Recently, Classic Rock had an exclusive conversation with Joe Bonamassa ahead of his performance at Théâtre Jean Deschamps in France. With a cigar in hand, the renowned guitarist delved into the story behind his extensive collection of guitars and amps, attributing it to his addictive tendencies.
“I have an addictive personality. I own five hundred guitars, five hundred amps… Things just escalate,” Bonamassa shared candidly. Holding up his cigar, he continued, “In a way, cigar smoking is man’s folly. You take thirty pounds, roll it up, and set it ablaze. But it’s also incredibly relaxing. Kenny Wayne Shepherd and I, we both enjoy cigars. It’s like a forties thing, you know?”
Bonamassa’s journey into guitar collecting commenced at the age of 14 when he used the money left to him by his great-grandmother to purchase a 1954 hard-tail Stratocaster from a local seller. This acquisition marked the beginning, with a 335 and a Telecaster swiftly joining his collection, which burgeoned notably in the early 2000s.
The Unstoppable Acquisition: Joe Bonamassa’s Insatiable Passion for Guitars and Amps
In a candid interview with Guitar Aficionado back in 2012, Bonamassa reflected on a period in the mid-2000s when his guitar collection reached a fever pitch. Recounting moments of unintentional redundancy, he confessed to acquiring guitars only to realize he already possessed similar ones. With a hint of self-awareness, the guitarist admitted:
“It got to be so gluttonous. I’d be on tour in a place like Japan, jet-lagged and ready to kickstart my day at four in the morning. No Starbucks would be open, so I’d just go to the Gbase website and throw something on the credit card.”
Continuing, he elaborated: “I ended up with all these guitars I didn’t even play – a bunch of old [ES-5] Switchmasters and ES-350s and even four Trini Lopezes – guitars that were killer to look at but not useful to me on the stage or in the studio. Finally, I just said, ‘Garage sale!’ and got rid of a ton of stuff.”
A Collection That Leaves Everyone Astonished
Presently, Bonamassa boasts a staggering collection of approximately 1,000 to 1,200 pieces, the majority of which find their home in his residence in LA. Discussing his extensive collection on Kenny Aronoff’s podcast, the guitarist revealed that the sheer size often leaves visitors astounded. He humorously noted:
“If I went into it blind – not knowing what to expect or just seeing a few pictures on Instagram – the sheer magnitude of it all would overwhelm even the most jaded collector. The difference is, I live there! So I wake up, I get my coffee, and there’s hundreds of guitar amps around [me].” While some select pieces from this impressive collection might make an appearance during his 2024 tour, set to commence in Louisville, Kentucky, on February 19.