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SurfGuitar101 Forums » Gear »

Permalink Suitable Guitar for Surf, Blues & Rockabilly

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Can anyone lend a newbie a hand please. I'm new to Electric Guitars & Amps, I've been playing Acoustic for a few years though. But I want to get an electric setup & I like Surf, Rockabilly & Blues. So I want a do it all guitar & amp rig. If there is such a thing.

I love the sound of the Fender Strat but I also love the sound of hollowbody Rockabilly guitars as well. So my question is. Is there a guitar that will cover those three styles quite well or am I asking too much. Is there an amplifier brand or model, Valve or Solid State that covers these styles also.

I've seen good reviews on Amps like the Vox DA20 & they sound OK. Have any of you tried any of these pre-programmed amps out yourself? If yes, are they any good or am I better off with pedals or all in one effects boxes like Yamaha make. The Magic Stomp for example.

Hope to hear from some of you soon.


Well it's not possible to get a guitar that sounds like a Strat AND a hollow-body because the most distinctive component of each sound comes from the construction. You could easily get a hollow body guitar with single coils or hum-buckers that split to get single-coil tonality but it still wouldn't sound like a Strat, because the actual 'sound-shape' that comes from the environment in which the string vibrates is completely different.

A true hollow-body (unlike a centre-blocked guitar such as a 335) has a round acoustic resonance and a slight lack of sustain that comes from the bridge/arched top combination - whereas a Strat has a lively yet sustained sound that comes from the combination of a solid body with the spring mounted bridge/tremolo arrangement. Hard tail (ie: non tremolo) Strats can sound more like Telecasters. I think you will need to make a choice or budget for two.

You don't really need multi FX pedals or modelling amps for the types of music you cite - and my personal opinion of them is that they are fine if you are happy with programming them yourself, but don't expect anything but a load of unusable nonsense from the presets which are designed to impress kids in guitar shops.

A simple valve amp (and companies like Peavey and Crate are making some very affordable ones now); a delay for rockabilly slapback (Carl Martin Red Repeat maybe) and a good blues overdrive pedal - if you like that kind of blues sound - will get you started for less than a fortune. For Surf you will need good reverb - so look for a re-issue external tank if you can afford one or make sure the amp you buy has a half-decent spring unit to keep you going until you can.

Youth and enthusiasm are no match for age and treachery.

Last edited: Jun 10, 2009 09:04:07

Can anyone lend a newbie a hand please. I'm new to Electric Guitars & Amps, I've been playing Acoustic for a few years though. But I want to get an electric setup & I like Surf, Rockabilly & Blues. So I want a do it all guitar & amp rig. If there is such a thing.

Well, I think a Strat would be able to deliver. I'm currently using one for a duo type gig where I play primarily Roadhouse style Blues and about 4-5 Surf tunes as well as a few Rock-a-Billy / Country tunes.

For an amp I'm using a miced Fender Champion and utilizing a digital reverb pedal. The over all sound is pretty convincing!

I surfed a hollowbody for years and years, Go find something that you really like, strat, hollow, or whatever you like and pair it with an amp you like and away you go.

I sugest playing as many guitars as you can get your hands on, so you know what you like and dont like. same with amps. go to guitar shops and check stuff out. Everybody likes something else so there are lots of valid opinions out there but you need to make your own. Just cuz i like a guitar dosent mean you will.

Its harder for new players to get the concept of buying used but find what you like and try to find a used one. Its usually half the price of new, and plays the same. (with setup) lots of new guys want new so "they" can no that every ding on it is yours.
I think new guitars feel stiff and weird. a used broke in guitar has a nice home type feel.

I work at a used guitar store, if your looking for something i can track it down for you.
Let me know if you need any help.

Give me reverb or give me death!

I guess if I had to choose one guitar to accomodate all of those styles I'd pick a strat.

A hollowbody for the most part is more suitable for rockabilly or blues. Though as scotstandard you can surf with one, it's just a little bit out of character though for most surf music (hey, I've done it though).

(defunct) Thee Jaguar Sharks

Plus! Other stuff not surf:
Enjoy every minute

I did it forever, nice round tone.
The mosrite has replaced it, dig the solid body and p90's

Give me reverb or give me death!

Here's a Youtube of a Gretsch hollow body Electromatic with DeArmond
2000 single-coil pickups:

See the Gretsch website, G5125, G5126, G5127, G5128, G5129 Electromatic Hollow Body:

I own a G5120, the humbucker version, but it's no where as twangy as the
single-coil version. It might be OK for blues, maybe Rockabilly, but it's not
convincing as a surf guitar.

