People who love bluegrass music know that a great guitar is essential for the genre. While there are many different guitars that could be used for bluegrass, we’ve compiled five of the best choices to consider. Whether you’re just starting out or you’re a seasoned pro, one of these guitars is sure to fit your needs.
What is Bluegrass Genre?
Bluegrass is a genre of music created in the Appalachian Mountains of the United States. It is known for its fast, driving rhythms and instrumental solos featuring banjo, fiddle and guitar. The term “bluegrass” was coined by Bill Monroe, who founded the first professional bluegrass band. Bluegrass has since become popular around the world, due to its unique and captivating sound.
Bluegrass vs Country music:
Bluegrass and country music are often confused for one another, but they have distinct differences. While both genres feature acoustic instruments such as guitar, banjo, fiddle and mandolin, bluegrass is faster paced than country music and typically features more complex instrumentation. Bluegrass songs often tell stories of love, loss or redemption in the classic Americana style. Country music, on the other hand, is more focused on the emotions of everyday life.
Sound effects you need in an amp to play Bluegrass:
Reverb is essential for creating the warm ambient sound that characterizes bluegrass music. By adding a bit of echo to your guitar tone, you can instantly transform a flat sounding performance into something much more lively and interesting.
Delay effects are also helpful for adding depth and complexity to your playing. Delays can be used subtly to create an expansive sound, or more heavily to simulate the sound of multiple instruments. A simple delay pedal can be a great addition to any bluegrass musician’s arsenal.
Compressors are often used in bluegrass to smooth out dynamics and provide greater control over your tone. By using compression, you can make sure that your playing is heard clearly, regardless of how hard or soft you strum.
When playing bluegrass, it is important to have an amp with enough power to project the sound of your guitar. You’ll need a good amount of high end so that the banjo and fiddle can be heard clearly. Additionally, look for amps with reverb effects to add depth and atmosphere to your music. If you’re playing live, make sure to get an amp with enough headroom to keep your sound clean, even at high volumes.
How to choose the best Guitar for Bluegrass – factors to consider:
When choosing the best guitar for bluegrass, there are several factors to consider.
- Type of guitar: You’ll want an acoustic guitar with a wide tonal range, good projection and clear intonation. The reason i recommend acoustic over electric is due to the unique sound bluegrass requires.
- Construction: Look for a guitar with a solid top, sturdy neck and bridge, and good action. The combination of these features will give you the best sound quality.
- Playability: Make sure that the guitar is comfortable to play and produces a clear tone when strummed. If a guitar is too difficult to play, it will be hard to enjoy playing bluegrass.
- Guitar Design:The body of the guitar should be lightweight and comfortable to play, with a flat or radiused back for comfort when playing seated. A responsive pickup system is a great bonus for performing live.
- Dreadnought body: A dreadnought body gives the best sound projection and a full rich tone.
- Reverb: As mentioned above, reverb is essential for producing the warm ambient sound of bluegrass. Look for a guitar with built-in electronics or an onboard preamp that allows you to dial in the perfect amount of ambiance.
- Delay: Delay effects can be used to simulate the sound of multiple instruments and add depth to your playing. Look for a guitar with an onboard delay, or consider purchasing a separate delay pedal.
- Go for mahogany tonewood: Mahogany is one of the best tonewoods for bluegrass due to its warm and mellow tone. Mahogany guitars are often used by professionals, so they can provide a great sound without breaking the bank.
- Go for flattop guitar: Flat-top guitars are the most popular choice for bluegrass musicians. They offer a bright and lively sound, making them perfect for playing fingerstyle or Flatpicking.
- Compression: Compressors are important for keeping your tone consistent, no matter how hard or soft you strum. Look for an amp that offers adjustable compression settings.
- Steel String: Finally, the type of strings you use can make a big difference in your tone. Steel-string acoustic guitars are best for bluegrass because they offer greater articulation and projection than nylon-string acoustics.
- Price: Quality instruments can cost thousands of dollars, so decide beforehand how much you’re willing to spend on your instrument. If you’re just starting out, there are plenty of budget-friendly options available.
Which one is the winner for Bluegrass:
We searched for a guitar brand that meets all the 12 criteria we highlighted and described above and the Ibanez AW54CEOPN Artwood Dreadnought Acoustic/Electric Guitar emerged as it has Dreadnought body with cutaway. It is also made with mahoghany tonewood, has built-in electronics with a 3-band equalizer and preamp. It also has an easy-to-play neck and adjustable compression settings. Additionally, the sound is clear and sharp even when strumming aggressively. This guitar offers great value for money at an affordable price point, making it our winner for the best Guitar for Bluegrass.
