Joe Bonamassa on “the two Erics” who inspired his iconic guitar tone

“You don’t need a Dumble. You don’t need a ’59 Les Paul.”

Joe Bonamassa and Eric Johnson and Eric Clapton

Image: John Phillips/ C Brandon/ Chris McKay/ Getty Images

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Blues virtuoso Joe Bonamassa has opened up about the inspiration behind his iconic guitar tone and why one doesn’t need the greatest rig in the world to recreate it.

“You don’t need a Dumble. You don’t need a ’59 Les Paul,” the guitarist said in a new interview with Inside Blackbird. “Those do help in the search… But it’s not a prerequisite for success.”

He explained that rather than the axe your hands, it’s the sound in your head that matters. In the case of Bonamassa, he derives his unique tone from “the two Erics — Clapton and Johnson, right in the middle of their sounds”.

“You can give me anything, any of those amps, and I’ll sit there and I’ll turn the cabinets around, I’ll twist knobs until at least a semblance of what’s in here [points to head] comes out of there – and it’s any guitar, any amp,” Bonamassa added.

“I don’t particularly like bright guitar sounds, especially when I’m soloing,” he said. “It feels different under the strings. If you have a really nice thick tone, there’s a weight on the instrument, there’s a weight on the strings that feels really nice and you can really get into it, and you can vary the attack. You can vary the attack on the right hand where it blooms a little bit more, or you can turn it into a weapon where it gets real bright.”

“That’s the thing, when I hear other people playing my rig it’s way brighter than when I play it, so that’s just the tactility of the instrument, and these [fingers], but there’s a sound that’s stuck in here.”


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