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This is what a Gibson ES-335 sounds like in the right hands

Kirk Fletcher
(Image credit: Mitch Conrad)

Kirk Fletcher is one of the best blues guitarists on today’s scene.

His jaw-dropping technique, tasteful tone and extensive knowledge of the blues guitar craft has seen him sharing stages with the likes of the Fabulous Thunderbirds and Joe Bonamassa.

“I started when I was about eight years old,” Fletcher told Guitarist magazine.

“I’d wake up in the morning, look at my guitar first thing, it would be propped up against the chair… and my whole life has been pretty much that.”

Kirk Fletcher

(Image credit: Future)

Fletcher’s latest album – Heartache by the Pound – was recorded at the legendary FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.

“FAME is the mother church for soul music,” commented the guitarist.

“It’s the same building where all these fantastic people like Otis Rush and Aretha Franklin have recorded.

“I wanted the vibe. I needed to bring these songs there.”

Backing Fletcher for the FAME sessions were keyboardist Reese Wynans (Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble, Buddy Guy, John Mayall); drummer Terrence F. Clark (Robert Cray Band, Joss Stone); and bass guitar player Randy Bermudes (The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Charlie Musselwhite).

Kirk Fletcher

(Image credit: Ogierea Records)

In a recent video posted on his YouTube channel, Fletcher can be seen and heard playing a gorgeous Natural finish, dot neck ES-335 from Gibson's Murphy Lab.

Speaking of the classic semi-hollow guitar, the blues maestro says, “It sustains and sounds really great – really clear and articulate, but warm at the same time (like a good 335).”

Later, Fletcher reveals he prefers Ernie Ball Regular Slinky Nickel Wound (opens in new tab) electric guitar strings on most guitars (“Gibson or Fender”) although will go up to a set of .011-gauge if need be.

Always play melodies

Kirk Fletcher

“Ernie Balls are so consistent,” he tells us. “They hold tune really well and they feel right.”

And when it comes to making your instrument sing, Fletcher has some sound advice: “Always play melodies,” he advises, “instead of just playing lead guitar licks.

“In some kind of way, try and incorporate that melody in there… Like playing little phrases.”

Watch and learn from one of the best in the business…

Order Heartache By the Pound by Kirk Fletcher here (opens in new tab).

Rod Brakes is a music journalist with an expertise in guitars. Having spent many years at the coalface as a guitar dealer and tech, Rod's more recent work as a writer covering artists, industry pros and gear includes contributions for leading publications and websites such as Guitarist, Total Guitar, Guitar World (opens in new tab)Guitar Player (opens in new tab) and MusicRadar (opens in new tab) in addition to specialist music books, blogs and social media. He is also a lifelong musician.