It is probably fair to say that Joe Bonamassa is the most successful blues guitarist of the past decade if you look at things such as tour attendance and album sales. But when you think about what Bonamassa has accomplished in the 12 years since his first release, A New Day Yesterday, it becomes apparent that there is a lot of hard work behind the success. To break it down, Joe has released 10 solo albums in the past 12 years, 4 live CDs, 3 live DVDs, and 2 albums with Black Country Communion (there's a third album on the way). What other active musician can top that?
Joe is also an avid guitar collector and in 2007 said he owned “a couple hundred” guitars. One can only imagine that the collection has grown since. Recently he tweeted “Sometimes as a guitar collector you buy guitars from people looking to see it passed to a good home.” Here are some of the Gibson guitars in Joe's collection that he has talked about in interviews or has been seen playing on stage over the years.
This might be the most unique guitar in Joe's collection, not in the sense of being a vintage guitar (which it most definitely is not), but just for the fact that it is the only one of its kind. As Joe told Premier Guitar, “I'm a real big fan of Firebird 1's. I love the Firebird 1, but the tendency with the Firebird is to be a little neck-heavy.” The guitar was built by the Gibson Custom Shop for Joe. It is essentially a Reverse Firebird neck with a Les Paul body. The guitar has only one pickup (humbucker), making it somewhat reminiscent of a Gibson Les Paul Junior. Joe has been using the Bona-Byrd live for the song “Slow Train,” which was the opening song each night on the Dust Bowl Tour. Check out the Bona-Byrd in action:
1981 Gibson Flying V
If you've seen Joe Bonamassa in concert some time over the past few years, chances are he ended the gig with a ten minute version of ZZ Top's “Just Got Paid” interspersed with riffs from Led Zeppelin's “Dazed and Confused” and all performed on his 1981 Gibson Flying V. Bonamassa told Premier Guitar “It's super light and I love it. It's been all around the world with me.” He also spoke about the guitar on his own message board, saying: “My Flying V is a 1981 A series heritage reissue. I bought it from One Guitars in Hamburg Germany on the European fall tour of 2008. I played it that night at the Fabrik and every night since.”
1972 Gibson ES-355TD
“I bought this guitar on EBAY because I wanted a 72 embossed covers ES-355TD in cherry red just like Freddie King played at the Cotton Bowl in Houston in 1974,” said Joe on his website. “It’s probably the rarest guitar I own next to the Johnny Cash Grammar guitar.” The letters TD in the model name stand for Thin line, Double pickups, with “Gibson” stamped across the pickup covers. Check out this video of Joe playing “Three Times a Fool” on his ES-355TD:
Gibson 1959 Les Paul Standard
Joe owns 4 sunburst Les Pauls from the late ‘50s. At least two are ‘59 Gibson Les Paul Standards. The one closest to his heart is a ‘59 Les Paul that Joe named “Magellan.” He chose the name because the guitar has literally traveled the world with him on tour in 2011. Joe also used “Magellan” during the recording of Black Country Communion's second album 2. The other 1959 Les Paul is nicknamed “Principal Skinner,” and Joe calls this one “the flagship of my collection.” Joe has stated on his website that he no longer bring “Magellan” on tour, as it’s imply too valuable to leave in the hands of airline companies. To hear Joe rip through some nice blues-rock riffs on one of his '59 LPs, check out this video:
Gibson Don Felder EDS-1275 Double-Neck
When it came time to duel it out with drummer Tal Bergman on his most recent European tour in the spring of 2012, Joe brought out his Gibson Don Felder EDS-1275 Double-Neck. This white monster of a guitar was the perfect choice for a cover of The Who's rocking version of “Young Man Blues.” The EDS-1275 was also used during the recording sessions for Black Country Communion.
Being such a huge fan of Gibsons, it is only fitting that Joe Bonamassa has his own signature guitars. Check out the Gibson Custom Joe Bonamassa Les Paul and the Les Paul Studio Goldtop.
Lean more about Joe and his love of Gibson guitars in this interview.