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Do You Honestly Need A Two Thousand Dollar Guitar To Play Blues?

     It's very common for people to say that the make of guitar you use to pick blues music is really crucial to the sound. When I've played blues well in front of people, or upload a video on my Youtube Channel, I often have comments such as "nice performance - what make of box is that?"

This asks a pertinent inquiry - how important is the instrument to a guitarist's performance? Obviously, the make of guitar isn't the most vital component, but represents an important part. When asked what kind of instrument he best performed with, Muddy Waters simply said "It doesn't really matter - just hand me some old guitar and I'll have you weeping!"

One can find fantastic videos on Youtube featuring the old blues guitarists displaying great renditions making use of just run of the mill instruments, for example, Mississipi Fred McDowell performing on a cheap Stellar guitar. It almost goes without saying that when the guitar masters were beginning to play,there wasn't much money to invest on a great guitar, and they possible played a lower priced Stellar,purchased from Sears (like Elizabeth Cotton) or a used instrument shop. In my case, my favorite instrument when I began to perform for audiences was a small bodied Yamaha made with plywood. It was loud and efficient, which is exactly what I wanted.

Surely the price of the instrument has an impact?

This is surely so, and you need to evaluate the importance of that difference in your case. The variance in quality of sound between a $150 instrument and one priced at $1000 is not too enormous these days, particularly in view of the low priced, acceptable quality instruments constructed in the Far East. ignoring the variations in sound quality, the most important component is playability.The top line 'made by hand' instruments are great to play. You can play the same music with the less expensive instrument, but it will take more work. Additionally, generally the sustain and harmonic content of the notes using the less expensive instruments is not as impressive. Gently strike the bass string on a high priced Martin and hear what I'm talking about. It seems to go on for a couple of minutes!

Which Instrument To Choose?

Of course, some styles are better suited for different types of playing, in concert with action adjustment and what kind/size of string to use. A big body Gibson has deep bass notes and projects the sound far and wide - superb for finger picking with plastic or metal picks, strumming or using a plectrum. Ragtime blues guitar players preferred to perform on guitars with small bodies, like a Stellar or Gibson parlor kind.

Parlor guitars are being produced again and are increasingly popular. While not really parlor type, the 000 body size is becoming the style of standard kit for picking acoustic blues, such as the 000 28EC produced by Martin Guitars.

Depends On How You Play.

Do you play softly or with a strong approach? This can also be a major factor in choosing a guitar. Some guitars don't take kindly to being played hard, but others love it! Ideally, the top of the range instruments(which tend to be the most expensive) will accept many styles of playing. My counsel for guitar hunters is 'go out and try them!'

Don't think that the most expensive is obviously best either. A few years ago, Gretsch produced a range of instruments known as the 'Americana' Series ,and they cost approximately $100 when new. The four guitars in this range were in different shades and featured stencils on the bodies, such as cowboys, cattle and flying saucers! Although manufactured to be a novelty item, these camp fire guitars were very playable (they were constructed by a major guitar maker after all) with all wood body and quality sound board. They are not made any more, and it's hard to acquire one - just one example of cheap being good.

Article Source:

Jim Bruce is a working blues man making a living playing blues guitar. His acoustic lessons are fast becoming the standard to reach for acoustic blues guitar picking lessons. Main site: Youtube:

Posted on 2011-07-21, By: *

* Click on the author's name to view their profile and articles!!!

Note: The content of this article solely conveys the opinion of its author,

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