Thursday, May 21, 2009

Joe Bonamassa | Signature Sounds, Styles & Techniques DVD

Bonamassa opens this DVD with a free-form guitar solo that is very reminiscent of Eric Johnson with flurries of pentatonic licks cascading in position vertically up and down the fingerboard. Which I find strange. Most guitarists, given the opportunity to produce their own DVD, would strive at the outset to establish their own distinct musical identity.

But no matter. Perhaps it was more of a homage and stylistic tip of the hat to Eric Johnson, whom Bonamassa is obviously greatly influenced by.

In the first chapter of this dvd, Bonamassa proceeds to talk about the versatility of the Fender Stratocaster and begins by playing what he calls a Hendrix blues-rock style. Again we hear that unmistakeable Eric Johnson influence. I admire Bonamassa's playing, so this is just an observation on my part, as a fan of both Eric and Joe. And Jimi.

His explanation of the different pickup selection combinations available on the Fender Strat is one of the clearest and best I've seen as he explores the various timbres the instrument has to offer. He also demonstrates using the tone controls for even more colors and mentions how he wires the lead pickup on his Strat to a tone control where the lead pickup would ordinarily not be wired.  Really, a very valuable insider tip to get that Strat lead pickup under control, and something too few instructional videos talk about.

Joe goes on to very ably demonstrate his various techniques on a custom Gigliotti telecaster-style guitar with a brass top(!) and a Gibson Les Paul.  And Bonamassa's pro tip on stabilizing the Tele's bridge pickup to eliminate squealing feedback is priceless information to Tele players everywhere!

His sections on rhythm playing, soloing and slide guitar, while not being very explanatory as far as the notes he is hitting, are nevertheless good demonstrations of the many stylistic facets of his style. A beginner or novice would, however, be left in the dust with no clue. As with the other examples throughout this DVD, no written music or explanations are offered as to what is being played.

In the effects chapter of his DVD, Bonamassa talks about his pedalboard that includes a discontinued Korg G4 for a Leslie speaker effect and Boss DD3 delay, both of which are run through the effects loop of his Marshall amp.  A Carl Martin Hot Drive 'N Boost, Fulltone Octafuzz and Reverend Drivetrain II are the source of his overdriven tones while a Prescription Electronics Vibe Unit, TC Electronics Chorus, Flip Vintage Tremelo, Line6 DL4 Modeling Delay and Vox wah complete his tonal palette.

In the amp chapter Joe talks about the Budda and Marshall Jubilee amp heads that he switches between for different tones.  A plexiglass baffle surrounds his speaker cabinets enabling him to crank up his volume so he can drive his power tubes hard while not blowing out his audiences eardrums when playing in smaller clubs. Makes a lot of sense.

All in all this DVD provides a great overall view of the guitar style and musical personality of Joe Bonamassa. Like I mentioned, it is not an instructional DVD in its truest sense but one does get a sense of what hanging out with the man for an afternoon might be like.

The complete home study jazz guitar course

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