Sunday, November 23, 2014

Joe Bonamassa Gear Guide

ADHD's Gear Guides at any Budget. I'm a firm believer that the tone comes from the hands. If your trying to achieve a certain guitar hero's tone you have to not just have the chops but you've got to get down their style of attack with your picking hand as well. That said every step you take toward finding the right gear is often very inspiring and WILL get you closer to “that” sound. I'm going to break these down into Guitars, Pickups, Pedals and Amps.

Joe Bonamassa Gear Guide.

Joe Bonamassa is perfect guitar hero for the modern age. He penchant for vintage and boutique gear, his DIY attitude in promotion and touring and his monster chops all come together to create a modern guitar hero in an era that struggles to find stand out musicians.

Guitars – Joe has used a lot of guitars, but is best known for his love of vintage Les Pauls. He has also used Strats, Flying V's and Music Man's. He owns several 59 burst, but usually takes copies on tour with him as the originals are worth six figures each.

Gibson Joe Bonamassa“Skinnerburst”- Holy Moly! For the price of a good used car you can own a limited run copy of Joe's #1 59 Les Paul. Even the most wealthy among us might pass on such an instrument but if you were to buy the real thing you'd probably pay 50 times that amount... ok maybe it's not such a bad deal.

Gibson Les PaulTraditional – With the Les Paul Standard changing quite a bit from the original die hard purist have turned to the Traditional line which is closer to what Les Pauls were in the early years. While not dead on to a 59 burst these are still everything you want in a Les Paul for the average guitarist. 

Epiphone Joe Bonamassa LesPaul– This Pelham Blue Les Paul takes the place of the Bonamassa Gold Top Epiphone put out a couple of years ago. It comes with Gibson Burstbuckers that Joe likes in his own guitars and is better built that the standard Epiphone Les Paul.

Pickups- While almost any PAF style humbucker will work Joe seems to like a slightly hotter than PAF humbucker in all but his original 59's

Gibson Burstbuckers- While the new Standards have Burstbucker Pro's Joe perfers the Burstbucker 2 in the neck and Burstbucker 3 in the bridge possition.

Seymour Duncan Joe Bonamassa Pickup Set- Joe's 59 Skinnerburst took a ride over to the Seymour Duncan custom shop where it was then measured and tested to get as close as possible to the real thing. The were released in a limited run with only 1959 sets of them being made. Contact the Seymour Duncan Custom Shop for more info.

Seymour Duncan Vintage Blues Set- This is a great sounding replacement set for any lover of classic blues rock. For a bit more grit try the Pearly Gates set, a copy of reverend Billy's 59.

Pedals- Joe likes to switch up his pedalboard quite a bit. But his basic sound is very straight forward. A wah, a fuzz, a few different low gain overdrives and a delay or two. He talked about his lack of need for pedals here.

Ibanez TS808- This pedal into a cranked up clean amp is the sound of everyone from Stevie Ray Vaughn to Gary Moore to... well, Joe Bonamassa of course. Not everyone is a fan of these but every guitarist should have one in their stash.

EHX East River Drive - My favorite budget version of the TS808 pedal. Period. When looking to make the best TS clone EHX founder Mike Matthews reached out to renowned TS808 expert Mike Piera of Analogman fame. They nailed it!

Way Huge Pork Loin – A very tweakable pedal, it features a blend knob to mix your clean and the new drive. It also has several internal trimpots to change the sound.

Dunlop Joe Bonamassa CryBaby- One of the flagship wah pedals from Dunlop it features full sized electronic components and none of the surface mounted components that some people feel robs tone. It also has a switchable buffer, which Joe leaves on but you can turn it off if your fuzz doesn't play well with it.

Dunlop Joe Bonamassa Fuzz Face- Fuzz Faces don't always play well with humbuckers, Joe's Fuzz Face is the exception. It sounds fantastic with a slightly hot humbucker and now there is a Mini Fuzz Face version.

Fulltone Supa-Trem – Many people including Joe consider this be the most natural sounding Tremolo sound outside of a Fender Deluxe Reverb.

BossDD-3 Delay- Hold on a minute, this isn't vintage or boutique. Nope this is as straight forward a Digital Delay pedal that is made. And it rocks.

Fuchs Cerberus Tri-Mode Overdrive- This isn't used by Joe but his main sound is a blend of Marshall's, Dumble's, and Fender's. This pedal by renowned amp builder Andy Fuchs is designed to give you all three.

Wampler Plexi-Drive- Wampler's amp in a box pedals are a great way to expand your tonal pallet without spending money on another amp. This one does everything from a JTM45 to JMP. Their Euphoria is a great alternative to the Dumble.

Amps- This is a tough category. Joe relies Marshall Silver Jubilee heads and Dumble clones. These can get expensive, especially with Jubilee heads being bought up by Mr. Bonamassa and Mr. Slash and Alexander Dumble's amps running the price of a house in some places. But don't worry I've got some ideas

Marshall DSL100H – This thing is a favorite not only of metal guys but blues rock guys like Gary Moore and Joe Bonamassa. It sounds great at low volumes, but also comes in a 40w and a 15w. Crank up the clean channel and throw a TS9 up front and the magic starts to happen.

Fender Blues Junior- These are great little amps used by people for more than just blues, it covers the Fender spectrum in spades, add a Wampler Euphoria pedal and your gold.

Fuchs Full House 50 - The casino series from Mr. Fuchs covers Dumble sounds and vintage Marshall-y tones all day long. With a built in boost, channel switching, fantastic sounding reverb and amazing touch sensitivity this may be the only thing you need other than a guitar and a cable.

Egnator Tweaker- When these came out they were all the rage in internet chat rooms and for a good reason. They are well built, flexible, and take pedals well. They also sound good at lower volumes which can't be said about all tube amps.

Obviously there are a lot of alternatives out there but these are a great place to start your tone search. 

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