The Turnaround: Joe Bonamassa
With a new album Signs out now, we thought we’d check out the Dakota-born blues ace’s fiery playing style
Jonny took up guitar at the age of 12, with an interest in blues as well as more contemporary pop styles. Though this can be heard in his music, it’s clear that the blues is what informs his electric lead playing most profoundly. His phrasing is sometimes quirky, often playing along a string, rather than staying within more traditional pentatonic shapes – though he does, of course, use these too. Jonny is a fine rhythm player, but as a singer, he often uses his guitar skills to play ‘answering’ phrases to vocal lines and, of course, the occasional solo. He employs a variety of Gibson and Fender guitars – with a particular fondness for the Telecaster, but any type of electric will work for our lesson. These examples highlight Jonny’s use of both a traditional smooth overdrive and a jagged Hendrix-style fuzz, though the playing style remains the same, whichever sound or style of guitar you use. Though all the examples are faithfully transcribed, you may want to ‘push and pull’ the timing a little. That is to say; don’t be too precise. Instead, try pulling back and playing some of the phrases ever so slightly behind the beat. This is a very effective blues lead trick, though like all things, don’t overdo it!