7 Best Pedals for Blues (2021 List)

If you're a guitar player looking for the best pedals to use while playing blues, then this post is for you. We'll go over 7 of the best pedals and what they do so that you can find one that fits your needs. These are all quality brands with good reputations, made by people who know what they're doing when it comes to making guitar gear.

#1 Pick: TS9 Tube Screamer

Pro:

  • Iconic pedal, proven over decades of use

Con:

  • Mid Hump

Why is this the Best Pedal for Blues?

The TS9 is as iconic as a guitar pedal gets.  It's a pedal that found its way on to the pedal board of Stevie Ray Vaughan, Carlos Santana, John Mayer, Gary Clark Jr, and Joe Bonamassa, so you know there has to be something special about it. 

The tube screamer is perfect for blues overdrive.  It can range all the way from just a touch of overdrive to add a little warmth, to being driven to the point of classic rock.  Somewhere in the middle is the perfect blues spot.  

One of the Iconic things about a Tube Screamer is that is disproportionately boosts the mids over the lows and highs.  This is a big point of contention for many guitarists because some people find it to be the worst thing ever, and some people like it.  It is all a preference thing, so give the TS9 a listen and decide for yourself.

All of this and more is why the TS9 is a must have guitar pedal and one of the best pedals for blues.

Mini Version

There is also a mini version of the Tube Screamer that costs a little less and takes up less space on a pedal board.  If you want your pedalboard to weigh a little less on your wallet, or you want to fit more pedals on it.  Then this is one of the best blues pedals for you.

Boss Blues Driver

Why is this the Best Pedal for Blues?

The Boss Blues Driver has been the main competitor of the Tube Screamer for decades.  They sound super similar.  The biggest difference between the two is that The Blues Driver doesn't boost the mids at all.  

One of the best things about these pedals is that they last through a lifetime of use.  Because of that you can often to on resale websites and find them for $50 or so, which is a nuts deal for this quality of pedal.  This is definitely the best pedal for blues that you can find for under $50 or $60.

It is overall just a great drive pedal, and this list would be incomplete without the addition of it. 

Fulltone OCD

Why is this the Best Pedal for Blues?

This pedal has a little bit of a heavier sound than the other pedals on this list.  This pedal can border on more of a distortion pedal rather than an overdrive, so if you are someone that really likes the heavier genres of music, but also wants to play the blues, this could be a great pedal for you.

With that said, this pedal would be ideal for someone that wants to play Stevie Ray Vaughan style blues.  This pedal helps create that super overdriven amp sound.

This pedal is great at sounding like an authentic overdriven amp.  If that is the sound you want, then this is the best pedal for blues for you.

Xotic EP Boost

Why is this the Best Pedal for Blues?

Boost pedals are becoming more and more popular within the blues realm.  This is mostly because of their convenience.  It is incredibly easy to just kick on a nice little clean boost to enhance you sound, and get you ready for solos.  

This pedal is not only a boost, but can also be used in an overdrive sense as well.  Once the one and only knob is turned about to about 12 O'Clock, this pedal begins create a tight overdrive sound.  This is great for blues because it boosts your signal enough to get the notes heard, but also it just adds a touch of grit to you sound.

Boost pedals in general are a must, but getting a high quality one like this right away will pay dividends for years and years to come.  This pedal is killer in a blues context, but also works amazing in almost every other musical context as well.

Electro Harmonix Canyon

Why is this the Best Pedal for Blues

The Canyon is a Looper/Delay/Reverb pedal that offers a ton of versatility and a ton of different tonal options.  In addition to the looper, it comes with 11 different types of delay and reverb.  These allow for you to alter your sound to an extreme extent.  

Some people really like to add some delay to their sound when playing the blues because it beefs up your sound a little bit.  Often times blues is played cleanly through a single coil guitar, and sometimes that signal can sound a little weak, so delay is a good way to make your sound a little more powerful.  

Overall, this is an amazingly versatile pedal that can be used super effectively in a blues context.  That makes this the best delay pedal for blues.

Ultraphonix Overdrive

This pedal was created with the intent of getting the iconic sound of a Dumble amp into a pedal.  Dumble amps are the most sought after amps in the entire world.  Used amps regularly go for over $100,000 at auctions.  

