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John, Joe, Roy, Mike, and a 58 Les Paul throaty beast!

chucma

Fractal Fanatic
I want to share with you guys some news about an amazing weekend that I just had.


One of the fellow forum members here (London John) knows I am a big Bonamassa fan, and on Friday sent me a message saying that he would be happy to take me along with him to watch Joe playing at the Hammersmith Apollo on Saturday night. This was the start of an experience that I personally never thought I would live to have.


I met up with John at his house in London on Saturday afternoon, I was a bit late because the kids were being a handful and I felt a bit guilty leaving my lovely wife (who bought me my Axe-Fx as a present) alone to deal with them, so I had hung around with her as long as I could take it.


It was a pretty easy trip to get to London, I parked my car at Hammersmith and caught the tube to John’s house, where he welcomed me up into his ‘man room’. The first thing I saw was his Axe-Fx hooked up to his laptop and thought this is really nice, this is the first time I have managed to meet another fellow Axe-Fx owner so I was looking forward to jamming through some patches with him. This however, did not happen, because as I looked around the room I realised I was surrounded by some of the most awesome vintage Marshall amps (and a dead fox which I’ll leave John to explain). I’m not able to remember them all, but I know John has posted a pic of his amps here before and they looked stunning.


I knew we wouldn’t be able to play the amps because like myself, John has a little kid and loud amps are not always a good thing with toddlers around. So John handed me some headphones, and pulled out the most beautiful original 1959 blonde 335 and hands it to me! :) We plugged it into the Axe-Fx and as I played it I realised what a REALLY good guitar sounds like. This ’59 335 has more balls than any of my Les Pauls back home combined (I own a LP Studio and a CC02), it sounded simply amazing! We also played a few other true vintage classics that John has (I think the newest guitar was a '62 Tele, and the rest ranged from between ’54 to ’59).


One of the reasons John was going to watch Joe was because Joe was going to use John’s '58 Les Paul for a couple of songs in the show. I was a bit nervous about asking about this guitar because I knew it was pretty expensive (not that the others weren’t), but John was really cool about it and hauled it out from it’s hiding place, and plonked it on my lap without any problems at all. So I sat there with the Holy Grail of guitars in my hand and ALL guitar talent washed out of my system so all I could do was stare at the way it had aged so beautifully. Eventually I snapped out of it and started jamming; words simply cannot describe what a real '58 feels and sounds like. This one in particular is a throaty beast, the hallmark of what every Les Paul tries to sound like.


Eventually we had to catch a cab to take the ’58 to Joe as his soundcheck was at 18h00. We hopped in a cab and drove through to the Apollo, then found our way to the side gate and spoke to a security guard who of course said we needed someone from the inside to let us in. John called Roy (Joe’s manager) but he was still on his way, we tried a few other options but had no luck. Eventually John says, ‘oh, well then I’ll just call Joe on his mobile’. That’s not a sentence I expected to hear. Whilst John called him, I hear the phone ringing faintly, then heard a voice saying ‘hey mate, you guys are stuck outside? Sure I’ll send someone down to let you in.’. That’s when I started to go numb, that was Joe Bonamassa chatting to his buddy John saying that he would let us in! Soon enough, long haired Mike (Joe’s guitar tech) appears at the gate and lets us in, at the same time Roy arrives wearing a beanie, and drives past greeting us both as he went by.


We followed Mike backstage and went onto the main stage, where across the other side Joe was standing chatting to some friends of his. John and I crossed over to him and he walked up to us with a big grin ‘Hey John, how are you doing? What a great jam we had the other day at your place’. John introduced me, I shook his hand and he gave me a hearty greeting too.


We basically hung around the stage, John went out with Roy to catchup on some things so I stayed behind and chatted very briefly to Joe and Mike. I asked Joe about his amps and he said they were all tweeds set at 9, but didn’t go into detail and I didn’t want to push him for more info (and come across as a crazy fan tone chaser). Mike took John’s '58, stuck it on his guitar bench and cut off the strings, restrung it and passed it to Joe who played a couple of licks through his INCREDIBLY loud amps. Standing on stage with Joe Bonamassa as he plays a legendary guitar like that which I had been jamming on an hour earlier is something surreal.


Joe then raises the pickups a little, tests it again and was satisfied. We then moved over to his guitar rack and he pulls out his favourite Strat, which he hands over to us to try out. The guitar was super light and felt awesome! He didn’t even bat an eyelid to me strumming a few chords on his fav guitar. Such a cool guy!


John and I then went out with Roy to a very strange little Greek coffee shop that sells some interesting lasagne. As we went in, we found a table with an acoustic guitar and a djembe drum. Roy picked up the guitar and I grabbed the drum and we jammed a little. Soon, the owner came in with a lady was ‘supposedly a famous Greek singer trying to make it in London’ and they serenaded us whilst we waited for our food - I think they recognised Roy. Roy is an awesome guy, he mixes in pretty high circles but was so easy to chat with and make jokes about food with. And he gave me some pointers on how to cook a good steak!


