What Guitar Does Billy Strings Play? | A Deep Dive Into the Guitars

Renowned in the bluegrass realm, Billy Strings stands out not just for his extraordinary guitar skills but also for his deeply emotive songwriting. In the intricate tapestry of his musical journey, the guitar is not merely an instrument but a profound extension of his artistic soul.

This article ventures into the heart of Billy Strings’ world, exploring how his choice of guitar is not just a matter of preference but a key influencer of his distinctive musical expression.

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With each strum and pick, his guitars resonate with the rich heritage of bluegrass while echoing his innovative spirit. Our deep dive into Billy Strings’ guitars offers insight into how these instruments shape his unparalleled sound, making him a modern icon in the genre.

The Signature Guitar Sound of Billy Strings

Bluegrass, a genre deeply rooted in the Appalachian region, is synonymous with vibrant acoustic sounds and highly skilled musicianship. Its evolution, blending elements of country, folk, and blues, has given rise to artists like Billy Strings who have taken it a step further.

Billy has pushed the boundaries of traditional bluegrass by incorporating flavors from other genres like rock, jazz, and even metal. Central to this unique fusion is his guitar work, which offers a beautiful blend of classic and experimental sounds.

Billy Strings and His Guitars

Music has been a constant companion for Billy Strings since his early years. His first brush with a guitar was an old acoustic passed down from his father. This instrument was instrumental in shaping his budding musicality and developing his now-iconic flatpicking style.

In his professional journey, Billy Strings is synonymous with the Preston Thompson Dreadnought, his guitar of choice.

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Photo: Jesse Faatz

This acoustic guitar, recognized for its potent sound and rich tone, is almost an extension of his musical persona. On it, he has crafted many crowd favorites and delivered numerous electrifying performances.

Deep Dive: Preston Thompson Dreadnought

Preston Thompson Guitars, hailing from Sisters, Oregon, is celebrated for crafting top-notch, handmade acoustic guitars. Billy Strings’ chosen model, the Preston Thompson Dreadnought, is acclaimed for its excellent balance in tone, significant volume, and unparalleled playability.

The Dreadnought model owned by Billy features an Adirondack spruce top and Brazilian rosewood back and sides, materials known for superior resonance and durability. These characteristics contribute to the guitar’s warm, powerful sound that the Dreadnought is renowned for.

Strings favors the Dreadnought for its capability to complement his intense picking style, while consistently delivering a crisp, robust tone. Its considerable size also makes it an apt fit for Strings’ dynamic performances.

Other Guitars in Billy Strings’ Arsenal

Billy Strings’ musical versatility is mirrored in his selection of guitars. While the Preston Thompson Dreadnought remains his primary instrument, he occasionally explores other guitars..

The Martin D-28 is one such acoustic guitar that makes rare appearances in his performances. Recognized for its complete, balanced tone, the D-28 offers a more traditional bluegrass sound.

When it comes to electric guitars, Billy has been seen wielding the legendary Gibson Les Paul. The Les Paul, with its solid body and resonant tone, provides Billy with a broader sonic landscape to venture into genres beyond bluegrass.

Billy Strings’ Guitar Playing Techniques

Strings’ guitar techniques are as diverse as his choice of guitars. Each instrument offers a different style of play, shaping the techniques he employs.

Strings’ mastery of Flatpicking is particularly noteworthy, and the Dreadnought plays a significant part in this. Its large size and robust tone are perfectly suited to his intense flatpicking approach.

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Moreover, Billy Strings utilizes a hybrid picking style, a seamless fusion of Flatpicking and fingerpicking techniques. This unique approach enables him to smoothly traverse complex musical segments, delivering performances that captivate audiences.

How Guitar Choice Influences Billy Strings’ Songwriting

Billy Strings’ guitar choice plays a substantial role in his songwriting process. The personality and tonal quality of the guitar often inspire the melodies and chord progressions in his compositions.

The Dreadnought, with its resonant, full-bodied sound, complements Strings’ intricate bluegrass compositions. Its powerful tone and volume often stimulate him to devise complex musical sections that test the limits of the genre.

The distinct sounds and tones that each guitar generates can ignite new creative sparks, leading to original and inventive compositions. This is evident in the extensive musical spectrum Billy Strings has produced, showcasing his impressive adaptability and creativity.

Billy Strings’ Advice for Aspiring Guitarists

Strings advocates that choosing the right guitar can be pivotal in a musician’s journey. He suggests that a guitar should feel comfortable to hold and resonate with your style of music.

For novices, he recommends beginning with an acoustic guitar due to its versatility and simplicity. More importantly, he stresses that the instrument should inspire you to practice and create music.

Frequently Asked Questions

In this section, we will be delving into some of the most common inquiries and curiosities that surround our topic.

What was the first guitar that Billy Strings played?

Billy Strings’ first guitar was an old acoustic guitar, handed down to him by his father. It was on this guitar that he first started developing his love for music and honing his guitar-playing skills.

What other guitars has Billy Strings played during his career?

Apart from the Preston Thompson Dreadnought, Billy Strings has also been seen playing the Martin D-28 acoustic guitar, known for its traditional bluegrass sound. In terms of electric guitars, he’s used the iconic Gibson Les Paul, which has allowed him to explore a wider range of musical styles beyond bluegrass.

How does Billy Strings customize his guitars for his needs?

Billy Strings’ main instrument, the Preston Thompson Dreadnought, has some custom features. This includes an Adirondack spruce top and Brazilian rosewood back and sides, which contribute to the instrument’s superior resonance and durability. The specifics of other customizations, such as action setup, string gauge, and any modifications to the guitar’s electronics, have not been publicly disclosed by Billy.


Billy Strings’ choice of guitars provides a window into his musical journey, exhibiting his evolution as an artist.

From his humble beginnings with his first guitar to his signature performances with the Preston Thompson Dreadnought, each instrument has played a crucial role in shaping his unique sound.

The enduring influence of Billy Strings and his guitars underlines his versatility, inventiveness, and the impact he has had on bluegrass music.

Clearly, the guitars he plays are more than just instruments; they are integral elements of his musical identity.

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