What should I Buy?

Blues gear hasn’t been this af­ford­able since the Great De­pres­sion...

Guitarist - - Gear Q&a -

I’ve been play­ing my 90s Gib­son Les Paul Stan­dard through an old Peavey Clas­sic for a few years now. I love my setup but re­cently I’ve de­vel­oped this itch to get back to ba­sics with my blues play­ing. I’m look­ing for a way to nail some au­then­tic early-blues tone, you know, for a bit of the old Delta fin­ger­pick­ing and 50s Chicago stuff. I’m not ready to com­mit big bucks to this thing yet so what do you rec­om­mend? J Rios, via email

You can pretty much play the blues on just about any­thing. Lest we for­get, Muddy Wa­ters’ first slide ‘gui­tar’ was a length of wire at­tached to the wall of his shack and played with a rusty old bolt. That said, if you’re look­ing for some­thing a tad more por­ta­ble, there’s no end of af­ford­able ways to spend your nights belt­ing it out like Robert John­son. Just keep away from the tainted whisky… Here’s a trio of op­tions that should see you right.

1. Gretsch G9511 style 1 sin­gle-0, £290

Part of the Roots Col­lec­tion, the G9511 nails your clas­sic im­age of a tough, no-frills, small­bod­ied Delta blues acous­tic that could sur­vive be­ing thrown into a mov­ing box­car. We know... these days it’s more likely to find it­self on the back seat of a Toy­ota Prius but the Sin­gle-0’s diminu­tive solid spruce/lam­i­nated ma­hogany body helps it sound, look and feel like an au­then­tic blast from the past.

2. Vin­tage V5000sB-12 statesboro, £549

De­signed with the in­put of Brit blues afi­cionado Paul Brett, the Statesboro is based on the Stella gui­tar played by Delta icon Blind Wil­lie McTell in the 1930s. Yes, it has 12 strings but it’s re­mark­ably easy to play, hap­pily ac­com­mo­dates al­ter­na­tive tun­ings, and looks the ab­so­lute busi­ness. A Fish­man Rare Earth pickup-equipped ver­sion (pic­tured) will set you back an­other 200 sheets.

3. Epi­phone In­spired By “1966” Cen­tury, c£449

While Epi­phone’s jazz box Cen­tury model was born in the 1930s, the ’66 has the later thin body pro­file. That said, the lam­i­nated maple con­struc­tion al­lows for a de­cent level of acous­tic vol­ume, yet what draws us to this model is the P90 pickup. This time ma­chine takes you from the Delta to the early days of pri­mal elec­tric Chicago blues. Add a fuzz box and you’re in the house that Jack White built.

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