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Contributed by: Mason Keyser

The Pantheon of Blues Gods is a crowded place, full of great names and awe-inspiring musicians. It would be impossible to cover them all adequately, but Jamplay has selected a handful that each offer a little something different to the new guitarist or someone returning to the instrument. First we’ll be covering Duane Allman, Eric Clapton, and Jimi Hendrix — three great guitarists who have inspired millions of people to pick up the six string. Whether you just bought your first guitar, or you just dusted off the acoustic sitting in your closet, you’ll find something worth learning from these three legendary players.

Of all the great blues guitarists, Duane Allman might be the most unique. His use of a slide and his mastery of guitar and amp tones continue to inspire guitarists today. If you’re a new guitarist or someone returning to the instrument, Duane is a great musician to emulate because he requires a bare minimum of gear to get his sound. Let’s get into what that bare minimum includes and go over the real key to Duane’s sound: the approach and the technique.

Duane Allman


Duane was famous for using a variety of Les Pauls (‘57 Gold Top, ‘59 Cherry Burst, etc.) but you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars for the right guitar. Focus on finding a guitar with a short scale neck and humbucker pickups. Basically you’re looking for a fuzzy, warm tone that will sound great when played at high volume. If your current guitar doesn’t have those two features, don’t worry. Dial the treble off your tone and really push your bass frequencies up without becoming muddy. Aim for warmth in your guitar tone. 


Duane Allman played many different amps throughout his life and he played them all loud. If you’re wanting to really replicate that overdriven sound of his, you should invest in a tube amp. Tube amps sound amazing when they break up, but that means you need to play loud. A good rule of thumb here is the higher the wattage of the amp, the louder you’re going to have to crank that volume knob to get the tone you want.

Tube amps are definitely more expensive (and heavier) than solid state amps, but if your back and your bank can afford it, go for it. Duane used Fender amps for the initial stages of his career before moving off into Marshall. Either amp line will serve you well, so long as you get a tube amp.  


Duane Allman’s pedal arsenal was puny compared to what most modern guitarists use today. You really want to rely on your amp to get the overdriven tone that Duane is famous for. But if you’re dead set on pedals, then just about any overdrive or boost pedal should work for you and make breaking that amp up a little easier.


Be calm, be cool, be collected. Duane Allman played like ice, watch any live footage and you’ll see what I mean. He was not a theatrical musician, he just focused on the music and on his hands. Even at the peak of a solo the most he did was sway along with the music. Duane was playing with two drummers, another guitarist, a bassist, and keys. There was already a lot going on, and the possibility of muddying up the sound was real and present. He gave all that was required for the Allman sound, and no more. 


When you’re trying to evoke Duane Allman in your solos, the number one word to remember is consistency. Make sure your licks tie together in a meaningful, melodic way. Intersperse your playing with some soulful sustained notes and think rhythmically and repetitively when you’re improvising.

Duane Allman is a difficult player to emulate if you’re not comfortable using a slide.

Jamplay offers a new, free course that is a great introduction to using a slide in the Duane Allman style, but a slide is not necessary to sound like Duane Allman. What is necessary, or at least highly recommended, are a few key pieces of gear and a whole lot of attention to approach and technique.

If you want more information about how to dial in your tone with what you already have, check out Jamplay’s lesson on gear and tone and see how they work together.

JamPlay is home to more than 500,000 guitarists with guitar lessons from world class instructor artists in every genre and for every interest to power up your guitar skill. Join at

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