This pedal does a super good job of replicating that Incredible sound, but you won't need to sell your house to get it.  

Tommy Castro is one of the guitarists responsible for putting this pedal on the map.  He has been a big advocate for this pedal since he discovered it in 2015.  

FAQ:

What pedals do I need for blues?

The real answer is that you don't need any pedals for blues.  Often times you can get away with just using an amp and its built in overdrive.  However, if you elect to use pedals, something like an Ibanez Tube Screamer is a great place to start.

How do I get the blues tone on my guitar?

The blues tone for guitar is very simple.  Typically just a guitar plugged straight into an amp.  Maybe with a simple overdrive on top of the signal too.  The truth is that the tone of the blues is mostly in the fingers of the player.  B.B. King could make a cheap guitar and an amp sound 100 times bluesier than I could make a super expensive pro rig.

Is a Tube Screamer good for blues?

A Tube Screamer is a great option for blues guitar.  It has been used by tonnes of legends, like Stevie Ray Vaughan and Buddy Guy, and even more modern bluesmen such as Gary Clark Jr, John Mayer, and Joe Bonamassa.  

11 Best Electric Guitars Under 300 (2021 List)

Most Versatile

Yamaha Pacifica

Best Above 300

Squier Jazzmaster

I'm going to show you 11 of the best electric guitars under 300. If you're a guitarist looking for an affordable guitar without sacrificing quality this is the perfect article for you! From beginner to more advanced players, there's something here for everyone.  I'll also be including links to videos so that you can get a better idea of what these guitars are like before purchasing one yourself.

Best $300 Electric Guitar List

#1 Pick: Squier Stratocaster

Pro:

  • Very Versatile

Con:

  • Intonation Issues

Key Features:

Single Coil Pickups: Single Coil pickups are known for their bright and punchy tone.  They work very well in almost any genre.  However, are particularly great in genres like funk, soul, and R&B.  

5 Way Selector Switch: With the pickup selector switch you can choose to use any of the three pickups, or use position 2 and 4 to blend the sounds of multiple pickups at once.  

Double Cutaway: A double cutaway allows for much easier access to the higher frets.  Access to the higher parts of the fret board is absolutely crucial for electric guitar playing.

Why is this the Best Electric Guitar Under 300?

This Squier Strat is the best electric guitar under 300 because of its versatility, value, and reputation.

The Stratocaster is a wildly versatile guitar that you can find in genres from opposite sides of the spectrum.  You can find it in classic rock and you can find it in genres like Jazz.  Not only that, but just the 5 way selector switch gives you so many tonal options to choose from.

The amount of guitar you get for the low price of this Strat is really really great.  There isn't much else to say about it.  It simply is a guitar that you would expect to be priced a little higher because of its quality.

Finally, the reputation of the Strat is that of legendary proportions.  The man most consider to be the greatest guitarist of all time, Jimi Hendrix, rocked a Strat for all of his life.  Other legends like Eric Clapton, Yngwie Malmsteen, and Eric Johnson are also known for using Strats.  If you want to be in good company, a Strat is a good place to start. 

Best for Rock: Epiphone Les Paul

Pro:

  • Rich Tone

Con:

  • Not Very Versatile

Key Features:

Humbucker Pickups: The Les Paul features two humbucker pickups.  Humbuckers are known for their larger than life, full and rich tones.

Bolt on Neck: Les Pauls typically have glued on necks. However, this one has a bolt on neck.  This means that if the neck were to wear out, you could simply replace it.

Why is this the Best Electric Guitar Under 300?

This is a great choice for someone that is looking for a simple guitar that delivers consistency and reliability at a low price.  

The Les Paul is one of the most iconic guitar models of all time, and this is for a good reason.  The sound of Les Pauls have shaped the sound of modern music for the last 60 years or so.  Players like Jimi Page, Slash, and Randy Rhodes are all famous for using Les Paul guitars.

The Humbucker pickups within this guitar give it a full and rich tone that you simply won't be able to get out of a the stratocaster.  To put it simply, humbuckers are the pickups you want if you are playing almost any form of rock music.  

So if you want a great, low priced guitar for rock and roll.  This guitar is the best guitar under 300 for you.

