11 Original Artists Who Defined The History Of Delta Blues Guitar

Delta Blues Guitar

Can you imagine the state of guitar music if we hadn’t been introduced to the Delta Blues Guitar style and Boogie from generations ago? 

They’d be no Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Rory Gallagher, SRV, Angus Young, Peter Green, and many many others. We have a lot to thank them for.

So let’s look at the original musicians, their style, and the guitars that paved the way for the modern guitar player. 

Our List Of Influential Musicians:

  1. Son House
  2. Robert Johnson
  3. Lightnin Hopkins
  4. Sister Rosetta Tharpe
  5. T-Bone Walker
  6. Muddy Waters
  7. Albert King
  8. B.B. King
  9. Chuck Berry
  10. Howlin Wolf
  11. John Lee Hooker

1. SON HOUSE: National 1930s Duolian

Edward James “Son” House Jr. (March 21, 1902– October 19, 1988)

Delta Blues Guitar

Son was known for his emotional style of vocals and Delta Slide Guitar Blues. 

Son’s unique style was down to his rhythmic punch, passionate vocals and emotional depth.

With a mix of string popping and trademark bottleneck slide, Son was in a league of his own and inspired generations of guitarists worldwide to recreate his style. 

He favored various open tunings like G,D and D minor but also used standard. 

Son was split between playing guitar for the righteous path of religion (as he was a preacher), but then becoming conflicted to play the ‘devil’s music’ The Blues! Son would often entertain the plantation workers with his armoury of songs.  

After quitting music altogether in the early 40s, Son was found by blues enthusiasts in Rochester New York in 1964. He was completely unaware of the 1960s blues revival and huge worldwide admiration for his early recordings.

After revitalizing his career Son House continued to tour and do what he was best at. This success lasted until 1974 where he retired again to ill health. 

Son House died in Detroit, Michigan in 1988. 

Guitars: 

There are plenty of photographs around of Son House holding a National 1930s Duolian, Triolian, or the Model ‘O’. He has been known to also play Stella early in the 1930’s recording sessions. Son also favored an early 20s Gibson L-1.

National 1930s Duolian

 


 

2. Robert Johnson: Kalamazoo KG-14

Robert Leroy Johnson (May 8, 1911 – August 16, 1938)

“robert-johnson” by raymaclean is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Robert Johnson really hit the good times during the 1936-37 period with his trademark combination of singing, guitar skill and amazing songwriting talents. He was the first guitarist in history to incorporate boogie woogie from piano to his finger picking slide techniques. 

Johnson took that raw, rhythmic resemblance of the famous Delta Blues guitar sound. Mixed it up, absorbing all the influences that came before him. He created a perfect blend of innovative Country Blues.

He is very much one of the masters of the Delta Blues. Definitely one of the most influential musicians of his time. Jimmy Page was said to be a huge fan of Johnson.  

Apparently Robert Johnson learnt to play guitar in a graveyard at night, perching on tombstones. I suppose that’s one way to get away from hustle and bustle and learn your chords. 

Guitars: 

Robert Johnson was famous for using a small number of guitars.

The 1928 Gibson Kalamazoo KG-14 being one of which he looked to favor. It had 14 frets to the body, five dot markers, a single layer of binding inside the soundhole, and a black ebony nut. 

Other notable guitars Johson used were the Gibson L1 and possibly a Harmony Stella at some point. 

The 1928 Gibson Kalamazoo KG-14

 


 

3. Lightnin Hopkins: Guild Starfire IV

Samuel John “Lightnin'” Hopkins (March 15, 1912 – January 30, 1982)

“Lightnin’ Hopkins in Berkley” by Nesster is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Lightnin Hopkins was a country blues singer, songwriter, and guitarist who began recording in 1946. He also occasionally played piano. 

Hopkins’s style was to play unaccompanied with his own brand of fingerpicking, but with the help of a thumb pick. His superb technique and clever mid-tempo swinging blues in 12/8 were his unique characteristics. 

Strongly influenced by Blind Lemon Jefferson, Hopkins would learn guitar at a very early age. 

Hopkins would eventually end up playing with Jefferson at church gatherings. 

After a long career, mostly unaccompanied Lightin Hopkins could impressively switch between musical genres and acoustic or electric guitars. His vocal was a ‘talkin blues’ style, like the great John Lee Hooker. His ability to freewheel and play completely improvisational would confuse and inspire session musicians around him

To this day components of his style are clearly found in Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, and SRV. 

Guitars: 

Hopkins guitar on the cover of ‘The Texas Bluesman’ looks to be a Guild Starfire IV. He was also known to favor a Kay K-24 Jumbo, Gibson J-45s & J-50, also a Washburn.

Guild Starfire IV

 


 

4. Sister Rosetta Tharpe: 1929 Gibson L-5

Sister Rosetta Tharpe (March 20, 1915 – October 9, 1973)

“reitzlp1317_001” by Jazz Archive at Duke University is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Sister Rosetta was a prominent force in the 30s and 40s. A superb mix of spiritual lyrics from gospel music, later being referred to as the ‘original soul sister and the ‘godmother of soul. 

She was the first to be recognized as a star from a gospel background and certainly the first to be recognized by the rhythm and blues and rock n roll audiences. A child prodigy, she would be performing at her local church by 6 years old! Here she developed her style cut from rural and urban elements. 

Her amazing style and unique ability were picked up later by none other than Little Richard, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, and Jerry Lee Lewis. That’s not a bad list!!

Unfortunately, Rosetta doesn’t get the accolades she deserves this is probably due to her devotion to religious material. Later in life, she was perceived as the single most distinguished gospel artist of America.  

Guitars

It’s difficult to find anything other than the guitar Rosetta used, other than the beautiful 1929 National Triolian, Gibson L-5.

1929 National Triolian, Gibson L-5.

 


 

5. T Bone Walker: Gibson ES-5 

Aaron Thibeaux “T-Bone” Walker (May 28, 1910 – March 16, 1975)

“T-Bone walker – T-Bone Blues” by comunicom.es is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

T-Bone Walker was a pioneer of the electric blues. He became the first musician to play the guitar as a solo instrument, a centerpiece of his dazzling live shows. 

He was one of the original guitarists to give the world ‘jump blues’ and the ‘electric blues sound’. Walker was a classy performer and a silky singer. 

His phrasing and melody set him aside from anybody else at the time. Walker would use attacking runs with powerful rhythmic fall back turning his guitar sound which revolutionized the instrument for years to come.

BB King cited hearing Walker’s Stormy Monday’ and drove him into buying an electric guitar. Jimi Hendrix played the guitar with his teeth, which was also a trait of T Bone Walker. Chuck Berry later said Walker was a huge influence on him.

T-Bone Walker is altogether one of the most important musicians to emerge from the latter part of the 29th century. 

The ‘Jump Blues’

Guitars:

T Bone Walker played most of his career with the truly breathtaking flame-top Gibson ES-5 Electric Guitar. He also was said to have played a Gibson ES-250 and once borrowed Chuck Berry’s famous ES-335 for a live show.

Flame-top Gibson ES-5 Electric Guitar

 


 

6. Muddy Waters: Guild S-200 Thunderbird 

McKinley Morganfield (April 4, 1913 – April 30, 1983)

“Muddy Waters at Newport 1960” by Nesster is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Muddy Waters style of guitar was described as ‘raining down Delta beatitude’. He was a very important part of the post-war blues era. He was commonly known as the ‘father of modern Chicago blues’.

By the age of 13 Waters would play harmonica at gatherings. At 17 he’d saved enough money to buy his first guitar. 

He was completely self-taught and would copy the likes of Robert Johnson and Son House. He traveled around Clarksdale playing as a kid playing with anyone and everyone he could find. 

His first real electric band was with two exceptional musicians in harp player Little Walter Jacobs and guitarist Jimmy Rogers. 

Muddy’s excellent timing, phrasing, and dynamic command of pitch, his spectrum of vocal effects, from falsetto to pure grit put him in a league of his own. 

In 1958, he gained notoriety after he’d traveled to England, laying the foundations of the resurgence of interest in the blues there. 

A very important figure in the story of blues music overseas and a major influence on the popularity of the delta blues guitar. 

Guitars:

In 1968 Muddy was seen playing a Guild S-200 Thunderbird Electric Guitar at the Copenhagen Jazz Festival. He also had a Harmony Monterey, Stella Acoustics and a Fender Telecaster in his arsenal. 

Guild S-200 Thunderbird Electric Guitar

 


 

7. Albert King: Gibson 1968 Flying V

Albert Nelson (April 25, 1923 – December 21, 1992)

“Albert King – 1969 R-169” by Winston J.Vargas is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

The only lefty on the list. Back in those days, it wasn’t easy finding left-handed guitars. Albert King started out life playing a ‘diddley bow’ he’d built, then moved onto a cigar box guitar.

As he grew older and he learned to play the guitar flipped over (upside down). The left-handed Albert King was renowned for his deep and dramatic sound. This was later duplicated by both blues and rock guitarists.

Albert King was responsible for introducing his Memphis style into the blues. Some feat considering he appealed to both black and white audiences. 

His laid-back vocal style mixed up with his intense string bending technique would go far and wide across the globe influencing such later greats as Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix. 

King was once nicknamed “The Velvet Bulldozer” because of his smooth singing and large size. 

Guitars:

You’ll probably recall Albert King is the man behind the Flying V’s. He had a few but the Cherry Red Gibson 1968 Flying V seems to be his most well-known. He also played a Bolin pink (Lucy) and a natural color. 

Cherry Red Gibson 1968 Flying V

 


 

B.B King: Gibson L30

Riley B. King (September 16, 1925 – May 14, 2015)

“BB King” by Daniele Dalledonne is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

B.B King is undoubtedly one of the most ‘important’ guitarists of all time. With his characteristic fluid string bending, beautiful glistening vibrato, and staccato picking. He has influenced many players and still, his style is prevalent in today’s music.  

One of the hardest working musicians of his time. King would appear on stage more than 200 times a year, even into his 70s! He managed to outlive a lot of his friends and fellow musicians who passed away much earlier.

In 1947 he hitchhiked to Memphis, Tennessee in an attempt to chase his childhood dreams. Let’s all be thankful he made that trip. 

After one of his shows in Arkansas, two men got into a brawl knocking over a gas stove. This then set the dance hall in a gulf of flames. B.B then realized he’d left his guitar inside and ran inside. The two men were still fighting over a woman called ‘Lucille’! B.B King then named his guitar after that woman. Reminding himself, never to fight over a woman. 

There’s a reason he was nicknamed ‘The King Of The Blues’. 

Guitars: 

BB King played variants of the Gibson ES-355. He had his own Autographed Gibson BB King L-30 with added electronics. The original of these models was the actual ‘Lucille’. King was also known to play a red Stella and a J-45. 

Autographed Gibson BB King L-30

 


 

9. Chuck Berry: Gibson ES-335 

Charles Edward Anderson Berry (October 18, 1926 – March 18, 2017)

“Chuck Berry” by Missouri Historical Society is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Chuck Berry single-handedly developed the rhythm and blues. He was heavily influenced by the riffs and showmanship of T Bone Walker. He had such a huge catalog of great catchy songs. By the end of the 1950s, Chuck Berry was a worthwhile superstar.

His showmanship and memorable guitar solos have put Berry right up the top of the most influential players of all time. You’ve seen Angus Young’s Strutt right? That’s from Chuck Berry (and possibly T Bone Walker before that)

Berry was taking an already popular rhythm and blues style and re-inventing it. This in turn would change the face of Rock n Roll forever. He invented the sound, the format, and the style for many guitarists ever since. 

The guitar ‘solo’ would never be the same. Berry took that to a whole new level. 

Guitars: 

Chuck Berry’s memorable guitar was a Cherry Red Gibson ES335. In some footage, it seems he used chrome dogear P90s pickups, rather than the standard humbucker. 

Other guitars to be added to his collection were: 1956 Gibson ES-350TN, Gibson Flying V Electric Guitar,

Gibson ES-350T, Gretsch 6130 Roundup Electric Guitar, Kay Thin Twin K-161, and a Gibson Super 400. 

Cherry Red Gibson ES335

 


 

10. Howlin’ Wolf: Fender Coronado II 

Chester Arthur Burnett, (June 10, 1910 – January 10, 1976)

“Howlin’ Wolf – Howling in the Moonlight” by comunicom.es is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Although Howlin Wolf is not considered a legendary guitarist, he’s certainly worth his weight in gold when it comes to influencing the direction of the Chicago Blues sound.

With a gigantic booming voice and a very imposing physical presence, Wolf is the cornerstone of the urban blues from Chicago. Wolf was clever with the way he landed his accents around and on the beat. This skill was learned through thousands of hours of playing. This would free up rhythmic space for the other musicians to use wisely. This skill was unique to Howlin Wolf. Even though Hubery Sumlin and Wolf didn’t get along, they have a beautiful understanding when it comes to songwriting. 

He later joined forces with guitarist Hubert Sumlin playing great Willie Dixon songs. This was a combination that defined the Chicago Blues sound. SOngs like Moanin’ At Midnight had a massive influence on the course of Blues music. 

A Lot of artists at the time tried imitating his style but nobody had the trademark power when it came to his vocals. Thoughtful lyrics and earthy stage presence made Wolf like no other. 

Howlin Wolf learned his trade on the cutthroat Chicago blues scene during the 50s. That was no easy feat considering the amount of raw talent about in those days

Guitars:

Many photos over the years show the following guitars: Fender Coronado II Semi-Hollowbody Electric Guitar, Fender Stratocaster Electric Guitar, Kay Thin Twin K-161 Kay Archtop, Guild G-212 12-string and a  Harmony Sovereign flat-top. Some real nice guitars in there. 

