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Which Is the Best Acoustic Guitar For Blues Fingerpicking?

How To Play Blues Guitar With Jim Bruce - Martin Blues Guitar Player
One can find wonderful videos on Youtube featuring the legendary blues men giving great performances playing just ordinary instruments, like Mississipi Fred McDowell playing a cheap Eko guitar. It almost goes without saying that when the guitar masters were starting out, no one had the money to invest on a great guitar, and these men possible used a cheap Stellar, purchased from the Sears catalog (like Elizabeth Cotton) or second hand store.
In my case, my favorite instrument when I began to learn how to play blues guitar for the public was a small bodied Yamaha put together with plywood. It pushed out the sound and played well, which is exactly what I needed.

It's going to be with you a long time - learn the blues with the right guitar!

But of course the quality of the instrument has an impact?

Of course it does, and you need to assess the importance of that difference in your personal case. The variations in sound quality when comparing a $150 guitar and another costing $1000 is not too huge nowadays, bearing in mind the cheap, acceptable quality guitars created in China. Except for the variations in sound quality, the bigger factor is ease of playing.The expensive 'made by hand' instruments are great to handle. You can play the same thing using a cheaper instrument, but it will take more work. Also, in general the sustain and harmonics of the notes using the less expensive guitars isn't as good. Softly strike a bass string of a high end Martin and hear what I mean. It appears to sustain for a couple of minutes!

Learn How To Play Blues Guitar With An Instrument To Suit Your Style

Logically, some kinds are more suited for different types of playing, together with string height above the sound board adjustment and string choice. A large bodied Gibson has deep bass sounds and pushes the sound far and wide - superb for finger picking with plastic or steel picks, strumming or using a plectrum. Ragtime style guitarists preferred to perform on small bodied guitars, such as a Stellar or Gibson parlor model.

Parlor guitars are starting to be manufactured once more and are increasingly sought after. Although not strictly parlor size, the 000 body size has become a style of standard instrument for performing acoustic blues, like the Martin (Blues) Guitar 000 28EC.

Big or Small - What's The Best Guitar For The Blues?

Do you pluck the strings gently or using a stronger approach? This is also an important factor in your choice of guitar. Some instruments don't take kindly to being played hard, but some love it! Ideally, the very best guitars(which can also be the most expensive) will cope with both treatments. My advice for guitar hunters is 'go out and play some!'

It doesn't always follow that the high dollar guitar is naturally better either. Some years ago, Gretsch offered a series of instruments known as the 'Americana' Series which cost around $100 when new. The 4 guitars in the range were in various colors and featured stencils on the bodies, such as cowboys, cows and UFOs! Even though sold as a novelty instrument, these small guitars turned out to be really good (they were made by a major guitar maker after all) with solid wood body and a solid sound board. These guitars are not made nowadays, and it's hard to get hold of one - just a rare example of inexpensive being good.

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A lovely article by Wesman Shaw Todd:

Top Five Best Small Body Acoustic Guitars for Serious Amateurs or Professionals

Small Body Acoustics.

Since the 1930s and even to this day, the dreadnought sized acoustic guitar has been the most mass produced size instrument in not only America, but the entire world. I own two dreadnought guitars myself, and I've been playing that size guitar for over twenty years now. I'm just comfortable with the size and the feel of the flat top dreadnought guitar.

I'm not a big man, I'm rather average in size - but men and women larger than me sometimes prefer a smaller than dreadnought size guitar for it's greater ease of play-ability. But it stands to reason, and is simple logic that persons of smaller stature, whether they be men, women, or growing children - also play the guitar. There are literally millions of guitarists, I'm sure, that play much better than I do - and are smaller than I am. For anyone of any size though, these smaller than dreadnought sized instruments offer a world of possibilities including, greater ease of play, increased ease with which to travel, and a flat out superior sound for some kinds of music.

The fact of the matter is that with dreadnought or jumbo sized instruments - one often has to deal with an overpowering bass response from the largest strings - not so with these guitars! Smaller bodied instruments have most always been the preferred size and style for finger style players, and have greatly increased in recent years even for the acoustic flapticker - simply because they offer a more even tonality between the bass strings and the middle and upper register, higher pitched and smaller strings.

