Joe Bonamassa giving advice on keys and scales on the Gibson Gear Guide channel
| May 1, 2024 |

Joe Bonamassa’s Essential Advice for Guitarists

Knowing keys and unlocking the fretboard are central areas of knowledge, according to the modern blues virtuoso

In this video conversation with Dinesh Lekhraj on the Gibson Gear Guide, Joe Bonamassa shares what he describes as the “best advice” he can give guitarists, making the case that knowing the entire fretboard in all keys is essential.

Demonstrating how to apply this knowledge, he provides musical examples that illustrate how to connect a phrasing mindset with logical fretboard positions. He encourages players to build a musical vocabulary in various styles and to aim for the kind of dexterity that will enable them to feel confident in what they’re doing in a given key, scale, or mode.

Bonamassa also demonstrates how being keenly aware of dissonance and consonance allows the player to be more expressive. He doesn’t address microtones directly in this particular clip but alludes to them with terms like “rubbing” and “sweetness” in demonstrating how double-stops can give a listener the good kind of shivers.

Speaking of improvisation within a specific key, Bonamassa says, “If you’re thinking about it in real time, you’re too late. If you’re thinking about what you should be playing in that very moment, on that very bar, you’re too late. You’re actually way too late.”

Who is Joe Bonamassa?

Joe Bonamassa is a renowned American blues rock guitarist, singer, and songwriter, celebrated for his exceptional guitar skills and contributions to the resurgence of blues music. Bonamassa was a child prodigy, picking up the guitar at the age of four and playing blues venues across the country by the age of 12, opening for B.B. King. King praised Bonamassa for his guitar prowess and dedication to the blues genre. 

Throughout his career, Bonamassa has released a prolific catalog of solo albums that showcase his blend of blues, rock, and soul, starting with his debut album, “A New Day Yesterday,” in 2000. His work has garnered significant acclaim, making him one of the leading figures in modern blues music.

Apart from his solo career, Joe Bonamassa has been involved in various musical collaborations and side projects, including the supergroup Black Country Communion with Glenn Hughes, Jason Bonham, and Derek Sherinian and a blues-rock duo with Beth Hart. 

He is also known for his extensive collection of vintage guitars and amps, which he frequently showcases in his performances and recordings. Beyond his musical achievements, Bonamassa is committed to preserving blues music for future generations through his Keeping the Blues Alive Foundation, which provides funding and resources for music education programs and scholarships. His dedication to his craft and to the promotion of blues music has solidified his status as a torchbearer for the blues genre in the 21st century.

Get more tone tips from Joe Bonamassa and check out his signature Epiphone 1963 SG Custom.