We make no great secret that even the the most perfunctory merch stalls can get us hot and bothered. The very sight of T-shirts, haphazardly arranged on a wall, is enough to drive some Guitar World staffers wild – think Carrie Bradshaw on a Black Friday pillaging of Fifth Avenue.
Over the years we have marvelled at the electric guitar ephemera produced by the gear industrial complex, the branding chops of Kiss, and still have sleepless nights thinking about Cory Wong’s approach to expanding his revenue potential; yes, his T-shirts are on point, but having your own signature Fender Stratocaster on the merch stall? Power move.
As with licks and technique so it often is with commerce. The big guns know what they are doing. But is there any guitarist with a better merch game than Joe Bonamassa, the Mayor of Nerdville himself?
When you are a pop-cultural underdog, as all blues guitarists are these days, it pays to get creative, to break out of the pentatonic box of black T-shirts and branded beer Koozies. Bonamassa has done that, applying punk’s DIY ethos to the blues and founding his label, J&R Adventures.
What really gets us, though – and, okay, tickles us too – is the other stuff: those items filed under ‘Collectibles’, which range from the sublime to the ridiculous.
With the festive season upon us, what better time to get your significant other that Jazzmaster backscratcher they have always wanted? And there’s no better place to start than with our JoBo collectibles gift guide.
Jazzmaster back scratcher
Yes, other models are available. This is Nerdville, people. You can ease your dermatological travails with the aid of a back scratcher fashioned after a Stratocaster (available in sunburst or blonde finishes), a Gibson SG Custom à la his 1963 model (recently minted as an Epiphone signature guitar), and a choice of Flying Vs – Pelham Blue for the custom color enthusiast or natural korina for that Donny J/Amos vibe.
This run would not be complete without a Les Paul, and as such there are two: a sunburst option and one commemorating the 2022 KTBA Cruise.
But there’s something about a Seafoam Green offset that’s so pleasing. Could these long-scale therapeutics also be used to toss competition-sized salads? At $19.49 we see this being hard-working item – one which Rufus Thomas could have done with back in 1972.
Bona-fide shower curtain
Here it is, folks, the answer to that age-old question of what to get the blues fan who has everything: it’s a Joe Bonamassa shower curtain. What better to way to show your love for the blues, indeed. The design is unmistakably JoBo: there he is, in a half-crouch, shouldering the weight of a Gibson Les Paul Standard.
It’s funny to think that this picture might have been taken at the Royal Albert Hall or Red Rocks Colorado and now hangs in your bathroom, privy to all that entails there. Lordy.
This is pretty much the next best thing to showering with Joe Bonamassa. As the song goes, ‘Water down the drain/flows to the sea…’ But, crucially, not all over the bathroom floor.
Guitar cutting boards
This is another merch item out of left-field that makes perfect sense, because few things are better for working up an appetite than playing the blues – or any guitar, for that matter. These cutting boards come in Strat or ES body shapes, the larger footprint of the latter making it a more practical choice for preparing your blues guitar feasting menu.
They are available as a set, which should help you keep the meats and the veggies separate. What’s not to like? And, finally, somewhere for Booker T and the MG’s to take those green onions of theirs. A fine julienne, if you will, gents.
Flying V salt and pepper shakers
Staying in the kitchen (because we’re now scared to go to the bathroom lest we find JoBo gargling that nitrocellulose mouthwash Tom Murphy sent him for Thanksgiving), you’re going to need to season that food. And that’s where a pair of hand-painted ceramic Flying Vs come in handy.
Color-coded (white for salt, black for pepper) these free-standing shakers won’t take up too much room. Here’s hoping next season’s drop introduces a Dumble salt pig, though in the meantime the culinary-minded guitar player could always use Bonamassa’s ES-shaped guitar cookie jar for storing the Diamond Crystal Kosher salt.
The Sears catalog has nothing on Bonamassa’s online inventory. While deliberating over our final gift-guide pick we have chanced upon and considered a Joe Bonamassa garden gnome, some superb neon clocks, various commemorative coins, yard signs that won’t offend your neighbor, mouse pads (our favorite: “Just how many guitars does one guy need?”), kitchen towels, headphone amps, watering cans in the shape of a Fender Telecaster, various bottle openers and ashtrays.
But none can top a tweed-covered guitar amp that is secretly a humidor. That’s right: a limited-edition tweed guitar amp humidor. This cedar box, with a natural matte-finish interior, can hold up to 100 cigars and includes a divider for keeping everyday and holiday smokes separate, and there is the all-important humidifier and hygrometer.
Magnet closures will keep the lid on safe, and each unit is numbered and limited to 100 units worldwide, COA included. List price is $199 but is currently discounted at $149. Maybe you will need that ashtray after all. If you want JoBo’s recommendation, he goes with his double-neck “Big Sexy” ashtray and favors the side with the Bigsby B-5 ($29.24).