Best Guitar for Metal: Jackson JS22

Pro:

  • Very Hot Pickups

Con:

  • Tuning Stability Issues

Key Features:

Humbucker Pickups: The pickups on this guitar are hotter than the pickups on the Les Paul by a little bit which makes it great for both rock and metal.

Sleek Design: This guitar just looks super clean.  Although this may seem trivial, I have noticed that beginners are more inspired to practice if they think their guitar looks cool.

Jumbo Frets: Jumbo frets are a must for any metal guitar.  They allow for the notes to be fretted with less effort than typical.  Metal players need this because they play a lot of fast riff and licks, and if they had to press down harder for every note, playing with speed would be wildly difficult.

Why is this the Best Electric Guitar Under 300?

This is one of my personal favorite sleeper guitars.  I have always been a guy that sticks mostly to Fender single coil guitars, but there is something about this guitar when I pick it up.  It plays so smoothly.

There have been many times I've picked up a Jackson and been blown away by how good they feel in the hand.  

They also sound pretty good too.  I think this is probably the best value you can find on an electric guitar under 300.

Best for Country: Squier Telecaster

Pro:

  • Tone you can't get from other guitars

Con:

  • Not very versatile

Key Features:

Single Coil Pickups: The two pickups on a Telecaster are very low output, which gives them their own unique flavor and style.

Iconic Tone: There is something magical about the bridge pickup of a Telecaster.  It creates a sound that almost no other guitar can create.  This is the Nashville twang sound.

Why is this the Best Electric Guitar Under 300?

When it comes to electric guitars, the Telecaster is up there as one of the most iconic guitars ever.  Dating all the way back to 1950.  Back then it was known as the Esquire, then the broadcaster, and finally then the Telecaster.

There simply isn't a better widely available guitar for country music than the Telecaster.  The bridge position pickup brings an amazing country pop along with it that can be heard on countless classic and modern records.

If you ever make your way to Nashville you will see an absurd amount of Telecasters down there.  It absolutely is the guitar to have for that style of music.

Best Acoustic Electric Under $300: Yamaha APX

Pro:

  • Easy to play acoustic

Con:

  • Very different sound when plugged in

Key Features:

Piezo Pickup: The APX600 features an under saddle piezo pickup system that provides great amplified acoustic sound without feedback or excessive volume levels.

Three band EQ: Use the built in EQ to shape your sound to perfection. Adjust the bass, middle and treble frequencies to match your playing style or venue acoustics.

Eye Catching Design: The design of this guitar is sure to make anyone look twice.  The oval sound hole is unique, yet not too crazy where it seems weird.  Just different and cool.

Why is this the Best Electric Guitar Under 300?

This is obviously the choice for those who want to play electric acoustic guitar.  Running an acoustic guitar through an amp has never been easier, just plug and play.  

For the price, this guitar has immense playability, and that is why it has stood the test of time since 1987.  It has been designed to feel like an electric guitar, yet sound like an acoustic guitar.  This pretty much just means that playing is way easier than a typical acoustic guitar. 

Overall this guitar plays and sounds killer for the price.  Also though, I find this guitar to be particularly beautiful.  It's got all three P's of guitar buying: Price, Playability, and Prettiness.  

Best Semi Hollow Body: Squier Starcaster

Pro:

  • Super Unique

Con:

  • Large Body Size

Key Features:

Humbucker Pickups: The Affinity Series Starcaster creates massive tone courtesy of its dual Squier humbucking pickups and is easy to play thanks to its slim, comfortable “C”-shaped neck profile.

Semi Hollow Body: The semi hollow body of the Starcaster gives it a sound that is very unique to itself.  You typically cannot find semi hollow guitars for such a low price.

Unique: This is a guitar that is sure to get some looks when you bring it out.  I have never seen another person playing one in wild.  They are super unique and cool to have.

Why is this the Best Electric Guitar Under 300?

The Starcaster could be the best electric guitar under 300 because it has great playability and style.  

There are not many guitars for under 300 that you can buy and it will turn heads.  This guitar will get people asking.  It's awesome to have a unique piece of gear that becomes a part of your sound rather than just having the same guitar everyone else has.

Getting a guitar for under 300 that plays great is already a difficult task, but to get one that plays great, sounds great, and has its own unique look is a super rare thing to find.

