The BEST Guitars for Neo-Soul and R&B

best neo-soul/R&B guitars

Elevate your Neo-Soul and R&B guitar game with our expertly curated guide. From its R&B origins to the present-day Neo-Soul. We will explore its soundscape and identify the gear required to recreate this signature guitar tone. We will take a closer look at the artists and guitar players who have shaped this genre and made it what it is today.

Our focus is on the equipment used by Neo-Soul/R&B guitarists, and we will highlight the top guitars that are perfect for achieving the signature sound of Neo-Soul and R&B music. By the end of this article, you will have a comprehensive understanding of the best guitars for Neo-Soul and R&B and the key factors to consider when making your purchase. Get ready to elevate your sound and join the ranks of the great Neo-Soul and R&B guitarists.

A little disclaimer: Before we begin, it’s important to note that any guitar can be used to create Neo-Soul music. However, certain guitars may be better suited to this genre due to their tonal characteristics and versatility. 

The Neo-Soul Soundscape:

The Neo-Soul and R&B genre is a fusion of several older genres, including blues, jazz, funk, hip-hop, and soul. Each of these genres has a rich history of guitar music, and as a result, the Neo-Soul genre is receptive to a wide range of guitar models. From hollow-bodied 50s guitars to modern boutique models, the options are endless when it comes to creating the signature sound of Neo-Soul.

In the 1930s and 1940s, electric guitars with P90 pickups and hollow bodies were popular among blues and jazz musicians. As rock and roll rose to prominence in the 1950s and 60s, new models like the Fender Stratocaster and Telecaster, and the Gibson Les Paul and SG were introduced to the market. These guitars continue to be popular choices for Neo-Soul and R&B guitarists today, but they are just a few examples of the wide range of options available.

Understanding Electric Guitar Tone: What Affects Your Sound?

The sound quality and character of an electric guitar are primarily determined by its electronic components, including the pickups, strings, and electronics. While the weight, shape, and neck of a guitar also influence its sound, these features are primarily important for the player’s feel and comfort. By understanding what elements of a guitar affect its sound, we can make more informed decisions when shopping for an instrument.

The Best Guitars for Neo-Soul and R&B: A Guide to the Top Models:

best guitars for neo-soul/R&B

In the world of Neo-Soul and R&B, certain guitar models stand out as particularly popular among players. These include:

While it is possible to play Neo-Soul and R&B on other types of guitars, such as modern, active models, these “old-school” sounding instruments tend to fit the genre particularly well. Ultimately, the best guitar for you will depend on your personal preferences and playing style.

The Gear of Neo-Soul and R&B Guitarists

As a part of our exploration of the best guitars for Neo-Soul and R&B, we thought it would be helpful to take a closer look at the gear used by actual guitarists in these genres. To do this, we researched the equipment preferred by Neo-Soul and R&B players. In this section of the article, we will share what we learned and provide insight into the tools and instruments that help these musicians create their signature sounds.

Raphael Saadiq

neo soul guitar player

Raphael Saadiq is a renowned American singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer who has made a significant contribution to the world of Neo-Soul and R&B. In addition to his successful solo career, Saadiq has played and produced music for a variety of artists, including Stevie Wonder, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, D’Angelo, and John Legend, to name a few.


Raphael Saadiq is known for his affinity for the Telecaster guitar. In fact, it is rare to see him perform on any other model. It is clear that he owns more than one Telecaster, and it is likely that this guitar plays a significant role in shaping his signature sound.

Mexican Telecaster
Squier Telecaster
HH Telecaster

Nile Rodgers

R&B guitarist

Nile Rodgers is a multi-award-winning musician known for his work as a guitarist, singer-songwriter, record producer, and arranger. He is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, chairman of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and has collaborated with many top artists in pop and R&B. He rose to fame in the 1970s with his band Chic and is known for his iconic funky sound in hits such as “Le Freak” and “Good Times.”

He later produced and wrote music for many musicians, including Daft Punk, Madonna, David Bowie, INXS, Duran Duran, The B-52s, Jeff Beck, Mick Jagger, The Vaughan Brothers, Bryan Ferry, Christina Aguilera, Lady Gaga, and more. He won three Grammy Awards in 2014 for his work on Daft Punk’s album Random Access Memories. His ability to bring a unique and innovative touch to the music of others has made him a sought-after collaborator in the pop and R&B genres.

The signature guitar groove of “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk is a defining feature of the song and a beloved part of the duo’s music.


