The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #101898   Message #2059970
Posted By: jonm
24-May-07 - 12:47 PM
Thread Name: Electric guitar for blues
Subject: RE: Electric guitar for blues
One thing I have found is the need to change technique when playing electric guitar - it's almost a different instrument. More sustain, blurring of notes with even a hint of distortion on the amp etc. Since you'll be playing more single notes and only really '5' chords (or "powerchords" as some call them) fingerboard width is generally less on an issue.

If you want to play acoustic fingerstyle on an electric, in my opinion a Telecaster is the only way to go (barring some sort of Taylor T5 hybrid) - lightweight with a thin sound from single coils and little sustain.

If, on the other hand, you are playing electric guitar blues and adapting your technique, then the type of instrument will be in part dictated by the style and tone of your playing. Please take all of the following with a pinch of salt, since you can play high-octane distortion on single coils in much the same way as Michael Hedges played esoteric fingerstyle acoustic on a dreadnought!

For light amp distortion and a clear technique - single coil pickups. The lack of sustain will probably lead you into faster picking. Strats tend to be better for blues (tremolo arm, the faux reverb effect of the trem springs) and Telecasters for country (rawer, drier tone). Think Dominoes-era Clapton.

For distorted/overdriven amplified tone with loads of sustain, heavier guitars with humbucking pickups in the Gibson Les Paul style. String lengths tend to be a tad shorter to facilitate easier bending of notes. Think Jimmy Page, classic-era Led Zep.

For somewhere in the middle, a lot of people find semi-acoustic guitars like the Gibson ES335 very versatile - not quite as funky and bright as a Strat, so fancy chords are a little more blurred, not quite as mid-range heavy and sustainful as a Les Paul, so you can at least get beyond the '5' chord.

Within each of the above genres, there is plenty of variety of instrument made by more than just the best-known manufacturers (yes, I had a Westone once and it punched well above its weight).

Oh, and half your tone rests with amplifier choice and settings, so there's another kettle of fish.....

Hope that helps, although if you want one recommendation, it's to get out there and play as much as you can on as wide a variety of instruments to find what suits your (developing) technique best.