If you have a child or teen that is a budding musical prodigy guitarist - well, these guitars might more easily fit their current size; and should they grow much taller and larger - these guitars are all professional level instruments that can and will last an entire lifetime for the person that takes care of them. But if you are a man or a woman of smaller stature, or a man or a woman that simply isn't comfortable with the dreadnought instrument for various reasons - then perhaps one of these guitars will be THE instrument for you! Hey, I'm not a professional musician. I'm just a long suffering amateur that enjoys himself with acoustic guitars - and I was raised in a family where they were everywhere around me, so I well know that one need not be a professional to want to own, and to appreciate a fine instrument for an entire lifetime!

The Bourgeois OM Standard

The Bourgeois OM Standard

I'm listing the Bourgeois OM Standard here as the first - because I can't imagine a better guitar. I've played two or three Bourgeois guitars in various Dallas, Texas area guitar stores, and I swear to everyone that reads this that the Bourgeois Guitar Company makes some of the finest instruments in the entire world. They are a smaller company than someone like C.F. Martin & Co., but the guitars that I've played from the Bourgeois Guitar Company were always the equal or better of any comparable guitar in every store that I've seen them in.

I'm seriously telling you that nobody makes a better guitar than Bourgeois does, Dana Bourgeois is a guitar building artist out of the state of Maine. There are several guitar manufacturers that make guitars as good as Bourgeois, but there are absolutely ZERO guitar manufacturers that make better guitars.

Dana Bourgeois first became a name in guitar manufacture with Schoenberg Guitars - making these very same smaller sized instruments for that company - he's an absolute master builder, a true artist of a guitar builder, and of course, this guitar is a true masterpiece. This guitar comes, of course, with a hard shell case, a limited lifetime warranty; and features all solid wood construction of Adirondack Spruce for it's sound board top, mahogany back and sides, an ebony fingerboard and bridge, scalloped braces, and a urethane lacquer finish. It has Waverly tuners, and measures 25.5 inches in scale with a 1 3/4 inch width at the nut.

This guitar is an absolute flawless instrument that is of and beyond heirloom quality. It is priced right at $3,000.00 US Dollars, and is truly a bargain at that price. There's not a more professional level instrument maker, and these guitars are treasures and lifetime investments without compare.

The Santa Cruz OM/PW

As the proud owner of a Santa Cruz Guitar Company guitar - I'm forever grateful to the men and women that work for that fine company for the timeless guitar that I own. Mine's a keeper, and all of them are. Through the years whenever I've seen a Santa Cruz Guitar anywhere I've instantly become near to salivating at the mouth to pick it up, and play it. The Santa Cruz Guitar Company out of Santa Cruz, California is another small company that makes guitars that are without superiors anywhere in the world.

The Santa Cruz OM/PW

This Orchestra Model sized instrument built to Martin's Pre War specifications could have easily been the first guitar listed here - let's call it a tie. This guitar is the least expensive instrument made by the outstanding Santa Cruz Guitar Company, and is prices in the range of $2,500.00 - $3,000.00 US dollars. It features, of course, all solid wood construction consisting of a solid Sitka Spruce sound board top, solid East Indian Rosewood back and sides, ebony fingerboard and bridge, forward shifted and scalloped X bracing, open back Grover tuners, and nitrocellulose finish. It measures 25.375 inches in scale, and 1 3/4 inches at the nut.

The Gibson LC-1 Cascade Guitar!

The Gibson LC-1 Cascade Guitar!

The Gibson Guitar Company is the only American guitar company that can compare with the C. F. Martin & Company when it comes to being legendary guitar manufacturers with timeless and original instruments dating back before the second world war. Both of the first two instruments listed were copies of Martin guitars made by two of the best small guitar companies in the business. This guitar, however, is a Gibson guitar - and it's going to be very different in many ways from any guitar modeled after a Martin design.

This guitar is totally unique. Someone would literally have to search far and wide throughout the world and the web for another guitar like this one. It's going to have a sound totally different from the other guitars on this list, but the quality of the instrument is going to be equal to the others. It's really a matter of style and preference.

