords.

“What are the 3 blues chords?”, you ask.

This might surprise you if you’re thinking about chords as letters, but in blues (and many other styles) it’s easier to think about them as numbers. Yes, numbers.

In this case, those numbers are 1, 4, and 5—but for music, we use the Roman numerals I, IV, and V.

Every note in a scale gets a number, with the tonic, or root note, getting the number one. That means if you want to play a blues song in the key of G, your first chord will be G, or I.

From there, you just count up the musical alphabet:

I-G II-A III-B IV-C V-D VI-E VII-F#

For most basic blues, all you need to worry about are the I, IV, and V, so our 3 blues chords in the key of G are G, C, and D.

In standard 12-bar blues, your progression is gonna look like:

G—G—G—G—C—C—G—G—D—D—G—G

This video will help you with acoustic blues progressions:

YouTube video

There are many different types of blues progressions, but that’s the easiest and best place to start learning. Once you master that progression and its pentatonic in one key, you open yourself up to playing tons of songs.

Once you’re ready to learn, check out our list of 27 Easy Blues Songs for Beginners and you’ll be on your way to blues mastery in no time.

What Makes a Great Acoustic Guitar for Blues?

Like I said a little earlier, blues guitars are traditionally whatever you can find to play.

That’s really great news when you’re shopping for an acoustic blues guitar though because it means your options are wide open.
In general, you’ll just want to look for the same traits that make any acoustic guitar good:

-A solid top
-Good tonewood combinations
-Comfortable playability
-High-quality construction
-Suited for your personal musical tastes

Unless you’re shopping for a budget acoustic guitar for blues, you definitely want to get a solid top. They sound better than laminates, are more durable, and even improve in tone the older they get. It’s just the standard for acoustic quality.

The other way to go for a top choice for blues guitars is to get a resonator! These are really cool vintage-style acoustics that were designed to be loud back before we had amplification. Resonator guitars have a very unique sound thanks to their metal cone and are great for getting that classic blues tone. 

They also make a great choice for slide/lap steel guitars. If you want more slide guitar options, we’ve covered lots of them in this review!

The tonewoods go hand in hand with your own preferences, and we’ll touch on those in a little more detail later on.

Playability is determined by several different things like

  • neck shape,
  • fingerboard radius,
  • and body style. 

I usually recommend traditional C-shaped necks for most acoustic techniques; they’re a great go-to for beginners. If you want the real vintage blues experience, older neck profiles like V- or U-shaped will give you that traditional kind of playing feel.

What’s the best acoustic guitar body for blues? 

That’s really up to you. If you’re a smaller person, you might find a Concert or Parlor guitar is more comfortable, but I’ve seen plenty of short people play big dreadnoughts and lots of big guys play tiny guitars.

I would say aim for tone rather than playability when choosing your body style. I’ll tell you more about this in the next section, but basically, any body style can be great for blues.

Since the term “blues acoustic guitar” covers so many different types of acoustic, I think the best thing to make sure of is that the overall quality of the guitar is good. This is all relative to the price, so you really want to pay attention to the price:value ratio so that you get your money’s worth.

Once you get into the $200+ range, there aren’t too many quality sacrifices you should have to make, so you have your pick from many acoustics with good hardware, solid tops, great tones, and nice playability.

Learn how to take care of your acoustic guitar here.

How to Choose the Right Blues Acoustic Guitar for You?

Here’s where we’ll go over a quick review of how body and tonewoods can affect your sound, and why knowing these differences can help you pick the right acoustic blues guitar for you.

Tonewoods and body shape have really more influence over your acoustic guitar’s tone than anything else.

Tonewoods

Here you can see how the most common acoustic guitar tonewoods compare (tonewoods matter a lot with acoustics, but not so much with electric guitars):

Graphic compares acoustic guitar tonewoods

Let’s go through the 3 best top & tonewoods for blues acoustic guitars:

Mahogany
displays mahogany wood and reveals how it can affect the sound of electric guitar

If you like a darker, muddier sound the same as I do, all-mahogany acoustic guitars are a great choice. They’re very warm and mellow, and all the highs, mids, and lows kind of blend together. Excellent for blues.

Spruce
Displays a spruce tonewood

If you want a more versatile tone that you can use in many different genres, the traditional spruce top + mahogany body combo is prime.

With spruce, you get bright but smooth highs, loud but clear lows, and a strong, balanced mid-range. It’s great for both fingerpicking and flat-picking and can work in all acoustic genres and playing styles.