Most Versatile: Yamaha Pacifica

Pro:

  • HSS offers extreme versatilty

Con:

  • Quality control issues, specifically with tuners

Key Features:

HSS Pickups: HSS stands for Humbucker, Single, Single.  This means that it has a higher output humbucker pickup in the bridge position and a single coil pickup in both the middle and neck position.

5 Way Selector: The 5 way selector switch gives you access to any of the pickups, as well as the two in between settings in position 2 and 4.

Why is this the Best Electric Guitar Under 300?

The Yamaha Pacifica is a great choice for the best electric guitar under 300 because of its versatility.  

The HSS configuration allows you to great accurate sounds for metal, rock, funk, jazz, blues, and almost any other genre you can think of.  Because of this you can get super round beautiful John Mayer style tone from the middle and neck, while getting nasty and gritty sounds from the bridge position.

Versatility is particularly important for beginners who haven't really discovered what gets them going musically.  A guitar like this allows you to explore tonnes of genres for a low low price.

Best for Kids: Squier Mini Strat

Pro:

  • Smaller body and neck for smaller people

Con:

  • Can be outgrown quickly

Key Features:

Reduced Size: The Squier Mini Stratocaster is the perfect companion for a child that is just picking up guitar for the first time because of its smaller body and shorter scale legnth.

High Quality Children's Instrument: The Squier Mini Stratocaster is an excellent choice for introducing young people to the fun of playing guitar.  Most "Children's Guitars" are nothing more than cheap toys.  This is the real deal.  A fully working and respectable guitar.  

Classic Guitar: The Mini Squier Stratocaster is a smaller version of the legendary Fender Stratocaster.  The Stratocaster was famously played by players like Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, and John Mayer, so your child will be in good company.  

Why is this the Best Electric Guitar Under 300?

The Mini Squier Strat is a smaller version of an iconic guitar.  The Fender Stratocaster.  A guitar made famous by players like Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, and John Mayer.  These are legendary players.

The Squier mini Strat has some of the highest quality standards you will be able to find for a miniature guitar at this price point.  They always play well, and set your child up on the right path towards musicianship.  

If you are considering buying a guitar for a child, the Squier Mini Strat is certainly something you need to consider.  It is a great guitar built by a reputable brand that has been doing in for decades.  

Best Guitar Under 200: Squier Bullet Strat

Pro:

  • Super Low Priced

Con:

  • Better version available for $50 more

So this Stratocaster is just like the top pick on this list, except priced a little lower.  It offers many of the same parts and build.  However, simple just does not play as good.

These ones are far more likely to have sharp fret edges, and electronics issues.  Overall we think this is a fine guitar for a beginner, but we would recommend spending the extra $50 on a Strat that is much more reliable. 

Best Guitar Under 400: Jackson JS32

Pro:

  • Floyd Rose

Con:

  • Floyd Rose 😉

Key Features:

Floyd Rose Bridge: The Floyd Rose bridge is a huge point of contention for many guitar players some love them, some hate them.  It all depends on your experience with them.  They are a rarely used type of bridge that increases tuning stability.  

Humbucker Pickups:  The pickups on this guitar are some of the hottest pickups Jackson makes.  This makes the JS32 ideal for hard rock and metal music.

Why is this the Best Guitar Under 400?

Keep in mind that this may not be the best guitar under 400 for everyone, but overall we think it is the best value under 400.

To put it simply, it just sounds better and plays better than other guitars in its price range.  We simply think it is better than its competitors from Ibanez and Epiphone.

Best Guitar Under 500: Squier Jazzmaster

Pro:

  • Professional sound and feel

Con:

  • All the knobs and switches are in weird places

Key Features:

Alnico Pickups: Alnico pickups are pickups comprised of aluminum, nickel, and cobalt.  They are known for being single coil pickups with higher than usual output.  This gives them that great single coil tone, while still being able to bring warmth and crunch.

Amazing Feel: I own one of these, and I really think it is one of the best feeling guitars I have ever had.  It plays smooth and butter, and compares to instruments double its price.

Why is this the Best Guitar Under 500?

I really can't begin to describe how amazing this guitar is.  The first time I picked one up at a guitar store is very memorable to me.  Because I was so incredibly surprised.