This post has been removed by the author.

Last edited: Sep 23, 2009 23:59:20

i also try to play all those styles. i have a strat, jazzmaster, and 3 hollowbodys with dynas, TV Jones filtertrons, and P90s. If i had to pick one guitar that can do all three styles its my hollowbody wih P90s second best is the hollowbody with dynasonics.

hollow body Gretsch with single coils will do all the styles you want - but more towards surfy and twangy tones

Filtertrons on my Gretsch are bright enough for surf, and do some bluesy rocking tones easily

Rockabilly? it's Gretsch Very Happy

so I guess that's the decision cause these beasts are much more universal then people usually think of them

Waikiki Makaki surf-rock band from Ukraine

I agree...those Dynasonic single coils can cover most anything listed above. I love my filtertrons, but the Eddie Cochran Nashville and the Roundup Jet I have produce killer clean tones.

I think Zak nailed it. Personally, I would pick a strat to play all three styles if it had to be just one guitar. There are other guitars that will give you more "specialized" tones for different genres, but a strat can (given the player) deliver under most circumstances.

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I would add a Danelectro to the list, especially an original one. The only thing you'd be missing is a whammy (on most models). I find the hollow body to be a great asset for tone, and love the sound of the original lip stick tube pick ups.


Home of Surf & Twang

I'm not suggesting you get a Strat - I find 'em kinda ergonomically unsuited to my playing style but that's just me.

Me too - can't get on with them. Periodically I buy one thinking I've changed my mind then I never use it and sell it.

Reminds me - anyone in the UK interested in a '60's Classic Vibe' Squier bought on a whim about a month ago ... great guitar for the money (they are intended to be a kind of JV re-issue if you don't know them - a lot dearer than a standard Squier but a lot cheaper than a US strat) It's great but it's a Strat and they STILL don't work for me.

Youth and enthusiasm are no match for age and treachery.

I've played guitar in a surf band and I play guitar in a band that plays 50s black rock/R&B. While the latter is not strictly blues or rockabilly the music is certainly informed by elements of both genres. The guitars that I have used with both groups that I have been most satisfied with tonally are my Strats, Teles and my Gretsch Eddie Cochran model 6150. Though I must admit that the Gretsch does howl at higher volumes. Also the P90 in the neck was a little too dark for lead parts in the surf band. However there are several players who have gotten great surfy tones with Gretsch guitars. It is my understanding that if you were to go with one of the Gretsch G51.. series guitars you wouldn't have to deal with the same feedback issues as the bracing is different and thus the guitar is less resonant. Utlimately you will need to get out and play as many different guitars as you can. The posts above should provide you with a good road map to get started.

The Exotics 1994-Current
The Chickenshack -

In his initial post, Gavrrr said that he 'Loved the sound of a Strat'. I reiterate my point that the tonality of the pick-ups is only a part of that sound and however closely you manage to match that with a semi .. it ain't going to sound like a Strat.

Youth and enthusiasm are no match for age and treachery.

Last edited: Jun 11, 2009 13:09:07

jp-check your pm folder. d

I'd say go for a Gretsch. If you're on a budget, the G5125-G5129 series are going to put you right where you want to be - great playability and tone with single-coil snap. Stay away from the 5120 and 5122, as the humbuckers they carry won't do you a bit of good.

I play a Gretsch Anniversary for my primary guitar, surf or otherwise, and it's amazing. A lot of people are surprised that you can use them for more than just rockabilly, but the Gretsch flavor of twang lends itself especially well to surf.

But I'll echo what others have said: Find a guitar with single coils that feels/sounds good to you and run with it. There's a huge difference in feel between a Strat and a Gretsch hollowbody. You may find that they both feel great, but different, or you may not be able to stand the way both of them feel.

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This post has been removed by the author.

Last edited: Sep 23, 2009 23:59:41


Whereabouts in Australia are you from? I'd be happy to let you play a few of my guitars and my amp to get an idea of sounds if you live in Canberra.

For what it's worth I use a Burns Bison and a DeArmond Starfire Special for my main guitars but I have also used things like an Aria Pro Wildcat or Ibanez Roadstar to get surfy sounds on recordings.

I think if you like the Strat - why not get one? It will certainly cover all the styles you mention.

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