The term 'king of the blues' has been around for decades. While it used to be something of a made up honor for the most virtuoso of player, as time went on it became something which denoted who the elder statesman of the genre was. B.B. King was universally thought of as the king of the blues for long years, but with his passing away, another would have to wear the crown. Who else could possibly be the king of the blues today but Buddy Guy?
George 'Buddy' Guy was born in 1936. He's quite old enough to wear the crown, and as controversial as it may be to say it, I will just the same; but he has probably always been a more technically proficient guitarist than the late, great B.B. King. Who is better or best, of course, is really only ever someone's opinion. B.B. was terrific, had an instantly identifiable sound, and toured non stop; but Buddy is such a wild man he may have more appeal for many. A blues man is supposed to be a wild sort of character. Mr. Guy's wildness on the stage has never been tamed, even in his advanced years.
Buddy was originally from Louisiana, but he'd moved to Chicago. Chicago had a much more vibrant blues scene than could be found in the south. The Chicago Blues is even a genre within the blues. And a city the size of Chicago has lots of places to perform for cash.
Mississippi Delta Blues artists migrating to the northern industrial cities, such as Chicago, in order to escape the southern Jim Crow laws were the founders of the Chicago blues style. Before the Chicago blues style, which is almost always entirely electric and amplified, the blues had been purely an acoustic genre of music. The migration from the rural south to the urban north is somewhat analogous to the trip from acoustic to electric.
The Chicago blues is almost as a rule dominated by electric guitar and harmonica. This form of music is the true foundation of what would be born from it, rock and roll. While early rock artists, such as The Beatles, weren't influenced by the Chicago sound, The Rolling Stones certainly were.
Then, the Jimi Hendrix Experience was something absolutely founded from the Chicago blues sound. Hendrix probably was influenced specifically by Buddy Guy more than any other guitarist. Hendrix, like Guy, used the Fender Stratocaster almost exclusively.
Now when you're a guy like Buddy Guy, you have a lot of guitars. Buddy has lots of guitars which are not Fender Strats, but for the largest portion of his playing, it's the Stratocaster he does it with. Buddy says this came about due to the influence of Guitar Slim, and for how very durable the Stratocaster is. He noted how he could literally drop the Strat, pick it back up, and the guitar would still be in tune.
People often think of Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, and Jeff Beck as the three most influential of the British blues rockers. This is misleading, as their influence is somewhat confined to the FM radio and popular album rock. There were other United Kingdom blues rock guitarists who may have been 'better,' if you will, at playing. Jeff Beck is clearly a genius, but in truth his music is jazz fusion, as often as not. Gary Moore was one of the most technically proficient and emotionally visceral of them all, but he's often someone you only even know about at all if you play the guitar yourself.
Well, Buddy Guy was doing blues rock, loudly and proudly, years before any of them. He paved the way for them all like John the Baptist did for Jesus of Nazareth. Stevie Ray Vaughan, maybe the finest American blues man who wasn't black said that without Buddy Guy, there never would have been a Stevie Ray Vaughan. Jeff Beck noted that Buddy Guy took performing to another level. He didn't just play the blues at high volume, he performed on stage in a way that was almost theatrical. He still does too, and you'd be advised to catch a show soon, great blues men don't last forever.
Jimmy Page described Guy as an absolute monster. He meant that in terms of his ability, completely complimentary. Eric Clapton simply said that Buddy Guy was the best guitarist alive. As a blues fanatic himself, it's natural that Clapton would think of Guy in such a manner. Probably Guy was Clapton's biggest influence as he moved into his Bluesbreaker's period, and then into Cream. Buddy Guy was using distortion and feedback, and doing extended length guitar solos before it became cool. For many years the guitar solo was a major focus in popular music, and Guy was the guy who started it.
Buddy Guy has always played music for love and not for money. He's probably nowhere near poverty, that's a given, but he's nowhere nearly so wealthy as some of the persons he's had such a big influence on, such as Clapton, Page, or anyone in The Rolling Stones.
Besides the influence of Guitar Slim, Buddy Guy came to the Fender Stratocaster because his Gibson Les Paul had got stolen. Buddy is known for lots of string bending, but be certain you understand, of you want to emulate his sound with a Stratocaster, you're going to need to use a heavier gauge of strings than people today normally use. Buddy is using sets which measure .011 on the smallest E string. That is two sizes larger than what the majority of players use these days.
While not every Strat Buddy owns and plays is a polka dot Strat, every Fender Buddy Guy model of Stratocaster is. Why polka dots? Buddy says when he left his home in Louisiana to head for Chicago and better fortunes, he told his mother he'd drive back to see her in a polka dot Cadillac. He never got to do that, as in truth, he was saying goodbye for good.
But he wanted to honor her in that way with the help of Fender, and when the Fender people approached him for a Buddy Guy Artist Series Stratocaster, it all came together. The Fender Buddy Guy Strat is a great bargain. Made in Mexico, the guitar sells for under nine hundred dollars. This is the beauty of NAFTA. Were it a US production Fender it would likely cost around twice what it does.
The body is of alder, as many Strats are, and this one has a twenty one fret maple neck and fingerboard. The frets are medium jumbo. You get the vintage style Fender Gotoh tuning machines, and synchronized tremolo arm. Fender's Mexican production guitars are some of the best deals available, and they are well thought of by all who buy them. These allow for the person with not so much disposable income to have a professional quality guitar for a reasonable price. They're worth every last penny. These are some of the best of Fender's Artist Series and Signature Series Stratocaster Guitars.