Bluegrass music is a unique style that requires an instrument with the right tonal range, projection, and playability. We’ve looked at several factors to consider when choosing the best guitar for bluegrass and the Ibanez AW54CEOPN Artwood Dreadnought Acoustic/Electric Guitar emerged as our top choice. It has all the features needed to produce high-quality bluegrass tones and is great value for money. Now you’re ready to get started on your bluegrass journey!
Other Reviews of Best Guitars for Bluegrass
Our second pick is also an acoustic dreadnought model called the Rogue RA-090 Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar. This guitar is well made with a spruce top and mahogany back and sides for a powerful sound projection. It also has an onboard preamp and 3-band equalizer, making it great for live performances. The neck is comfortable to play and the strings are easy to adjust.
The Rogue RA-090 dreadnought acoustic guitar is an ideal instrument for the beginner, or young musician. The body depth and width bring out balanced tone and plenty of projection to be heard from across the room. This ultra-affordable dreadnought acoustic guitar features a whitewood body, which brings out lots of mid-range punch. The nato neck adds sustain without losing any strength in tone. The painted maple bridge and fingerboard add clarity to each note, and a striking look to the front of the guitar.
Unlike Ibanez our top pick above, this Rogue model has a neck made of Nato Wood instead of Mahogany. Nato is a softer tonewood, so it produces a warmer tone than Maple necks. It also has steel strings rather than the nylon strings featured in our top pick. This makes it more suitable for bluegrass players who use aggressive strumming techniques.
Overall, the Rogue RA-090 Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar Natural is a great choice for the budget-minded bluegrass musician. It has all the features needed to play bluegrass and it comes in at an affordable price point.
Little Martin LXK2 Acoustic Guitar
Our next brand in this list of Bluegrass guitars is made of koa and spruce wood which makes it a great choice for those looking for an acoustic guitar that looks as good as it sounds. It is called Little Martin LXK2 Acoustic Guitar and it has been designed to be the perfect companion for traveling. Its compact design makes it easy to carry with you on any adventure.
It features a solid Sitka spruce top and koa back and sides which give it an excellent tone both acoustically as well as when amplified through its built also has a hard-shell case included which makes it easy to store.
The neck of the Little Martin LXK2 is made from low profile, high performance TUSQ nut and compensated saddle material designed to keep your strings in tune for longer periods. The rosewood fretboard also adds a nice touch to the overall look of the guitar
In spite of its small body size, the Little Martin LXK2 Acoustic Guitar has a rich sound and great playability. It is ideal for players looking for an easy-to-carry acoustic guitar that’s also capable of producing powerful bluegrass tones.
What makes this model great for Bluegrass is its solid spruce top and koa back & sides. The combination of these woods allows you to get a bright and articulate tone that can be heard over a band or in studio settings.
The Yamaha FG820 is a full-size dreadnaught acoustic guitar with a solid sitka spruce top and mahogany back and sides. It features scalloped bracing for better projection, which gives it more volume and sustain than other guitars in its price range. The neck is comfortable to play, even for long practice sessions.
Below are some of its specs;
- Solid Sitka Spruce Top
- Mahogany Back & Sides
- Rosewood Fingerboard
- Rosewood Bridge
- Diecast Tuners
- this guitar has an adjustable truss rod
What makes this Yamaha model great for Bluegrass?
The Yamaha FG820 has a bright and articulate tone that is great for bluegrass music. The solid spruce top gives it a loud and focused sound, while the mahogany back & sides offer enough warmth to make the guitar sound balanced. The scalloped bracing also helps with projection, allowing you to be heard in any setting.
The die-cast tuners also provide excellent tuning stability, meaning your guitar will stay in tune longer and make it easier to play bluegrass licks without having to re-tune. The adjustable truss rod is another great feature that allows you to adjust the action of the strings for more comfort when playing.
Our next guitar is from the Blueridge brand and it’s a 6-string acoustic guitar. This model features an all-solid spruce top with solid rosewood back & sides for a strong, powerful tone that stands out in any bluegrass band.
The neck is made of mahogany and has a comfortable feel for long practice sessions. The fingerboard is rosewood and the bridge is ebony, giving you excellent sustain and note clarity.
The Blueridge Guitars 6 String Acoustic Guitar also comes with an adjustable truss rod so you can adjust the action of the strings to your preference. This makes it easier to play fast licks and chords.
