Blues is a timeless genre of music that has a rich history of incredible guitarists and compositions. Acoustic guitars and blues go hand in hand, and certain models are perfectly suited to the style.
Blues guitar combines riffs, licks, and chord progressions. Consequently, choosing an acoustic guitar that caters to all of these techniques is vital. Certain materials, designs, and acoustic attributes will ensure you get the best blues performance out of an acoustic guitar.
Best Acoustic Guitars for Playing the Blues
The S6 acoustic guitar boasts smooth and fluid playability. Composed of high-quality tonewoods and with a modified dreadnought body shape, this Seagull Guitars acoustic is perfectly suited to playing blues licks and runs.
The top of the S6 is made from cedar, a material known for its ability to enhance resonance and create warm tones. For the back and sides, Seagull has chosen 3-layer wild cherry which hones in on the small details of your playing.
The manufacturer has chosen to modify the body shape of the S6, for several reasons. By tailoring the classic dreadnought design, they have ensured that the acoustic guitar minimizes any boom in the low end, and in turn, balanced the clarity across the frequency range.
Blues guitar requires plenty of intricate chord shapes and quick runs across the fretboard. With an integrated set neck and slightly curved compound top, the guitar holds its tuning and remains comfortable underhand.
Tradition and longevity are two of the most closely linked values with blues music. Seagull Guitars are also associated with these qualities, handcrafting their acoustic guitars in a remote village in Canada.
This attention to detail shines through with the S6, making it a highly recommendable blues acoustic guitar.
Yamaha's FGX800C is an affordable acoustic guitar with all of the necessary attributes for playing the blues. It's the latest in a long line of the FG lineage, which has been a staple for folk, country, and blues guitarists for many decades.
The chosen combination of tonewoods is what gives this acoustic guitar its resonant and inviting tone. With a solid Sitka spruce top complemented by nato back and sides, the FGX800C’s voice is both smooth and articulate.
If you require the option of plugging your acoustic guitar into an amplifier in addition to playing unplugged, the installed System 66 electronics will be of great value to you. This pickup system also has a 3-band EQ with sweepable mids to control any feedback.
There’s also a reliable, fast-acting tuner installed on the guitar. The battery is positioned conveniently on the upper section, making replacements quick and easy.
Classy, meticulously built, and oozing elegance, Taylor's premium range of acoustic guitars is revered worldwide. The 214ce Deluxe is one of their finest offerings, with high-end materials and a tight, vibrant tone.
Taylor has chosen solid Sitka spruce for the top, and layered koa to compose the back and sides. These two tonewoods interact with each other seamlessly, promoting sweet resonance in the mid-tones and sparkling highs perfect for blues licks.
Neck stability is essential for blues guitar. The unbound neo-tropical neck of the 214ce is as solid as they come, but also extremely smooth and pleasant to hold. Combined with the ebony fingerboard, it makes for the perfect platform to express your blues guitar playing.
Taylor's highly respected ES-2 electronics are installed on the guitar. Rather than alter the tone with their coloration, these electronic pickups preserve the natural characteristics of the 214ce without thinning the sound, which is a common problem with acoustic-electric guitars.
4. Yamaha FG800
The much-revered FG700 was one of Yamaha’s most popular acoustic guitars, and with the FG800, they have created a predecessor that is undoubtedly improved. With the classic dreadnought body style promoting comfort and playability, this acoustic guitar makes playing the blues a breeze.
The top of the FG800 is made of solid spruce, similar to the previous model. Where it differs, however, is with the addition of scalloped bracing, which adds even more power to the low-end and improves the overall projection of the guitar.
The back and sides of the FG800’s body are comprised of nato and okume. These exotic tonewoods are responsible for the sweet accuracy of the guitar, which is present whether you are strumming with velocity or delicately fingerpicking.
The FG800 has a slightly tapered neck that is slim and finished with satin. This allows your hands to glide up and down the fingerboard with ease, making for fast and smooth transitions between chords.
The GD20 by Takamine has an eye-catching elegance, produces a huge, rich array of tones, and performs well on stage or in a recording environment. With a mahogany back and sides producing clear resonant mid-tones, and a solid cedar top thickening the overall sound, the GD20 is a great choice for blues guitarists.
Adorned with multiple rosettes, the GD20 has the classic Takamine appearance. Its body shape is a conventional dreadnought, and this combined with the smooth ovangkol fingerboard makes for great playability.
The fretboard has a 12-inch radius, making it ideal for fast-moving blues licks. Playing rhythm and lead guitar is a staple of blues, so having adequate room on the fretboard is essential.
The tuning stability and longevity of the Takamine GD20 are enhanced by the installation of quartersawn X-bracing. Despite its relatively low-cost, this acoustic guitar has all the necessary qualities to perform for a long period even if it's heavily used.
6. Guild D-240E
Guild’s D-240E marks a return to their iconic arched back design. This feature reduces the weight of the guitar and adds depth to its projection, in the process paying homage to the classic models that the manufacturer built their reputation upon.
This acoustic guitar’s appearance inspires thoughts of western country musicians traveling around the railroad towns, penning songs about the sights they see. It has a primitive innocence that fits perfectly with the blues ethos.
With a premium combination of woods making up the D-240E's body, the frequency range of the guitar is consistently tight, focused, and accurate. It also has an AP-1 pickup installed for translating the sweet tone into an electric format.
The classic Guild C-shaped neck is designed to promote playability, and the red pickguard adds a touch of class to the aesthetics. There’s a certain charm about this acoustic guitar that goes hand in hand with the images that cross one’s mind when contemplating blues music.
Blues Acoustic Guitar: Which Body Type is Best Suited?
The performance and qualities of an acoustic guitar are dependent on the interaction of many components. The choice of tonewoods, the size of the guitar, the strings used, and the onboard electronics- all play a significant role.
One aspect that is particularly important when considering guitars especially for blues is the body design. This not only affects the playability of the guitar, but also the tone it produces. Below are the main types of the body you're likely to come across, and what their qualities are.
By far the most common body type, dreadnought guitars are popular over a range of genres and styles. For blues music, in particular, they are chosen for their versatility, due to the combination of rhythm and lead that a blues guitarist is likely to play.
The dreadnought shape is defined by rounded shoulders and a neck that is attached to the body at the 14th fret.
Another common body shape for blues is the grand auditorium. Chosen for its ability to project intimate, fingerpicked styles of guitar, this body shape has an hourglass shape and allows access to the higher frets.
Travel / Small Body
Blues guitar is synonymous with being on the road. Therefore, travel-sized guitars are a popular choice for bluesmen and women. A fairly recent invention, these guitars are capable of producing impressive power, while being mobile and lightweight.
Blues is one of my favorite styles of guitar to play. It can be as simple or complex as you want it to be, and despite its repetitive nature, it continues to go from strength to strength in the modern era.
Whichever acoustic guitar from this list that you decide on, I’m sure it will bring you many hours of joy shredding out blues licks and jamming away!