Chances are you already spend so much money on guitars and gear that each time the credit card bill comes you have to snatch it before your wife sees that new guitar you bought or finds that 5150 you just couldn’t pass up on Craigslist. If this is you, then you have something in common with Joe Bonamassa. Joe is not only an exceptional player who was opening for BB King at 12, he’s also a fully indoctrinated lover of everything to do with guitar. Over the last 26 years Joe has amassed one of the most impressive collections of guitars and amps in the world. We decided to catch up with Joe to get the full rundown on what his grand arsenal consists of.
How many guitars do you currently have?
Probably 120 or 130.
Is that the most you’ve ever had?
I had up to 300 at one point but I sold a bunch of them because I wasn’t playing them and it seemed like I needed to justify a number. I had better quality stuff and it’s been more manageable.
What percentage are Les Pauls or Fenders?
I have a huge Fender collection, a bunch of old Strats, Teles, 350s, 335s, 355s, lotta old Les Pauls.
When you are looking for a new guitar, what specifically are you looking for?
I don’t need anything, I’ve gone past the point of necessity. Right now the stuff I buy is super clean vintage stuff or if a just killer vintage guitar comes my way. I just bought a ’55 Goldtop – I didn’t need one since I have a ’52, ’53’, ’54, two ’57s and a ’58. But a ’55 came my way and it was killer and I ended up making the deal.
As far as finding vintage guitars, do you go through auctions or stores?
No auctions, no eBay, I go through trusted dealers. I travel the world and the states a lot and I go into every guitar shop. And all of sudden if there is something there, hey I’m here today and my credit card is accepted, hit me while I’m hot.
What would be your holy grail score?
There is not one guitar that I looked at back in the day in the Tom Wheeler book that I don’t have that I would want. I shy away from Gretschs, I shy away from Rickenbacker, D’Angelico, Archtop stuff; I’m an electric guitar player. My collection is indicative of that.
What was your first guitar?
It was a Yamaha classical guitar and then I got a Chiquita small scale guitar.
For more info on Joe’s tone and gear, click here.
For tour dates and news, visit: http://jbonamassa.com/