Joe Bonamassa stops by Guitar World for an exclusive first look at his signature Limited Edition Fender '51 Nocaster, “The Bludgeon"

After teasing a Fender Custom Shop recreation of his beloved ‘51 Nocaster, known as “The Bludgeon,” all the way back in 2019, Joe Bonamassa recently unveiled the finished product for the world to see.

And make no mistake, the guitar, inspired by "the most dynamic instrument” JoBo has ever played, is a stunner.

The $8,500 signature model is part of an ultra-limited run of 100 units, and will be handmade in Fender's Custom Guitar Shop by legendary luthier Greg Fessler.

Although the guitar nearly got lost in transit, Guitar World recently had the opportunity to conduct an advance review of the instrument, and what's more, Bonamassa stopped by GW headquarters for a super-exclusive first look at the guitar.

During his visit, JoBo grabbed the Nocaster to squeeze out some tasty blues licks for GW Editor-in-Chief Damian Fanelli and Tech Editor Paul Riario, and tell some great stories and anecdotes about the instrument.

And there’s plenty of stories to be told. “I played that original for 10 years, and put hundreds of shows on it,” Bonamassa says.

Joe Bonamassa's 1951 Fender Nocaster electric guitar

(Image credit: Joe Bonamassa)

As for the new Nocaster, the long-awaited guitar features a one-piece ash body and maple neck, as well as a heavy-relic natural flash coat lacquer finish. The maple fretboard has 21 frets composed of vintage upgrade 45085 wire, a slightly tweaked 7.25” radius, and period-correct Micarta black dot inlays.

Additionally, there’s chrome and nickel relic hardware, a Tele 51-54 WO PU bridge and a vintage Telecaster control layout.

The headstock, as to be expected, displays only the Fender logo, reflecting the brief time period before the Broadcaster was renamed the Telecaster, when the guitar builder simply clipped the model name off headstocks to avoid infringing Gretsch's BroadKaster trademark.

And the sound?

"It's better to find a guitar that speaks to you no matter what the cost, and use that as your main guitar rather than chasing after a bunch of other guitars, and this '51 Nocaster Bludgeon gets there," Paul says during GW's review of the instrument.

"It seems exaggerated, but that's the sound of a Telecaster I prize or value the most," Damian adds. 

To hear the guitar in all its glory, check out the exclusive video above.

And to get your hands on “The Bludgeon" Joe Bonamassa Limited Edition Fender '51 Nocaster, deposits of $500 can be made to reserve a model at Joe Bonamassa's official online store.

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Richard Bienstock

Rich is the co-author of the best-selling Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion. He is also a recording and performing musician, and a former editor of Guitar World magazine and executive editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine. He has authored several additional books, among them Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, the companion to the documentary of the same name.