How To Choose Best Guitars For Neo-Soul, Soul and R&B

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best guitars for neo soul, r&B

Finding the right guitar for Neo Soul and R&B music isn’t that easy. There are just so many cool guitars out there! If you can’t decide what kind of gear you should get – no problem, I got you covered.

In today’s post, I’m going to highlight some of the coolest and most affordable axes that can be efficiently used in soul music. The list below is based on my own experience – I’ve had a lot of these guitars in my hands throughout the years.

Firstly, let’s start with the table. If you want to read more about each of these models, feel free to scroll down to the next section. The sound demos are included in there as well, so you’ll be able to hear how they all sound!

Best Guitars For Neo Soul, Soul & R&B – List

Squier Affinity StratocasterSee on AmazonSee on Thomann
Squier Classic Vibe JazzmasterSee on AmazonSee on Thomann
Squier Special Edition Custom TelecasterSee on AmazonSee on Thomann
Ibanez AS73See on AmazonSee on Thomann
Squier 40th Anniversary StratocasterSee on AmazonSee on Thomann
Fender Mustang 90See on AmazonSee on Thomann
Epiphone Casino P90See on AmazonSee on Thomann
Fender Player StratocasterSee on AmazonSee on Thomann
Epiphone ExplorerSee on AmazonSee on Thomann
Fender Player JaguarSee on AmazonSee on Thomann

1. The Cheap Strat

Squier Affinity Stratocaster is a go-to model for anyone who doesn’t want to spend too much on new gear. Although it’s not a perfect guitar, it gets the job done and it’s ridiculously cheap.

Out of my experience, pretty much all Squiers from the Affinity Series deserve a lot of recognition. I tested out Strats, Telecasters and Jazzmasters from this series and all of them were pretty good. All video reviews all available on my YouTube channel, so if you have the time for it – check it out.

I’m positive that this Strat will be a good fit for any beginner who wants to start their own musical neo-soul journey. Low price, great tone and comfortable feel – who needs anything else?

2. The Cool Jazzmaster

Generally, Jazzmasters are also loved by a lot of soul and R&B guitar players. It doesn’t really matter whether you decide to stick to cheaper Squiers or more expensive Fenders – they’re all great for that kind of music.

When it comes to offset guitars available under $500, the Classic Vibe Jazzmaster is one of the best axes that you can potentially choose in my opinion. I had the pleasure to test it out and to be honest, the difference between that model and Mexican-made Fenders from the Player Series isn’t that huge.

Hence, I highly recommend checking it out. You can see the sound demo and detailed comparison of that Jazzmaster with the Squier 40th Anniversary Jazzmaster in the video below. If you find it helpful – make sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel!

3. The Powerful Telecaster

Fender Special Edition Custom Telecaster is one of the most interesting Mexican-made Teles out there. The manufacturer equipped that model with a pair of powerful humbuckers which give you access to a lot of punchy tones.

If you’re a lover of soul and neo soul music, you probably know that using a lot of overdrive or distortion isn’t exactly a good fit for that kind of music. However, the clean tones that this Telecaster can produce are absolutely stunning, so I think that they will be perfect for soul music – especially with a bit of reverb.

What I like about that Custom Telecaster is the fact that it’s extremely versatile. Whether you want to shred or play some soothing neo-soul licks – it has got you covered!

Here’s a quick demo.

4. The Semi-Hollow King

For those who aren’t aware, Ibanez manufactures fantastic semi-hollow guitars which are a part of their famous Artcore Series. The AS73 is not cheapest Artcore model (you can try AS53 instead), but in my opinion it offers the best value for the money.

The truth is that semi-hollow body axes are extremely versatile – they can be used in various different genres ranging from country and blues throughout soul and funk up to rock and metal. That’s pretty cool, right?

Ibanez AS73 looks, feels and sounds like a much more expensive guitar, so make sure to check it out before you spend a huge chunk of money on a brand new Gibson ES-335!

Here’s a quick sound demo recorded by me.