Fender Coronado II Semi-Hollowbody Electric Guitar

 


 

11. John Lee Hooker: Epiphone Zephyr 

John Lee Hooker (August 22  1917 – June 21, 2001)

“Boogie On, John Lee Hooker (1917-2001)” by Mikey G Ottawa is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

‘The King of Boogie’ created his own style from the Delta Blues. He integrated unique elements from ‘talking blues’. A style which is distinguished by ‘rhythmic speech’. The melody is in a free form, yet the rhythm stays strictly in line. 

JLH developed the boogie style into his own driving tempo, detached from the 1930s/40s piano-based boogie. Taking the Delta Blues guitar sound from the acoustics of old into a more electric guitar-based swagger.

Hookers’ guitar and vocal style was uniquely deep and headed straight for your soul. Stomping beats and countless great songs make John Lee Hooker an absolute legend.

His characteristic raw, riveting Mississippi blues required a lot of a listener. With much emotion and incomparable creative spark, John Lee Hooker Stands alone in his work. Imitated still to this day, but in no way equaled. 

He played and recorded on both acoustic and electric guitar in an open A tuning. Sometimes using a capo in that tuning to extend the keys. 

Guitars: 

Hooker was known to dabble with a number of Epiphone Sheratons, most notably a rare Epiphone Zephyr, a Kay Jumbo, a Goya acoustic, and a cherry red Gibson ES 330.

Epiphone Zephyr

More AuthorityGuitar, Guitar Based Articles For You:

Fender Guitar Sales Boom. The Strat is Back! Fender Stratocaster Buyers Guide: 10 Models Compared

The Guitars That Shaped The Best Selling Albums Of All Time

Acoustic Vs Electric Guitar: A Complete Beginners Guide

  •  
  •  

More Places To Listen

 

Fender Guitar Sales Boom. The Strat is Back! Fender Stratocaster Buyers Guide: 10 Models Compared

Fender Stratocaster

After Fender’s biggest boom ever in sales in 2020, guitars are back! A 17% rise in sales of the classic guitar as people look to learn guitar with Fender.

We’ve decided to compile an essential list of the most famous guitar in history, The Fender Stratocaster. What is the best Strat to buy?

Which Is The Best Fender Stratocaster To Buy? 

If you’re considering buying a Strat, you may be scratching your head over the number of variations there are. And there are a lot!

My name is Lee and I’ve played some form of Stratocaster for the last two decades. If I could (or if Fender would like to sponsor me?) I’d own one Strat from each evolution. I cannot get enough of them. I could literally sit here looking at them all day. I’m guessing you’re here because you feel the same?

There’s definitely something special about the Strat. But over the years it’s difficult to keep up to date with the number of models being released.

Let’s Look At 10 Best Models Of The Fender Stratocaster. 

*Although some of the following guitars aren’t in production any longer. They’re still in mass-circulation as second-hand instruments. I’ve compiled a list of some of the most popular Strats over time, as some have had such a positive effect on guitarists all over the globe.

Fender Stratocaster
  1. Squire Stratocaster
  2. Player Stratocaster
  3. Deluxe Stratocaster
  4. Classic Series ’60S Stratocaster
  5. American Standard Stratocaster
  6. American Special Stratocaster
  7. American Vintage ’65 Stratocaster
  8. American Professional Stratocaster
  9. American Elite Stratocaster
  10. Custom Shop 

1.Squire Stratocaster

Squire Affinity Strat HH FSR CGS GRN

Don’t underestimate a Squire. They are ideal for a first-time player, a child, or somebody with a lower budget. A perfect guitar as an introduction into the Stratocaster world.

Squire provides budget versions of Fender guitars. Squire has the rights to use the real Fender Strat specifications. So, although you won’t be getting the hardware and perks of the authentic fender strat. You’ll still be guaranteed the outstanding build quality and blueprint of a real Fender guitar. This in itself is why Squire is the most popular entry guitar in today’s market.

Beginners can now get their hands on the legendary electric guitar without having to spend big money on a Fender.

There are lots of Stratocaster-shaped copies out there on the market, but none are in partnership with Fender. True value for money.

This particular Squire I’ve chosen is a good starting point. The Affinity HSS Stratocaster is lightweight and possesses an incredible resonance. The ‘C’ neck profile is similar to the more expensive fender models. The beautiful Indian laurel fingerboard, race green poly finish, and medium jumbo frets really look the part.

You have two single-coil pickups in the neck and middle positions, so you can carve out some classic punchy strat tone. The humbucker at the bridge position gives you power and growl when you want to go a little heavier with riffs or face-melting solos.

I chose the Affinity series over the Bullet, as the hardware is of much better quality. With the added humbucker you have a much wider scope to enjoy classic strat tones and meaty solos.

*Did you know Kurt Cobain and Jack White were known to play a Squire now and again?

Notable Features: 

  • Body Material: Alder
  • Body Finish: Gloss Polyurethane
  • Color: Race Green
  • Neck Material: Maple
  • Neck Shape: C
  • Radius: 9.5″
  • Number of Frets: 21, Medium Jumbo
  • Scale Length: 25.5″
  • Nut Material:l Synthetic Bone
  • Bridge/Tailpiece: 6-Saddle Vintage-Style Synchronized Tremolo
  • Tuners: Standard Die-cast

2.Fender Player Strat Series

Fender Player Stratocaster – Buttercream, Maple Fretboard

Many of the price tags beyond this strat are over the thousand dollar mark. So, Fender has given us a chance to play the legendary electric guitar at an affordable price. Whilst having the hallmarks of its more expensive cousins. Built with the same specifications as the ‘real thing’.

With a comfortable contoured shape of the alder body wood, this allows you ideal armrest whilst you get into learning the guitar. This series of strat provides the player with either a maple or a Pau Ferro fretboard.

The Player Series comes fitted out with three single-coil pickups, just like the vintage classics. This model features the Alnico Y pickups, they seem to be so much more powerful than the Alnico II and III. Especially on the bridge pickup, that’s where I found it to be most notable.

In the past budget guitars have suffered from tinny, thin, and shrill-sounding pickups. Not The Player Series. The Alnico V range pickups will give you that trademark Fender tone without sacrificing the butter smooth bass shading. The build quality, choice of fretboards, and superior pickups are a big leap up from the Squire.

If the ‘Player’ Stratocaster is a little more than your allotted budget, I’d strongly recommend trying to stretch that budget to a Player Series guitar. A worthwhile addition to the Strat family.

Notable Features:

  • Made in Mexico
  • Alder body, bolt-on maple modern C neck
  • Pau Ferro 9.5” radius fingerboard
  • 22 medium jumbo frets and synthetic bone nut
  • Standard cast/sealed tuners, two-point Synchronized vibrato bridge with bent steel saddles
  • 3x Player Series Alnico V Strat single-coil pickups, 
  •  Scale Length: 25.5”/648mm
  • Neck Width: 42mm at nut, 51.8mm at 12th fret
  • Neck Depth: 21.1mm at first fret, 22.3mm at 12th fret
  • Weight: 8.5lbs/3.8kg

3.Deluxe Stratocaster

Fender Deluxe Stratocaster Maple Fingerboard Vintage Blonde

The beautiful Deluxe series are Mexican-made guitars. Truly wonderful looking instruments. It has all the bells and whistles an American elite strat possesses.
Whereas the more expensive American Strats have that classic sound on the old records. The Deluxe has more of a modern sound in comparison. Far away a better all-round sound to the lower-priced guitars. You get a comprehensive wider choice of tones and all at a great price.

Fresh mouthwatering looks, modern electronics, and a contemporary vibe set the deluxe apart from the rest. Giving you character and unique functionality you’d expect from an electric guitar with a higher price tag.

Special modern S-1 switching can unlock pickup combinations, for when you need that mule to kick your solo through the band Into the audience. This classy feature gives you the use of all three pickups at once, all just by pressing down on your volume knob. A benefit you won’t find on a ‘Standard Strat’. Vintage noiseless pickups put a stop to that unwanted hum or buzz from the amp. This is a godsend for some players..
I feel Fender produces these tiny tweaks over the years on purpose to appeal to players on all levels.

A very, very good guitar considering the price.

Notable Features:

  • Vintage Noiseless Strat pickups
  • Made in Mexico
  • 12″ Fingerboard Radius
  • Push/Push Mini-Switch
  • Two-Point Tremolo Bridge with Vintage-Style Bent Steel Saddles
  • Double cutaway electric guitar
  • Three Vintage Noiseless™ Strat pickups
  • Push/push mini-switch adds bridge pickup in positions four and five
  • Two-point synchronized tremolo bridge with bent steel saddles
  • 12”-radius fingerboard; contoured neck heel; locking tuning machines

4.Classic Series ’60S Stratocaster

Fender Classic Series 60’s Stratocaster (Lake Placid Blue)

The Classic 60s Series oozes class with its unmistakable authentic features and finishes. Every part of this guitar takes the player back to the creative and wild days of this era. Rock music arrived and flourished with the Strat being a huge part of that. The 60s Strat served psychedelic bands, surf, and rock music.

Guitars from the fifties and the sixties attract a massive level of interest from guitar buyers. The Classic 60s strat is a very desirable guitar and has all the hallmarks of that era. Collectors and vintage guitar lovers all should have this axe in their arsenal.

Fender Custom Shop has a number of master builders who put their skills and knowledge towards a selected number of ‘limited’ guitars. They also have a smaller team who continue the production of tribute models and one-offs. The vintage-style 60s strat is one of those.

The Classic 60s Strat has a bright and rather thin tone, matching those of the early 60s. A jangly bluesy rock sound. Straight out of a Tarantino movie is the best way to describe the tone of these beauties. A mix between The Shadows and trend-swamprock country!

Here’s your next guitar if you want to emulate the sounds of the sixties

Notable Features:

  • Vintage-Style Single-Coil Strat Pickups
  • 7.25″ Maple “C” Neck Profile With Rosewood Fingerboard
  • 21 Vintage-Style Frets
  • Aged Control Knobs
  • Vintage-Style Tuning Peg
  • Neck Material: Maple.
  • Neck Finish: Gloss Nitrocellulose Lacquer.
  • Neck Shape: “C” Shape.
  • Scale Length: 25.5″ (648 mm)
  • Fingerboard Material: Rosewood.
  • Fingerboard Radius: 7.25″ (184.1 mm)
  • Number of Frets: 21.
  • Fret Size: Vintage-Style

5.USA Standard Stratocaster

Black 1996 50th Anniversary USA Strat

This is my guitar! Photo by Freddie Bennett

-The USA Standard is the guitar where you start to take things seriously. An American-made Stratocaster is the most iconic of electric guitars. It’s as simple as that.

Fender launched an update in 1987, the ‘standard’. Notably having a flatter fingerboard, a thinner neck profile, and an improved tremolo system. This was tailored around the more modern player. Amazingly, this model has been continuously improved and remained in production until late 2016.

The ‘standard’ can be used by players all the way up and down the skill scale. A superb rich thick tone and at a value that other instruments around the same price cannot compete with. Value for money without a doubt. You’re getting the best of both worlds, quality build, and classic strat tones.

A tough sturdy and warm sound. A vintage tone that the newer version of this guitar just doesn’t seem to have.

Built with unmatched proficiency, backed up with Fender’s tradition of superb innovating instruments.

Fender released this Stratocaster with a 50th Anniversary coin on the back of the headstock. Three Vintage single-coil pickups (Custom Shop Fat 50s). Only 2,500 of these were produced.

The USA Standard is a one-man army. It can put its hand to any style of music, all thanks to its wide variety of classic and modern tones. It’s a beast!

Notable Features:

  • Released 1986/87
  • FretBoard Radius: 9.5.
  • Neck Shape: Slim C.
  • Number of Frets: 22.
  • Body: Alder.
  • Neck: Maple
  • Standard Single-Coil Strat Pickups Custom Shop Fat 50s
  • Modern “C” Neck (Available with Maple or Rosewood Fingerboard)
  • 21 Medium Jumbo Frets

6.American Special Stratocaster

Fender 2014 Stratocaster American Special-Tobacco Sunburst

The American Special is light and looks impeccable in its finish. The body shape is vintage and curvy.

A guitar that fits nicely between the Standard and the Highway One.

The Urethane finish requires a lot less labor than a nitro finish. Less sanding between coats results in the wood being sprayed a lot less, as not to stifle the wood grain. Unlike the thick syrupy type 70s coating polyester. This really is a step up in quality compared to the guitars lower on this list. Making it a more pleasurable experience for the player.

The ‘grease bucket’ tone circuitry gives you the option to roll off those highs without adding extra bass frequency. This is a classy touch. The guitar comes with Texas Special Pickups to give you a hotter SRV tone. You can break up a little earlier than the custom fat 50s.

This is for the guitarist who is looking for that timeless Fender Style and leading-edge features. The American Special delivers a modern tone and performance, bringing the player the full Stratocaster experience.

  • Texas Special Single-Coil Pickups
  • “Greasebucket” Tone Circuit
  • Vintage-Style Synchronized Tremolo Bridge
  • Large, ’70s-Style Headstock
  • Jumbo Frets
  • US Made

7.American Vintage ’65 Stratocaster

Fender American Vintage ’65 Stratocaster-Sunburst

The American Vintage ‘65 replicates the tiniest details from Fender’s early history. Using re-tooled hardware you’re guaranteed to get that vintage look and the same feel if you were to buy it in 1965. That’s a pretty special feature by Fender. You can only applaud them for re-creating an already successful vintage range with this old classic.

