Joe Bonamassa pleads for the return of missing Fender "The Bludgeon" Nocaster – his first stolen guitar in 31 years of collecting

Joe Bonamassa Fender Nocaster
(Image credit: Miikka Skaffari/FilmMagic via Getty / Joe Bonamassa Official Store)

UPDATE (05.20): The missing Nocaster has been found – get the full story here.

Joe Bonamassa has taken to social media to plead for the safe return of one of his Fender Custom Shop "The Bludgeon" '51 Nocaster electric guitars, which recently went missing while on its way to Guitar World for review.

The blues-rock ace’s upcoming signature six-string, which was originally teased way back in 2019, was lost in transit, with Bonamassa voicing his suspicions that the axe has been stolen in a series of social media posts.

Bonamassa also revealed that the $8,500 "Bludgeon" model – his first stolen guitar in over 31 years of collecting – has been labeled by FedEx as "missing without recourse nor hope of a solution".

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In an initial statement posted to Twitter on Sunday (May 16), JoBo wrote, “Dear FedEX, I would like my guitar back. It’s JB006 Fender Custom Nocaster that was on its way to Guitar World for review 10 days ago. 

“You say it’s missing. I say it was stolen. Your own videos prove it was scanned into your distribution center in Nashville and never left.”

An in-depth follow-up post on Instagram continued, “Just off the phone with the very nice representative from FedEX. So basically what they are saying is that my guitar is MIA within their system without recourse nor hope of solution.

“There is a video of it going on their truck from their facility on 3rd and Broadway Nashville, Tn. and scanned into the distribution center only a few miles away,” he continued.

“I will try not to play detective here… but I would surmise that it was stolen probably by someone who had access to the truck or the distribution facility. To be honest, a 23 pound guitar box does not just disappear that easily with or without a tracking number.

“If you see JB006 Fender Custom Shop Nocaster for sale or hanging around, it is stolen and I would like it returned. No questions asked, all I would like is the return of the test guitar that was on its way to Guitar World for review.”

"I was looking forward to having Guitar World review the brand new Fender Custom Shop Nocaster," Bonamassa told Guitar World. "Unfortunately and somewhat luckily, this is the first guitar that has gone missing in 31 years of collecting. Fed Ex has been great to work with during all of this. It will turn up. It is very identifiable and I am a really good guitar hunter." 

An extended spec sheet for Joe Bonamassa's signature Fender '51 Nocaster was released earlier this year, with the entire production run, headed up by luthier Greg Fessler, estimated to take 36 months to complete.

The disappearance of JoBo's Nocaster isn't the only high-profile case of guitar gear gone missing in recent memory, with Adam Jones recently falling victim to a premeditated theft, in which 13 Gibson signature models worth a total of $95,000 were stolen from a Sweetwater truck.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.