Joe Bonamassa: what you need to understand about buying gear online

Joe Bonamassa performs on stage at Royal Albert Hall on April 24, 2019 in London, England
(Image credit: Gus Stewart/Redferns)

There are many gear hounds among us, but few would dispute that, in this world, Joe Bonamassa is top dog.

So when it comes to picking up new electric guitars and other equipment online, we’d all be well served by heeding his sage advice.

During a discussion with MusicRadar about the fact that, when buying gear online or via social media you have to go by how it sounds on a demo rather than in your hands, JoBo said:

“This is the thing, and I understand how people sell a lot of pedals, guitars and amps based on the Instagram one or two-minute video. And that’s cool. But what they don’t realize is that the guy who is doing the demo is a really good player. He’d sound the same on anything!

“‘It doesn’t sound that way when I play it…’ Well, that’s something you need to address in your own playing to get it to that level where it does sound how you want it to sound.”

Bonamassa, it’s worth noting, practices what he preaches. In particular, he recently took to promoting independent mom-and-pop guitar stores on his social media.

As for why?

“I just sat there going down memory lane, picking out guitar shops to promote, because that brick and mortar thing is to me the culture of society – no matter where you are,” he says.

“You could be in Omaha, Nebraska, or Edinburgh, and it’s the little shops that are run by mom and pop, that they have put their heart and soul into something they believe in. It all looks the same on Amazon Prime! It’s not a three-dimensional experience.

He continued, “Ultimately, what happens is you get, ‘Well, it’s easier to order on Amazon Prime.’ But you are killing Ted! Ted sells the same shit down the street, maybe for five dollars more, if you’ve got the five dollars, and you like your city, and you like how the place feels and the landscape and the culture of the city, support Ted! It is something that is worth supporting.”

Bonamassa recently revealed that his next album, the follow up to the Abbey Road-recorded Royal Tea, will be a “subway record” cut in New York City, featuring “a couple of guitars, a couple of amps,” in his words. 

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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.