Super thin Nitro lacquer ensures the body can breathe and age naturally, just like the originals did. If you are looking for the natural road-worn look in time, you’ll definitely get that with the 65.

The tone is meaty and full. I’ve not known a strat with as much depth as the 65 reissue. This is exactly what you get if you listen back to the late 60s Stratocaster-based music. If you’re looking to get close to anything from Hendrix, The Shadows, or Pink Floyd. This is your instrument.

The neck is the thick ‘C’ 60s style. The 65 single-coil pickups are wound exactly like the original spec. Fingerboard edges are rolled beautifully in comparison to the newer square edge style. Even the nut is a proper ‘bone nut’, this all adds up to an outstanding reissue. Fender has gone full whack into authenticating that Vintage 65 Stratocaster. A very desirable guitar if this era of music is your thing.

Notable Features:

  • American Vintage ’65 Gray-Button Single-Coil Pickups
  • 6-Saddle American Vintage Synchronized Tremolo
  • “Mid-’60s C” Neck Profile
  • “Round-Lam” Rosewood Fingerboard
  • 21 Frets
  • Flash-Coat Lacquer Finish
  • 3-Ply Pickguard With Vintage Bevel
  • Bone Nut
  • Aged White Plastic Controls

8. American Professional Stratocaster II

Fender American Professional Stratocaster-Olympic White

The Fender Professional II is for the enthusiast or ‘strat addict’. If you’re looking for a durable guitar to see you through years of live shows and hours on end of home practicing. Then this is your next guitar.

It’s beautiful to look at. It’s evolved from the mark Pro 1.
The fretboard is now slightly rounded and it feels far more broken in (another great feature in my eyes). The neck becomes thinner as you get nearer the nut. The bridge is now constructed from a ‘cold rolled steel’. Fender quotes that this upgrade gives you a beefier tone due to the thicker metal.

I really like the tiny little tweaks Fender make over the years. Always trying to improve, yet keeping the classic shape and feel to the original Fender Strat. They always seem to be changing some aspects, but always to aid us, guitarists.

One very different feature comes in the pickups. The pickup poles are now made from different magnetic alloys. It’s now based on what’s considered to be optimal for each pickup position. This is essential as it gives you a balanced volume when playing the low and high E strings. It now has a more proportional all round tone. Outstanding!

Another impressive small perk fender has improved is the bridge pickup boost. When the furthest tone pot is pushed, it adds some tasty warm bassy tones into your sound.

(Adds neck pickup to positions 1,2 and 3). This is definitely my favorite ‘extra’ you get with the Pro II.

The American Professional II Stratocaster may be one of the most complete evolutions since 1954. It really is an outstanding upgrade and I would highly recommend it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rEVgtHauqK0&feature=youtu.be

Notable Features:

  • Body wood: Alder
  • Body finish: Gloss Urethane
  • Neck shape: C
  • Neck Wood: Maple
  • Scale length: 25.5″
  • Neck finish: Satin Urethane
  • Material: Rolled-edge Maple
  • Radius: 9.5″
  • Fret size: Narrow-Tall
  • Number of frets: 22
  • Nut width/material: 1.687 in. (42.8 mm) Bone
  • Configuration: SSS
  • Special electronics: Tone bypass
  • Bridge type: Tremolo/Vibrato
  • Bridge design: 2-point Fulcrum tremolo Individual saddle
  • Tuning machines: Sealed High-ratio
  • Color: Nickel

9. American Elite Stratocater

Fender American Elite Stratocaster (3 Colors Sunburst)

At first glance, you may be thinking ‘yet another strat’. It may look like all the others, but you’d be wrong to think it’s anywhere near the same. Underneath that classic strat-shaped body, you’re given over a dozen new and interesting extras for the modern-day guitarist.

As soon as you plug-in and play, you know you’re playing something special. Exceptional tones and a beautifully built modern strat. It’s kind of a (super) rejuvenated version of the older Strats. Lots of updates. At this point, it’s safe to say the vintage Fender purists fans among us won’t like this. I feel Fender are always trying to improve their range and appeal to everybody. Well done to them.

Ok, the updated perks:

The pickups are the Fourth Generation Noiseless Pickups. These are a fantastic addition.

The volume pot can be pushed in, giving you further tones to play with (S-1 Switch). This fancy inclusion enables the player to achieve more scope and become more dynamic in their playing. The S-1 switch adds subtle colors to your playing. In the bridge pickup positions, the difference in tone is very noticeable. Middle positions are less prominent but darker in tone. The Middle and neck are warm and snappy. The neck pickup is creamy, fat, and bassy. With a quick tap of the volume switch your back to that classic crisp sound.

I can only imagine how suitable the Elite is for the gigging guitarist. The push-button option to cut in and out with lush tones is far quicker and a lot less hassle than using a pedal. I love the S-1 switch!

The Double-Action Truss Rod Adjustment Wheel is now at the bridge end of the neck, rather than behind the nut. It actually makes so much more sense positioned at the bottom of the fretboard. When you’re adjusting the truss rod, you’ll have the guitar in the ‘playing’ position. This feature makes it so much easier, rather than reaching up to the headstock for every small tweak.

If you don’t mind spending top dollar and you want all the new features and trimmings Fender has to offer. The American Elite is for you. The ultimate live guitarist Stratocaster.

 

Notable Features:

  • 4th Generation Noiseless Pickups
  • S-1 Switch — Offers five additional pickup configurations
  • 9.5″-to-14″ Compound-Radius Neck
  • 2-Point Deluxe Synchronized Tremolo With Pop-In Arm
  • Double-Action Truss Rod Adjustment Wheel
  • Locking Tuning Pegs
  • Soft-Touch Controls

10. Custom Shop Stratocaster

Fender Custom Shop Stevie Ray Vaughan Tribute Stratocaster 

‘Number One’

The Fender Custom Shop produces special order guitars. Creating a limited edition high-quality guitar. If you love the road-worn relic look, the Custom Shop assembles some real mouth-watering pieces.

In 1987 the Custom Shop was born. The initial master builders were John Page and Michael Stevens. Since then the team has expanded and produced some of the most sought-after guitars ever made. Their passion and first-class approach towards reproducing guitars is unparalleled.

Stevie’s ‘Number One’ Stratocaster was, according to him, ‘his first wife’. Stevie also dated the guitar as a 1959 model, as the pickups had this date on them.

The neck has an Oval C shape 60s profile. A two-piece select alder ’63-style body and hand-wound Custom Shop pickups. Just like the storied original. This guitar bears an American Vintage left-handed synchronized tremolo bridge for Hendrix-style access.

Other features include a 10”-radius round-lam rosewood fingerboard, 21 #6100 frets, a five-way pickup switch, custom wiring, 3-ply Black pickguard, vintage-style chrome tuning machines, bone nut, and wing string tree.

With Texas Special single-coil pickups, you get scorching tone. Overwound for that unique SRV sound. They offer a dynamic response and a focused mid-range. If you’re looking to get anywhere near that famous SRV tone, go get yourself some gauge 13 strings or some thick galvanized steel! How anyone plays 13s as Stevie did is beyond me!

Ladies and Gentleman, The Holy Grail of guitars.

Here’s the man himself. Just listen to that tone!!!

Notable Features:

  • Select Alder Finish
  • Nitrocellulose Lacquer
  • Rift Sawn Maple Neck with a Special SRV Oval “C” Shape and 12” (305 mm) Radius
  • Frets: 21, Jumbo Hardware Closet Classic,
  • Gold Bridge 6-Saddle American Vintage Synchronized Tremolo
  • Pickups: Custom Shop Hand-Wound Texas SpecialTM Single-Coil Strat® (Bridge, Middle, Neck)
  • Wiring: Vintage Controls Master Volume, Tone 1. (Neck Pickup), Tone 2. (Middle Pickup)
  • Body Finish: Nitrocellulose Lacquer
  • Neck Material: Maple Rift Sawn
  • Neck Shape: ’60s “C”
  • Scale Length: 25.5″ (648 mm)
  • Fingerboard Radius: 10″ (254 mm)
  • Number of Frets: 21
  • Fret Size: 6100 Jumbo
  • String Nut: Bone
  • Nut Width: 1.650″ (42 mm)
  • Neck Plate: 4-Bolt
  • Neck Finish: Nitrocellulose Lacquer
  • Fingerboard: AAA Rosewood
  • Position Inlays: Micarta White

Features You Need To Consider Before Buying A Strat:

Fingerboard Radius

  • The Smaller radius fingerboards are more curved. In general, players perceive this better for playing chords.
  • A Larger radius is seen as a better option for playing lead and bending, as the radius is larger.  

Fret Size

  • Deluxe and the American Professional feature narrow tall frets—currently very popular with players
  • Classic Series ’60s Stratocaster and the American Vintage ’65 Stratocaster feature vintage-style frets (smaller and narrower in size compared to Jumbo frets)
  • Standard and Elite models feature medium jumbo frets
  • American Special Strat features jumbo frets

Neck Shape

Most of the guitars covered in this article follow these basic neck shapes. Check Notable Features. 

Bodies

Alder

Alderwood gives the guitar a higher resonance. The upper mid-range pushes through nicely, giving you that extra sustain for attack. Red Alder is used by Fender as it is fast-growing and readily available. Bodies made from Red Alder are constructed from two to four pieces glued together. They feature a tighter more consistent grain than that of ash.

Ash

Ashwood can give you a more rounded and slightly mellower tone. The highs of Ashwood are not too bright in comparison. Ash has a more inconsistent but straight and visible grain that looks great with natural and transparent finishes.

Maple Or Rosewood Fretboard

The Standard Strat, American Professional, and American Elite models are available with maple fingerboards or, for a small additional cost, rosewood.

The Deluxe, Classic Series ’60s and the American Vintage ’65 models are only available with rosewood fingerboards.

The American Special Strat is available with both maple and rosewood for the 2-Color Sunburst model, maple-only for the Olympic White model, and rosewood-only for the Sonic Blue.

Apart from the difference in color between the whole piece of maple makes up the neck as well as the fretboard. Rosewood on the other hand is normally glued to another piece of wood to make up the fretboard.

When it comes to tone, some people claim there is a big difference. Rosewood is known for being more mellower and has a spongier feel to the fingerboard. Whereas a maple neck is harder in tone but feels very smooth under your fingertips. I’ll be honest, I’ve got both two guitars with both types of neck. There isn’t much in it at all. It’s all down to the player. It’s best to try it out for yourself.

25 Legends Who’ve Graced The Stratocaster

  1. Stevie Ray Vaughan
  2. Nile Rodgers
  3. Hank Marvin
  4. Yngwie Malmsteen
  5. Mark Knopfler
  6. Ronnie Wood
  7. Eddie Van Halen 
  8. Pete Townshend 
  9. Bonnie Raitt
  10. Hank Marvin
  11. Buddy Guy
  12. John Frusciante
  13. Dick Dale
  14. Ry Cooder
  15. Joe Bonamassa 
  16. Kurt Cobain
  17. Robert Cray 
  18. Jeff Beck
  19. Ritchie Blackmore
  20. Eric Clapton
  21. Rory Gallagher
  22. David Gilmour
  23. George Harrison
  24. Buddy Holly

…….Oh, and Jimi Hendrix

Did You Know?

Fender sold more guitars in 2020 than any other year in its history

 

Conclusion

I hoped you’ve liked our review on the evolution of the Stratocaster. It gives you a much better understanding of what to look for when buying the classic guitar.

If you want to see which Strats made the ‘Best Selling Albums of All Time’ click here

 

 

10 Essential Tips For Guitar Care: The Best Ways To Maintain Your Guitar:

Guitar Care Header

If you’re worth your salt as a guitarist. You should be on the ball when it comes to guitar care.

Guitars are made from the finest premium woods and materials. They are set up with patience and a high level of skilled precision.

If you look after your guitar, it will look after you.

I’ve been playing guitars for over 25 years, here are 10 Essential Tips to use to look after your prized possession. 

10 Essential Tips For Guitar Care :

1. Avoid Sudden Temperature Changes

Sudden changes to a guitar’s temperature can play havoc with it. Wood expands and contracts, this could lead to neck warping or worse, permanent damage. 

A gradual change in climate is the answer, as wood can adapt to the temperature slowly. 

Storing a guitar at room temperature is a safe bet. Keep guitars out of the sun and very cold conditions. It goes without saying. 

2. Care For Your Fingerboard

Unlike the rest of the guitar, rosewood fretboards do not require sealing. This is because the wood’s oils and hardness naturally withstand wear and decay.  Most other fretboards are sealed but dry out after a while. They’re susceptible to getting absolutely filthy and showing signs of age. Although you may think this is a cool effect, it won’t be a cool sound!

It’s best practice to get yourself a conditioning product (which is specific to your model of guitar). The better conditioners will also help to clean the dirt away and hydrate your fretboard. 

Tip: Slide your hand up and down the side of your fretboard, are your frets sharp? They shouldn’t be. Sharp frets break strings! Enough said. 

3. Pay A Professional To Set Up Your Guitar

Fixing your guitar by yourself is the most popular way to cause a bigger problem. The Importance of maintaining the correct action is crucial to the life of a guitar.  

Guitar wood is organic. It changes shape and density as it grows; with age. It bends and changes in very small ways. A good guitar doctor will be aware of this and put it right for a very low price. 

Every single guitar I’ve ever purchased, new or used, I’ve taken straight to a guitar tech to set up. It’s worth every penny. 

Tip: New guitars don’t come set up properly from a store (unless a tech has done it as part of the sale). 

I needed an excuse to show off the Gibson ES. Immaculate!

