Guitarist extraordinaire Joe Robinson—touring behind his new mostly acoustic album, The Prize—shows PG’s John Bohlinger some of his prized 6-strings, ’60s Fender amps, and effects.
When Joe Robinson was learning to play in the remote village of Temagog, New South Wales, Australia, YouTube was his teacher. Then he discovered Tommy and Phil Emmanuel—Australia’s sibling 6-string slicers—and set out on a path that would lead him to Nashville, where he’s been a part of the city’s guitar cognoscenti for the past 13 years.
At 31, Robinson’s fans include Tommy Emmanuel (who’s been a committed mentor), Steve Vai, Robben Ford, Eric Johnson, Steve Lukather, Albert Lee, Steve Morse, and Lee Ritenour. He’s released six acclaimed albums, performed in 40-plus countries, and continues to serve a large online audience through livestream concerts and his own popular YouTube channel. Robinson shared his current touring rig before an October 18 show at his adopted hometown’s City Winery.
Brought to you by D’Addario XS Coated Strings.
Robinson is equally at home playing fingerstyle on acoustic or flatpicking electric. When he’s on acoustic, Joe plays his 2020 Maton signature model, which features a AA Sitka spruce top, Tasmanian myrtle back and sides, stainless steel frets, and proprietary Maton electronics. It wears Ernie Ball Paradigm or Earthwood sets, gauged .012–.054, but Joe replaces the high E with a heftier .014.
Here’s Joe’s Fender Custom Shop Telecaster styled after a ’53, with 52T pickups designed by Ron Ellis (originally, for Julian Lage), a swamp ash body, and a 9.5" radius neck. It is typically strung Ernie Ball Slinky sets (.010–.046), or, sometimes, Mega Slinkys (.0105–.048).
The “Blessing ’Burst”
This 1960 Les Paul, called the “Blessing Burst,” is being auctioned off for Homes for Our Troops, a nonprofit organization that builds and donates specially adapted custom homes nationwide for severely injured post-9/11 veterans, to enable them to rebuild their lives. HFOT has built more than 345 homes to date, with another 65-plus projects underway nationwide. Robinson played the “Blessing Burst” on this gig, and before that it was on tour with Joe Bonamassa and Marcus King, among others
Fly AER Joe!
Joe usually uses the Udo Roesner Da Capo 75 amp, but on this tour he’s using his tiny but mighty AER alpha because it fits in his flight case.
This 3-dial Fender toughie is from 1967, and Joe uses it for recording electric guitars as well as solo gigs, since it fits, well, just about anywhere!
His burlier amps are a 1966 Fender Deluxe and a Magic Amplification tweed-style. If he needs to get really loud, Joe also has a 1967 Fender Showman that was modded by tube amp guru Kye Kennedy that he runs with a 1x15. Oh, and that’s an Amp RX Brown Box input voltage attenuator out front.
Yes, This is JR’s ’Board
Robinson’s pedals sit on a Pedaltrain Metro 20 with a CIOKS DC-5 power supply hidden underneath. It’s divided into acoustic and electric sides. The acoustic domain houses a TC Electronic PolyTune Mini and a Boss RC-1 Loop Station. For electrics: another TC PolyTune Mini, a Dunlop Cry Baby Mini, a Nobels ODR-1 mini (run at 18v), another Boss RC-1, and a TC Hall of Fame mini.