Joe Bonamassa: “I love the fact there are so many guitar players who are way better than I’ll ever be, at 20”

Thanks to the internet allowing access to endless hours of educational guitar content, JoBo feels the next great guitarist could very well be a self-taught youngster from Gen Z.

Joe Bonamassa performing live

Credit: Scott Legato/Getty Images

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Legendary blues guitarist Joe Bonamassa believes that the newest generation of guitarists are better than he’ll ever be – and he’s chuffed about it.

In a new interview with Rick Beato, Bonamassa praises the content available for young guitarists nowadays. “They can have great material and quality educational tools,” he says. “They can just go online [to Youtube channels with] tons of lessons… they learn how to play songs, and they write their own stuff – and they’re not even 17 years old.”

“That is a great thing, and the interest in guitar is encouraging to me,” Bonamassa excitedly reflects, his own guitar sat proudly in his lap. “I love it. I love the fact there are so many guitar players who are way better than I’ll ever be, at 20. They know the language, they know the music.”

While the online network of content is a blessing, it also has its downsides. Bonamassa takes a second to consider the lack of communal spaces and clubs where up-and-coming guitarists used to congregate, help one another fine-tune their skills, and spread their name organically.

“Now, the only way for them to do marketing or get a following is to go on Instagram, TikTok or YouTube [and] become an influencer,” he tells Beato. “It’s a good and a bad thing, because it sums up their musicality in one-minute clips, not as a total. I would imagine some of them have a hard time making a leap from doing that to putting on a show.”

He mourns the days where instrumental skill came first, and developing an on-stage personality came as an after-thought. “You would hone your craft, your act, and your personality,” he expands. “My personality came because I did thousands of gigs… I do feel empathy for the younger generation.”

He also takes a moment to recommend four killer riffs the next generation need to know to fine-tune their skills.

Opening for BB King was where Bonamassa first made a name for himself, so it’s only fitting that he kicks off the list with BB King’s The Thrill is Gone. “It’s the definition of the simplest thing. Wonderful song,” he explains, before playing the effortlessly smooth intro.

He continues by recommending the “more technical” Scuttle Buttin’ by Stevie Ray Vaughan, with it’s bouncy, fiery tempo and finger-picking madness, while Albert King’s solo on Blues Power and Paul Kossoff’s Fire and Water round off the list.

Joe Bonamassa’s still a formidable guitar force in his own right; having released new album Blues Deluxe Vol. 2 in October of this year, and, 20 years on from the original best selling Blues Deluxe, he’s as sharp as ever.

And you can see his skills in person by catching him on tour in the US this coming spring. For tickets and dates, head to Bonamassa’s official website.

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