Featuring a solid cedar top, solid maple back and sides, rosewood fingerboard and bridge, scalloped bracing, a dovetail neck joint, flamed maple neck, Gotoh Tuners, nitrocellulose lacquer finish; and measuring 24.75 inches in scale with a width of 1 11/16 inches at the nut - this guitar comes with, of course, a hard shell case and a limited lifetime warranty. It is priced at $2,500.00 US dollars.

This guitar comes standard with acoustic/electric Bluestick pickup that features a volume control inside the sound hole in lieu of knobs in the guitars side.

This guitar was built and voiced with contemporary or old time acoustic country blues in mind - but also does well for finger stylist. This is altogether a unique instrument with a unique tonality and vibe!

The Breedlove SC25-MY

Even less standard and far more unique than even the Gibson LC-! Cascade is practically every guitar made by the Breedlove Guitar Company. The Breedlove Guitars that I've seen and played have all been beautiful, and they have their own definite style of body - they don't do much of anything so far as copying or trying to improve upon the classic designs - Breedlove guitars are all unique.

The Breedlove SC25-MY

This guitar comes with a hard shell case, limited lifetime warranty, solid Sitka Spruce sound board top, solid Myrtle wood back and sides, ebony finger board and bridge, scalloped braces, catalyzed polyurethane finish, and Grover Mini tuners. This guitar measures 25.5 inches in scale, and is 1 3/4 inches at the nut. This guitar is priced at $3,000.00 US Dollars.

With the unique style cutaway design, the unique shape of the head stock, and bridge - this guitar is an attention grabber. It's a total non conformist. Breedlove guitars just don't give a flip what you think about their looks, and that is why they look so awesome!

What is most unique about this specific guitar, however, is that it uses Myrtle wood for it's back and sides. Myrtle wood is a totally non traditional tone wood - and this specific model of guitar is best suited to finger stylist and persons who don't use a heavy pick style attack. This is an outstanding guitar for the musicians suited to it, or anyone looking for something different.

The Taylor 712 Acoustic Guitar!!

I can't say that I've met Bob Taylor, but I can certainly say that I've stood a mere ten feet away from him on several occasions to hear him talk about guitars, and guitar building. I've had my hands on more Martin guitars than I'll ever possibly remember, and neither would I be able to ever remember just how many Taylor guitars that I've had my hands on. The Taylor Guitar Company is making HUGE strides in guitar innovation, and have set a modern standard in that they do mass produce fine guitars, and also in that those guitars are unlike Martin guitars each and every time that one is produced.

The Taylor 712 Acoustic Guitar!

Taylor guitars have their own unique bracing pattern, and their own unique voice, and what could possibly be said against a company that can take wood from old warehouse pallets and turn it into a fine guitar?

For a list price or around $3,000.00 US Dollars the Taylor 712 comes with a hard shell case, and a limited lifetime warranty. This guitar features a solid Engelmann Spruce sound board top, solid East Indian Rosewood back and sides, ebony fingerboard and bridge, Taylor's unique bracing pattern with scalloped braces, polyester finish, and Grover tuners. This guitar measures 25.5 inches in scale and 1 3/4 inches at the nut.

Despite the huge popularity and appreciation for the Taylor Guitar Company's dreadnought sized guitars - many people feel that their smaller size guitars are the company's strongest instruments. Despite it's Martin Orchestra Model appearance - all Taylor guitars are made to unique dimensional specifications, and this one is no exception. The unique design, shape and feel of Taylor brand necks is often times the very thing that makes someone a Taylor Guitar convert. Give a Taylor guitar a try before you decide that you want a Martin, or an offering by one of Martin's smaller competitors.

Conclusion, and a note about pricing

All of these guitars are spectacular instruments. Anyone who purchases any one of these guitars has purchased a guitar of superb value that will not only last a lifetime should it be cared for properly, but can be handed down through the generations as a prized family heirloom. There are NOT better guitars than any of these, there are only guitars with fancier ornamentation, or guitars that are more suited to specific individuals and styles of play.

So far as pricing is concerned - there is only recommended retail prices to be dealt with here - one should know that some dealers will have a set price, and you can either take it or leave it. There are other dealers, however, that provide some wiggle room, and will do a bit of dealing - especially if a guitar is traded in as well. Of course any of these guitars could be purchased on credit with a down payment - but of course, again, not every dealer of such fine instruments will be either willing or able to offer that option.


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