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Joe Bonamassa

Watch Joe Bonamassa talk about his early touring days and lifelong passion for guitar playing in this episode of String Theory.

Transcript

Joe Bonamassa:
Guitar playing to me has been something that I've done for 35 years. I've been around guitars, in guitar shops, played them, sold them, bought them. It's defined my life for the last 35 years. I love it, and I wake up every day excited to play.

Joe Bonamassa:
My father gave me my first guitar for Christmas. I thought it was Santa Claus, but turned out it was my mom and dad. And my father played guitars in bands, and he always let me play his guitars, but he knew that I needed my own. My father also ran a shop in the 90s so I kind of grew up in a guitar shop.

Joe Bonamassa:
But like this thing has always been around. You know what I mean? Like it's so comfortable and it's so familiar. This is an old guitar, but it was made before I was born. But it's like, it just feels like familiar, I feel like I've known it my whole life. And it's not this particular guitar, it's just anything with six strings bolted onto ash and maple.

Joe Bonamassa:
The legacy of Ernie Ball, I mean, going with Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton, and when you start reading the roster that's been using Ernie ball since day one, since the 60s. There's only one Eric Clapton. There's only one Jimmy page.

Joe Bonamassa:
I've always played the Slinky, Nickel, 11 to 48, used to buy them in the packs. Now I'm very fortunate that people like [Stirling 00:02:18] are generous to me, they give me strings for free. Back when I was making $50 a night touring in a van, I would go to music stores and try to haggle and buy a 10 pack for 30 bucks, because I knew the dead cost on a set of strings. 30 bucks is half a tank of gas in a Ford Econoline Van.

Joe Bonamassa:
I prefer the sound of a Les Paul with a set of 10s. I think they sound better with 10s, by ear and they just have that thing, that classic sound that I heard on records, is a 10.

Joe Bonamassa:
Unfortunately, the way I play, I need some more resistance, especially live, because as you start getting your adrenaline going, you need more resistance, so the 11s work for me. And because now I use pretty much a natural overdrive, I don't have a pedal board, it's just two pedals taped to the floor, and then most of the sound is derived from the amplifiers. The 11s bark the amps harder, so that it hits them harder in the front. That's an integral part of the sound, it's this like symbiotic relationship between guitar and the amp, speakers, all creating the sound. It's not one thing.

Joe Bonamassa:
You listen to Hound Dog Taylor, that's organic guitar playing, his stuff is just raw and, it's like Teisco Del Rey's through Univox amps, cheap junk, but the passion is there, and it would just transcend the instrument. You don't have to have a five figure vintage guitar. You can do it with a $20 Squier. It's the intent. It's not the gear, it's the intent. When you play, you play with bad intentions. And you play, the soul of the music has to come out.

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