Cedar
Displays a cedar tonewood

If you want a more versatile tone that you can use in many different genres, the traditional spruce top + mahogany body combo is prime.

With spruce, you get bright but smooth highs, loud but clear lows, and a strong, balanced mid-range. It’s great for both fingerpicking and flat-picking and can work in all acoustic genres and playing styles.

Body Shapes

The body of your acoustic guitar changes how loud it is, how much bass it has, how much sustain it has, and other things. We’ll just look at an overview of the most common sizes to help you get an idea of what you’ll want in a blues acoustic guitar.

This table helps you choose the right boy shape almost instantly:

Guitar Body TypeTone Quality
ParlorIntimate, focused
ConcertIntimate, versatile
AuditoriumBalanced, versatile
DreadnoughtBold, loud
Dreadnought and Jumbo
displays Dreadnought acoustic guitar body shape  - helps to choose the best blues acoustic body shape

These are the largest common acoustic guitar body shapes, which makes them the loudest.

You can play these as hard and heavy, great for when you really want to rock out and let loose.

Dreadnoughts and jumbos both give you a well-balanced tone with a lot of strong bass. They have very few limitations, but they do require a kind of strong attack to get the most out of their tone.

Grand Concert and Concert
dislpays Grand Concert and Concert acoustic guitar body shape  - helps to choose the best blues acoustic body shape

For softer-handed players, especially if you want to play fingerstyle blues, a smaller acoustic guitar can be better, although it’s not necessary. 

We’ve got a full review of great fingerstyle acoustic guitars you can check out here.

Grand Concert and Concert body acoustic guitars are the next smallest and next most common size of acoustic you’ll find. 

They don’t have as much low end as dreadnoughts and aren’t as loud, but they make up for this with better articulation and richer high ends.

Parlor
displays parlor acoustic guitar body shape - helps to choose the best blues acoustic body shape

These are the smallest guitars you can usually find (though there are even smaller ukulele-guitar hybrids!).

Parlor guitars were also the most common acoustic guitar available back when blues was first starting, so you’ll hear a lot of original recordings made on this style.

These little acoustics are much brighter than their larger cousins and can be really jangly and somewhat boxy too. They’re not for everyone, but if you really want that super old-fashioned blues tone, they could be just what you’re after.

It should be noted that strings matter! Check how to choose the right acoustic guitar strings for you here.



Conclusion

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again—an acoustic guitar that can handle blues is an amazing choice. Blues is a wonderful music style and acoustic is a spot-on instrument for exploring this genre!

But, lucky us, we live in a world where an amazing variety of acoustic guitars is just a couple of clicks away. You’ll have no trouble singing out the sorrows of your heart with the accompaniment of any of these acoustic guitars.

If you have any questions, just leave a comment, we are here for you. I wish you all the best and keep rocking!


Tommy Tompkins

Playing guitar since 2004. Primarily an acoustic guitarist who plays and writes traditional American folk music, with a background in melodic metal and a solid foundation as a bassist. Has also taught guitar playing for years.   Expertise: teaching guitar, acoustic guitars, gig bags, guitar stands, folk, metal, and rock. You can connect with Tommy on LinkedIn or just email him.
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George R.

This was the best guide about best blues acoustic guitar I could find, thank you!
1 question tho, whats the best blues acoustic guitar for small hands in your opinion?

Teemu Suomala

Thanks for commenting George! I would check Ibanez Artwood AC340CE and Ibanez AW54, both have slim necks and are great acoustic guitars for blues.
Take care!

Rudolf Brown

Solid list, but where’s the Epiphone Hummingbird? It’s so awesome blues acoustic with budget price and high value!

Teemu Suomala

Hi Rudolf! I agree, Epiphone Hummingbird is a great acoustic guitar for blues. Hummingbird lose its place to Gretsch G5024E Rancher, we think that the Rancher just offers smoother playability. But as I said, Epiphone Hummingbird is a great choice for acoustic blues.

andy

Which acoustic guitar do you recommend for acoustic slide blues?

Teemu Suomala

Hi Andy! Gretsch G5024E Rancher, Gretsch G9200 Boxcar, and Martin 15 Series 000-15M would be my go-to picks for acoustic slide blues. Take care man!

Will

Are Tamakine acoustic guitars good for blues in your opinion?

Teemu Suomala

Hi Will! Takamines are not necessarily the first acoustic guitars coming to my mind when talking about blues acoustic guitars. But, guitars like Takamine GN77KCE (koa) or Takamine GD11MCE (Mahogany) could work well. You can learn more about our favorite Takamine acoustic guitars here.