5. The Unique Stratocaster

Squier 40th Anniversary Stratocaster is an another amazing guitar that can be efficiently used for these music genres. In my opinion, it’s one of the best guitars for neo soul that you can find under $500.

I had the pleasure to test out this guitar on my own and it made a really good impression on me, however I experienced a small issue with the initial setup. Don’t worry though – it wasn’t anything serious!

Full specs and more details of that axe can be found in my other article about it, but generally, it’s a really good instrument. Surely, it can compete with some of the Mexican-made Fenders.

Let’s be honest, it has everything you need – a comfortable neck, a classy look and a remarkable sound. On top of that, it’s not as expensive as some of the Fenders. That’s pretty important, right?

6. The Glorious Mustang

Mustangs are very often associated with alternative, grunge and rock music, but out of my experience, they can be used for pretty much all styles of music.

This is a short-scale guitar (24″), so it’s a perfect option for guitarists with smaller hands and shorter fingers. Additionally, the P90 pickups used in that model give you access to an indefinite amount of cool tones that will be particularly good for soul music.

Personally, it’s one of my absolute favorites in today’s list. I’d say that this is one of the best guitars for neo-soul, soul and R&B music that you can possibly find at this price level. Great axe, and it looks cool too!

Here’s the demo.

7. The Stunning Casino

Who doesn’t love a good old hollow body axe? While most soul guitarists prefer semi-hollow guitars rather than hollow body models, this Epiphone model particularly deserves a lot of attention.

Again, I had the pleasure to test it out on my own, because one of my bandmates is using it on a daily basis. And the truth is that it’s a really cool and extremely versatile axe with a pretty unique vintage vibe. If you like that kind of aesthetic, you should definitely give it a try.

I can totally confirm that this axe sounds incredibly good when you combine it with one of the Fender Blues amps. The warmth of that instrument is just stunning, so it should be a fantastic fit for blues, soul, R&B and neo-soul music.

Check out this demo to see how it sounds!

8. The Mighty Mexican Strat

I’m sure that you all know the famous Mexican-made guitars from the Player Series by Fender! These instruments have a very solid reputation all around the world and they’re used by musicians of all genres out there.

The regular Fender Player Strat with the SSS pickup setting also deserves a lot of attention, but this time I want to highlight the version with the HSS setting. That one bridge humbucker adds a lot of character to the final tone, so I’m sure that you’ll appreciate it if you’re into soul or R&B music.

Of course, if this Fender is too expensive for you, you can also consider getting one of the HSS Squiers instead. But let’s be honest – you can never go wrong with the good old Fender Player Strat. It’s just impossible not to love that guitar!

Here’s the demo.

9. The Punchy Explorer

For some of you, using the legendary Epiphone Explorer for soul music may seem like a really weird idea, but the truth is that this guitar is not only recommended for rock and metal music.

Sure, it’s very common among the rock musicians, but in reality, these two humbuckers have a really good clean tone. That kind of sound can be efficiently used for soul music, so although it’s not that common, it actually sounds pretty cool.

So before you jump to the next guitar on the list, make sure to check out the sound demo of that Explorer down below.

10. The Classy Jag

Just like Jazzmasters, Jaguars are also very often used by lovers of soul music. Personally, it’s an another one of my favorites, so for me it’s one of the best guitars for neo soul, soul and R&B music. It just has everything you need!

What I like about that model is the fact that it has a brdge humbucker and a single-coil pickup by the neck. This combination (along with the tremolo system) gives you access to a really wide range of tonal possibilities.

Although it’s not the cheapest axe on today’s list, it definitely deserves a lot of attention, especially if you’re into offset guitars. There’s a high chance that you’re going to love it!


Let’s be honest – choosing only one guitar out of that list will be extremely difficult, because all of them are equally great! But personally, I’d stick to one of the Jazzmasters or the Jaguars, because I’m a huge fan of offset axes.

How about you? Which guitars do you think are best for neo soul, soul and R&B music? Leave a comment down below and share your thoughts with our community!

Thanks for checking out today’s guide, hopefully you found it helpful. If you enjoyed this article, you may also a couple of other posts: