Joe Bonamassa Shares Opinion on Guitar Influencers Today, Addresses Accusations That ’He’s Not a Real Blues Guitar Player’

Modern blues guitar master Joe Bonamassa recently discussed his view on the overall state of the world of guitar today. While appearing on the podcast of drummer Kenny Aronoff, Bonamassa touched upon the topic while discussing his current work, offering (transcript via Music Radar):

“I will say this about relevancy in terms of my career; I never have been and never will be. I do a very specific thing. I know exactly what the fans want to hear and the question is, would you rather please the critics at Rolling Stone or please the fans that put you there? My answer unequivocally is; please the fans that put you there.

“So if that means there’s a big sludgy blues rock song with an overblown solo at the end, I’m doing it. Because that’s what people seem to enjoy.

Joe Bonamassa - "I Want To Shout About It" - Official Music Video

“I’m not the one who’s going to come out and drastically change the show; ‘I’m not feeling playing guitar so I’m just going to stand up here and sing for you.’ What, are you crazy? This is what these people paid for. This is the experience that you’re selling.”

Going more into it, Joe then explained how the trends of the past few years or so have affected him and his career, as well as what he thinks of YouTubers and other social media influencers who are growing their audience as guitar players:

“I find now, looking at the guitar world in general in 2023, I find it in a state of crossroads. People have learned how to make real money by sitting in from of a camera and putting it on Instagram on YouTube and becoming an influencer.

Joe Bonamassa - Drive (Official Video)

“Which is great. I encourage anyone with a business model to do it like that. How long you can stay inspired doing one-minute videos is up to the individual.

“And I find that if I feel the need to stay relevant because I haven’t posted something in a minute and I just go, ‘I haven’t played guitar today but let me tune this Les Paul up and do a one-minute video.’

And as Joe also added, he’s not really into recording 1-minute videos for social media. He did try that before, but he just says it’s not his thing:

“I’ve been guilty of this in the past where that one minute where it took me to film something in one take and just throw on Instagram was the only minute of music I had made that entire day. And that’s not for me.

Joe Bonamassa - "Mind's Eye" (Live) - Tales of Time

“That’s crossing a line where your inspiration is the dopamine you’re going to get from the comment sections of your social media. So for me personally, that’s not the lifestyle I want to live.”

Joe has also addressed some accusations that he’s not really a blues guy. And he simply confirms it — he’s not a real blues player:

“I always say, when the arrows start coming my way of, ‘He’s not a real blues guitar player’ – I never said I was one. I love Yes songs. I love Selling England By The Pound – I’m a Steve Hackett guy. I’m a Michael Schenker guy and a Ritchie Blackmore guy. I think life would be boring if I only played one style of music all the time. That’s not to slight anyone who does it that way because everyone has their process but I’m ADHD in life and I’m ADHD in music.”

Black Country Communion BCC - Song of Yesterday - Live over Europe

“Mick Ralphs, Paul Kossoff – those were my guys because they were rock but they had a blues edge to them. And they had great songs and a big Les Paul tone that I always wanted to get.”

“So in my career, we’ve done all kinds of records, not just blues – we’ve done trad blues but I’ve also done records with Glenn Hughes, Jason Bonham and Derek Sherinian… that’s straight up ’70s British rock.”

“I like to know that I can speak all the languages and you have to exercise [that]. If you speak French and you haven’t spoken French for 20 years, you’re rusty. So I like to keep my thing fresh.”

Recently, Bonamassa was seen in a few clips recording guitar in the studio with Black Country Communion. The rock supergroup, also featuring Glenn Hughes, Derek Sherinian, and Jason Bonham, is set to release their long-awaited fifth album, the follow-up to “BCCIV” which came out in 2017.

As far as guitars go, Bonamassa has a mind-blowing huge collection of instruments and amplifiers, as well as other gear. And although he won’t use them as often as Gibsons, he does have some Fenders. In a recent interview, Joe weighed in on the main differences between maple and rosewood fingerboards on Strats. He offered:

“Strats were first offered with maple fingerboards, and, starting in 1959, the guitars were available with rosewood fingerboards. One can argue that a rosewood ’board results in more of a Stevie Ray Vaughan-type sound.”

“I always refer to maple-neck Strats as the ‘Buddy Holly’ guitar and great players such as Eric Johnson, Eric Clapton, and Jimi Hendrix are also well known for playing maple neck Strats.”

So what’s his pick? Joe continued:

“Personally, I’m more of a maple-fretboard Strat player. To my ears, the notes jump off it in a different way, as compared to a rosewood ’board.”

Photo: Dmileson (Joe Bonamassa – Radio City Music Hall Jan 2014)

  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at Ultimate-Guitar.com, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor and brands like Sam Ash.

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