The sound of this guitar is kinda in between that of a normal single coil guitar and a humbucker guitar, so you're kinda getting the best of both worlds.  It can do the Strat stuff, and it can do the Les Paul stuff.

If you have the extra money to spend I can really not recommend this guitar enough.  

7 Best Guitar Strings for Beginners (2021 List)

Best electric

NYXL's

You may not know much about guitar strings, but this article will tell you what to look for in the best guitar strings for beginners so you can get started with a good set. We'll go over different types of string gauges and materials, as well as benefits to each that may be most beneficial for a beginner guitarist.  We'll also mention the popular brands of strings so you can make an informed decision on which type to buy when it comes time.

Electric/Acoustic Guitar Strings Guide

What is String Gauge? 

The gauge of the string simply refers to how big around the string is in 1000ths of an inch.  The most common string gauges for electric guitars are .9-.42 or .10-.46.  Both of these sets are light enough to bend easily, and they are thick enough that they won't rattle all over the place.  The choice between the two is really a preference thing.  The most common acoustic guitar string sets are .12-.53.  This means acoustic guitar strings are generally a lot thicker than electric guitar strings. 

Heavier gage strings also known as thicker gauge strings are good for things like hard strumming, drop tunings, and jazz.  Heavier gauge strings are advantageous for these things because if you are strumming hard, a thicker string will create more tension which makes the strings less likely to rattle creating an undesirable sound.  They are used for drop tunings for the same reason.  The more tension the less likely the strings will rattle against the frets.  Finally a heavier gauge string is good for jazz because in jazz the guitar is mostly a rhythm section instrument, and its role is to chunk out a bunch of quarter notes.  Not a lot of bending is required.

Lighter gauge strings are better guitar strings for beginners because they will hurt their fingers less, and players that are soloing a lot.  Bending is a super common solo technique and because of that lighter strings are best for soloing.  A strange exception to this is Stevie Ray Vaughn though.  He used thicker strings than most companies even sell, so not every rule is perfect, but generally thinner strings are better for soloing.

String Material

Guitar Strings can be made of a few different things. These include Nickel, Nickel wound steel, steel, brass, bronze, and nylon.  

Of all of these options the best guitar strings for beginners are certainly nylon strings.  Nylon strings are what is typically on a classical style guitar.  They require the least amount of tension to push down.  This makes it much easier for beginners because often times beginners don't have the strength to push down the strings, or their finger tips hurt really bad from playing.  Nylon strings remedy both of those.

For all the other types of strings, they really feel the same underneath your fingers.  They are all made of metal and require the same amount of pressure to push down.

Best Acoustic Guitar Strings for Beginners: Elixer Nanoweb Extra Light

Pro:

  • Coating makes strings last longer

Con:

  • Some do not care for the feeling of coating

Key Features:

Prolonged Use: Elixir Strings coats the whole string, protecting more of the string surface than any other brand. This helps your strings retain their tone 3 to 5 times longer than uncoated strings.

Light Gauge: .10-.47 are very light strings for an acoustic guitar.  Light gauge strings are absolutely crucial to beginners because heavier strings are harder to press down, and will hurt the beginner's fingers much more.  

Why are these the Best Guitar Strings for Beginners?

Light gauge Elixer strings are a great choice for the best guitar strings for beginners.  This mostly comes down to three factors.  They are light, they are coated, and they are the easiest acoustic guitar strings to play.

A coated string is beneficial for a beginner because beginners are prone to using a set of strings for way too long.  Strings have a life cycle and once they are on their way out the tone completely alters.  Using these strings will allow for the player to still get great tone out of their guitar for months and months of playing rather than weeks of playing.  

The importance of a light gauge is something we have already stressed a lot in this article.  However, it is certainly still worth mentioning that beginners need light gauge strings so they can press down the strings, and their fingers will hurt less.  So these acoustic guitar strings are great for avoiding sore fingers.

Best Budget Acoustic: Ernie Ball Earthwood

Pro:

  • Super Affordable

Con:

  • Wear Out Quick

These Ernie Ball strings are amongst some of the easiest acoustic guitar strings to play.  Along with that, they are dirt cheap. 