4. Keep An Eye On Your Nut

Creaky strings and string snapping are a sure-fire way to tell you your nut needs replacing. Unwound strings can dig and cut deep into the nut slot. This causes open strings to buzz and your guitar to sound slightly out of tune. That’s not a good sound! 

Nuts cost next to nothing but generally, it’ll last for years. Just keep an eye out with a close inspection. 

Unless you’ve been taught by a guitar technician, any alteration to a nut or nut replacement is a job for a pro

5. Buy A Hard Case (your guitar deserves it)

Soft cases don’t do anything apart from keeping dust off. Why buy a lovely new guitar with your hard-earned savings, then protect it with a soft material case? 

A good strong hard case will protect your instrument at all costs. It’s great for home storage, the live guitarist on the road, or a traveling musician by plane or train. When you buy your first good hard case, you won’t ever need another one. 

Tip: Losen your strings before air travel. The pressure in the cabin and temperature change can cause all sorts of trouble for your guitar. A broken guitar neck is worse than a broken heart! Fact. 

6. Replace Your Strings

When do I change my strings?  This would depend on what type of player you are. 

As a rule of thumb If you play nearly every day, I would say renew them every 6-8 weeks. As a gigging guitarist, I would change my strings after 3 shows and 3 rehearsals. This all depends on what strings you use too. The longer-lasting strings these days are awesome. I now play at home every so often, so I get new strings every 3 months. 

It’s really all down to your scenario. You can always tell when your strings have had enough. They sound so lifeless and dull. 

Changing strings is a no brainer, it gives you a chance to clean your guitar and revitalize your sound. Keeping it fresh and interesting. This also helps beginners. Wanting to play a nice sounding guitar will make you want to practice more regularly. 

Tip: A luthier once told me, every time you change your strings, you should draw with a pencil between the nut slots. Pencil lead contains graphite and is great for a dry lubricant and helps clean within the slots. 

7. Keep It Clean

After a session playing low down and dirty funk, your guitar will require cleaning (your soul too).

Although cleaning isn’t a science, you still need to use the correct products. Here are some quick dos and dont’s :

  • Dust and Polish: Don’t spray directly onto the guitar, straight onto the cloth
  • No Moisture: Do not use water. Specialized oils, sprays, and conditioners only
  • Pick Up Clean: Pick Ups need a clean because they can get bunged up with all sorts of rubbish
  • Wipe your strings after every session. This helps prolong the life of your strings
  • Check your guitar finish before spraying anything on the body

8. Use The Correct Tools

This is overlooked, but very important. Not only can you damage screws, your guitars finish, or the fretboard. You could scar your axe for life by using the wrong tools. Get yourself the proper rag, Allen keys, spray, and oils. Spend a little while researching what’s best for your guitar and its finish. 

You can build up a handy little collection of guitar tools over time, and if they’re any good, they’ll last you forever. 

It’s the same in any walk of life, use the correct equipment for the job. 

As you move forward caring for your guitar, you’ll become more and more confident. You may then want to start learning about how to make slight adjustments to the neck, nut, and bridge.

To do this, here are the basics for any guitarists tool kit:

Remember: The following tools may vary depending on your guitar make and model (sprays etc). Check your manufacturer’s manual. 

BASIC TOOL KIT

  • A (decent) Tuner!
  • Truss Rod Allen Keys/Hex Keys/Philips Screwdriver
  • A Luthiers Metal Ruler With The Correct Increments (64ths, 32nds)
  • String Winder
  • Cutters
  • Nut File Set (Check Your String Size)
  • Rags (Microfibre, Lint Free)
  • Guitar Body Cleaner (Depending On Your Finish)
  • Contact Cleaner
  • Toothbrush For Fret Cleaning (Soft)
  • Sand Paper For ‘Minor’ Repairs (Grit; 220, 400, 600, 1000) 
  • FretBoard Oil and Conditioner (Lemon Oil is great)
  • A Manual, For Your Make And Model Guitar. Download it!

Handy Extras

  • Digital Hygrometer
  • De-Humidifier
  • Humidifier
  • Soldiering Station With A Magnifying Glass

Basic Guitar Tool Kit’ picture by TT ZOP

9. Do Not Learn Your Guitar Against A Wall

The number of times I’ve seen guitars left balanced against a wall! It horrifies me. Although a lot of guitarists don’t think it’s an issue, it really is. 

Leaning your guitar against a wall puts stress and tension on the neck and strings. This inevitably results in a minor neck bend or worse, a warped neck.

The most dangerous factor is the guitar isn’t being supported. It can easily tip or slip over, resulting in an expensive visit to the guitar tech.

Get Yourself A Guitar Stand

A decent guitar stand costs $15! It will save your $3000 vintage guitar from snapping on the hard floor. Crazy I know!

Check out Authority Guitar ‘Best Guitar Stand 2021: The Essential Buyers Guide’

10. Give Your Guitar The ‘Once Over’

A lot of the time your fret buzz could actually be something ridiculously easy to fix.

I had a buzz recently on my electric guitar and I couldn’t find it. It was so irritating. In the end, it was a loose screw in my scratchplate! 

Imagine paying a guitar technician $50 and he hands it back telling you it was a loose screw!!

Years ago I had an acoustic, the b string kept going out of tune. There is nothing more frustrating than tuning 10 times a day. After spending weeks thinking I had a warped neck, I later discovered one of the tuning pegs to be very slightly loose. This is enough to cause tuning havoc. 

Every time you change your strings, work your way around all the hardware and give it a gentle prod or wiggle. There are hundreds of factors that go into making a guitar sound great. Give yourself 5 minutes and have a quick look around to see if everything is as it should be. 

Tip: A luthier once taught me to hold a guitar to eye level and slowly turn it 360 degrees, checking every little nook and cranny. Check the hardware, look down the neck from the base (bridge end) of the guitar. Is the neck straight? 

Simple, but effective ways to check your guitar over. Try to give it the ‘once over’ every time you change strings.

Conclusion

I hope you found my ‘Essential Tips For Guitar Care’ helpful. It’s an easy way to start looking after your instrument. If you still feel you have an issue with the guitar, it’s always a very good idea to hand it over to a professional.

Happy Playing

Guitar Maintenance

The Ultimate Acoustic Guitar Wood Guide: How Does Wood Affect Your Tone?

Acoustic Wood Guide Header

Acoustic Guitar Wood Guide

 

Are you ready to buy a stunning new acoustic guitar with incredible sound? If so, are you confused about which type of acoustic guitar tonewood is best for your playing style and skills? Believe it or not, even experienced players can have difficulty selecting the best wood for guitars.

First, check out our ‘Acoustic Guitar Wood Guide’ to learn about different wood species and how they affect sound quality. With this valuable know-how, choose your new guitar with ease and a touch of true expertise.

Experience Sound Quality and Playing Ease of Different Guitar Tonewoods

When you shop for a new acoustic guitar, take time to explore the different tonewoods. Discover how they affect the overall tone and sound quality as well as durability and playing ease.

Whether you are buying your first guitar or you are replacing an older, worn model, you want a new instrument that is skillfully designed. Yet most of all, you are seeking a beautiful new instrument that fully satisfies your current playing abilities, desires, and needs.

Responsible guitar sellers encourage buyers to play different models before buying a new guitar.

Some sellers have full knowledge of the tonewoods, their strengths, and their weaknesses. Yet for best results in choosing your ideal new guitar, you should have this information at your own fingertips.

Acoustic Guitar Wood Guide

 

Know Commonly Used Woods in Acoustic Guitar Production

Many varied wood species are used in the design and production of acoustic guitars. Yet the most commonly used types are mahogany, spruce, cedar, maple, and rosewood.

Designers and manufacturers generally select woods according to their availability, cost, and overall quality.

Hardwoods are usually chosen for the instrument’s framing, back, sides, neck, and fretboard. For acoustic guitar tops, somewhat stiff softwoods with good tonal qualities are the preferred choice. 

Characteristics of these different guitar wood types and their use in making different parts of acoustic guitars include the following: 

Best Guitar Woods for the Top (Soundboard)

The type of wood used for acoustic guitar soundboards has the most effect on the sound quality of the instrument. This is because the notes produced by the guitar strings travel via the bridge onto the soundboard.

The sound’s vibrations are then amplified by the instrument’s top, as any good Acoustic Guitar Wood Guide will explain. For this reason, guitars with larger soundboards have louder sound when played. 

• Cedar. 

With less density than spruce and some other tonewoods, cedar offers good quality for producing acoustic guitar tops. It provides moderately rich overtones with pleasing warmth and medium levels of brightness.

• Koa. 

This is a more expensive wood than cedar, and its sound quality improves with use. In the beginning, a guitar that has a soundboard made of koa has an extra-bright sound. Yet the more it is played over time, it mellows, converting into more enriched, warmer tonalities. At this point, it offers the richest sound in the middle-range notes.

• Mahogany.

 As a dense wood type, mahogany has a less rapid sound to touch rate. It creates a substantial mid-range sound with strong volumetric quality and gentle overtones. This produces a smooth, earthy sound. Guitars with mahogany tops are ideal for playing blues numbers. They are also recommended for playing guitar with other instruments.

• Sitka Spruce.

 Spruce is the most frequently used top wood for making acoustic guitars. Spruce is a lightweight yet strong durable wood. There are several different varieties, and the most common type is Sitka spruce. Sitka is a versatile soundboard wood, accommodating aggressive and subtle guitar playing equally well.

With its wide-reaching dynamic range, this wood offers fine-caliber resonance for a wide array of tones. The light coloration of this wood looks beautiful when combined with darker tonewoods for guitar sides and backs.

• Adirondack Spruce.

 This variety of spruce wood is ideal for producing soundboards. It provides a dramatic range of tonalities and enables loud, full guitar playing while maintaining good quality sound clarity. This type of spruce soundboard is a good choice for guitarists who favor aggressive playing.

• Engelmann and European Spruce.

 Soundboards created from these spruce wood varieties are best suited for guitar players with a soft touch. If played aggressively, the sound quality diminishes.

Acoustic Wood Guide Pic

Best Woods for Guitar Backs and Body Sides

If your guitar has a back and sides constructed of tone-sensitive wood, the sound generated via the instrument’s top is enhanced. Various types of tonewood offering different tone qualities when used for guitar backs and sides are as follows:

• Koa.

 As well as making a top-rated soundboard wood, koa is also an ideal choice for constructing a guitar back and sides. Of course, it complements a guitar that has a koa top. Yet it is quite compatible with other tonewoods for guitar construction. This wood is in the more expensive range, and its sound improves with age and use.

• Mahogany.

 With its versatile middle-range richness and character, this beautiful wood is an excellent choice for guitar backs and sides.

If you like enhanced volume and density for mid-range tones, mahogany is a great selection. If you use this wood for a guitar’s top, back and sides, you can create a compressed, warm sound with volume and dominance.

If you combine mahogany back and sides with a Sitka spruce guitar top, the sound produced will have a more mellow, warm tone.

Two Popular Varieties of Mahogany

There are actually two major types of mahogany in use today for acoustical guitar construction, Honduran and African:

Honduran Mahogany.

This type of mahogany is also known as genuine mahogany, tropical mahogany, American mahogany, and Brazilian mahogany. It is considered a high-quality tonewood. However, it is not as hard or durable as African mahogany or Sapele. Yet the Honduran variety is given a higher quality rating than African mahogany.

African Mahogany.

This type of mahogany (Khaya) is harder than Honduran mahogany, yet it is categorized as a lower-quality wood. When African mahogany is used for constructing guitar backs and sides, it can be difficult to determine a tone difference. Instruments made with backs and sides of either mahogany type can sound very much alike.

• Maple.

Due to its low rate of response, maple is a good wood for the guitar back and body sides, somewhat similar to mahogany. This reduces overtones, which results in less resonance and prolonged sound. This quality enhances the sound from the guitar top and reduces feedback if you are playing with a group. Maple actually gives focus and attention to individual tones.

For this reason, guitars with maple backs and sides are often favored by lead guitarists who seek note definition. Since maple is a light-colored wood, is frequently stained to create darker guitar backs and sides. Especially when combined with a spruce guitar top, maple backs and sides are usually given a darker contrasting stain.

• Rosewood.

 This tonewood is quite popular for use in constructing acoustic guitar backs and sides. Rosewood differs significantly from maple. It offers a fine quality middle-range similar to mahogany. Yet it can also extend into the high tones and low tones to create deep, full bass notes and bright, bell-toned treble notes. This wood is also a good choice for quality finger-picking, strumming, and flat-picking.

With its enriched overtones and high rate of response, it enables a focused playing attack and plenty of resonance. However, this use of rosewood may contribute to some issues with feedback. A guitar with a rosewood back and sides in combination with a Sitka spruce top is often called the “Holy Grail” of tonewoods. Some guitarists proclaim this to be the ultimate guitar construction.

• Walnut.

 Displaying some of the same qualities exhibited by koa, walnut is altered in tone quality over time. It has a deep, low register that will gain volume and character the more it is played. The top register is bright with more strength in the middle tones. Its mid-range features are considered in between those of rosewood and mahogany.

If a walnut guitar back and sides are combined with a cedar top for a relatively small guitar, the instrument can be ideal for enhanced finger styling. If, for a larger size guitar, you combine a walnut back and sides with a spruce top, it can have a more dynamic, aggressive response for flat-picking and strumming.

• Sapele. 

This tonewood has similarities to mahogany. Both sapele and mahogany are used for top wood as well as back and side tonewood for guitars. They are also both in popular use for making guitar necks. Sapele is actually harder than Honduran and African mahogany, and sapele originated in West Africa.

