Few things could be more exciting for a guitarist than getting up close and personal with one of their musical heroes, and, as a bonus, also getting to riff around with the player’s very own guitars.
Add the fact that those guitars would be rare and valuable collectors’ instruments, and you have a truly life-changing moment.
Ernie Ball recently presented five players with that very opportunity with its “The Joe Bonamassa Experience” event at Guitar Center Hollywood on January 29. The Joe Bonamassa Experience contest was launched by Ernie Ball last summer, and it served up more than $70,000 in prizes—including “instant win” goodies identified by picks hidden in Ernie Ball strings purchased at a Guitar Center—before it closed on September 30, 2015.
In addition to winning a private audience with Bonamassa and his guitar collection, five grand-prize winners received an Ernie Ball Music Man guitar, Ernie Ball strings and accessories, a Dunlop B95 Joe Bonamassa Cry Baby and a Dunlop Joe Bonamassa Wah. For the event, Bonamassa packed up and shipped some of his collection to the Vintage Room at Guitar Center Hollywood.
Some of the “stars” included a 1951 Fender Nocaster, a 1955 Fender Stratocaster, a 1959 Gibson Les Paul, a 1958 Gibson Flying V, and a 1958 Gibson EDS-1275. Then, the grand-prize winners—Daniel Moore of Ogden, Utah; Jason Wirch of Alberta, Canada; Damien Sancho of Castres, France; and Ricky Shepherd of Sheffield, England (Hannover Germany’s Joachim Schuette was unable to attend due to illness)—were ushered into the room to hear Bonamassa discuss the histories and tonal imprints of each vintage guitar, hear his views on collectors’ guitars and get a few performance and technique tips.
Of course, the really big thrills came when each player was allowed a private “session” with the vintage guitars of their choice.
“I wouldn’t want these locked away, never to be seen until some auction,” Bonamassa said. “I bought each guitar to play it.”
The Joe Bonamassa Experience was supported by Guitar World, Guitar Aficionado, Guitar Player, Guitar Center, Sterling By Music Man and Dunlop Manufacturing.
For Instagram video from this event, head here.