JOE BONAMASSA at the Santa Barbara Bowl

Joe Bonamassa is a music legend. He started playing guitar at the age of four and, by the time he was twelve, had created his own band called Smokin’ Joe Bonamassa. The band played on weekends in New York and Pennsylvania, then Bonamassa attended school during the week.

He has been playing as a professional musician for over 25 years. In 2009, Bonamassa fulfilled one of his childhood dreams when he “sold out London’s Royal Albert Hall two nights in a row, with a little help from a local guitarist named Eric Clapton.” (

Bonamassa is well known for taking his highly valuable guitars on the road with him when he tours. He has a priceless collection of over 300 guitars, but his favorite is a ’59 Les Paul Sunburst, a “Holy Grail”. Rather than allowing the value of his instruments to inhibit his enjoyment of them, Bonamassa says, “I play what I own. There are no glass cases in my house, and I’m not a huge believer in hanging guitars by their necks. I wouldn’t want to be hung by the scruff my neck on permanent display, and I think a guitar feels the same way—especially if it’s glued together, like an eight-pound Les Paul.” ( )  

He is a clever investor who has shared some of his ‘tricks to guitar collecting’ in a interview. “Joe Bonamassa can walk through a bustling music store totally unnoticed…seems the unassuming guitar star likes being incognito when he’s off stage—at least when he’s out ‘kicking tires.’” Bonamassa recalls a humorous incident that illustrates his technique: “It occurred in a Reno guitar shop a few years back. Tempted by a pristine ’87 Marshall Silver Jubilee head (“I can’t have too many of those”), Bonamassa asked for the price. “The guy at the counter said, ‘It’s $4,000.’ (Bonamassa) asked him why the price was so high, and guy said, ‘Well, Slash used Jubilees for the Guns N’ Roses tone, and now this kid Joe Bonamassa is using them, so it’s $4,000.’”

The following review of Bonamassa’s Saturday night performance speaks for itself: “Joe Bonamassa's "Three Kings Tour", a musical tribute to Albert, Freddie and B.B. King, was a once in a lifetime experience. I have been to literally hundreds upon hundreds of concerts over a fifty year period, and this ranks among the all-time best. Joe, along with Eric Clapton, are arguably the greatest living blues guitar players. J.B. is a consummate professional, and his handpicked band bordered on perfection. The entire production was a musical tour de force and not one to be either missed or forgotten!”