7 Best Acoustic Guitars for Blues (2023) – In Search of the Perfect Unplugged Blues Companion

Acoustic guitars have been an essential part of blues music for many years. From Delta blues all the way to electric blues and beyond, acoustic guitars have provided the backbone of the blues sound.

Naturally, the best acoustic guitar for you will largely depend on your personal preferences. You can find just about any combination of tonewoods, body type, bracing, and other factors that affect the tone and playability of the instrument.

Manufacturers know that different players demand different types of acoustic guitars for blues. As a result, the market is flooded with plenty of models for just about any taste and preference. With so many options, it may be a bit overwhelming to pick the right acoustic guitar for you. In this article, we’ll walk you through seven of the best options today. Keep reading.

Editor's Choice
Martin 000-15M

Martin 000-15M

Features: Solid mahogany construction, Rosewood fretboard, Modified Low Oval neck

Benefits: Exceptional build quality, Fantastic playability, Beautiful warm tones

Best Value
Epiphone Dobro Hound Dog Deluxe

Epiphone Dobro Hound Dog Deluxe

Features: Spider cone, Flame maple top, Fishman electronics

Benefits: Huge volume, Easy amplification, Reliable performance

Best Budget
Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy Flat Top

Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy Flat Top

Features: All basswood body, Open gear tuners, Parlor body

Benefits: Extremely comfortable, Authentic vintage tones, Superb projection

Our Top 3

The Epiphone Dobro Hound Dog M-14 is our Top Pick for this article. It comes with a nickel-plated bell brass top, back, and sides and offers a forward and penetrating blues sound, with a unique visual aspect and hard mahogany neck.

The Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy Flat Top is our Budget Choice. This is a small acoustic guitar modeled after the instruments from a century ago. With a vintage design, this guitar is easier to handle due to its size, making it a good choice for children or musicians with smaller hands.

Finally, the Martin 000-15M is our Editor’s Choice. This is a fantastic guitar that features a simple dovetail neck joint design and an all-mahogany body for superior and resonant sound. With wonderful playability and feel, this guitar is an ideal choice for professionals that value quality.


Individual Reviews

Top Pick
Epiphone Dobro Hound Dog M-14

Epiphone Dobro Hound Dog M-14

Unique tone and feel on a resonator guitar.

The Epiphone Dobro delivers a memorable and unique sound and features a strikingly classy design. With a body made of brass and the tasteful f-holes on the top, you get resonance and projection perfect for playing the blues.

The Epiphone Dobro Hound Dog M-14 comes with a nickel-plated bell brass top, back, and sides. You get an excellent and penetrating blues sound with a unique visual aspect to match.

The first thing we loved about this instrument was its mahogany neck. It features a slim and comfortable profile that made it easy for us to go up and down the fretboard even when performing fast runs and licks.

Playability is enhanced by a beautiful and responsive rosewood fretboard that reacted well to everything we tried, from blues licks to chicken-picking. Despite its unique dobro sound and look, it plays just like a guitar.

During our tests, the Dobro Hound Dog M-14 stayed in tune consistently and had great intonation throughout the entire fretboard. This is in part thanks to the Grover machine heads, which felt sturdy and stable when we first tuned up.

We loved the tight, projecting, and nasal tone we got out of this instrument, particularly when playing with a pick. Everything from bluesy licks to four to the bar accompaniment parts had a unique flavor, thanks to the frontal and bitey sound of the Epiphone Dobro.

Verdict: The Epiphone Dobro Hound Dog M-14 gives the user unique and in-your-face bluesy sound thanks to its nickel-plated bell brass top, back, and sides. With nice playability and tone, this is a great choice for playing the blues like you truly mean it. We thought this was a fantastic option for performers who are considering a resonator guitar to add that special touch to their blues playing. With great quality, tone, and playability, this instrument delivers.


Budget Choice
Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy Flat Top

Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy Flat Top

A parlor guitar that delivers the tone and feel of blues of yore.

This Gretsch is inspired by the guitars of the '30s and '40s, as it comes with a smaller size and a truly vintage look. With a Vintage Sunburst color and forward tone, this guitar delivers an authentic tone and look from a lost era.

The Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy Flat Top measures 18″ in length, with a 13″ width and 3.875″ for depth. We got a kick out of how small this acoustic guitar was, as Gretsch aimed to replicate the look and sound of a century ago. Vintage design aside, this guitar is also easier to handle due to its size, making it a good choice for children or musicians with smaller hands.

The first thing we loved about this guitar is how small and easy it is to carry. We started our tests by playing some fingerpicking patterns, which produced a forward tone that was bright but never shrill.