The low price of these strings makes it hard to not at least try them out.  Give them a shot, maybe you'll like them a lot.

Best Electric Strings: D'Addario NYXL

Pro:

  • Super Long Lasting

Con:

  • Pricier than average strings

Key Features:

Prolonged Life: NYXL strings are up to 3x longer lasting than other guitar strings, so you can play more and change strings less.

Stronger Material: NYXL strings are made from high carbon steel, which is harder and stronger than other string materials. This allows them to hold their shape better for a more consistent feel and enhanced tone life.  

Why are these the Best Guitar Strings for Beginners?

D'Addario NYXL's are great strings for beginners and beyond.  They are used by people first picking up a guitar all the way to the tip top upper echelon.  Legends like Nile Rodgers play NYXL's, and modern greats like Tosin Abasi play NYXL's as well.

The NYXL's are the best electric guitar strings for beginners because they get you started off right.  They aren't strings that will hold you back.  Their quality control is impeccable, and you'll never get a set that feels different from others.  

They stay in tune better, break less, and bend easier.  All of these things and more are what NYXL's the best electric guitar strings for beginners.

Best Budget Electric: D'Addario Pro Steels

Pro:

  • Very Inexpensive 

Con:

  • Wear Out Quickly

Key Features:

High Output:  These strings are made for rockers.  These strings have higher output than others and that is part of what gives rock and roll its sound.  

Trusted Brand:  D'Addario is probably the most trusted name in guitar strings.  It seems like everyone I know uses their strings, including myself.  They always deliver on tone and life span.

Why are these the Best Guitar Strings for Beginners?

These are great guitar strings for beginners because they sound great and don't cost much.  

These are probably the most fair priced guitar strings on the market.  They comes in around half the price of most other strings, but yet deliver the same quality.

The sound these strings produce is absolutely top notch.  The low price tag might lead you to think that they wouldn't sound great, but that is simply not the case at all.  These strings sound just as great as you would hope.

Best Nylon Strings: D'Addario EJ27N

Pro:

  • Super easy on fingers

Con:

  • A sound not often found in popular music

Key Features:

Nylon: Nylon guitar strings are great for beginners because they are much easier to play than the steel strings typically found on acoustic and electric guitars.  

Standard: These strings are kinda the standard for nylon string guitar playing.  They get the job done every time.

Why are these the Best Guitar Strings for Beginners?

The EJ27N's are great strings for beginners due to their easy playing nature.  Often times beginners are discouraged by how much their fingers hurt, and how hard it is to push the string down.  A nylon string helps solve both of these issues. 

One thing to be careful of is that your guitar can handle nylon strings.  Guitars are designed to be under a certain amount of pressure from the strings pulling on the neck, and nylon strings have a lot less tension that metal strings.  This lack of tension would make the neck of the guitar all whack.  So just make sure your guitar can handle it.  

Honorable Mention: Ernie Ball Regular Slinky

Pro:

  • Inexpensive

Con:

  • Some Don't like the Feel

Key Features:

Classic: Ernie Ball Regular Slinky strings are a classic set of strings that have been used by tonnes of huge names like Eric Clapton, John Mayer, and Steve Vai.  

Simple But Effective: Regular Slinky strings are the epitome of simple but effective.  There is nothing super flashy about them, but if you show up with these strings on, you should have no issue getting the job done.

The only thing holding back the Regular Slinky set from being the best pick is the gauge.  These strings unfortunately do not come in 9's, which is what I would recommend a beginner to start with.  9's are what I use to this day, so for some people 10's are just too heavy in general, even after they are an experienced player.

These strings have a reputation that speak for themselves.  Guys like Clapton and Vai don't play bad strings.  

Maybe these will work for you if you are a guy with big hands.  Then the 10's would be fine to begin on, but if thats not you, I would recommend starting on 9's.

FAQ:

Are light guitar strings easier to play?

Yes, light guitar strings are easier to play.  They require less finger strength to push down.  This is why it is recommended beginners start out with light guitar strings.

Are nylon or steel strings better for beginners?

The real answer is that there is no right answer.  It all depends on what you want personally.  If you have an interest in playing nylon strings, go for it, but if you have no interest at all, don't force yourself to do something you won't like.