What Guitar Did Muddy Waters Play

What Guitar Did Muddy Waters Play?

McKinley Morganfield, known professionally as Muddy Waters was raised on the Stovall Plantation near Clarksdale Mississippi and by the age of 17 he was playing guitar and harmonica. Copying the styles of local blues artists, including Robert Johnson and Son House.

By the age of 30 he moved to Chicago to become a full time musician. By the early 1950s, along with his band, he recorded some classic blues tracks including “I’m ready”, “Hoochie Coochie man” and “I just want to make love to you”.

In 1958 Muddy Waters and Otis Spann came to the UK,  and totally blew British blues fans away. They had never heard anything like Muddy Waters before. Members of that audience went on to form the basics of the UK Blues scene. Artists like the Rolling Stones, Cream, and Fleetwood Mac.

What Kind Of Guitar Does Muddy Waters Play?

Muddy Waters first recorded tracks were recorded on a guitar that he borrowed from Alan Lomax, it was a Martin Acoustic guitar. His first electric guitar got stolen and he replaced it with a Gretsch Synchromatic. A fellow band member Jimmy Rogers said he should electrify the Gretsch, so Muddy added a D’armond FHC pickup.His earliest hits “I Can’t Be Satisfied,” and “I Feel Like Going Home” were both recorded on that Gretsch. 

By the early 50s he switched to a 1952 Gibson Les Paul Gold Top. fitted with P-90 pickups. He used this guitar right through to the late 50s when Muddy bought a brand new 1958 Fender Telecaster. He modified the knobs with those from a Fender amp, changed the neck to a maple neck, and painted it candy apple red. He nicknamed it “The Hoss” and it was his main guitar until he died in 1983.

Muddy Waters had many guitars, but these were his most played models. He also owned:

  • 1959 Martin 00-18E-Electro/Acoustic
  • 1966 Guild Thunderbird S-200
  • Gibson SG Junior

Who Has Muddy Waters Influenced During His Long Career?

Pretty much any who is anyone in the British Blues music business and beyond has been influenced by Muddy Waters.Including artists like:

  • The Rolling Stones
    Named after Muddy’s 1950 song “Rollin’ Stone”
  • Cream
    Muddy’s song “Rollin’ and tumblin’” was featured on Cream’s first album.
  • Eric Clapton
    Eric was a big fan of Muddy’s as he was growing up, and his influence can be heard all through the career of Eric Clapton
  • Bob Dylan
    Covered “Rollin’ and tumblin’” on his album “Modern times”
  • Led Zeppelin
    “Whole lotta love” was based on “You need love” by Muddy Waters.
  • AC/DC
    Their track “You shook me all night long” was inspired by “You shook me” by Muddy Waters
  • And many more.

Muddy Waters song “Hoochie Coochie man” was covered by the Allman Brothers, Supertramp, Steppenwolf, Fear and Humble Pie.

What Strings Does Muddy Waters Use?

Muddy Waters used Gibson medium gauge strings, .012 to .056 gauge strings. He used a .022 uncovered G.

What Amps Does Muddy Waters Use?

In his early days Muddy used many small amps eventually going with a 1965 Siverface 40-Watt Super Reverb. He had it modified for a heavier sound, and played it with all the settings on 9 with “no tremolo or reverb” This amp was stolen in the 70s and he bought a new Silverface to replace it.

At the Carnegie Hall in 1965 Muddy was seen using a 1960s Fender Bassman 6G6. And during his short lived deal with Guild he used a 1960s Guild Thunderbird.

What Effects Pedals Does Muddy Waters Use?

Muddy Waters never used many effect pedals, but during the recording of “Flood” he used a DeArmond 601 Tremolo Control. Which is an easy to use, simple pedal. Just 2 dials, increase and speed.

What Pickups Does Muddy Waters Use?

A DeArmond FHC pickup was added to his Gretsch Synchromatic so that he could be heard above the noise at shows. His 1952 Gibson Les Paul Gold Top was fitted with P-90s, the 58 Telecaster would have been fitted with standard single coil pickups. The Guilds would have had single coil pickups.

Muddy Waters
Lionel Decoster, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

What Chords Does Muddy Waters Use?

Muddy Waters was a Chicago blues man, he relied on hammer ons, pull offs, string bending, slides, and of course pentatonic blues scales. But he always played within a chord structure. For instance, Louisiana Blues uses the following chord structure C, A, E, D, Am but that’s not what is important, it’s the way it’s played that matters.

What Pick Does Muddy Waters Use?

Muddy Waters started playing in the 40s, using a metal thumb and index finger pick. He changed to plastic thumb and index finger picks because he preferred the sound.

What Kind Of Music Does Muddy Waters Play?

Muddy Waters plays the Blues. He was a forerunner in creating American Electric Blues.Muddy Waters played The Blues, The Delta Blues, and the Chicago Blues.

How To Play Guitar Like Muddy Waters

Muddy Waters was a master slide guitarist, he played acoustic slide guitar initially and then he played electric slide guitar all within the genre of the blues. In his early days he played in open G tuning  (D, G, D, G, B, D) but later on in his career he went back to standard tuning. He used a small metal slide on his little finger and he used this for playing, dampening the strings, creating distortion and vibrato.

If you can perfect this style of playing, you will have the Muddy Waters sound to a Tee.Playing a 1958 telecaster with single-coil pickups, through a Siverface 40-Watt Super Reverb. You will need to finger pick, using a plastic thumb and index finger pick. 

What Age Did Muddy Waters Learn Guitar?

There is no actual record of when Muddy Waters learned to play the guitar, but by the time he was 17 he was playing blues guitar and copying his idols like Robert Johnson.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Muddy Waters real name?

MuddyWaters real name was McKinley Morganfield.

What was Muddy Waters Favourite guitar?

Muddy Waters favourite guitar was “The Hoss” which was a 1958 Fender Telecaster. That he modified with some knobs from a Fender amp, changed the neck to maple, and painted it candy apple red. He nicknamed it “The Hoss” and it was his main guitar until he died in 1983.

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