This Gretsch comes with a basswood top, back, and sides, which tends to be a resonant tonewood. Naturally, because of its diminished size, this instrument is not very loud or resonant. This guitar sounded the best when we strummed chords in a blues, folk, or songwriting context, and not so much with fingerpicking.

This guitar provided us with a comfortable playing experience, and we liked the feel of the C shape nato neck. With a walnut fingerboard, we liked how it felt and we never got tired of playing. Other important features include a radius of 12″, 18 frets and a scale length of 24″.

Verdict: The Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy Flat Top is a good choice for children and players with small hands. With a truly vintage tone, feel, and look, this guitar is affordable and delivers vintage tone and playability. This was an impressive guitar with a unique look and overall feel, good for beginners and players with smaller frames who want a reduced-size guitar at an affordable price.


Editor's Choice
Martin 000-15M

Martin 000-15M

The ultimate acoustic guitar.

The Martin 000-15M offers the user world-class craftsmanship but without the exorbitant price tag. Whether you prefer to strum with a pick or play fingerstyle (or both!), this guitar delivers superior tone and playability for blues and any other similar genre.

The Martin 000-15M features a simple dovetail neck joint design and comes with a mahogany top, back, and sides. With an organic natural color and Nitrocellulose Satin, this guitar comes with a classic look.

We started by strumming a few open chords and got a very balanced tone with a big volume. Just as we expected, the all-mahogany body gave us a thick bottom end, with a nice high end and a flawless midrange.

The response of this instrument was fantastic, and we were able to get great results whether we placed a forceful strum or nuanced fingerpicking. The feel of the solid East Indian rosewood fretboard was smooth and responsive, and the same can be said about the solid mahogany neck.

The playability on this Martin is nothing short of stellar. With a modified low oval neck shape that nicely fit our fretting hand, 25.4″ scale length, this guitar was quite comfortable to play. Additionally, you get a compound fingerboard with a 1-11/16″ width at the nut and 2-1/8″ width at the 12th fret, for greater comfort across the entire neck.

This guitar has fantastic tuning stability and great intonation across the entire fretboard. After playing for a while, it was still in tune, in part thanks to the nickel open-geared tuning machines with Butterbean knobs. This stability is further enhanced by the bone nut and saddles, which also contribute to a better overall tone.

Verdict: The Martin 000-15M delivers a stellar tone and feel with an all-mahogany body and neck. This guitar features a balanced sound with great projection and is a fantastic choice for those who value quality above all else. This was a great acoustic guitar for blues or any other style that employs steel strings. If you are after tone and quality, for the studio or for a superior songwriting experience, then check out this Martin.


Also Consider
Fender Tim Armstrong Hellcat

Fender Tim Armstrong Hellcat

A good option for beginners and songwriters.

Designed with the input of Tim Armstrong and based on a Fender acoustic from the '60s, this guitar is a nice choice for folks starting out. It features a distinctive look mixed with classic appointments and was made to Rancid's guitarist specifications.

The Fender Tim Armstrong Hellcat comes with a solid mahogany top and laminated mahogany back and sides. With a natural color and satin finish, this guitar is an affordable option with unique visual elements included on the fretboard and headstock.

As soon as we picked it up, we loved the 4-ply tortoiseshell pickguard and distinctive Hellcat logos on some of the frets, as well as the pair of skulls located at the 12th fret. Done in pearl acrylic, these designs give the Tim Armstrong Hellcat a unique touch not commonly found in guitars in this price range.

Built with a concert-sized acoustic body, this guitar gave us good projection and a nice tone, thanks in part to Fender’s scalloped bracing design. Although we were able to play fingerstyle convincingly in this instrument, we preferred how it responded when we used a hard pick.

If you’re a songwriter wishing to show your songs live, it comes outfitted with a Fishman Tim Armstrong preamplifier. We were able to dial in our plugged-in acoustic tone via the 2-band EQ. To complete it, this preamp system also comes with a built-in tuner for convenience.

Playability on the Tim Armstrong Hellcat was good and we felt comfortable at all times. We liked the feel of the walnut fingerboard on a sturdy maple neck. With a radius of 11.81″ and a C shape that felt good, this guitar is perfect for players who are just starting on the instrument.

Verdict: The Fender Tim Armstrong Hellcat comes with unique visual features and offers great sound for the money. Whether at home or at the coffee shop, you can rely on this guitar, thanks to the Fishman preamp included. Our favorite thing about this guitar is that it has personality. This instrument is a good option for songwriters and beginners, featuring everything you need to play at home or onstage.


