5 Best Electric Guitars for Blues – The Only Guide You Need

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Best Overall Electric Guitar for Blues – Fender American Ultra Stratocaster

Reviewer: DL Shepherd

Sound
Quality
Playability
Value For Money

Summary

Pros:
-D-shaped neck is sleek and comfortable
-New pickups eliminate noise that is common with single coils
-Tapered neck heel allows for easy access to upper frets
-Breathtaking color options

Cons:
-Price may be a little high for budget-minded guitarists
-Black dot position marker inlays look cheap

Who is this guitar for?
The Fender American Ultra Stratocaster is for the player who wants an authentic blues tone in a very well-playing guitar.

4.8

How Fender American Ultra Stratocaster sounds:

YouTube video

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Best Semi-Hollow body – Gibson ES-335


Our Overall Rating

Summary

Pros:

  • Vintage styling is timeless
  • Gibson humbuckers give incredible tone flexibility
  • Neck is amazingly comfortable to play during long sets

Cons:

  • The addition of coil tap switches would add to the versatility
  • Priced a little high for budget players and beginners

Who is this guitar for?

The Gibson ES-335 is for players who are fans of that big, thick, creamy humbucker tone. If you like BB King’s sound, then you’ll love the tone of the Gibson ES-335.

Best Hollow body – Epiphone Casino


Our Overall Rating

Summary

Pros:

  • Hollow body is incredibly lightweight
  • P-90 pickups give great tonal versatility
  • Comfortable and easy to play neck
  • Priced right for budget-minded players

Cons:

  • Hollow body is susceptible to feedback
  • P-90 pickups can get a bit harsh when played hard

Who is this guitar for?

The Epiphone Casino is for players looking to have a bit more thickness to their sound than most Fender guitars have to offer, yet not quite as much as humbuckers provide.

Best Beginner Blues Guitar – Squier Stratocaster Pack


Our Overall Rating

Summary

Pros:

  • Classic Stratocaster design and tone are inspiring
  • Budget-friendly pricing makes it easy to start playing
  • Includes useful, quality accessories
  • Plug and play right out of the box

Cons:

  • Stock pickups are a bit thin sounding

Who is this guitar for?

The Squier Strat Pack is for any budding guitarist who is looking for a package that they can literally plug in and play.

Best Single Cutaway – Fender American Professional II Telecaster


Our Overall Rating

Summary

Pros:

  • Deep “C” neck profile is extremely comfortable
  • Lightweight body allows for longer playing sessions
  • Versatile, punchy tone cuts through a mix
  • Priced moderately for the performance it delivers

Cons:

  • Price may be out of reach for budget-minded players
  • May sound a bit too thin for some players

Who is this guitar for?

This guitar is perfect for players who want more twang to their overall sound.

Compare The Key Specs:

graphic compares 5 Best Electric Guitars for Blues

Remember to check out the runner-ups that just missed the top 5 too!


It’s no secret: the blues laid the groundwork for the majority of the music that we hear today. Whether you’re a die-hard rock fan or a jazz player, there is no denying the influence that the blues have had on the music industry.

What started as a genre that was primarily played on acoustic guitars quickly grew with the times when electric guitars came around. Players such as Muddy Waters and Buddy Guy embraced the electric guitar as their weapon of choice.

The smooth tones that can be achieved with an electric guitar (as well as overall sustain and playability) attracted blues players who were looking to take their playing to another plane. From there, the sky was the limit for blues players like BB King, Eric Clapton, and Stevie Ray Vaughn.

In this article, we’ll find out what our picks are for the top 5 best electric guitars for blues, but first, let’s tackle 1 important subject…

What Actually Is An Good Electric Guitar for Blues?

Let’s be honest, if you’ve got the blues, then basically any modern electric guitar should do fine. The blues is all about tone and feel. If you don’t nail those two elements down, you may not be as blue as you think! But of course, all electric guitars are not created equal…

Some players prefer the warm, creamy tone of a humbucker pickup, while many players like the brightness that single coils have to offer. Ideally, you want a guitar that has plenty of mid-range with balanced highs and lows. Also, get a guitar that feels great to play to you, that will keep you coming back to tackling tasty blues licks.

We dive a bit deeper into this subject in the buyer’s guide section, but now it’s time for our top picks for the best electric guitars for blues.

reveals one of the experienced guitar players who write for guitaristnextdoor.com

Author: DL Shepherd

Darren has been playing guitar for over 23 years. He fronted the metal band Suddenly Silence in the early 2000’s, and also achieved recognition as an award-winning bluegrass guitarist.

A native of southwestern Virginia, and has shared the stage with many big-name acts from various genres. When he is not playing one of his many guitars, he can be found riding his Harley through the mountains of Virginia.

photo reveals owner of guitaristnextdoor.com

Editing & Research: Teemu Suomala

Playing guitar since 2009. Mainly focused on electric guitars, although jamming with acoustics too. Has played dozens and dozens of different guitars through different amps and pedals over the years. That’s why he started this blog in January 2020 and started sharing his experience. Has produced content for several large guitar websites, such as Songsterr, Musicnotes, GuitarGuitar, and Ultimate Guitar.


5 Best Electric Guitars for Blues

Best Overall – Fender American Ultra Stratocaster

The Fender Stratocaster has been the guitar of choice for blues players such as Buddy Guy and Stevie Ray Vaughn. There’s a good reason.

The Fender American Ultra Stratocaster captures the spirit of older Fender models while giving the classic some modern upgrades. To start with, the neck is a modern “D” shape which gives the hand a more natural grip. It’s buttery smooth to play as well with a great low action that is great for bending notes into aerospace.

The body is the classic Stratocaster shape that we all know and love. It’s made from traditional Alder. The neck heel is tapered, however, to give players ease of access to the upper frets.

Fender threw in more modern appointments such as their Ultra Noiseless Vintage Strat single-coil pickups and an updated 2-point Deluxe Synchronized Trem bridge. You’ve got a serious guitar made for some serious blues playing.

The modern appointments, exceptional playability, and classic Stratocaster styling all make this the electric guitar to have for playing the blues.

Check another sound demo:

YouTube video

Pros:

  • D-shaped neck is sleek and comfortable
  • New pickups eliminate noise that is common with single coils
  • Tapered neck heel allows for easy access to upper frets
  • Breathtaking color options

Cons:

  • Price may be a little high for budget-minded guitarists
  • Black dot position marker inlays look cheap

Who is this guitar for?

The Fender American Ultra Stratocaster is for the player who wants an authentic blues tone in a very well-playing guitar.

Who is this guitar NOT for?

This guitar is not for people expecting a big, beefy tone. The single coil pickups are much brighter sounding than a guitar equipped with humbuckers.

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Best Semi-Hollow body – Gibson ES-335

If you’re a fan of that thick, creamy tone of players like BB King, then you’ll go crazy over the Gibson ES-335 semi-hollow body. Introduced in 1958, the ES-335 quickly caught the attention of blues players thanks to its rich tone and elegant styling.

But that’s not all…

The neck is a traditional “C” shape that was popular during the 1950s. It is very inviting and a true pleasure to play. Vibrato and string bends are easily accomplished, so you can bend those blue notes into the stratosphere (in a Gibson way).

The pickups are Gibson’s T-style humbuckers that are controlled with separate volume and tone controls for each one. Add in the 3-way selector switch, and you just might have the most versatile guitar on the list.

The thin-line arch-top body consists of layers of maple and poplar and is capped with a maple top. The neck is solid mahogany to add incredible warmth and thickness to the overall tone. It is a beautiful guitar with plenty of vintage appeal that will please fans of that fat humbucker tone.

When you’re packing a Gibson ES-335 in your arsenal, you’ve got an incredibly versatile blues machine right at your fingertips.

Check how Gibson ES-335 sounds:

YouTube video

Pros:

  • Vintage styling is timeless
  • Gibson humbuckers give incredible tone flexibility
  • Neck is amazingly comfortable to play during long sets

Cons:

  • The addition of coil tap switches would add to the versatility
  • Priced a little high for budget players and beginners

Who is this guitar for?

The Gibson ES-335 is for players who are fans of that big, thick, creamy humbucker tone. If you like BB King’s sound, then you’ll love the tone of the Gibson ES-335.

Who is this guitar NOT for?

This guitar isn’t for fans of single coils. While you can get some versatile sounds from this guitar, the thickness of the humbuckers is very dominant despite the settings.

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Best Hollow body – Epiphone Casino

The Beatles may have made it famous, but there is no denying that the Epiphone Casino is a real blues player’s dream. Designed with jazz guitarists in mind, it lends itself well to the blues thanks to some classic features.

The Epiphone Casino is made with a maple body, mahogany neck, and Pau Ferro fingerboard. This combination gives a bright tone without sounding overly snappy. The neck is styled after the slim tapered 1960s Gibson necks and plays comfortably when strumming chords or laying down smooth leads.

The tonal secret of the Epiphone Casino is the classic Gibson P-90 pickups. These were Gibson’s first successful single-coil pickups, and they provide a tone that isn’t quite as full as a humbucker, yet not as thin as a single-coil.

Think of it as a very happy medium.

Each pickup has separate volume and tone controls with a 3-way selector switch for tonal versatility.

There’s simply no denying that it is still very true to its predecessors in all aspects. Vintage styling appointments such as trapezoid inlays and the signature F-holes all lend to the Casinos that were so popular in the 1960s.

If you’re wanting a unique tone that works great with blues music, look no further than the Epiphone Casino.

Check how Epiphone Casino sounds:

YouTube video

Pros:

  • Hollow body is incredibly lightweight
  • P-90 pickups give great tonal versatility
  • Comfortable and easy to play neck
  • Priced right for budget-minded players

Cons:

  • Hollow body is susceptible to feedback
  • P-90 pickups can get a bit harsh when played hard

Who is this guitar for?

The Epiphone Casino is for players looking to have a bit more thickness to their sound than most Fender guitars have to offer, yet not quite as much as humbuckers provide.

Who is this guitar NOT for?

The Epiphone Casino may not be for guitarists who prefer smaller bodies. While it is a thin-line archtop, it is very wide compared to other hollow-body guitars.

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Best Beginner Blues Guitar – Squier Stratocaster Pack

Want to play the blues but don’t have a guitar? Sounds like a serious problem to me! No worries though – Fender has you covered with their Squier Stratocaster Pack.

The pack offers much more than just a good guitar. Players also get a Squier Frontman 10-watt amp, cable, picks, strap, gig bag, and a 3-month Fender Play subscription. It’s a blues package, not just a blues guitar.

The guitar is a classic Stratocaster in just about every sense. The comfortable and sleek C-shaped maple neck pairs with a poplar body and 3 single-coil pickups to produce a well-balanced tone with amazing playability for a guitar in this price range.

Make no mistake about it: This is a real guitar.

A 5-way selector switch allows beginners to explore a wide variety of tones. When combined with the Squier Frontman 10 amp, it is very easy to dial in a sweet, bluesy tone. The additional gear is a big plus and was certainly designed to inspire new players.

If you’re looking for your first electric guitar for blues or just want to add one to your arsenal, the Squier Stratocaster Pack is an amazing option.

Check how Squier Strat Pack sounds:

YouTube video

Pros:

  • Classic Stratocaster design and tone are inspiring
  • Budget-friendly pricing makes it easy to start playing
  • Includes useful, quality accessories
  • Plug and play right out of the box

Cons:

  • Stock pickups are a bit thin sounding

Who is this guitar for?

The Squier Strat Pack is for any budding guitarist who is looking for a package that they can literally plug in and play.

Who is this guitar NOT for?

This guitar is not for players who are looking for a studio-quality sound due to the amount of hum that can be present in the stock pickups.

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Best Single Cutaway – Fender American Professional II Telecaster

This was by far the toughest decision to make while compiling this list, but the Fender American Professional II Telecaster took the crown as the best single cutaway electric guitar for blues.

Here’s why…

Built from a pine body with a solid maple neck and fretboard, this Telecaster delivers some serious twang and mid-range punch. It is also much lighter than its contender, the Gibson Les Paul – one of the key factors that made us settle on this guitar instead.

For electric blues, “twang” isn’t a bad thing. Rhythm chords ring out true without being harsh as well as allowing for some very punchy bass lines.

For a creamy, bluesy tone, flip the selector switch to the neck position and experience a tone with more depth and body. Leads are fluid and smooth thanks to the Deep “C” neck profile and satin finish. It really plays as well as it sounds.

The pickups are Tim Shaw’s latest V-Mod Tele single-coils, and they are essentially noiseless. The tone isn’t as brittle as other Telecaster models which is a big relief to many players who play outside of the country music genre.

Simply put: the Fender American Professional II Telecaster is a great choice for someone who is a fan of single-cutaway guitars. It provides an extremely comfortable playing experience and delivers loads of bluesy tones all while being simplistic and classic.

