Solid Body Guitars for Blues

A solid body electric guitar in theory isn’t much more than a slab of wood and some hardware. Solid body guitars tend to have longer sustain than hollow bodies but their big advantage is they are less prone to feedback.
My favorite jazz guitarists mostly play hollow body, archtop electric guitars. Many of my favorite blues and rock guitarists play semi-hollow electrics. But most blues and blues rock guitarists embraced solid body guitars.

There are many makers and models of solid body guitars but the list of guitars played by famous blues or blues rock guitarists is much smaller.


Telecaster

The Fender Telecaster wasn’t the first solid body electric but it was the first commercially successful model. The first models were named Esquire in 1950 but the name had to be changed to Broadcaster in 1951. The Telecaster was the two-pickup model which eventually became the standard. (History of telecaster)

It became Muddy Waters‘ guitar when he came to Chicago and went electric.


Stratocaster

The Stratocaster came after the Telecaster from Leo Fender. You can almost ask, who hasn’t played a Strat? Buddy Holly, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton were/are all Stratocaster players.


Flying V

Gibson Guitars went through an experimental phase when competing against Fender. How many useful shapes can you design for a solid body guitar once you have the Telecaster and Stratocaster? Is the Les Paul really a significantly different shape that a Fender Telecaster? (Yes it’s different but it’s still a single cutaway with traditional curves). It turns out that Gibson found new designs that were different than the two or three originals. These included the Flying V, the Firebird, the Explorer and the SG. Of these, the only ones that caught on with blues oriented guitarists were the Firebird and the SG.

Albert Collins chose the Flying V as his guitar. The symmetry made it easy for him to play it left handed.


Firebird

The Gibson Firebird has been used by many, if not for their main axe, at least for occastional use, e.g., for slide work. Johnny Winters often plays a Firebird. It was introduced in 1963 in the reverse configuration. Some years later Gibson came out with non-reversed models.


SG

The Gibson SG double cutaway was supposed to be the next iteration of the Les Paul which  did not sell well at first. The SG stands for “Solid Guitar.” The design was lighter in weight than a Les Paul and gave unrestricted access to the upper frets. It was introduced in 1961.

Although there have been a few famous players who used an SG, it never caught on the same as the Les Paul finally did after Clapton and Page used them. Angus Young plays an SG. But among current blues guitarists the most famous for me is Derek Trucks.


Les Paul

The two most famous and most popular solid guitars are probably the Fender Stratocaster and the Gibson Les Paul. Like the Strat, it’s probably better to ask, Who hasn’t played a Les Paul. Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Duane Allman all have played Les Pauls. That’s obviously the short list.

Related Posts

Epiphone 335 Pro
views since 2016-11-26 = 565
The Epiphone 335 Pro thin-line, semi-hollow body electric guitar is one of the best bargains available in this style of instrument. The guitar is esse...
Price vs. Value in Fender Electric Guitars
views since 2016-11-26 = 211
My previous post posed the question of how much more is a brand name guitar worth than a less expensive copy. I used two examples from Gibson and comp...
4 Mid Priced Alternatives to the ES-175
views since 2016-11-26 = 1,8k
The Gibson ES-175 is a classic jazz guitar. With a 16" body it's the benchmark for what I regard as a small jazz guitar. But with a price in the range...
Vacation Guitars
views since 2016-11-26 = 37
Summertime Blues Summertime is vacation time and vacation time is when I have to figure out which instruments I'll bring with me on this year's vac...

Leave a Reply