The tone quality from a guitar made with sapele or mahogany can vary significantly. The sound will differ according to the other construction materials and what part of the guitar these woods are being used for. Guitars that contain sapele wood have a stronger treble register than those constructed with the use of mahogany.

Acoustic Wood Guide Pic2

Guitar Fretboard (Fingerboard)

The top-rated tonewoods for use in producing guitar fretboards or fingerboards are rosewood and ebony. The playing ease of your guitar and be affected by the guitar’s action, the neck size, the strings, and the body shape. However, the material used to create the fretboard (fingerboard) has the greatest influence of all. The surface of your guitar fretboard must be durable and smooth to promote ultimate quality “playability.”

Common Fretboard Woods

• Rosewood.

 A rosewood fretboard can assist you in creating a warm, full tone. This wood’s pores are quite oily, and they lessen some overtones, allowing the enriching warm tones to dominate. These fingerboards need periodic cleaning. Especially if you want to bring more warmth to a guitar with a bright sound, rosewood is a good choice for the fretboard. Rosewood has a slick surface and needs no additional finishing. This wood is susceptible to drying, however, and it needs more ongoing maintenance than ebony. Rosewood is the most frequently used tonewood for fingerboards.

• Ebony. 

This tonewood is also a dense hardwood used to make guitar fretboards. It enables guitarists to create a bright sound that may equal or even exceed the sound quality of maple fretboards. There is an ongoing discussion about which wood supports the ultimate quality sound.

One advantage of ebony is its lack of any requirement for surface finishing. Your ebony fretboard is lubricated naturally by the oil in your fingers as you play. Ebony wood only needs to be conditioned periodically since it maintains good oil and moisture levels.

If you like a dark fretboard and the smooth feel of ebony, it may be your best choice for your guitar fingerboard.               

Best Guitar Neck Woods

The neck of your guitar should attract very little vibration and energy from the strings as you play. As much of this energy as possible should travel down the strings and into the soundboard via the bridge. For this reason, the guitar neck should be made of dense hardwood, since soft or slightly flexible wood can divert energy from the strings and soundboard. 

Mahogany is the best choice for constructing acoustic guitar necks. As a sturdy hardwood with density, it is still relatively light and good for carving. American and African mahoganies are the two primary types used for producing guitar necks. Some acoustic guitars with nylon strings have cedar necks. Since nylon strings create lower tension when played than other string types, cedar necks are suitable for these guitars. 

Summary

Enjoy the Path to Being a Skilled and Fulfilled Guitar Player

It is important for every beginning acoustic guitar player to experience the varied sound tones and playing ease of different tonewoods. The most commonly used woods in guitar production are mahogany, spruce, cedar, maple, and rosewood. All guitarists should become familiar with the qualities, strengths, and weaknesses of each wood species. 

By examining, holding, and playing different brands, styles, and models of acoustic guitars, players become familiar with different woods. They distinguish different sound tones produced by different types of wooden guitar soundboards, backs, and body sides. As a new guitar player, you can soon determine even subtle differences in sound quality and “playability” of different designs.

Since many guitars are made using different wood combinations, you will learn the advantages of different constructions. From soundboard to back, sides, fretboard, and neck, you will acquire valuable knowledge and understanding of the guitar. You will discover your favorite tonewoods and how combining these woods can influence and enhance the appearance and sound of a guitar. 

The more you learn about this beautiful, sensitive instrument as you learn to play, the faster you will advance. You will soon be a skilled and fulfilled intermediate guitarist on your path to becoming an expert. We hope that you have enjoyed this beginner’s Acoustic Guitar Wood Guide whilst gaining some helpful information and advice.

Now it is time to select your new guitar. Happy playing! 

AuthorityGuitar has another detailed article to help you decide on Acoustic Vs Electric A Complete Beginners Guide. Go ahead and click away to see what we think.

What Is An Audio Interface? Everything You Need To Know

Audio Interface Header

So, what is an audio interface and why do you need one? Being artistic and creative is super beneficial for the soul and wellbeing. Whether you’re just starting out playing your own music, or you have a few songs under your belt, the next step in your musical career is learning how to record yourself playing. To do this, you need a special tool called an audio interface. 

Read on to learn everything you need to know about how digital audio interfaces work and how to choose the right one for your recordings.

What Is An Audio Interface?

The Simplest Explanation Is:

An audio interface is a sound card that manages inputs and outputs going between your computer and instrument (or microphone). In the past, studio engineers would use internal sound cards in their desktop computers to manage inputs and outputs.

Audio Interface v Sound Card

Internal soundcards were limited by the size and capabilities of the computer, so today we rely on external sound cards to do the job. These external sound cards are called audio interfaces.

It is important to note that many computers still have sound cards that are used for basic speaker and headphone functions, but they do not provide the necessary inputs for instruments and microphones that you will need if you wish to record.

What Does An Audio Interface Do?

As mentioned above, an audio interface manages the sounds coming and going from your computer when you are recording. For instance, when you strum your guitar or sing into a microphone, you are producing a sound wave or signal that travels by cable into the interface. The audio interface takes that information and turns it into a digital format that can be used by your computer, allowing you to break the sound down and edit it using a digital audio workstation, or DAW on your computer.

Likewise, when you’re editing or adding new tracks to your recording, you will want the ability to playback. This process is also handled by the audio interface (aka a recording interface), which takes the digital recording from your computer, converts it back into an analog signal, and sends it out to your monitors or speakers.

Do I Need An Audio Interface for Recording?

Whether or not you need a digital audio interface for recording depends on what equipment you currently have. These days, some microphones and other music cables come with a USB attachment that already has an audio interface built-in. If you have a device like this, you may be able to plug your device straight into your computer and start recording.

However, most people do not have adapters or cables with a built-in interface for their guitars or other instruments. Besides, the built-in audio interfaces used in these cheaper microphones and devices will not give you the highest quality recording. The true audio interface offers you a variety of controls and options. This helps you get the best sound into your computer the first time, whereas built-in interfaces are simply made to transfer sound for basic voice recordings.

Ultimately, if you want to make high quality recordings of yourself playing music, it is worth the investment to get a real audio interface to work with.

What Else Can An Audio Interface Do?

Multiple Inputs

Aside from converting your analog sound signals into digital files for your computer, a quality audio interface can also perform a handful of other tasks. For instance, it will allow you to add multiple inputs at one time, such as a guitar and a microphone. Secondly, it will allow you to adjust the gain, or signal strength of your inputs independently. So you can get the sound and balance you’re looking for during the recording process. This is done with the help of pre-amplifiers and other components that are only found in an audio interface, built for this purpose.

Layer Tracks 

Another helpful feature in your audio interface. It can take tracks you’ve already recorded, and play them back to you while you record another layer on top. This allows you to build tracks on your own whilst ensuring you’re synched in time. In the early stages, this playback can help you practice with a backing track or experiment with additional tracks that you may want to record later on.

Audio Interface With Phantom Power

Some digital audio interfaces also provide phantom power to condenser microphones and MIDI control slots for keyboards and other MIDI devices. They can also manage multiple playback streams with headphones and studio monitors

What Is The Best Audio Interface?

The best audio interface for you will largely depend on the type of recording you wish to do, but as you are doing research, you should be paying close attention to the various input/output configurations available. At the entry-level, there are many affordable audio interfaces that provide two channels of input, usually for a microphone and instrument. However, high-end products can have dozens of inputs for recording many instruments and microphones at once.

If you plan on recording yourself playing and singing, you may only need two inputs. But if you have a whole band to record at the same time, it’s probably a good idea to look into extra inputs of various types to cover all bases.

Another consideration when choosing your interface, is whether you plan on plugging your instrument directly into the input, or do you plan on using your own amplifier and pedals? If you require it for the latter, you will want to use the line in function of your audio interface. If you decide to record directly from your instrument, you will still have the opportunity to change the sound in the DAW to add effects later.

Finally, when choosing an audio interface, you need to know what kind of input your computer can accept and what type of output the device is using. Common options include USB, Thunderbolt, Firewire, and PCIe. Each of these connection types has its own advantages and disadvantages, but your computer is likely already set up to handle one or two. PCIe is a card-based standard that is not available on laptops, whereas USB is universal. If you do not have the proper connection, you may need to purchase an adapter to make your audio interface work with your computer, laptop, or tablet.

 

An Audio Interface is ideal for home recording

How Do I Compare Audio Interfaces?

After you have decided what kind of inputs and outputs you want, the next step in choosing an audio interface is comparing the other features available. For instance, an audio interface with a 48V button is made for handling condenser microphones. Microphone pre-amps are also an important feature if you will be recording vocals or instruments from microphones that do not produce a strong enough signal on their own for recording.

In addition, you should check whether the interface is balanced or unbalanced. An unbalanced interface may save you money upfront, but it can also cause ground loop problems and interference if you aren’t careful. It is often better to spend the extra money on a balanced option so you don’t have to worry about this while you’re learning.

The ‘sample rate’ is another key feature to compare. A higher sample rate means that your interface is taking more snapshots of the signal you produce, and sending more information to your computer. This ensures that the recording you make is accurate and of high quality. A lower sample rate may cause your recordings to sound less “full”.

Finally, you will want to look at ‘latency’ and whether the interface has a direct monitoring function. Latency refers to the delay between the note being played, and the time it takes in getting back to your headphones or monitors. If the latency is too long, it can become difficult to stay in time with your recording. The Direct Monitoring feature allows you to bypass the computer, and hear yourself in real-time while you are recording, ensuring you stay in perfect time. This is especially useful for recording vocals.

How Much Does An Audio Interface For PC Cost?

As mentioned above, audio interfaces come in a wide range of configurations and sizes, which means that their price can vary widely. Fortunately, a small two-channel interface with a basic USB connection usually starts around $100 and can go up to around $400. As you increase the number of inputs and the quality of the outputs, you can spend several thousand dollars in added features, but that is not necessary to get started with your first recordings.

How Do I Start Recording With My Audio Interface?

Once you have an audio interface, the recording process is fairly simple. First, you need to connect your audio interface to your computer and open your DAW software to confirm that the computer is receiving sound. Connect your instruments and play a test track to make sure everything is working properly.

When you’re ready to start tracking a song, simply create a new track in your DAW and start the recording. Play the song as well as you can the first time through. When you’re done, listen to it and see if there are any problem areas that need to be fixed or played over. If so, you can re-record the same instrument multiple times and splice the tracks together to create the best version of the song. When you’re done with your instrument, you can add your vocals or other instruments in new tracks. Use the same process by playing back what you already recorded, easy!

As you get more comfortable with this process, you can adjust the gain and other features on your audio interface to create a more personalized sound in your recordings. You can also employ effects like delay and reverb to give your music a more finished sound.

Here’s a really helpful video on how to use an audio interface:



Summary

As you can see, an audio interface is an important component for any budding musician who hopes to record from home. Audio interfaces come in many sizes and styles, but there is a wealth of entry-level options that will allow you to get started recording right away with just a USB cable and the instruments you already have. You should now have all the information you need to shop for an audio interface to suit your recording needs.

 

Acoustic Vs Electric Guitar: A Complete Beginners Guide

Acoustic V Electric Guitar

As you set out on your journey of learning to play guitar, you will be faced with dozens of decisions, but perhaps the first decision you’ll have to make is what kind of guitar you want to buy. 

On the one hand, you’ve probably seen the glamorous and glitzy electric guitars played by rockstars the world over. On the other hand, you can’t miss the subtle beauty of a dreadnought style acoustic with its delicate Mother of Pearl inlays. So, how do you decide between acoustic vs electric when standing inside your local music shop?

Acoustic vs Electric Guitar: A Beginners Guide

Ed Sheeran or Eddie Van Halen?

Before we discuss the differences between acoustic and electric guitars, I feel that it is first important to think about your personal goals and musical interests. For instance, if you prefer classical guitar or country music, it is natural to gravitate towards an acoustic instrument. Younger people tend to prefer electric guitars for their flashy appeal and the wide range of sounds they can produce. We need to try and find the best beginner guitar for you and your situation.

There is no right or wrong answer when selecting a beginner guitar, and thousands of talented guitarists have found their way on each side. Just keep in mind that if you’re looking to play grunge rock, an acoustic guitar probably makes little sense for you, and vice versa.

We have a complete guide to finding ‘The Best Kids Guitar’ if you require any further help.

Body Types

The first thing you’ll notice about electric guitar vs acoustic is that they have very different body types. Most notably, acoustic guitars are known for their large bodies and natural wood finishes, while electric guitars feature slim bodies, usually with interesting cutaways that may or may not serve a purpose for playability. So you can see the parts of the guitar are very different in every way.

I always recommend that you go try out a wide range of different body styles to see what feels natural to you, but don’t despair if nothing feels quite right just yet. It does take a while to get your posture perfected, and you will probably feel like some body styles are just too bulky for you. That is totally normal! However, if you are really struggling to find a good fit, you should know that guitars come in many shapes and sizes.

A Quick Note on Guitar Sizing

Guitar shops are mostly filled to the brim with full-size guitars, but that is not the only option available. There are half-scale and 3/4-scale guitars as well. These guitars have been scaled down to fit younger learners while maintaining the proper proportions so you can move into a full-scale guitar with proper techniques already established.

The Difference In Sound

Electric

Aside from the distinct looks of an acoustic and electric guitar, they also differ in the way they produce sound. An electric guitar uses magnetic pickups mounted on the body beneath the strings to pick up the sound of the vibrating strings and send it to the amplifier. In this case, the amplifier is actually responsible for producing the bulk of the sound that you hear.

Acoustic

By contrast, an acoustic guitar is designed to produce a sound all on its own using the vibrations captured through the soundhole beneath the strings. Here, it is the construction of the acoustic guitar’s hollow body that is responsible for producing the sound you hear.