We then went back to the Apollo where John and I were given some seats to watch the show (not too far back and close enough to enjoy it). Before sitting, Roy told us to follow him backstage so we could leave our coats in Joe’s meeting room. We had spent a few minutes with Joe there earlier hearing about a funny experience he had a couple of days earlier. We dropped off our coats and went to our seats.


The show was outstanding, it is everything you would dream of when you see JB and his super tight band backing him. For songs 11 and 12 Joe used John’s ’58 which we easily recognised from it’s incredibly throaty, beast of a sound. When Joe his the first big chord on it you could see his face light up and he grinned for a bit as the guitar sang out just like he wanted it to.


Afterwards, we went backstage and said cheers to the guys, Joe had already left I think. I asked about taking some photos of the amps and stuff but was sadly advised not to by Mike, which is fair enough. John and I walked to the car park carrying this incredibly expensive guitar and my nerves were really on edge in case some thug decided to mug us, luckily that didn’t happen. I dropped him off at home and started my journey back to my house in a dream world.


Anyway, sorry about the long post. I actually left a lot out to try and keep it short but that was pretty hard to do.


Thanks London John, that was simply the most amazing experience (aside from having kids and getting married)** that I have EVER had. You are cool for letting me in on that man! Respect! :D


**disclaimer - inserted in case lovely wife reads this!












 

Tone Seeker

Power User
chucma. . . how does Joe's new rig (the Tweeds on 9) sound? I imagine the tones are different from his Marshall/Dumble setup.

Terry.
 

chucma

Fractal Fanatic
chucma. . . how does Joe's new rig (the Tweeds on 9) sound? I imagine the tones are different from his Marshall/Dumble setup.

Terry.

Terry, I was very surprised as to how thick and sweet his tone was. His pedal board literally was his custom wah pedal and a single switch (I don't know what that does but I suspect controls something on the amps). During the show there was a part where he did a Gary Moore type stunt where he held a note with thick sustain, and it rang on for ages. Then for 'The Ballad of John Henry' he used his guitar volume to go from the clearest and sweetest cleans all the way into insane, fat distortion territory. London John took some vids of some other songs he did that showcase this well, hopefully he will see this thread and put them up for you guys.

The dynamic range he got out of those amps was the best I have heard ever, and at the same time he had that very full Joe Bonamassa tone and sound going for him.

I understand that he has all 4 amps on at the same time, I was standing next to them but wasn't able to bend over and look closer to see how he got his magic - I didn't want to because I was lucky enough to be that close to them. I did ask Mike specifically at the end if I could take some pics and he said that whilst he didn't mind, it wouldn't be a good idea as they were all trying to pack up.
 
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Tone Seeker

Power User
Here's a couple of clips with the '58:

Soundcheck:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mMcVgsgqcgk

Gig:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GDzX2EyJ_L4

Glad you enjoyed the show Adrian!

That's really interesting. The soundcheck tone seemed to have that Dumble-like mid thing going on for the first half or so. The rest of the clip, and the performance clip, had this rich, complex, warm, meaty rock tone going on that I really like. I'm sure your 58 Les Paul was a big part of that!

Nice to hear. . . thanks for posting!

Terry.
 

chucma

Fractal Fanatic
Here is a video I took on my iPhone (excuse the low quality), but it shows the sweet cleans Joe was getting, then he switches to his bridge, cranks the volume and suddenly you have that fat JB sound ripping through you! Amazing tone, and no pedal.

It is the intro of Sloe Gin, and the big part comes in at around 2:40.

[video]https://youtu.be/z_O4lxAV3Es[/video]
 

UnsungHeroGuitars

Fractal Fanatic
Good stuff Adrian
thumbsup.gif


I had hoped to be able to make this too, but was on the other side of the world at the time!

Glad to hear you all thoroughly enjoyed it though
smile.gif
 

chucma

Fractal Fanatic
Good stuff Adrian
thumbsup.gif


I had hoped to be able to make this too, but was on the other side of the world at the time!

Glad to hear you all thoroughly enjoyed it though
smile.gif

Thanks Clive, hopefully you were at least on holiday or something nice to make up for missing it. :)

Ps, whereabouts in the UK are you based? I've been looking for a good local guitar whisperer.
 

UnsungHeroGuitars

Fractal Fanatic
California was indeed very nice thanks! Even managed to play a couple gigs whilst there
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Mojo-Maverick-BW1.jpg


Clive-Maverick.jpg



I'm in Devon - always miles from everyone! Always more than happy to help out in whichever way I can though Adrian - maybe drop me an email via my website..?
 

chucma

Fractal Fanatic
California was indeed very nice thanks! Even managed to play a couple gigs whilst there
thumbsup.gif


I'm in Devon - always miles from everyone! Always more than happy to help out in whichever way I can though Adrian - maybe drop me an email via my website..?

Ah so LITERALLY the other side of the world! :D Nice photos! Looks like a great gig.

I was actually looking to find someone closer to home, but I'll email you regardless, it might still be worth my while as I have friends who stay in that part of the country.
 
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