On a summer tour supporting his Time Clocks album, Joe Bonamassa unveils some new 6-strings and old favorites, and plays through what’s arguably the most covetable collection of onstage tube amps ever assembled.
After moving back to New York City, Joe Bonamassa spent some lockdown time in Germano Studios in Manhattan’s NoHo neighborhood, tightly winding the music for his latest album, Time Clocks. His longtime producer Joe Shirley had to work with the powerhouse guitarist remotely, from his home in Australia. Yet the result is as seamlessly Bonamassa as ever, with riveting guitar work that has echoes ranging from Africa to Led Zeppelin. “My ADD transcends into my musical life,” the other JB told longtime Premier Guitar contributor Joe Charupakorn in our December feature. “It’s a very different record for me. It’s not a blues record, for sure. I just try to make records that don’t bore me all the way through—we’ve got this groove covered, we’ve got that groove covered, let’s put a sorbet in, something out of left field.”
They don’t serve sorbet at Nashville’s hallowed Ryman Auditorium music hall—although I’m putting that in their suggestion box. But Bonamassa did dish out plenty of guitar flambé at his August 2 headliner there. And melded the music of Time Clocks with a selection of some of his favorite classic and original blues. PG’s JB—that’s me—connected with Joe onstage before the show, where I also did a Rig Rundown with that other guy with my initials in 2018.
This time, there were some new members of Bonamassa’s ever-growing-and-shrinking collection of gear—which he spoke about at length earlier this year with Cory Wong on the rhythm guitar kingpin’s Wong Notes podcast for PG—pressed into service, including some recent-arrival Les Pauls, of course, and perhaps the most covetable collection of historic badass amps ever played on the Ryman stage. But rareness, novelty, or familiarity isn’t what determines which toys come out to play. Bonamassa starts by building a rough set list, and then chooses the right instrument and amps for each song. So, watch, look, and listen!
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Joe’s 1968 Fender Telecaster Thinline has a B-bender and a Seymour Duncan the Bludgeon pickup set. The new pickup outfit is patterned after the distinctive sounding ones in JB’s ’51 Nocaster and are going into production soon. The maestro strings most of his electrics with Ernie Ball .011 to .052 sets.
Here’s another 1955 Strat in the fleet, joining the hardtail the JB’s named “the Best.” He keeps this one tuned to D and it's stringed with a slightly heavier gauge of Ernie Balls: .011 to .056.
A Bonnie Strat
That ain’t vandalism. It’s love and friendship. Joe asked his friend Bonnie Bramlett, the vocalist who made rock and roots history as half of the famed duo Delaney and Bonnie, to engrave her name on this 1955 Fender Stratocaster—which is now known as “Bonnie.”
About Face, ’55
Here’s the front side of the “Bonnie” Strat.
Les Paul for Sale
JB was asked to play this 1960 Gibson Les Paul Standard on tour until it is auctioned off for charity. The auction has yet to be announced. And while ’58s and ’59s have long been consider the Holy Grail of Les Paul, anyone who’s heard Clapton’s tone on the so-called Beano album knows that ’60s are also the bomb. Coming up on the collectability scale: late ’60s Pauls. Don’t believe it? Play one!
A Great ’58
This 1958 Gibson Les Paul Standard is a recent purchase. At some point the original tuners were swapped out for Schallers, and that’s how Joe’s kept it.
The Les Paul Under the Stairs
Dig this early 1960 Gibson Les Paul Standard, which Joe has named “Royal Albert.” It was recently found in an under-the-stairs cupboard in England. After a bit of work and the addition of some PAFs, it’s got a new life on tour.
For Another $20….
What’s the difference between Gibson’s ES-335 and ES-355? Back in the day, in practical terms, it was 20 bucks. But another difference is that the 355 and the 345 came in stereo-wired versions. And the optional Varitone circuitry—Gibson’s chicken-head-dial-controlled tone filter—for ES-355 models was typically standard. That makes this all-stock 1964 Gibson ES-355 very rare. There’s no Varitone and it came wired out of the factory in mono.
It ain’t no eagle, but this all-stock 1976 Gibson Firebird Bicentennial salutes in open G. They were only issued for three years and sell for $5,000 plus these days. Plus, this special run were all adorned with a white pickguard where a red-white-and-blue Firebird logo nests.
Amos the Imposter
The Gibson Custom Shop provided Bonamassa this detailed replica of his remarkable, all-original 1958 Gibson Flying V. Check out the run Epiphone did on the historic V back in 2017.
Back in Black
This 1955—that year again!—Stratocaster may be the first black Fender Strat. It was formerly owned by Howard Reed, the guitarist who replaced Cliff Gallup in Gene Vincent and the Blue Caps. Back in 1988, an 11-year-old Joe had a poster of this very guitar on his bedroom wall, and now he owns it. For the past several years, this guitar has made JB’s annual trip to the Ryman and you can visit the black ’55 any time you enter the Mother Church.