This guitar also has an authentic look, thanks to its vintage-style body that’s made from solid spruce and rosewood. The classic sunburst finish adds a nice touch to the overall look of the guitar.
What makes this model great for Bluegrass is its bright, articulate sound. The solid spruce top and rosewood back & sides provide a balanced tone that cuts through any mix. The adjustable truss rod also allows you to set it up for optimum playability, making it easier to play finger-picking licks or strumming chords.
The Taylor Academy 12e is a great choice for those looking for an acoustic guitar that is both affordable and has professional features. It has a solid spruce top, layered sapele back & sides and a walnut fingerboard. The neck has been designed to be comfortable even during long practice sessions.
The Taylor Academy 12e has a medium-sized body and is great for bluegrass due to its bright, articulate sound. The combination of the spruce top and sapele back & sides give it a balanced tone that will cut through any mix. It also has an adjustable truss rod so you can set it up for optimum playability and comfort when playing.
This guitar also has a modern look, thanks to its sleek body design and black finish. It looks great on stage or in the studio!
The Gibson J-45 is an iconic acoustic guitar that is renowned for its big, bold sound. It features a solid Sitka spruce top, mahogany back & sides and a rosewood fretboard. The neck is comfortable to play even during long practice sessions.
What makes the Gibson J-45 great for bluegrass music is its loud and powerful tone. The combination of the Sitka spruce top and mahogany back & sides provide a strong, balanced sound that will stand out in any mix. The rosewood fretboard also offers great note clarity, making it easier to play fast licks and chords.
This guitar also has an unmistakable look, thanks to its classic body design and sunburst finish. It looks great on stage or in the studio!
Is Bluegrass same as country music?
No, bluegrass and country music are two different genres of music with distinct sounds. Bluegrass is characterized by fast tempos, syncopated rhythms and improvisation on stringed instruments such as the guitar, banjo and fiddle. Country music often features slower tempos and focuses more on storytelling in its lyrics.
What type of guitar is best for Bluegrass?
The type of guitar that is best for bluegrass music depends on the style you are playing and your personal preference. Generally speaking, an acoustic guitar with a bright, articulate sound and adjustable truss rod is well-suited for this genre. Examples include the Blueridge Guitars 6 String Acoustic Guitar, Taylor Academy 12e Acoustic Guitar and Gibson J-45 Standard Acoustic Guitar.
What type of strings should I use on my Bluegrass guitar?
Bluegrass guitars usually require lighter gauge strings such as 10-50 or 11-52. Lighter strings allow you to play fast licks and chords with ease. It is important to choose the right type of strings for your guitar as heavier gauge strings can damage the instrument.
How many strings should a Bluegrass guitar have?
Most bluegrass guitars have six strings. However, some players may choose to add a seventh string for added range and depth of sound.
Do I need an amplifier for my Bluegrass guitar?
No, most bluegrass guitars are designed to be used without an amplifier. The loud and articulate sound of these guitars makes them perfect for playing in any acoustic setting. However, you may choose to use an amplifier if you prefer a louder sound or want to add more effects such as reverb or delay.
How can I tune my guitar for Bluegrass music?
The most common tuning for bluegrass music is EADGBE (low to high). This allows the guitar to be used for both chords and melodies. You may also choose to use alternate tunings such as DADGAD or Open G depending on the song you are playing. It is important to experiment with different tunings in order to find the one that best suits your style.
Why is acoustic guitar better for Bluegrass than electric?
Acoustic guitars are generally better for bluegrass music than electric guitars due to their bright and articulate sound. Acoustic guitars also allow players to easily transition between chords and soloing without having to adjust settings on the guitar or amplifier.
Electric guitars can be used for bluegrass, but they tend to muddy up the sound of the genre consequently, acoustic guitars are typically the preferred choice for bluegrass music.
Bluegrass music is a unique genre that requires both skill and the right type of guitar to play it properly.
The Blueridge Guitars 6 String Acoustic Guitar, Taylor Academy 12e Acoustic Guitar and Gibson J-45 Standard Acoustic Guitar are all great choices for playing bluegrass music. With their bright, articulate sound and adjustable truss rods, these guitars will provide you with the perfect tone for any bluegrass song. Be sure to choose the right strings and tuning for your guitar in order to get the best sound possible. Happy picking!
Hi there! I am Jack Musau, the founder of this Best Guitar Amp Review site. I am an avid musician with several years using both traditional and electric guitars and created this site to assist others looking to find the best guitar amplifiers in the market today. I also offer private coaching and training on how to use guitars and guitars amps of all kinds. You can reach out to me using my email, firstname.lastname@example.org.