Nile Rodgers’ main instrument is a 1960 Fender Stratocaster with a 1959 neck, which he affectionately calls The Hitmaker. This guitar features a maple fingerboard and a worn white finish. According to Rodgers, it is the guitar that has defined his sound and style, which is why he uses it in most of his performances and recordings. He learned to play it in a “chop chord” or “chucking” style from his bandmate Bernard Edwards in Chic. The Fender Custom Shop introduced a limited-edition recreation of The Hitmaker in January 2014, allowing guitar enthusiasts to own a piece of musical history and emulate Rodgers’ signature sound.

Mexican Stratocaster
Squier Stratocaster
HSS Stratocaster
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Jarius Mozzee

neo soul guitar player

Jarius Mozee is a multi-talented musician who has made a significant impact in the world of Neo-Soul. As a Grammy-award winner, multi-instrumentalist, producer, and artist, he has toured and written music for a variety of artists, including Prince, Anderson Pack, Kendrick Lamar, Janet Jackson, Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, Anthony Hamilton, Cee-Lo, Eric Benet, and Jill Scott, among others.

Mozee’s long list of collaborations and contributions to the Neo-Soul soundscape makes him an ideal subject to examine when searching for the perfect guitar sound for this genre.


As an acclaimed guitar player and producer, Jarius Mozee has become known for the distinct groove and guitar mastery he brings to the Neo-Soul soundscape. After analyzing his online video material, it seems that he primarily uses three main guitars – a Stratocaster with three single-coil pickups, a PRS guitar with double humbuckers and a whammy bar, and a D’Angelico guitar with dual humbuckers.

American Fender Stratocaster

Isaiah Sharkey

neo soul guitar player

Isaiah Sharkey is a Grammy-awarded guitar player who has made a significant impact in the world of Neo-Soul and R&B music. He has recorded and toured with some of the biggest names in the industry, including D’Angelo, Patti Labelle, Boyz II Men, Raphael Saadiq, and many others. Isaiah Sharkey is known for his exceptional guitar skills and his ability to bring a unique sound to the Neo-Soul and R&B music landscape.


Isaiah Sharkey, like many guitar players, likes to experiment with different guitar models. From watching his online videos and performances, it’s clear that he has a few Stratocasters in his collection, as well as a semi-hollow P90 guitar. He also occasionally uses other unique models, like a three-humbucker Stratocaster, showcasing his versatility and willingness to try new sounds.

Fender American Professional II Stratocaster
Epiphone ES-339 P90

The Elite 3: The Best Guitars for Neo-Soul and R&B Music

top 3 neo-soul guitars

When it comes to playing Neo-Soul and R&B music, there are a variety of guitar models to choose from. However, certain models have become more popular among musicians in this genre.

  1. The most popular guitar model in Neo-Soul/R&B is, by far, the three-single-coil Stratocaster. This guitar is known for its versatility and ability to produce a wide range of sounds.
  2. Coming in at a close second are double-humbucker PRS guitars. These guitars are often equipped with a whammy bar and a set of humbuckers. These instruments are known for their rich, warm tones and are often used for lead playing.
  3. Finally, the Telecaster is another popular choice among Neo-Soul/R&B guitarists. The Telecaster is known for its distinctive twangy tone and ability to cut through a mix.

Ultimately, the right guitar model will depend on your preferences, playing style, and musical direction. This list is only a guide to help you make an informed decision when choosing a guitar for Neo-Soul/R&B music.

It is important to note that these top 3 most popular guitar models are not the only options available for musicians. In addition to the Stratocaster, PRS, and Telecaster, many other models can also fit well within this musical spectrum. Examples include:

Why Semi-Hollow Guitars is a Popular Choice for Neo-Soul and R&B Musicians

good guitar for neo soul

When it comes to Neo-Soul and R&B music, many musicians opt for a semi-hollow guitar model with humbucking pickups. These guitars offer a unique combination of features that make them well-suited for this genre.

The semi-hollow guitars provide a warmer, more natural tone than solid-body models. It’s considered the “midway” option between the jazzy, hollow-body guitar and the solid-body guitar. This makes it a versatile choice.

Another advantage is its compatibility with different string gauges. It can work well with higher gauge strings for a more jazzy, “foggy” sound or thinner gauges for a more modern signature.

It also tends to go well with guitar pedals and effects without feedback issues as frequently experienced on hollow-body guitars.

Gon Zadok

Gon Zadok is a Tel Aviv-based session player, recording artist, and independent producer for Simply and local artists. He plays various instruments, including guitar, bass, synths, and ukulele. Gon studied music at Rimon School of Jazz and Contemporary Music in Israel and music production at SAE Institute in Berlin, Germany.

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