In The Style of Joe Bonamassa

By Miguel Ángel Ariza

We could have in front of us the complete ‘world catalogue’ of guitars, grab an innocent hand, tell that person to choose three or four random models and probably they would be three or four models that have passed through the hands of Joe Bonamassa, perhaps the current guitarist most linked to the world of collecting – and a man who seems as passionate as we are at Guitars Exchange. Maybe others we've talked about before have a similar collection but it's very easy to collect an incredible arsenal when you start buying guitars in the 60's. This is not the case of our  hero today, who was born in 1977, and poisoned with the music and the tone of decades before his birth as has happened to many of us today, so why not say it? We feel we identify with Mr. Bonamassa's tastes and tendencies, so why not applaud him? We prefer that these guitars end up on stage and being played in the concerts of a guy who spends nine months a year touring than see them hanging in the museums or on the walls of collectors who have no idea what to do with them.      

So Joe, we are with you, but the truth is that you are a real hard one to talk about in this section, as here we try to summarize in a few lines the sound of a guitarist. Maybe we can talk about this guitarist's style that is powerful and based on hard blues and hard rock. His style is also technical and visceral, that mix that we like so much, but perhaps the former rather than the latter, something that Bonamassa himself acknowledges himself. In fact, he uses a thick string, minimum of 011, just to make it difficult to run around the neck since he knows that in the field of blues, speed almost never goes hand in hand with beauty.      

That said we are going to list some of the jewels in the crown belonging to his private collection and that, we repeat, you can listen to on his albums and see and hear in his concerts. Let's start with the one that, because of the number of times that we've seen him live, we think must be his favorite model: The Gibson Les Paul. This is a guitarist who for years has been using dozens of different guitars in his shows, many of them being the various Les Paul models. In his collection he has not one but several ’59 Gibson Les Paul Standards and at least a couple from 1960, one of them being the one that accompanies him on his current tour. To this model he always adds a Gibson Les Paul Standard Goldtop with P-90's from 1954 or a Gibson Les Paul Custom from 1953 with the same pickups.

With just that paragraph we already have more than a million dollars in guitars but we can finish the article by simply listing others of his jewels, such as his 1950 Fender Broadcaster; a 1956 Stratocaster; or one that has been said to be one of the very first Black Fender Stratocasters in history, from 1955; a Gibson Firebird from 1963; a Fender Jazzmaster from 1966 in the very rare original color 'sea foam green' ... and so on for several pages. So as not to bore the staff, let's highlight the fact that, this
Paul Kossoff fan, it might be that he is a voracious collector but it is the result that accompanies that hobby which is much more important for us, and that is he plays the guitar in an incredible way, which has allowed him to play with the greatest blues guitarists in history and the praise of all of them afterwards, starting with BB King when he was just a kid up to Eric Clapton years later. He is perhaps the youngest of the blues legends at present, and although his style may not be as pure as he wants it to be, we think we should celebrate the great guitars he continues to plug in, the great sounds he produces and the people he makes happy thanks to great guitarists like him.

Find your own way to the tone of Joe Bonamassa