Joe Bonamassa Names Technique He’s Not Good at, Explains Downside of Internet for Musicians

Although one of the greatest living encyclopedias of blues and a guitar virtuoso in the genre himself, Joe Bonamassa admits that there’s one technique that he’s not particularly good at. Actually, scratch that — he admits that he has “zero” skill.

Although a blues rock player, which is what immediately brings up those boomer-type guys who lack the skill and call it all on their “feel,” Bonamassa is actually one of the purest-sounding guitar players you’ll hear today. On top of that, he does an incredible job at replicating the playing of some of the greatest blues legends, down to all the dirty little imperfections.

However, as he said in a recent interview with Foo Fighters guitarist Chris Shiflett for Premier Guitar, legato is his kryptonite.

Joe Bonamassa Talks Les Paul Bursts, Dumbles, and the Blues | Shred with Shifty

“I have absolutely no legato whatsoever,” Bonamassa opened up (transcribed by Killer Guitar Rigs). “Zero. Not a stitch. I can’t pull anything off.”

To make his point, Bonamassa compared himself with an older guitar legend. “I’m like the Al Di Meola school,” he added. “I love Al’s playing, so all my stuff is picked.”

This is completely in line with what he told Guitar World a few years back. “I have absolutely no capacity to play anything using the legato technique,” Joe said. “Eric Johnson blends legato and picking perfectly, in my opinion. I am an Al Di Meola school player, especially when it comes to faster playing. I pick literally every note unless I’m on stage playing pretend rock star.”

It all comes down to different styles and preferences. At the end of the day, guitar techniques are all about having tools for expression qualities. And every guitar player wants to express different things.

Going back to Joe’s new interview with Chris Shiflett, the blues guitar master also addressed the current state of things, namely the internet and its impact on musicians today. While the internet is clearly not a new thing, Bonamassa points out how this is a double-edged sword for musicians today.

Joe Bonamassa - "The Last Matador Of Bayonne" - Live At The Hollywood Bowl With Orchestra

“The internet is a good and a bad thing,” he offered. “Because one, it provides a lot of young acts with free marketing — me being kind of obsessed with marketing — it allows you free marketing and an opportunity to find an audience without having to go just deadheaded into the world going, ‘I’m gonna go to every open mic night from here to California and see what happens.’ That’s the good part of it.”

And that’s obvious, of course. Musicians who never got the chance to share their talent with the rest of the world no longer have to deal with signing unfavorable contracts to get their names out there and possibly get fed up with the industry from the very start. But despite clear advantages, there are some obvious drawbacks as well. Joe explained:

“The bad part of it is… Well, the armchair quarterbacks are one. And two, the fact that everything is immediate.”

The “armchair quarterbacks” can obviously be a nuisance, but they can often be ignored. That’s just part of the game anyway. The second thing that he mentioned is probably a much bigger issue. And that can be felt way beyond the world of music — everyone’s expecting new stuff all the time.

Joe Bonamassa - "Twenty-Four Hour Blues" - Live At The Hollywood Bowl With Orchestra

“I release albums once a year, which is a lot,” Joe said. “And three months after my record comes out, inevitably at a meet and greet I’ll be signing the current album for someone, and they’ll ask a question, like, ‘Hey, you got any album? When’s your next album coming out?'”

“This is 90 days old,” he added. “It comes and goes so fast. And the unfortunate part of it is that you’re almost better off not releasing records now.”

As of this moment, Joe is promoting his album “Blues Deluxe Vol. 2.” Being his sixteenth solo record, this is a continuation of his third album, 2003’s “Blues Deluxe.” In many ways, the 2003 record was kind of a “make or break” moment for him, let’s say. But here he is, over two decades later, still making music and touring.

Joe Bonamassa Official - "Going Down" - Live at the Greek Theatre

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, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor and brands like Sam Ash.