Joe Bonamassa on the Les Paul

Joe Bonamassa discussing why he chose the Les Paul as his instrument of choice:

“One night, I was doing this classical thing I do using the volume control, and I was playing it on a Strat,” Bonamassa said. “When I finished the show someone came up to me and told that I sounded like Stevie Ray [Vaughan] playing a violin. Well, bless his heart, and God bless Stevie Ray, but it sounded nothing like Stevie Ray. And please don’t get me wrong, I was heavily influenced by Stevie, but what it showed me is that if you waltz up there with a Stratocaster and play anything remotely resembling the blues you’re going to be compared to someone else.”

Unfortunately, I think he’s right. If you strap on a Strat and play a blues lick, you’re going to be compared to Stevie Ray. I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing, but I imagine it can get frustrating if you’re trying to make a name for yourself as a guitarist and songwriter.


  1. Ed Pauley says

    Sorry but I am not convinced. There are 100’s of celebrated guitarists who play Strats and still manage to have distinctive styles and tones. In addition, other variables such as amplifyers, tone settings, effects, string gage, etc. also color tone.

  2. Josh says

    Very true, Ed, but you have to admit that anyone that plays blues on a Strat will be compared to SRV. And, I’m sure that JB has been hearing that all of his life. Perhaps he just got tired on hearing it.

  3. Ed Pauley says

    Josh, I agree that comparing a blues musician who plays a Strat to SRV will occur.

    Depending on the style of blues (e.g., traditional, heavy, Chicago) I might also conjure up Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Robert Cray, Rory Gallagher, or Buddy Guy and so on ­ all Strat guys. On the over hand, a Les Paul could evoke comparisons with Jimmy Page or Gary Moore.

    Perhaps, I misunderstood main Bonamassa¹s point. I assumed tone was the issue when perception seems to his key impetus for switching.

    Regardless, both are great guitars.


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