Now, you may wonder how an acoustic guitar could produce enough sound to fill an entire concert venue if it doesn’t use an amplifier? Fear not! Professional acoustic guitar players rely on tiny electric amplifiers built into the hollow body of their guitars. These pickups offer large-scale benefits of amplification without damaging the warm, natural tone that comes from playing acoustically.

For beginners, spending the extra money on an acoustic guitar with a built-in pickup is not strictly necessary, but you can find some affordable options that will give you more flexibility in your playing later on.

Strings

This is a good time to discuss the differences in strings when playing electric or acoustic guitar. Because an electric guitar uses an amplifier to produce a robust sound, it does not require very large strings.

Notes on a guitar are produced by pressing down on the strings at different intervals, changing the length of the string and the sound it produces. So, it stands to reason that the lighter weight strings in electric guitars are easier to press than their acoustic counterparts.

If you find that you are struggling to press the strings down to produce clear sound, or if you have small hands, an electric guitar is a great place to start.

With an acoustic, you need much thicker strings to produce a strong enough sound for the body to pick up. As a result, many young players struggle with acoustic guitars until they build up hand strength.

What Are Best Acoustic Guitar Strings For Beginners? Click here for our guide.

Playing Technique

Finding the right fit is the most important part of selecting the right type of guitar for you. The right fit has a lot to do with your comfort and strength. Yet there are also some differences in playing style. So far, I have focused on how your fretting hand is affected by the guitar you choose, but now we will look at your strumming hand.

Strumming Differences

The arm you strum the strings with rests on the “shoulder” or “body” of the guitar, and your strumming hand sits over the strings. This will probably feel uncomfortable as you adjust to the edges of the guitar pressing against you. You will become comfortable with practice.

With an electric guitar, the slimmer body style makes it easier to drop your arm over the strings. On an acoustic guitar, you have to prop your arm up at about shoulder height and rest it on the body. From there, you will have to strum across the strings to produce sound.

With an electric guitar, you don’t have to strum too hard because you can artificially change the volume with the help of your amplifier. On an acoustic guitar, the volume of the sound you produce is entirely dependent on how hard you strum. For those with short arms or little strength, producing a strong enough sound with an acoustic guitar can be challenging at first.

Don’t Get Distracted

Electric guitars provide many opportunities to get distracted from the music by adding effects, adjusting your amplifier, and dialing in your instrument. By contrast, the bare-bones nature of the acoustic makes it great for focusing all of your energies on playing technique and perfecting the music itself.

If you feel that you can learn proper playing techniques well on an electric, and you are committed to getting them right, that’s totally up to you. On the other hand, if you really want to be sure you build technique, and hand strength, an acoustic guitar might be just what you need to keep your practice time distraction-free.

Cost

A final consideration you might want to make is the cost. Both acoustic and electric guitars range from a few hundred dollars up to nearly ten thousand dollars. For a first-time guitar player, you can expect to spend at least a few hundred dollars to get started, although you might find second-hand guitars cheaper.

However, there may be one downside of starting with an electric guitar. You have to buy the instrument, the amplifier, and the cables to connect it. Fortunately, there are a few companies like Squier, that offer beginner packages that include a super starter pack that includes everything you need. This is usually a pretty good bargain for any new player and can save you a lot of headaches trying to build a complete setup. In general, you can find a starter kit for around $200, which is comparable to a low-end acoustic guitar.

On the other hand, if you choose to go with an acoustic, all you really need is the guitar itself. Obviously, you do need to purchase a decent tuner with both acoustic and electric guitars. But you may choose to buy a strap as well, which will help you hold the guitar up even when you are sitting, but it is not required.

The Verdict: Acoustic Vs Electric Guitar

The question I hear a lot is “should I start with an acoustic or electric guitar?”

Is electric guitar easier than acoustic to learn? No, they’re completely different animals. Two different instruments. Neither is ‘easier’ to learn than the other. It’s all about personal preference. Hopefully, we’ve helped you more with your decision

For most people and playing styles, the electric guitar is a great beginner option. It is versatile and easy to learn while you’re building hand strength, and more comfortable for new players. In addition, with the starter packs available today, you can find a complete electric guitar setup at a very affordable price. You can even begin to learn the ins and outs of modifying your guitar sound early on.

If you do prefer a more classical sound, you are always free to start on an acoustic instrument instead. You may find that there is a variety of sizes available. If you go this route, be sure to consider changing to lighter strings. New guitars generally come with a poor standard of strings attached. So, give yourself the best chance to succeed when you start and buy some decent strings. Here are some to get you started: ‘Best Acoustic Guitar Strings For Beginners

Here’s some valuble tips from the National Guitar Academy if you need further advice.

Let your journey begin!

17 Famous Guitar Riffs You Need To Hear

Famous Riffs Header

Sometimes the riff in a song has more effect on the listener than the song itself. Nothing feels better than hearing big fat chunky famous guitar riffs. Or a riff that takes you to a golden memory. Without guitar riffs, the world would be a pretty boring place. Imagine no air guitar! 

To qualify for our 17 Famous Guitar Riffs it’s pretty simple. The melody has to be memorable and make us tap our foot.

It’s almost impossible to write one article on the best riffs of all time (i could create a whole website on it) so let’s look into some of the most recognized and enjoyable to listen to. Being a guitarist of 25 years myself, I’d like to share with you some of the most enjoyable riffs I’ve learned and played along with. Maybe you could share yours?

Let’s get influenced and learn some new riffs. I’ve left out the complete obvious riffs as I’d like to branch out a bit further. But only a little!

What Do We Like In A Classic Guitar Riff?

Firstly, it has to be memorable. Sometimes without even realizing it, we’re subconsciously taking the riff in. We’ll be walking around later humming it to ourselves. That’s where the genius of the guitarist has got you. The hook is what musicians call it.

Classic guitar riffs are a piece of music that is instantly recognizable or enjoyable to listen to. Some riffs are so powerful they can define a generation. Let’s dig a little deeper. A riff doesn’t need to be a sequence of single notes and a melody, it can also be a group of chords. You know Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ right? That’s a riff too. 

It’s scientifically proven that there are major benefits to playing guitar that affect your whole wellbeing. Yes, it’s true, check out the proof ‘The Fascinating Benefits Of Playing Guitar’.

There’s also a very important quality when playing riffs. You gotta look like a god playing them! Look at Jimmy Page, Slash, Hendrix, Chuck Berry, Brian May, Lenny Kravitz, Angus Young, and Marty McFly! Swagger, you can’t be taught that. Let’s plug you into some of the best guitarists doing what they do best. Banging out riffs.

Foot Tapping Rating

I’ve rated the riffs on my foot tapping scale from 1-10. They are in no particular order, just 17 riffs that make you wanna tap your foot or crowd surf through your lounge.

I’ve Separated our Greatest Guitar Riffs into three sections:

  • Acoustic
  • Soft Rock
  • Rock/Hard Rock

That’s enough talk, let’s get into some bangers:

Famous Guitar Riffs: Acoustic

Tears in Heaven-Eric Clapton

Foot Tapping Score: 5/10 

Everybody knows this hook. It’s a very sentimental song for Eric Clapton. The intro riff is so very memorable and the brilliant guitar playing continues throughout the song on his classical guitar. Definitely worth a watch.



Heart Shaped Box-Nirvana

Foot Tapping Score: 5/10

Nirvana could have made it onto all three of my riff criteria. This version of ‘Heart-Shaped Box’ is played on acoustic, unlike the original. Kurt picks through the chords and comes up with a very simple but memorable melody. This is a version that you need to hear. Ladies and Gentleman, the super talented Kurt Cobain.



Use Me-Bill Withers

Foot Tapping Score: 8/10

Trust me, you need this riff in your life.

I’m not sure there is a better groove in music. Although not a guitar riff, the groove and melody on the keys are truly undisputed. What a super talent Bill Withers was. One of my very favorite musicians. Within 5 secs I’ll have you tapping your foot, guaranteed. 

Press play and be enlightened



Shape Of My Heart-Sting

Foot Tapping Score: 4/10 

It’s been covered so many times, but there’s a reason for that, it’s an incredible song with a memorable hook in the intro. This is easily the most beautiful riff on the list. This version is a must-watch. Just Sting and his guitarist. Low foot-tapping score but the most peaceful song on our list. 



Solsbury Hill-Peter Gabriel

Foot Tapping Score: 7/10

What a great riff in the intro, the acoustic continues throughout the song in the same vein. Brilliant 12 string guitar playing by Steve Hunter (on the original record). It was difficult to find a good video of the acoustic, so this clip is perfect to show you how good the guitar playing is on this riff. Enjoy



*Its time to turn up!

Famous Guitar Riffs: Soft Rock

Paperback Writer-The Beatles

Foot Tapping Score: 8/10

In classic Beatles fashion, the fab four begin with tight 3-way harmonies, then burst into this meaty riff. Great tune from the best band ever. 



Crossroads-Eric Clapton

Foot Tapping Score: 7/10

Eric’s got more than a few riffs tucked up his sleeve. I just love the guitar playing on the intro to crossroads. It’s also a good listen for bass players as Jack Bruce is all over the fretboard.



La Grange-ZZ Top

Foot Tapping Score: 8/10

Is there a cooler riff out there? This is the essence of chill. Old School blues riff in A but when the band comes in its high on the foot-tapping richter scale. Texas Finest, these boys are still gigging. Heroes! I just love Billy Gibbons’s voice. 

You’ll need a shower after listening to this. The riff is so dirty:



Crosstown Traffic-Jimi Hendrix

Foot Tapping Score: 8/10

Nearly didn’t make it onto Electric Ladyland! Can you imagine if we’d of never been able to feast our ears on this riff from Jimi? Great tune, guitars doubling up on the intro riff. Did you know Jimi sang the “do do do do do dooo do’ through a comb with cellophane wrapped around it?

The unmistakable Rock God Jimi Hendrix. We’ve got a lot to thank him for.

Money For Nothing-Dire Straits

Foot Tapping Score: 7/10

Probably the hardest one to play (properly) on our list. A mixture of several fingers picking at different times and clever use of pinched harmonics make this riff so memorable and showcases Knopfler’s brilliant ability on the guitar. Truly one of the best guitarists ever. Not many people haven’t heard this beaut. He has a few more but this is probably Knopfler’s strongest riff.



Message In A Bottle-The Police

Foot Tapping Score: 8/10

It helps to have a brilliant drummer when you’re writing riffs in a band. One of the best live 3-piece bands ever. Superbly written, unorthodox riff by Sting. You gotta have long fingers to play this one. Here’s a live version I love. Stuart Copeland is the man on this footage!



HEALTH WARNING: Earplugs may be required for the following videos:

Famous Guitar Riffs: Rock/Hard Rock

Freedom-Rage Against The Machine

Foot Tapping Score: 8/10

Now, this is a riff! Start as you mean to go on. These guys were legendary in the riff department. Literally, one after another, sometimes five or six in one song! What a band, lifting roofs off venues since 1991. This may not be your cup of tea but RATM was the Daddy when it came to the guitar riff. Check out minute 2:34 & 3:40 for more beasty riffs! You get your money’s worth with RATM.

Here’s one beast ive chosen from many:



Beat It-Michael Jackson

Foot Tapping Score: 9/10

The Late great Eddie Van Halen played ‘that’ iconic solo for MJ’s monster hit, Beat it. This Riff is a monster in terms of popularity. Such good fun to play, it’s memorable, chunky and you’ve got the best vocalist ever singing over it. One of the best guitar riffs of all time. Amazing tune and well worthy of a mention. 



Stone Cold Crazy-Queen

Foot Tapping Score: 9/10

In my opinion, the best live band ever. What a belter from Brian. A super-fast riff and certainly no walk in the park to learn. These guys were as tight as a skin on a grape. Possibly the best frontman ever in Freddie Mercury. The man is English royalty. Here’s some powerful Queen footage back in the early days: 



Thunderstruck-AC/DC

Foot Tapping Score: 10/10

You didn’t expect a famous guitar riff article without Angus, did you? Any live footage of Angus is worth watching. The masters of the power chord, AC/DC had riff after riff. I decided on Thunderstruck but I could choose from 75+ riffs. It almost sounds like its played on a violin. If we ever needed a (National) Anthem for planet Earth, here it is. Angus, we salute YOU.



Foo Fighters-All My Life

Foot Tapping Score: 9/10

The more simple it is, the more it resonates with your audience. Dave Grohl starts off chugging on one note but when the band comes in, it’s HUGE. RIP eardrums. I actually prefer the muted riff on the verse but there’s some pretty powerful music here. 100mph band and soooo good live. Foo Fighters have many meaty riffs and are truly worthy of Rock Gods. I mean, Grohl’s been in not one. but two of the biggest bands ever. That’s just greedy.



Kashmir-Led Zeppelin

Foot Tapping Score: 9/10

By far the best band to play riffs along with (if you can!) About 150 riffs to choose from. Nobody can construct a riff like the master Jimmy Page. Undoubtedly one of the best guitarists of all time. Helped along by a brilliant drummer and bassist. They really are the creator of The Guitar Riff. Difficult to find footage suitable enough for this clip as its very old. That shouldn’t take away the fact Zepp was one of the biggest bands in the world. Rightly so. Special mention to Bonzo on drums, without him Zep’s riffs just wouldn’t be as meaty. Riffmiesters Supreme!