Also Consider
Breedlove Organic Wildwood Pro Concert CE

Breedlove Organic Wildwood Pro Concert CE

Gorgeous sound with eco-conscious construction.

This guitar delivers the warmth, balanced sound, and fantastic sustain qualities that only a well-built all-mahogany instrument could. Built entirely from environmentally friendly tonewoods, this Breedlove guitar gives you fantastic tone and playability at a fair price.

The Breedlove Organic Wildwood Pro Concert CE features a mahogany top and mahogany back and sides. This tonewood is sought after as it provides a rich and warm tone, and in the case of the Pro Concert CE, also stunning looks.

The first thing we loved about this guitar was its open sound. As soon as we strummed the first open chord, we got a fully resonant tone with great projection. The all-mahogany design gives it a warm quality with a beautiful midrange response. Additionally, Breedlove’s Cascade bracing design aids the sustain and overall resonance of the instrument.

Besides the fantastic tone, the Pro Concert CE also comes with a smooth and comfortable mahogany neck with a responsive ovangkol fingerboard. With a unique 25.315″ scale length that still feels familiar, we were able to play everything from jazz standards to fingerpicking patterns up the fretboard with consistent tone and playability.

In order to plug in, it comes with Fishman Flex Plus T electronics. We tried it with our Roland JC-120 amp and got a good representation of this guitar’s unplugged tone.

Verdict: The Breedlove Organic Wildwood Pro Concert CE comes with a resonant mahogany top and mahogany back and sides that give it great tone and projection. With fantastic playability on a comfortable mahogany neck with a responsive ovangkol fingerboard, this guitar is a great choice for just about any style of music, including the blues. After spending some time with it, we thought it was a very good instrument that delivers a nice tone and feel, and is built using an environmentally conscious and sustainable process.


Also Consider
Epiphone Masterbilt Texan

Epiphone Masterbilt Texan

Big tone on a legendary instrument.

Based on the legendary Epiphone Texan, this instrument brings the same qualities that made legends such as Paul McCartney and Peter Frampton use it extensively. The Masterilt Texan adds a preamp in order to plug into an amp or PA, and gives you a complete solution to your acoustic guitar needs.

The Epiphone Masterbilt Texan comes with a mahogany body and Sitka spruce top and a beautiful Faded Cherry-Aged Gloss. Epiphone based this guitar on the iconic Epiphone Texan, but added a ’60s SlimTaper neck and improved bridge design for greater stability.

The first thing we loved about this guitar was its warm and inviting faded cherry color. We started our tests playing with a medium pick and got a nice and balanced tone, with a good response on its mahogany neck and Pau ferro fingerboard. With a 12-inch radius, familiar Gibson 25.5-inch scale length, 20 frets and a 1.69-inch bone nut, this guitar was a joy to play.

For performing live, this Epiphone comes with Fishman Sonitone Electronics. The controls are discreetly mounted inside the soundhole and we had convenient access to the single volume control and the single tone control. Although this is a welcome feature, we felt the amplified tone suffered a bit of middle frequency loss when compared to the acoustic tone.

This Epiphone guitar delivered time-tested tone and playability and is a nice choice for anybody who wants a good instrument that you can also plug into a PA or front of house.

Verdict: The Epiphone Masterbilt Texan features a mahogany body and Sitka spruce top that gives it a warm tone and good volume. Epiphone based it on the iconic Epiphone Texan, but enhanced it with a ’60s SlimTaper neck and improved bridge design for greater stability. With Fishman Sonitone electronics, this guitar is a good option for playing blues and for songwriters.


Also Consider
Taylor GS Mini

Taylor GS Mini

Smaller footprint and price with renowned quality.

Taylor is a staple among acoustic guitar players and the GS Mini is one of its most popular models. With a compact size that gives the user convenience, this guitar still manages to retain good sustain and projection.

The Taylor GS Mini comes with an X-braced soundhole construction and at a smaller size than a traditional acoustic guitar. Featuring a tropical mahogany top and laminated sapele for the sides, this Taylor comes in a beautiful natural color with a varnish finish.

The luthiers at Taylor designed the GS Mini as a scaled-down version of their popular Grand Symphony body shape. The GS Mini measures just a bit over 36 inches, making it easy to transport and a popular option for kids or guitarists with smaller hands.

The first thing we loved about this guitar was how big a sound it produces for such a small instrument. As is customary with Taylor fashion, the GS Mini gave us excellent intonation and consistent clarity. With a rich and full sound that projected well, we really liked how it sounded when strummed with a medium pick.

For plugging in, it comes outfitted with Taylor ES-B electronics. This system features a three-band EQ (with three separate sliders), a volume slider, and a built-in tuner for extra convenience.