Adventures in Ampland
Seven amazing amps? Yeah, that should do it. And Joe combines them to recreate all the sterling tones on his albums. There’s a 1979 Dumble Overdrive Special running into a 2x12 Dumble Cab with JB-85 Celestions. The speakers are rated at 85 watts, natch, and 8 ohms, and are among the loudest speakers Celestion’s ever made. JB’s 2006 Dumble Overdrive Special combo blasts through the same-model speaker. There’s a Mesa/Boogie Revolver rotary speaker cabinet in the mix, too, with a single JB-85, and an ’84 Overdrive Special with the same. Two of his signature Fender Twin Reverbs figure in, and while these usually come in tweed, Joe had this pair tuxedo’d in black.
Four off the Floor
And if you’ve had trouble finding Marshall Silver Jubilee 100-watt heads lately, it might be because Bonamassa has four of them, running two at a time into a Van Weelden 4x12 cab, split internally to run as two 2x12s juiced with EVM12Ls.
Joe Bonamassa’s Pedalboard
JB keeps a very orderly guitar pedalboard. It’s currently stocked with a Way Huge Overrated Special, a Tone Mechanics/Racksystems Loop Box, a Tone Mechanics/Racksystems Splitter, a Fulltone Supa-Trem, a Hughes & Kettner Rotosphere, a Boss DD-2 Digital Delay, an MXR Micro Flanger, an Ibanez TS808 Tube Screamer, an Electro-Harmonix Micro POG, a Dunlop Joe Bonamassa Fuzz Face, a Lehle A/B/C switcher, a Dunlop signature Cry Baby Wah in Pelham blue, and an on/off/fast/slow dual switch for the Mesa Boogie Revolver. Juice comes from a Voodoo Labs Pedal Power 2 Plus. Joe uses KLOTZ cables and custom Dunlop Jazz III picks.
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Kick off the holiday season by shopping for the guitar player in your life at Guitar Center! Now through December 24th 2022, save on exclusive instruments, accessories, apparel, and more with hundreds of items at their lowest prices of the year.
We’ve compiled this year’s best deals in the 2022 Holiday Gift Guide presented by Guitar Center.
Sporting custom artwork etched onto the covers, the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One Humcutters are designed to offer a fat midrange and a smooth top end.
Billy Corgan was looking for something for heavier Smashing Pumpkins songs, so Joe Naylor designed the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One pickup. Sporting custom artwork etched onto the covers, the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One Humcutters have a fat midrange and a smooth top end. This pickup combines the drive and sustain of a humbucker with the percussive attack and string clarity of a P90. Get beefy P90 tone plus amp-pummeling output with the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One.
Patented Railhammer Pickups take passive guitar pickups to a new level with rails under the wound strings lead to tighter lows, and poles under the plain strings offer fatter heights. With increased clarity, the passive pickup’s tone is never sterile.
Railhammer Billy Corgan Signature Z-One Pickup Demo
For more information, please visit railhammer.com.
Designed for utmost comfort and performance, the Vertigo Ultra Bass is Mono’s answer to those who seek the ultimate gigging experience.
Complete with a range of game-changing design features, such as the patent-pending attachable FREERIDE Wheel System, premium water-resistant and reflective materials, shockproof shell structure and improved ergonomic features, the Vertigo Ultra Bass takes gear protection to the next level.
The Vertigo Ultra Bass features:
- Patent-pending FREERIDE Wheel System that allows for wheels to be attached on the case in no time, giving you the option to travel with it seamlessly
- Upgraded materials, including a water-resistant 1680D Ballistic Nylon outer shell, plush inner lining and new reflective trim for maximum backstage and night visibility
- Enhanced protection with a shockproof shell structure and heavy-duty water-resistant YKK zippers for protection from the elements
- Improved ergonomics and functionality including added back support and load-lifting detachable shoulder straps with side release buckles
- Flexible storage options with added space for touring essentials
The Generation Collection of acoustic guitars features the exclusive Gibson Player Port designed to offer a unique and immersive sonic experience.
The G-Bird, the newest addition to the Generation Collection--represents the glorious legacy of the Gibson Hummingbird colliding with modern sonic enhancement through the Gibson Player Port to add a new dimension to the G-Bird sound. The Gibson Player Port allows players to hear more of themselves as the audience hears it. With a tone that is crisp and resonant, all of the Gibson Generation Collection acoustics are designed to be comfortable to hold and play for long periods of time. All Generation Collection guitars feature the Gibson Player Port, slim, lightweight bodies, a flatter fingerboard radius, Walnut back and sides, Sitka spruce tops, and a stunning Natural finish. Additionally, the new G-Bird, and the G-200 and G-Writer are equipped with LR Baggs™ Element Bronze pickup systems which amplify deep bass and crystal-clear highs.