Eye Of The Tiger- Survivor

Foot Tapping Score: 10/10

Come on, you know you love it. Who doesn’t bang their head to this brute of a riff? I know it’s cheesy but I love it. Survivor created a riff so good, it’s used in many situations where energy, positivity, and guts are required. Would the Rocky films be as successful without Survivor doing the soundtracks? The 1980s is a gold mine for rock bands and riffs. Great band. There are some really nice mullets in the video. Enjoy



Winner

Lenny Kravitz-Are You Gonna Go My Way

Foot Tapping Score: 11/10 (Amps go up to 11 so why can’t my scoring system?)

From the very first note, you’re tapping your foot, I love this simplistic riff. Shades of Hendrix’s Voodoo Child, which makes me like it even more. 

I used to play this in a band. It was so much fun to play, for all the musicians. The doubled-up riff in the intro is right up there with the best riffs ever. Again, you all know it. Fast-paced, heart-thumping rock guitars and harmony riff. It has all the ingredients of a true rock riff (it helps to look as cool as Lenny too). 

Just a side note, Craig Ross’s guitar solo in this also got voted one of the best in history. Wow, what a tune. Go On Lenny! 

Here’s an awesome live version, it’s worth watching just to see Lenny’s jacket and shiny gold Flying V.  



That’s it, go give your ringing ears a rest! 

I apologize for missing out on so many artists, guitarists, and riffs. As I said, I could build a complete website around famous guitar riffs. These were the riffs that get me going. 

I’d love to hear your thoughts on other riffs and musicians. Feel free to add yours. That’s the beauty of music. Opinion. 

If you’re still hungry for more, here’s a great selection of rolling stone top 100 guitarists and 100 more riffs here at 100 Greatest Rock Guitar Riffs

Our friends over at Listening Through The Lens do a great ‘Top 100 Most Essential Folk Songs’. Go check it out 

 

 

 

The Fascinating Benefits of Playing Guitar

Fascinating Benefits Playing Guitar

 

It may seem like a mountain to climb when wanting to learn the guitar. Maybe it’s a daunting task, or you just can’t spare the time. Well, I’d like to show you the fascinating benefits of playing, and how to get yourself started. It’s a skill that can give you a lifetime of enjoyment.

I’ve been playing for around 25 years and I couldn’t imagine not having it in my life. I’d like to share these benefits of playing guitar with you, as you’ll see, some of them are truly amazing.

The Benefits Of Playing Guitar On The Brain

Cognitive

Scientific studies confirm guitarists have unique brain functions compared to nonplayers. Other musicians learn their instruments through sheet music. Guitar players can learn by listening and exploring their fretboard to find the notes or chords.

Extraordinarily so, guitarists can synchronize using the brain’s neural network. Without consciously knowing, they can predict what is to come before and after a set of chords. The more you jam with another guitarist, the stronger the chemistry becomes.

The Brain is made up of millions of nerves called Neurons. Neurons fire off signals whilst you’re performing ordinary duties. Almost all areas of the brain are functioning when you play guitar. Guitar playing causes The Corpus Callosum to link the rational left side of the brain, to the creative right. That’s pretty special.

Experienced guitarists can switch off the conscious part of the brain, triggering the unconscious. Over time you can learn to be less conscious of what you are doing and allow the art of playing guitar to emerge.

Creative Brain

Picking up a guitar and learning is a great way to add some creativity to your life. Develop your knowledge, write, arrange, bang out your own Jimmy Page style riff. The magic of writing your own material is unique and rewarding to the soul.

It’s so easy to send your music out to the world via social media. It’s nice to receive positive comments from family, friends, or a fan from the other side of the world. You have a creative brain, maybe you don’t know it yet. Grab a guitar, unlock this gift, and let it flow. You’ll be surprised by what you’re capable of.

I’ve always enjoyed learning from my favorite guitarists. That’s all I really wanted to do from the start. To feel like I was in the shoes of Jimi Hendrix, to observe, copy, and understand how Jimi created his art, is incredible. If you can get close to learning some of your own hero’s material. It’s so rewarding and addictive.

No Excuses, Re-String Your Brain

Seattle-based musician was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2002. His muscles developed weaknesses resulting in coordination problems. This made playing the guitar extremely difficult. By using the brain’s neuroplasticity, he relearned how to play chords and scales on the guitar.

The adult brain is capable of forming new cells. The undamaged neurons in the brain can sprout new nerve endings, rewiring the links to other cells.

Prolong Mental Degeneration

High activity musicians who play for 10 years or more, keep their brains sharp. All aspects of playing guitar help toward avoiding diseases like Alzheimer’s and Dementia.

The National Centre of Biotechnology tested 70 Seniors from the ages of 60 to 83. The tests were to clarify if playing guitar can slow down mental degeneration. The results revealed, those with 10 years of musical experience, had a far superior nonverbal memory, than those who had no experience whatsoever. This delayed the mental decline, preserving cognitive functioning in advanced age.

Health Benefits

We all have moments in our daily life when we’re feeling stressed, anxious, or in pain. When the body and mind senses a threat, cells in our body produce chemicals in response. Playing guitar can create an adverse counteraction to aid this emotion. Music literally has the power to make you feel better. So, next time your parents scream at you for playing AC/DC too loud, tell them it’s part of your therapy!

Meditation

Playing Guitar is a powerful form of Meditation for sure. It’s an escape. Whilst you’re strumming through those new chords, all other thoughts fade away.

It takes patience, peace, discipline, and practice to learn an instrument. To say guitar playing is therapeutic is an understatement.

The sound you create is entirely in response to what your brain is telling your fingers to do. Which is far superior to listening to music.

Emotional Benefits

Being able to express yourself via the guitar is a major plus. This adds such a positive vibe to your emotional health and well being.

Performing Emotion

I’ve been lucky enough to have played in clubs and bars quite a lot over the last 20 years. The emotional rush I get out of performing with a great band is nothing short of euphoria. Ask any musician about their feelings whilst playing live. It’s something very very special.

Social Benefits

Connecting with like-minded musicians is essential. You can learn so much from watching somebody else play. I would advise you to collaborate and learn with other guitarists. The social bonds through guitar can create camaraderie and most importantly, friendship forever. It doesn’t matter how good you are, you’ll always need people around you to create a strong social network.

Children’s Development Through Guitar

Children are constantly developing, they’re like a sponge, soaking up every experience. Children benefit the most from learning an instrument. These advantages include:

  • Enhanced concentration
  • Long term memory
  • Comprehension skill
  • Increased performance in other academic topics.

Measuring time signatures is Math. Whether it’s 4/4, 3/4, or 6/8, your child’s reasoning and mathematical understanding will improve.

Here’s a clip of Nandi Bushell, aged 10. She’s taking the UK by storm and has been on various TV shows and recently jammed with Lenny Kravitz. Nandi’s primarily a drummer (although she plays guitar too now). I was so inspired by this that I had to share it. Trust me when I say this is worth 1 min 10 seconds of your time. Just watch the power surging through her. This is a perfect example of what children can achieve at such a young age through music.

Learning A New Skill Is Easy Right?

You’ll Only Stick with Habits if you Enjoy it!. State the obvious!, but wait, Andrew Ferebee, Founder of Knowledge For Men explains:

There is a helpful process of creating habits, and sticking to them. They are;

The Cue:

The Cue or Trigger is the stage when you take some kind of action,’ I’m going to look for a guitar tutor’

The Action

This is the part where you book that guitar lesson or buy that acoustic I saw in the shop window.

The Reward

This is the section of the habit loop where the brain is rewarded for taking the desired activity.
These tips sound easy, yet a lot of people don’t complete The Action and fail.

Get yourself to the reward stage. You’re more likely to succeed in creating a New Habit if you try my essential tips.

Essential Tips

Don’t Give Yourself An Unrealistic Goal

Start with a goal that’s so small, you cannot fail. An example could be: Sit in the correct position with the guitar, hold your pick, and strum all the strings within 2 days. Get a feel for it.

Break Your Task Down. Keep The Tasks EASY

If your goal is to learn the E minor shape, start with memorizing where your fingers need to go. What fingers are you going to use?

Arrange A Schedule

Get yourself a calendar and write down your schedule. This is a visual reminder that’ll help, especially if you hang it up in the kitchen, or somewhere you’ll see it often.

Create Your Environment

The more energy it takes you to turn the TV off, walk into another room, get the guitar out, tune it, find a pick, the less likely you are to do it. Keep your guitar on a stand next to the TV or in a place you can see it. Guitars are a beautiful addition to anyone’s home.

Fascinating Benefits of Playing Guitar Feature

Slipping – ‘Never Skip Twice’

You will miss a session. Sometimes you’ll make a mess of the task and get frustrated. That’s completely normal, but the golden rule is, never miss two lessons in a row. If you have to cancel a session with your guitar tutor or you don’t feel like sitting down to practice, only do it once!

Emotional Investment And Reward Over Willpower.

It’s true. It doesn’t matter how much willpower you put in, if you don’t emotionally reward yourself, you will get bored. Now, having willpower is still important to everything we do, but not as the end goal. If you treat music as a physical or mental exercise, it’ll become soulless and boring. Having skill on the guitar is an advantage in life, but if you’re not making a connection with yourself, it’s useless. Learning guitar is a journey, not a destination.

What’s The Rush?

Be patient. Daily improvement will start to show, and you’ll never look back. Slow and steady, that’s the key. Once you’ve eventually ripped out that Slash solo note for note, you’ll be glad you didn’t quit so easy.

Pass It On

Are you already a part of the guitar family? Influence/inspire someone else to begin. Get your friend or son/daughter to learn with you. If you know somebody who is starting off, you can blow their mind by passing your knowledge on. You now know the full benefits of playing guitar.

 

Summary

No hobby can give you so much enjoyment and such powerful implications for the brain’s development. Science has proven guitarists have that something special. With so many reasons to play guitar, it’s time to start your adventure. It doesn’t matter what standard of player you become. It doesn’t matter what age, religion, or culture you’re from. It’s an art form, so create your own by using a guitar.

Best Kids Guitar 2021: Complete Guide To Finding The Right Guitar

Best Kids Guitar Header

This is my review of the Best Kids Guitar 2021

It’s not an easy task trying to get your kid into playing guitar when they have so much more going on in their lives.

We at AuthorityGuitar have extensively reviewed the children’s guitar market and narrowed it down to assist you.

We give you a much clearer idea of the route to take before buying the best kids guitar. We also have valuable information on what size guitar will fit your little rock star. 

Receiving a guitar as a gift is truly a life-changing experience. Learning to play guitar has an incredible effect on a child’s health and wellbeing. We’ve even written an article about it: ‘The Fascinating Benefits Of Playing Guitar’

What Is The Best Guitar For A Child?

Enthusiasm Is Key

There is no direct answer to this question. The ‘best guitar’ for your child is the guitar that keeps them enthusiastic and coming back for more. That being said, that’s why you’re here, and we’re going to help you through any queries you may have.

It has to be a fun learning process, It’s as simple as that. Children already have enough going on in their heads in today’s busy world.

We’ve also got to battle against the instant gratification of the Xbox.

I am a parent and a musician in this very position. A guitar for kids could be the escape they’re looking for. It was for me.

Age And Size

The size of the guitar is obviously very important. We also need to consider the child’s age. There are different size guitars to suit various ages of children. We have written out a clear, simple chart for you to follow below.

Young hands are much more sensitive to pain, so we have to look at lighter gauge strings. Fret sizes also vary, overstretching can also be difficult and painful for small hands. Finding a suitable guitar would firstly be based on your child’s overall size. 

Follow Their Lead

A child needs to be kept inspired. So buying a guitar that suits their musical interest would be the best option. For instance, if they like pop music, go for the little strat type guitar and Nile Rodgers type tone, or if they love rock music, get some gain behind their sound.

If your child loves the fingerpicking or mellow strumming sounds, then go for an acoustic guitar for kids. You may end up with the next Ed Sheeran.

Adapt the instrument and the tone around the child’s initial interest. This can all change later, but that’s ok. It’s very important to embrace that initial interest. 

Quick Glance: The 8 Best Kids Guitars

 

 

Electric Or Acoustic?

Consider These Two Factors

1. An acoustic is ideal for a child who has no real idea of what musical influence to follow. An acoustic guitar is portable and can be ideal for school lessons, carrying back and forth, and is considerably much lighter than an electric.

It’s like a blank slate, you can learn without the tweaking of the knobs, messy distortion, or understanding what an acceptable volume is.

No cables, no strap, no amp, no picks necessary! An acoustic can be played with nothing but the guitar and your fingers. Can also be good for the longevity of Mum and Dad’s eardrums. 

2. My daughter is 6 years old, she simply enjoys plugging into my amp with me and making noises. She has a mini electric guitar (it’s bright pink). For me, this is great, she has that initial interest. Although she’s not interested in learning anything yet (because it takes longer than 15 seconds). But for me, this is very exciting, she has a curiosity. This could be molded into something later in her life.

She also has a Ukulele but is not interested in it because I don’t play one. She wants to make noises like her Dad. In this scenario, I probably wouldn’t buy her an acoustic guitar.

The whole reason I wanted to start playing guitar all those years ago, I heard those dive-bombing noises of Jimi Hendrix. That was all I wanted to do. That was my ‘initial interest’. It’s really up to you as a parent to judge between acoustic or electric.

So my example was to get you thinking of your child’s route into the guitar. Follow the interest of your child. Keep it fun. Nurture the interest. You’ll stand a much better chance of success. 

To the people who say you should learn on a classical guitar first, I can’t disagree to an extent. A classical guitar has a clear tone and has soft nylon strings. But in my opinion, you should follow your child’s personal interests first (and, classical guitars aren’t easy to play by no stretch of the imagination).

What Size Guitar Should I Buy?

Comfort is King!

There are quite a few variants in guitar sizes, but in general, we can narrow it down into the most commonly used.

