Joe Bonamassa

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Joe Bonamassa
Joe Bonamassa

Joe Bonammasa is a widely regarded American , blues rock guitarist. He has been described by Guitarist Magazine as “the new king of the blues” . He has described his influences as the great British blues rock players like Eric Clapton, Paul Kosoff, Jeff Beck, Rory Galagher and Peter Green. He has played alongside many of the greats including Clapton and B.B. King. He recently played a concert at The Royal Albert Hall in London which sold out very quickly and which was very well received. At various times during the concert he was joined on stage by guest musicians including Eric Clapton and Paul Jones (blues harmonica player ex of The Manfred Mann Group). Joe described the night as one of the best of his life and a recording of the show is available on DVD.


Early Life

He was born in Utica, New York in 1977 and learned guitar from an early age having been given his first guitar by his father at the age of 5. He proved to be a natural guitarist and was by the age of 7 already picking out SRV licks! At the age of 11 was mentored by guitarist Danny Gatton (number 63 in Rolling Stone Magazine list of 100 best guitarists), and would often jam with his band. At 14 he met up with the sons of some famous musicians including Berry Oakley, Jr. (son of Berry Oakley, bassist of The Allman Brothers), Miles Davis's son Erin and Waylon Krieger son of Robby Krieger (formally of The Doors) . Together they formed the group Bloodline and released an album from which came two successful singles — "Stone Cold Hearted", and "Dixie Peach." The high standard of playing on the album was widely recognised and acknowledged particularly that of Joe Bonamassa but the songwriting was less favourably perceived.

Music Career

Joe has developed into one of the best blues/rock musicians he plays an average of 200 shows a year. His shows of course include his own material but he also brings his virtuosity to classic blues and rock covers.

His first solo recording, A New Day Yesterday, was made in 2000 and was produced by Tom Dowd. The title track, was a cover of a Jethro Tull hit. His more recent recordings have been made with with producer Kevin Shirley (who also produced Led Zeppelin and Black Crowes.)
Recently, he was named Guitar Player’s “Best Blues Guitarist” in 2007 and 2008 and has won Blues Wax’s “Artist of the Year” an unprecedented three times.

Joe is unusuall in that he allows audience members to take photos and even video his shows.


2000 – A New Day Yesterday
2002 – So, It's Like That
2002 – A New Day Yesterday, Live
2003 – Blues Deluxe
2004 – Had To Cry Today
2006 – You & Me
2007 – Sloe Gin
2008 – Live From Nowhere in Particular
2009 - The Ballad of John Henry


Joe's Guitar
Joe's Guitar

The video below shows Joe explaining about his setup. He has some amazing gear which he uses to get a fantastic blues/rock tone.

He maintains two rigs for live work one in the UK and one in USA which avoids shipping his gear back and forwards for shows.

Most frequently he plays a Les Paul guitar, notably a Joe Bonammassa Gold Top signature model. You can have your very own for about $4,000! He also plays Gibson Les Paul R9 and various Strats and a signature Gigliotti GT guitar which is very unusual in that it has a brass metal top. The Gigliotti is very very expensive but is available to rent should you wish to try one!!

On stage he switches between four amp heads:

  • A 100 W Van Weelden Special which he uses with a boss reverb pedal
  • A high gain head made by Two Rock which he explains gives a big rounded tone with extra sparkle giving him an Eric Johnston like sound
  • A Category 5 super lead giving a cleaner sound, often used with a custom made Fuzz Face pedal.
  • A Carol-Ann signature JB-100 head. Initial production of these amps was limited to only ten amps. Each of these JB-100 amps was played at a gig by Joe and then signed before being handed over to the purchaser with a certificate of authenticity!

His pedal board is fairly standard having a Vox wah wah and he says he uses a standard tube screamer with everything.


Related GMC Lessons

Saturated Slide by Alberto Catasso


--Boson 09:48, 18 October 2009 (CEST)