Check how Fender American Professional II Telecaster sounds:

YouTube video

Pros:

  • Deep “C” neck profile is extremely comfortable
  • Lightweight body allows for longer playing sessions
  • Versatile, punchy tone cuts through a mix
  • Priced moderately for the performance it delivers

Cons:

  • Price may be out of reach for budget-minded players
  • May sound a bit too thin for some players

Who is this guitar for?

This guitar is perfect for players who want more twang to their overall sound.

Who is this guitar NOT for?

The Fender American Professional II Telecaster is not for lovers of thick, creamy sound. Some may find it a bit too bright in most situations.

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Verdict

Ok, you bluesy folks! The Fender American Ultra Stratocaster takes the best overall spot when it comes to electric guitars for blues thanks to its classic design with modern upgrades.

For semi-hollow body fans, the best electric blues guitar is by far the Gibson ES-335 thanks to its incredibly versatile tonal palette.

The Epiphone Casino is the best hollow-body electric guitar for blues because of Gibson’s famous P-90 pickup tone and super smooth playability.

Beginners will adore the Squier Stratocaster Pack. It gives beginners a quality guitar and accessories to ensure that they get started wailing the blues the right way.

Finally, the Fender American Professional II Telecaster champions all other single-cutaway electric guitars thanks to updated pickups and a super lightweight body.

No matter which guitar you choose, you’re sure to find a winner here at guitaristnextdoor.com! Keep rockin’!

If you don’t need plenty of loudness, here you can find our favorite blues tube amps for home use: 5 Best Small Tube Amps for Blues.

If you want serious loudness, check this article out: 5 Best Tube Amps for Blues in 2021.

Strings do matter!: 5 Best Electric Guitar Strings for Blues

If you have a blues acoustic guitar itch, check this: 5 Best Acoustic Guitars for Blues.

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


Runner-Ups That Just Missed The Top 5


Buyer’s Guide – FAQ

What Makes A Good Electric Blues Guitar?

A good electric blues guitar needs to be built from quality woods while sporting tried-and-true electronics. The key to blues is the tone: not too big and fat, but not too thin and brittle. Smoothness is a major factor, so you want to be sure that you have a guitar with both a bridge and a neck pickup.

It should also be easy to play. String bending and vibrato are used intensely in many styles of blues playing, so the neck should play very smoothly. This is a crucial attribute that a good electric blues guitar must possess.

How Do I Pick Electric Blues Guitar for Me?

First, consider what tone you’ll be going for. If you’re looking for a thick, creamy blues guitar tone, you should consider going with a guitar with a humbucker pickup in the mix (preferably at both the neck and bridge positions).

If you like the tones of players such as Buddy Guy or Stevie Ray Vaughn, a guitar with single coils in the neck, middle, and bridge positions is a necessity. They typically provide the most balanced tone for blues playing. Single coils also give you that crisp twang that can really make your rhythm playing shine.

image reveals How different electric guitar pickups sound
Single-coils and humbuckers are one of the best fits for blues. But get clear on what kind of tone you are after and choose accordingly.

How Much is A Good Electric Blues Guitar?

Good electric blues guitars can be found in all price ranges. This can be from around $200 for a beginner model to thousands of dollars. Most are moderately priced though and range from about $500 to $2,000, respectively.

What Should I Avoid When Choosing An Electric Guitar for Blues?

We recommend staying away from electronics and pickups that are designed for higher gain playing – such as Seymour Duncan Invaders, Gibson Dirty Fingers, or EMG HZ pickups. These will typically make the sound either too bright and loud with a lot of break-up or have too much bass which makes it sound muddy.

As a rule of thumb, you want to choose an electric guitar that has a nice balance of tonewoods – a lighter slab of wood for the body and a plank of denser wood for the neck seem to work out the best.

Stay away from guitars with a higher action unless you intend to play them with a slide. A good electric blues guitar should let you bend the strings effortlessly without hurting your fingers in the process.


Conclusion

While there are many great electric blues guitars out there on the market, these are the ones that impressed us the most. The best electric guitars for blues.

It is only fair to consider the history of the blues and its overall influence on modern music. The history, heritage, and allure of the blues begs players to stick to the roots but not shun technological advancements. A great blues guitar is a necessary tool that allows players to pay homage to the ones who started it all.

Be a part of history and grab yourself one of our top picks. You’ll find yourself wailing the blues with a smile on your face – we can guarantee that!

If you have any questions, just leave a comment. Keep rocking!

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