The collaboration between Music Man and John Petrucci from Dream Theater had already given birth to several signature models by the time the first baritone Petrucci was released in 2008. This baritone model with a longer scale (27.5”) allows you to tune down to B without having to learn how to navigate a seven-string guitar.
At the time of that release, Joe Bonamassa was starting to get hip to Music Man guitars, which after all had been Leo Fender's second brand. Back then, Joe could be seen playing Albert Lee and Steve Morse models. During that era he also became the owner of a Petrucci baritone, an unlikely pairing since Joe's blues rock has very little to do with Petrucci's virtuosic and progressive metal. But art follows no rule, and that guitar has birthed Joe Bonamassa's most famous riff, The Ballad Of John Henry.
This Petrucci baritone has inspired him the song that made him explode for a much wider audience, and he has never sounded that fat and zeppelinesque since. The low B string made him play in a much heavier fashion, with deep roots in the Delta blues of Leadbelly, who would also tune very low.
This guitar is a centerpiece in the history of Bonamassa's music, and the irrefutable proof that unlikely pairings can result in beautiful songs.
Main guitar : Gibson Les Paul Standard 1959
An absolute “must-hear” track : Sloe Gin
It is not easy to invent yourself as an adult artist when you have been a child prodigy. Joe was Danny Gatton’s student and protégé to B.B. King before he was even old enough to drive a car, and was touring with the band Bloodline (with other child prodigies, the sons of stars like Miles Davis and Robby Krieger) before he could vote. But it all could have ended there. Indeed, the other members of Bloodline have all disappeared into the ether of show business. But Bonamassa has always had an unstoppable work ethic, and by dint of touring he ended up imposing his own sound and solo discography.
It all began in 2000 with A New Day Yesterday, a completely honest blues album on which guests like Leslie West, Greg Allman, and Rick Derringer accompanied the young musician. At the time, Bonamassa played Strats and Telecasters, and Stevie Ray Vaughan’s influence could still be in much of his phrasing. But little by little he found his own voice when he switched to a Les Paul and combined his Marshall Silver Jubilee with a few other boutique heads for a result as bluesy as it is fat and organic. It was also the time when producer Kevin Shirley began collaborating with Bonamassa. They first worked together on You & Me (2006) and still do to this day. Sloe Gin (2007) and Ballad Of John Henry (2009) are tracks that established Joe’s reputation as the saviour of the blues, the future of a style that was thought to be reserved for baby boomers on the eve of retirement.
Since then, Bonamassa has never slowed his touring pace. In fact, he has redoubled his inventiveness to vary his shows, whether in a tribute concert to Muddy Waters and Holwin’ Wolf, a tribute tour to the three Kings of Blues, or to the British Blues Boom. He also plays on the albums of singer Beth Hart as well as with the bands Black Country Communion (alongside bassist and singer Glenn Hughes) and Rock Candy Funk Party. At the same time, the collector’s instinct of the man who was born with a guitar in his hands (his father owns a store) has only intensified, to the point where he owns about ten sunbursts, two korina Flying Vs, and a staggering number of rare instruments. However, those guitars are not just stowed away in a safe place. They go on the road with Joe. After all, that’s what they were made for.