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JOE BONAMASSA: Biography, Guitars, and Pedalboard

Joe Bonamassa is known to be an American guitarist, and one of the greatest figures in the history of modern blues. Although he also stands out for being one of the most relevant Rock guitarists of recent times.

Joe Bonamassa: Biography

Joe Bonamassa was born in 1977 in the town of New Hartford in the state of New York. Growing up immersed in the world of music and the guitar in particular. Since his father apart from being a guitarist, was also a guitar salesman. Knowing Joe the instrument as if it were one of his first toys, forming the guitars according to his own words, part of the family decoration.

Starting to play the guitar at the age of four. Being already at the age of seven an expert playing Blues influenced by guitarists such as B. B. King, Eric Clapton, Rory Gallagher, Gary Moore, or Steve Ray Vaughan.

Adding to these influences Rock bands like Free, Led Zeppelin, or Thin Lizzy. Increasing his dexterity at a speed rarely seen, and with a mixture of styles that in the end, would be definitive in his training as a musician.

Infant prodigy

For Bonamassa, the instrument became an extension of himself, which soon made him a child prodigy and a real promise in the world of music. But especially in the world of blues, in need of a revamp. Since hardly any new figures of international stature have emerged, since the appearance of Steve Ray Vaughan.

Starting to give his first concerts in small blues venues with only 10 years of age. Turning Joe into a true bluesman after receiving classes from one of the leading figures of the blues; Danny Gatton.

Definitively boosting his career as a guitarist with only 12 years of age. Playing alongside legendary figures from blues history like B.B. King, Danny Gatton, or Robert Cray.

In his teens, Joe moved to California and formed the Blues Rock Band Bloodline in 1991. With which he would release a single studio album in 1994. Dissolving the line-up after the album promotion tour.

Joe Bonamassa Starts His Solo Career

Focusing on Bonamassa after the dissolution of the previous group, in his role as a soloist. Starting in singing, developing his own style, and his own compositions.

After some years giving concerts in tributes to the great bluesman, and training his vocal side, Joe begins to show a greater interest in his rock influences, without neglecting at any time, his attraction to the blues.

Turning his sound more personal and with more punch, associating his music with the Gibson Les Paul guitar and the influence of Gary Moore's style.

Publishing his first solo album in 2000 ("A New Day Yesterday"). The reception of this album was mixed. His aggressive and distorted style was criticized by the most hermetic purists of the blues but praised by much of the critics for his particular and renovating vision of the blues.

If the purists were not satisfied, Joe would release in 2002 a new album with even more punch and force than the previous one ("So, It's Like That"). Bonamassa rising as a true figure of Blues-Rock.

 In 2003 he would release the album "Blues Deluxe" packed with all-time versions of blues music. Recovering the essence of the style, but contributing its virtuosity and ability.

And in 2004 he released a new album ("Hard to cry today") with an approach to the blues that seems to reconcile Bonamassa with the more critical and purist sector.

In 2006 Joe would release the album You & Me, beginning the most glorious and rocky era of Bonamassa.

And in 2007 he would publish a new studio album (Sloe Gin) definitively earning Joe Bonamassa his place in the blues-rock Olympus. Releasing in 2009 a new and successful album (The ballad of John Henry) with legendary songs such as the version of the song "Stop!" by Sam Brown.

"Black Country Communion"

In 2010 Joe would form the group "Black Country Communion" along with other rock stars such as Jason Bonham, Glenn Hughes, and Derek Sherinian. Introducing Bonamassa at Hard Rock. Dissolving the band in 2013 after the publication of three studio albums (BCC, BCC2, and Afterglow).

One year after the beginning of his participation in this group, in 2011, Joe Bonamassa publishes his first album in collaboration with the singer of Soul and Blues, Beth Hart. Reaching great success both in-studio edition and in live performances. Sowing what in the end has become a constant collaboration.

Publishing in 2013 his second album in collaboration with the great singer (Seesaw). And at the beginning of 2018 the third (Black coffee). Making a display of claw in the interpretation, by the singer and the guitarist.

Although Bonamassa published with numerous artists, Joe has not stopped doing his own solo editions. Releasing a dozen studio albums from 2000 to date. The last one in 2016 (Blues of Desperation).

Joe Bonamassa: Guitars, Pedals, and Amps

Joe Bonamassa has used a myriad of different guitar models including the Fender Telecaster and Stratocaster models. Especially at the beginning of his career. But his most characteristic guitars are the Gibson models such as the SG, ES335, Flying V, Firebird, and especially the Les Paul model. He even has and uses his signature Les Paul model.


Peter Green Modification

Although he also uses other Les paul models such as the Signature Gary Moore. This model incorporates the modification Peter Green (Peter Green Mod). This modification consists of rotating the internal magnet bar of the neck pickup 180 degrees. Obtaining a more acute and nasal tone out of phase tremendously bluesy, when both pills are activated together.

With the pickup activated alone, it would sound the standard way, but when activated in conjunction with the bridge pickup you can see the phase shift between the two pickups.

If our neck pickup is un-potato, it's pretty easy to do. If the tablet has been dipped in wax (which is quite common), the plate should be heated as little as possible to soften the wax and thus be able to remove the magnet. Because if we heat it too much, the cable of the coils can break and damage the microphone.

Once the plate is heated, the most normal thing is that we have to re-immerse the tablet in wax. Calling this process potato.

This would be the basics of this modification, leaving also turning the pickup as something optional. With the pickup turned we will get a slightly less thick sound, than in the standard way, but the heart of this modification is to turn the internal magnet of the pickup.


Pass the Strings Over the Tailpiece

Something that he always repeats in his Les Pauls, is to lower the tailpiece to the minimum, insert the strings in the opposite direction to the standard, and then pass them over the tailpiece. In this way the strings would cram with less force on the bridge, reducing the tension of the strings of a certain thickness. Improving manageability, but sustain and tailpiece finish may be affected.

The strings used by Bonamassa are from the Dean Markley brand, with a fairly thick gauge (11-52).


Amplifiers Used by Joe Bonamassa

The variety of amplifiers is quite wide:

 - Marshall Silver Jubilee 25/55 100W Amp Head

 - Marshall Category 5

 - Carol-Ann JB-100 Joe Bonamassa Signature Head

 - Van Weelden Twinkleland 100W.


Effects Pedals

Among the pedals used by Bonamassa are:

 - Dunlop Cry Baby Signature wah

 - Fulltone Supa-Trem

 - Dunlop Bonamassa Fuzz Face

 - Way Huge Pork Loin Overdrive

 - Ibanez Tube Screamer ts-808

 - MXR Micro Flanger

 - MXR Custom Shop Joe Bonamassa FET Driver CSP265

 - Boss DD-3

 - Hughes & Kettner Rotosphere.


Joe Bonamassa is a star forged in the most traditional essences of Blues, but who has known how to evolve and modernize the genre towards his own style. Although many blues legends have now disappeared, Bonamassa continues the legacy of the greatest bluesmen, tirelessly touring the world year after year. Keeping alive, the blue flame.

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