Here’s a rough guide to follow: 

Age HeightGuitar SizeTotal Guitar Length
4-61.04 to 1.14 m1/430′
6-91.14 to 1.30 m1/234′
9-121.30 to 1.42 m3/436′
10-121.44 to 1.60 m7/838′
12+1.60+ mFull41′

Best Kids Guitar Review

 

Loog Mini Acoustic Guitar for Children and Beginners

  • Pros: Very Light In Weight, Nylon Strings, Nice Flashcards Pics With Chord Diagrams, Beautiful Range Of Colours, Comes With App Lesson Too
  • Cons: The Sound Isn’t As Nice As A Ukulele

At 22 inches in length, the Loog Mini gives a child of 3+ a chance to get into playing. Strings are made from Nylon, so it’s very soft on little fingertips. There are three strings tuned G-B-E (like a standard guitar). The body is made from real wood (Linden wood). 422gs in weight, so very very light for a toddler to carry around the house.

Personally, I’m so pleased there is a product out there for children to learn at such a young age. This is not a toy, the strings need to be tuned and kept as a normal instrument. It’s very sturdy so can take a toddler battering. The Loog Mini would make a perfect gift and is a lovely introduction into music. Well done Loog, 5-star product.

>Check Price On Amazon<

Yamaha Acoustic Guitalele, GL1 – A hybrid between guitar and ukulele

  • Pros: Reputable Acoustic Brand, Comes With Gig Bag, Lacquer Finish, Amazing Tone, Easy To Press Strings
  • Cons: It’s Very Small

As I was reviewing so many guitars, I didn’t realize there is a hybrid kids’ guitar. Yamaha are the leaders in children’s guitars, they are a well-respected manufacturer. Built using Yamaha’s specifications.

This model, the GL1 is 70cm/27.5′. This is bigger than a Ukulele but smaller than a 1/4 size guitar. Again, this would suit a very young child around 4-6. It’s a real instrument, not a toy. Yamaha has crafted a beautiful instrument which sounds fantastic considering its overall size. As the guitar is finished in lacquer, it’s durable and will handle the dings and bangs better than its competitors. Nylon strings for soft little fingers, tuning is (A/D/G/C/E/A). Check out the four classy colors too (black, natural, persimmon brown, and tobacco sunburst brown)

>>Check Price At Amazon<<

3rd Avenue Junior Electric Guitar Pack – Red

 
  • Pros: Inexpensive, Great Starter Pack, Durable As Hell, Great 1st Electric Guitar,
  • Cons: Tuning Pegs May Slip If Not Tightened

The 3rd Avenue Junior guitar collection supplies you with a 30inch guitar (1/4 size), an amplifier with cable, strap, picks, and a gig bag. This is a nice starter pack at a very good price.

My daughter has one of these guitars and they’re fine for messing around on keeping them interested. Comes with a reasonably good pickup that can be plugged into any amp situation. Extremely durable but need a bit of setting up, to begin with. High gloss red or black finish and made from Linden wood. Tuning pegs are ok but you’ll probably need to tighten them yourself (with a Philips screwdriver).

The Amp is very small, it’s literally just a box that makes a noise (runs off a 9v batt). Don’t expect Dave Gilmour’s tone here. Steel strings so would suit a child 5+, even though the strings are gauge 9. Which is super soft, just not nylon soft.

Not a pro guitar by any means but for the price and extras, this is definitely my favorite pick at the lower end of the budget.

>>Check Price At Amazon<<

Fender Squier Mini Strat Guitar, Torino Red

 
  • Pros: World Class Manufacturer, Three Single Coil Pickups, Value For Money, Built To Last
  • Cons: None

The world-famous Stratocaster shape. Squire has the rights to use the classic specifications of the Fender Strat. So you’re already onto a winner when it comes to build quality.

A maple neck, polyurethane glossy finish (basically means it’s a really tough bodied guitar). Rosewood fretboard and 6 steel strings in standard tuning E-A-D-G-B-E. At 4kgs in weight, it’s the heaviest guitar so far. As it’s a 3/4 size guitar, it would suit the older player from 9-12. Comes in Torino Red, Black, or Pink.

If the child would like to take the guitar seriously, then this Fender kids guitar is hands down your best choice.

>>Check Price At Amazon<<

>Check Price At Sam Ash Music<<

 

Yamaha CS40II Classical Guitar for Kids, 3/4 Size – Traditional Western Body – Natural

   
  • Pros: Big Player In The Classical World, Made WIth Distinction and Quality, Warm Soft Tones, Easy To Play, Very Light, Low Price
  • Cons: Fragile

A beautiful state-of-the-art warm, balanced sound with an even and clear response. It’s recommended by teachers that beginners learn on a classical guitar. Well, this is easily my favorite.

A 3/4 size rosewood back and bodied guitar. 1.3kg in weight means it’s very light and a perfect size for children of 7-12 years old. Ideal entry-level guitar and still good enough to showcase live.

This is Yamaha’s least expensive guitar in a very popular range. With real quality craftsmanship, it’s built with the highest caliber. It’s perfectly designed for the child/beginner or adult due to its size, ease of play, and its character Yamaha tone. Soft and warm, creating a chilled atmosphere. All this for such a low price

This could be what you’ve been looking for. Try the Yamaha CS40II, you won’t be disappointed.

>>Check Price At Amazon<<

Yamaha GuitarGo – Starter Set, 

 
  • Pros: Top Seller, Essential Extras For Beginners, Best Budget Acoustic, Top Brand,
  • Cons: A Little Dull Sounding

The first full-size acoustic guitar in this review. I really like this F310 Yamaha guitar. We’ve had one in the family and it lasted years.

The guitar can be purchased alone, but I was so impressed with the extras, and the low cost of the upgrade. As we’re covering kids/beginners starter guitars, this little starter pack is essential. The pack includes a voucher for a month of the practicing app JamFactory as well as a voucher for a guitar lesson at the Yamaha Music School, which is available online Items, gig bag, strings, picks, tuner, guitar strap, and guitar stand, plus 2 vouchers. This isn’t to say the guitar is awful, it’s the complete opposite.

The Yamaha F310 has a well-balanced tone, warm and responsive. I’ve played far more expensive guitars that don’t come close to this. The fretboard and neck are surprisingly light, slim, and easy to learn on. Made from a combination of good quality eco woods, you can’t go far wrong with this deal to get you going. This is the top-selling budget acoustic in the UK. Thumbs up to Yahama, again.

>>Check Price At Amazon<<

Martin LX1E Electro Acoustic, Natural

  • Pros: Massive Acoustic Guitar Brand, Electro-Acoustic, Gig Bag Included, Professionally Made, Easy To Play
  • Cons: Less Expensive Wood Type On The Back And Sides Makes Me Question The Price

The Classy Martin LX1E is the most expensive guitar in the review. It’s 7/8 in size and would suit the 9/10-year-old upwards. You’ve possibly seen Ed Sheeran one of these Martins too. It’s a pro-level acoustic that does reflect that in price.

Martin is a huge player in the acoustic guitar and string world. Beautiful looking and much louder than expected. A lovely woody, bassy tone, just like its more expensive range. Built with quality construction and material, giving you a robust yet high-quality instrument. The Martin LX1E also has a pre-amp, so you can use this baby to gig with or play through an amp. The ideal travel partner or just playing at home. This is a complete step-up in class. If I was learning all over again, I’d want something small, comfortable, and nice to look at. This would be my choice without a doubt.

>>Check Price At Amazon<<

3/4 New Jersey Classic Electric Guitar + Amp Pack, Sunburst

  • Pros: 10W Amp Included, Slick Rocker Look, Durable Guitar, Value For Money
  • Cons: Doesn’t Sound As Good As The Squire Playing A Clean Tone

The 3/4 Size New Jersey Electric Guitar pack was another one I chose because of the quality of the guitar and really helpful essentials. If you’re starting out with an electric, you’ll then need to shop around for an amp a strap, picks, etc. To get them all at once is such a benefit.

This shaped guitar reminds me a bit of the Gibson Junior, it’s very cool to look at. Green Day type of guitar. The guitar gives you all the great rock tones of the traditional model, but in a size that is more suitable for younger players and adults with a smaller reach. The Neck is made from maple and the body is sunburst color made from basswood. The Machine heads are a chrome die-cast (which is a good thing in terms of sturdiness) this will keep the guitar in tune well. You also have two humbucker pickups, and with that 10w amp, that’s enough trust me!

Loads of fun to be had with this, all at a budget price.

>>Check Price At Amazon<<

Best Kids Guitar Review: Winners

After reviewing lots of guitars, we’ve separated Electric, Acoustic, Classical guitars.

There is plenty to choose from above, you just have to mix and match the guitar that fits your child’s age/size and budget.

Our clear winners in the 3 main area’s are:

Children’s Electric Guitar Winner

Fender Squier Mini Strat Guitar, Torino Red

Easy choice really, made to last and produced with the real Fender in mind. Can’t go wrong at this price. If you want to learn and learn properly, here is your next guitar. Fender Squire Mini Strat-style guitars sound so beautiful through a small tube amp. You can almost get that pro tone for much less than you think.

>Check Price On Amazon<<

>>Check Price On Sam Ash Music<<

 

Acoustic/Classical Guitar Winner

Yamaha GuitarGo – Starter Set

Owning a Yamaha guitar at any price you’re guaranteed a safe, sturdy, quality instrument. This acoustic pack is ideal for the beginner as it has all the little extras which save you from going out buying more.

>>Check Price On Amazon<<

 

Alternative Guitar Winner

Yamaha Acoustic Guitalele, GL1 – A hybrid between guitar and ukulele

After putting much research into the Guitalele, It just sounds amazing. Definitely an ideal starter for children. The size is perfect, a mix between a guitar and ukulele. It’s light and good enough to last and learn properly. Love it! Get your kids going with a Guitalele.

Check Price On Amazon<

>Check Price On Sam Ash Music<

 

The Easy Way, But Not The Smart Way

The easy route would be to save up enough money to buy a well-known branded guitar, visit the local store and buy it. Surely this is the best way, as I’m paying for a quality branded instrument? Actually no! just because a manufacturer produces the best most popular (adult) guitar, that doesn’t automatically mean they build a good beginner guitar. 

Follow our sound advice and we can assist you in finding the correct guitar for your child. Our size chart above will be our first stop before considering anything else.

Depending on your child’s musical needs, you will need to budget in some cash for small essentials. Whether you’re a complete beginner or an improving player, you will definitely require some of the following. 

Here are some examples:

A Tuner: On top of the list, you cannot have a guitar without one. As simple as that. We have a list pre-made in depth article for you. The 7 Best Guitar Tuners

Picks: Unless you’re learning fingerstyle or bass guitar, I would say every guitar player requires some picks. These come in different gauges also.

Amp: Electric guitar players will need a small amp. We’ve whittled the best 5 down for you. Best Small Tube Amp: The Complete Buyers Guide

Strings: Nearly all new guitars arrive with poor strings attached, get yourself some decent strings, and give your child the best chance of succeeding. Your child will break strings as they’re learning. They are very affordable and make a world of difference to the tone. Best Acoustic Guitar Strings For Beginners

A Capo: Maybe a little too early for a beginner but later on down the line capos are fantastic for alternative sounds and keys. If you feel you are ready for a capo, check out our ‘Best Capo: Everything You Need To Know’

Tablature Apps Etc: I would choose a teacher before downloading any apps, you don’t want to spend a year learning chords in the wrong way then to be told to re-learn them the correct way. This is soul-destroying. 

Guitar Lessons: 100% required. If you can stretch to paying for a tutor or you have a guitarist friend, it’s very important to get off on the right foot. Learning by yourself at the beginning can be very tough, especially if you’re doing it wrong. Sitting opposite somebody is so helpful. Get yourself a tutor, even if it’s two lessons. 

Gig Bag: If you’ve just spent your hard-earned wages on your child’s guitar, there’s a strong possibility they might knock it or drop it. A guitar case can protect and extend the life of your instrument. Especially if you plan on re-selling the guitar later on down the line. 

Cables: Good cables for the electric guitar player. The cheap cables are scratchy and won’t last a year. Get a reasonably good cable and it’ll last. 

Strap: If you’re in a school band scenario, or you feel comfortable learning standing up then get yourself a strap. They say band guitarists should do a large amount of rehearsing standing up. 

Guitar Pedals. NO!  We need to learn the instrument first. No pedals. We cannot hear our mistakes behind a wall of distortion. Having a distraction from learning properly, can be fatal. Pedals come later. You gotta earn them!

 

8 Tips To Consider Before Buying

  1. Pay attention to the neck size and weight. Look out for the term ‘Slim Neck’. This is perfect for children. If the guitar is too heavy the child won’t be comfortable.
  2. Look out for poorly made guitars, you’ll only end up buying twice. We’ve reviewed plenty of suitable guitars for your needs.
  3. You don’t need to spend a small fortune but set aside some money for essential extras. 
  4. Online Lessons vs Tutor? If you can’t stretch for a personal tutor then that’s the perfect option, but use all resources available. There are some good beginner guitar videos online, like justinguitar.
  5. Have a place in mind for your child to practice. A decent upright chair, with no arms, quiet and away from distraction (if possible). Give them the best chance to succeed. 
  6. Get the best guitar for your budget. Don’t go any lower. Poorer quality instruments often don’t stay in tune and won’t last long. They may end up bending or becoming completely useless. 
  7. Stay away from the overly decorated guitars, the more paint, and rubbish they’ve splashed over it, it’s probably hiding the cheap nasty build. If it’s too good to be true, IT IS. 
  8. Don’t buy a guitar from a toy shop! No explanation is necessary.