Joe Bonamassa names the guitar pedal he’s used the most throughout his career

Joe Bonamassa picks one pedal
(Image credit: Scott Dudelson / Getty)

Joe Bonamassa’s reputation as a self-confessed gear nerd rivals that of his playing, yet in the latest issue of Guitar World he was challenged to whittle his mammoth pedal collection down to just one stompbox he can't do without.

His answer is an icon in the guitar community, perhaps the definitive stompbox and certainly the definitive overdrive pedal.

“My most-used pedal over the years has been the Ibanez Tube Screamer in both the TS9 and TS808 configurations,” says Bonamassa, who – as you might imagine – has given the question a great deal of thought over the years.

“Historically, I have been in very different musical situations requiring different amounts of gain structure. A ‘green box’ is usable in almost any situation with almost any amp. It gives you a nice step up in the midrange frequencies (around 800Hz) that is useful for not only soloing but for power chords and big rhythms.”

Bonamassa’s father was a vintage guitar dealer and the habit of heading out on ‘guitar safaris’ in the hunt for treasures has never left him. He has a track record in acquiring storied gear at prices that make most of us wince – to the point where IK Multimedia has profiled Bonamassa’s amp collection – but surprisingly, he maintains that the reissue Tube Screamers are a great choice.

Ibanez Tube Screamer

(Image credit: Future)

“There have been many versions of the Tube Screamer, and many boutique [Tube Screamer] copies have been made over the years,” reflects the blues rocker. “But for my $80 you can't beat a reissue Ibanez TS808 to create a great sound with both Fender and Gibson electric guitars.”

One player who’s not picking up a Tube Screamer is Nuno Bettencourt. He recently told us he prefers to run direct to his amp, with the exception of one particular distortion pedal.

To read more about the go-to effects pedal picks from the likes of Steve Vai, Zakk Wylde, Billy Corgan, Eric Gales and many more – pick up a copy of the new issue of Guitar World, available from Magazines Direct.

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Matt Parker

Matt is a staff writer for Before that he spent 10 years as a freelance music journalist, interviewing artists for the likes of Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, MusicRadar,, DJ Mag and Electronic Sound. In 2020, he launched, which aims to share the ideas that make creative lifestyles more sustainable. He plays guitar, but should not be allowed near your delay pedals.