Regarding playability, this guitar features a low action across its responsive ebony fingerboard and was comfortable to play. We enjoyed the shorter 23.5-inch scale length and the Taylor NT neck shape for extra comfort.

Although we loved how this guitar responded to playing with a pick, we felt it was a bit quiet when we played fingerstyle. Naturally, size does matter in this case. That said, this is a fantastic instrument for learning, songwriting, folk, and blues.

We thought it delivered great tone with warmth and projection, nice playability, and it even ships with a softshell case.

Verdict: The Taylor GS Mini Mahogany features an X-braced soundhole construction with a Tropical Mahogany top and Laminated Sapele for the sides, for a great tone. With a low action across its ebony fingerboard, you get Taylor playability on a well-rounded guitar that delivers the tone this brand is known for.


How to Choose the Right Acoustic for You

Acoustic guitars have been a staple instrument in the blues genre for many years. Their distinct, warm sound and versatility make them a good choice for both beginner and advanced players. When choosing the right one for you, there are several aspects to consider.

Body Types

When it comes to acoustic guitars for blues, there are three main body types to consider: dreadnought, parlor, and concert. The dreadnought is the most common body type and is known for its large size and deep sound. It’s great for playing chords and picking, making it a popular choice for blues rhythm and lead players.

The parlor guitar is smaller in size than the dreadnought, making it easier to handle and play. It’s known for its bright sound, making it a great choice for fingerpicking and slide playing.

On the other hand, the concert body type is mid-size between the dreadnought and parlor, providing a balance between the two. It’s known for its clear and balanced tone, making it a great choice for fingerpicking, flatpicking, and strumming.

Besides that, another good choice for playing blues is the jumbo guitar. It offers massive sound as it has a bigger acoustic cavity, but can also be a bit cumbersome, and may be too big for smaller guitarists.

Tonewoods

The type of wood used in an acoustic guitar affects its sound and overall tone. Different tonewoods offer distinct sound characteristics. This is another area where personal preference plays a huge role. The most common tonewoods for blues guitars are mahogany, rosewood, and spruce.

Mahogany is known for its warm and mellow sound, making it a great choice for blues rhythm players. It produces a balanced sound that’s not too bright or too dark.

Rosewood, on the other hand, is known for its bright and articulate sound. A popular choice for fingerpicking and slide playing, rosewood is known for providing a crisp tone.

Spruce is a versatile tonewood that’s great for all playing styles. It’s known for its bright and punchy sound, making it a great choice for both strumming and fingerpicking.

Neck Shape and Width

The shape and width of the neck can greatly affect how comfortable the guitar is to play. The two most common neck shapes are the “C” shape and the “V” shape.

The “C” shape is the most common and is known for its comfortable fit. It provides a smooth and easy playing experience, making it a great choice for beginners and advanced players alike.

The “V” shape on the other hand, is more angular and provides a more substantial grip. It’s a great choice for players with larger hands and those who prefer a more vintage feel.

The width of the neck also affects how comfortable the guitar is to play. A wider neck allows for more room between the strings, making it easier to play chords and fingerpicking. A narrower neck provides a faster playing experience, making it great for lead playing and fast runs.


Final Thoughts

Buying a great acoustic guitar for blues is no different from buying a regular acoustic. Most of the considerations are highly personal. In other words, some players will prefer a particular type of tonewood, neck and fretboard type, etc.

It is important to try many acoustic guitars and develop criteria on what each sounds like and why. This way you will also start to see what you like the best and what works for you.

The Epiphone Dobro Hound Dog M-14 is our Top Pick for this article. It comes with a nickel-plated bell brass top, back, and sides and offers a forward and penetrating blues sound, with a unique visual aspect and hard mahogany neck.

The Gretsch G9500 Jim Dandy Flat Top is our Budget Choice. Modeled after the instruments from a century ago, this guitar delivers sound and feel from a bygone era. With a vintage design, this guitar is easier to handle due to its size, making it a good choice for children or musicians with smaller hands.

Last but certainly not least, the Martin 000-15M is our Editor’s Choice. This superb guitar is a good choice for dedicated musicians that seek out quality. With an all-mahogany body that delivers a balanced and loud sound and great playability and feel, this is a fantastic choice. 

Author

  • Rodrigo Sanchez

    Rodrigo is an award-winning songwriter (Best Popular Song Of 2018 for Ibermúsicas), and has worked with the prestigious EMI Music Publishing Latin America. He has production credits on artists such as Descemer Bueno, and has also composed alongside Grammy and ASCAP award-winners such as Sebastián De Peyrecave and José Luis Morín.