While discussing Gary Moore’s work, Joe Bonamassa pointed out some of Irish guitar legend’s specific playing traits that made him stand out.
There’s no need to point out how incredibly influential Moore was and how his works still inspire countless guitarists all over the world, be it directly or through other people who were influenced by him. Being a walking-playing encyclopedia of blues and classic rock, Joe Bonamassa is definitely one of the guys who keeps Gary Moore’s style alive.
And while talking to Guitar World recently, Bonamassa commented on one particular trait in Moore’s playing technique. What may not seem that important at first might have made a significant impact on the way Moore picked the strings.
“First of all, that incendiary thing that he had — that’s all in his soul,” Bonamassa commented. Of course, that was the obvious needed quality to be a guitar hero. He continued:
“Those were some deep demons that were trying to exorcise themselves. He played with such bad intention. Even when he was playing the quiet stuff. He was a really nice, shy person. I met him several times. But when he put on a guitar, it was like this other animal would be created.”
On the purely technical side, however, Joe argued that the fact that Moore was a left-handed guitar player who held his guitar the right-handed way made a huge impact on his overall tone.
“And I think also part of the sound was the fact that he was left-handed and he played right-handed,” he continued. “I know B.B. King played right-handed; he was left-handed. There’s something about the attack that changes when people do that.”
When the interviewer pointed out that Moore’s stronger hand was on the fretboard instead of doing the picking, Joe then replied:
“Yeah, and that could explain the middle finger being so fast. ‘Cause he would do those runs all the way down the fingerboard with his index and middle finger and you’re like, ‘Wow, that’s pretty unhumanlike.’ It was just groundbreaking, and it still sounds as fresh as it did 30 years ago.”
At the same time, no one can deny the impact that Moore’s gear had on his tone as well. But the whole thing isn’t that simple to explain. Further discussing the Irish legend’s works, particularly the 1990 album “Still Got the Blues,” Joe was asked to weigh in how much the gear impacted the album’s success. He replied:
“Well, I’ve seen him play through anything. I’ve seen him play with a DSL 2000 and it sounds like Gary Moore. I’ve seen him play through Twins on video and it sounds like Gary Moore. So the sound was indelibly linked to his hands.”
But despite being more in the “tone is in the hands” camp, Joe also revealed which of Gary’s live setups he liked the most, adding:
“But, live, my favourite rig was the SLO 100, two Marshall cabs, and, I want to say, a Quadraverb, some sort of reverb that’s, like, not even in the loop; it sounds like it’s just straight in. On the album you can tell it was the Soldano, for sure.”
“It’s less gain than people think. I mean, I’ve gone down that rabbit hole! ‘He’d dial back the Soldano a little bit, and you’ve got to add reverb as well. You’ve got to have the big plate reverb on there.”
As of this moment, Joe is promoting his latest album, “Blues Deluxe Vol 2.,” which came out on October 6 this year. Speaking to Ultimate Guitar not long before the record’s release, Bonamassa discussed why he decided to do this sort of a “sequel,” if you will, to his 2003 album that pretty much put him on the map in the business.
“Well, it is the 20th anniversary,” he explained. “When we did the first one, there was no guarantee there was going to be a Volume Two. It was just ‘Blues Deluxe.’ Cause that was the last shot we had to stay in business.”
“So I wanted to do something that was more than just remastering a record for the sake of doing it, and we didn’t have any bonus tracks from 20 years ago, so I was like, we’ve got to do another volume. So I asked Josh Smith if he wanted to do it, and there we go.”
Going more into “Blues Deluxe,” which was his third full-length studio record, Bonamassa also shared a few details behind it:
“The first volume was basically the live show with a couple of originals thrown in with basically the last $10,000 that my manager of now 33 years and myself had. There was no master plan.”
“In 2003, it was survival,” he added. “It was that we were going out of business. There is no business. There is no opportunity for anything. There’s no tours, there’s no sessions, there’s no nothing.”
“We did two albums, one with a major label, one with another label, and it didn’t work out. Radio didn’t want to play anything that I was involved in, and we were basically nowhere. So there was no like, ‘Well, I’m gonna keep these for the 20th anniversary.’ No, there was none of that thought going on.”
“This was truly a new group of songs because I didn’t think I was going to do a record like this again. But I just said, you know, we’ve got to do something for the 20th anniversary. Still, Blues Deluxe is one of the biggest selling pieces in our catalog and it still resonates with people.”
Photos: Lightburst (Joe Bonamassa 2-18-23 Riverside Theatre in Milwaukee), Gary Moore (Gary Moore 2005.05.21 002-2)