The G-Bird represents the glorious legacy of the Gibson Hummingbird with modern sonic enhancement through the Gibson Player Port adding a new dimension to the G-Bird’s sound. The G-Bird features a stunning solid Sitka spruce top and solid walnut back and sides for the ultimate in crisp, resonant tone. This square-shoulder dreadnought delivers all the rich low end and well-balanced mids and highs the original Hummingbird is famous for. The TUSQ nut and saddle, along with chrome Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners, deliver solid tuning stability so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning. The utile neck, with its easy-playing Advanced Response neck profile, is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-Bird also comes equipped with an LR Baggs Element Bronze pickup system, so it will always sound as good to your audience as it does to you. The G-Bird also comes equipped with an LR Baggs™ Element Bronze pickup system, so it will always sound as good to your audience as it does to you. The G-Bird is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is included.
Modeled after Gibson’s pioneering small-body parlor acoustic guitars from the 1930’s, the G-00 is a top choice for blues and fingerstyle guitar performances. Despite its more compact size, the G-00 achieves a full, balanced sound. The G-00 fills any room with rich tones-which players can hear like never before, with the exclusive Gibson Player Port. Like all models in the Gibson Generation Collection, the G-00 is handcrafted in Bozeman, Montana, by the same highly--skilled craftspeople who make all Gibson acoustic guitars. The G-00 features a beautiful solid Sitka spruce top and solid Walnut back and sides for tone that sounds crisp and resonant. The slightly thinner G-00 parlor-sized body is exceptionally comfortable to hold and play. The TUSQ nut and saddle along with the Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners, deliver solid tuning stability so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning, and the utile neck with its easy-playing neck profile is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-00 is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is included.
The G-45, a round-shouldered jumbo, adds the Gibson Player Port to its famous “Workhorse” J-45 style body, which is Gibson’s best-selling acoustic guitar of all time. On the G-45, players can now hear more clearly than ever how this beloved guitar responds to every style and technique of playing. Powerful one moment and soft the next, the G-45 delivers all sounds with incredible dynamic range in an elegant, medium body size. The G-45 is part of the Gibson Generation Collection and like all models in this collection, it is handcrafted in Bozeman, MT, by the same highly skilled craftspeople who make all Gibson acoustics. It features a solid Sitka spruce top and solid Walnut back and sides for tone that sounds crisp and resonant. The G-45 features a slightly thinner round shoulder body is exceptionally comfortable to hold and play. The TUSQ nut and saddle, along with the Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners deliver solid tuning stability, so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning, and the utile neck with its easy-playing neck profile is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-45 is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is included.
Gibson’s impressive range of square-shouldered guitars have become an expressive standard for rock, pop, folk, and country artists. The G-Writer is known for its wide range of sounds, from gutsy and loud, to soft and sweet; they are superb for all styles and shine, whether strumming chords or fingering intricate solos. The G-Writer comes ready for the stage or studio with an LR Baggs Element Bronze pickup system and the ear-opening Gibson Player Port. The G-Writer is part of the Gibson Generation Collection and like all models in this collection, it is handcrafted in Bozeman, MT, by the same highly skilled craftspeople who make all Gibson acoustics. It features a solid Sitka spruce top and solid Walnut back and sides for tone that sounds crisp and resonant. The G-Writer features a slightly thinner cutaway body, is more comfortable to play and provides effortless access to the upper frets. The TUSQ nut and saddle, along with the Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners deliver solid tuning stability, so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning, and the utile neck with its easy-playing neck profile is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-Writer is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is also included.
Gibson built its first “Super Jumbo” SJ-200 as a custom order for country and western singer and film star Ray Whitley, who desired a big, loud, and deep flat-top over which to croon. The SJ-200 quickly became a staple of cowboy singers and horseback troubadours, and then country music, 60’s folk stars, and onto every acoustic guitar genre that has followed. Ray would be proud to hear the booming sound from the Gibson Player Port on the new G-200, which comes ready for the stage or studio with a LR Baggs Element Bronze pickup system. Like all models in the Gibson Generation Collection, the G-200 is handcrafted in Bozeman, MT, by the same highly--skilled craftspeople who make all Gibson acoustics. The G-200 features a beautiful solid Sitka spruce top and solid Walnut back and sides for tone that sounds crisp and resonant. The slightly thinner G-200 cutaway jumbo body is exceptionally comfortable to hold and provides excellent access to the upper frets. The TUSQ nut and saddle, along with the Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners, deliver solid tuning stability so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning, and the utile neck with its easy-playing neck profile is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-200 is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is also included.
G-Bird | Generation Collection
For more information, please visit gibson.com.