Anyone who’s ever seen Joe play, whether live or on DVD, knows he has a lot of guitars. Strats, Teles, Les Pauls, Flying Vs, etc, he has an enormous collection of diverse guitars. Instead of listing every guitar he has ever owned, which would probably be impossible, this page will focus mostly on his signature Les Pauls, and a few of his other more famous guitars.
Earlier in his career, Joe played mostly Fenders. Most frequently he was seen playing his famous sparkle-finished Stratocaster, “Goldie”, which has now been sold at auction.
Bonamassa also had a black Eric Clapton Signature Stratocaster at one point, as pictured below. It was later sold as well.
In the more recent years however, Bonamassa has made the switch to primarily playing Gibson’s on stage, most typically a Les Paul of one variety or another. Joe is a huge fan of British blues, and mentioned that the music that was in his head more closely aligned with the sound of a Les Paul, so that’s the way he went. (Although he also commented that playing a strat kept people comparing him to SRV, no matter what he played.)
Gibson and Epiphone have both released a few different signature versions of his Les Paul, which are detailed below. The first and least expensive is the Epiphone Joe Bonamassa Signature Les Paul, which had a limited run of 1,000 guitars. At first they sold out quickly, then more became available, and now they are sold out again. However, you can find them used at a good price on ebay.
The third and newest Epiphone guitar that bears the Bonamssa name is the Joe Bonamassa Signature Les Paul in Inverness Green with Bigsby. Due to its popularity, it sold out rather quickly, so your best bet is to find one on ebay, or see if anyone is selling one on Amazon.
Gibson has also released a few of it’s own signature models for Joe, both a Studio version, and a Custom Shop version, both limited editions, both pretty much sold-out (though you may be able to find a store that still has one somewhere). They all bare similar resemblance, but the Studio lacks the traditional body binding.
Left: aged model, Right: VOS model
Most of the Bonamassa signature editions, including the Epiphone model, have a Burst Bucker 2 pickup in the neck position, and a Burst Bucker 3 pickup in the bridge position. The 1959’s however have a Burst Bucker 3 in the neck position, and something custom wound in the bridge. Seymour Duncan also released a limited edition set of Joe Bonamassa Signature Pickups that are meant to be the most accurate reproductions possible of the pickups in Joe’s vintage 1959 burst Les Paul. The are lightly aged, as shown below:
While Joe owns countless other guitars, the Les Pauls in this section are the basis for his signature sound. The fact that there are multiple models available at different prices means that almost any guitarist can grab a bit of the Bona-tone.
Another sweet electric that Joe has used from time to time is the Music Man Steve Morse model. It is kind of a strat-meets-les-paul kind of guitar, since it has a 25.5″ scale length maple neck, and a poplar body with a maple top, sporting dual hum buckers with a single coil in the middle. It really has a unique sound that is perhaps more versatile than either a strat or a les paul by itself.
Ok, so now that you’ve picked out the perfect axe, it’s time to read about some Bonamassa-style amps on the Amps page…