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 Post subject: Joe Bonamassa speaks
PostPosted: 090408 00:43 
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There's a pretty interesting interview with Joe Bonamassa in this Guitar Player cover story. Unsurprisingly, they talk a lot about equipment, which is what those guitar mags are always so interested in. (Reminds me of a tangent Peter Green goes on in one of the live shows I have, about how everybody always asks him "what strings do you use?"). We could talk about the importance of equipment (which is something I'm reluctantly learning myself), but there's other good stuff in there too, about how Joe's taken the strategy of "modest success", being a hardworking musician doing a lot of touring and recording, more concerned about pleasing his fans and himself rather than making a few hits, becoming a superstar for a few months, and then fizzling out. I thought it was a good read. I particularly liked this part:

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For your fans, [your first album] is a crucial document of where you were as a musician, warts and all.

I used to wonder why people might like it over some things that I think are better, but I’ve learned that there’s a certain charm in the struggle. When I hear my early work, I hear the struggle to get the notes out, to sing the parts, and the struggle of writing the tunes. I think that’s why some people are drawn to it: It’s real. I’ve always toyed with redoing the vocals on that whole album, but I haven’t because people do like it. I read an interview with Clapton where he said he hates the way he sounded with John Mayall. I think, “How can you hate that? You were on fire!” But that wasn’t what he envisioned for himself. That’s just where he was in 1966. The grass is always greener for all guitarists.

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 Post subject: Re: Joe Bonamassa speaks
PostPosted: 090408 01:51 
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One of the more interesting things about the article for me is the revelation of how much equipment matters to the sound. I mean, yeah, I expected that it would affect the sound, but I never expected that people would worry to this degree. In my view, I always thought that the various kinds of equipment out there were promoted out of commercial interest or brand loyalty rather than any real effect they had on sound.

It kind of makes me wonder what he'd sound like if you give him a beginner guitar and amp... and how many guitarists there are out there who don't sound good because they don't have the gear or the technical knowledge of the gear, rather than any deficiency in technique or effort.

Another interesting thing was the idea that he (and probably other artists) mix for different kinds of people, with different layers of experience for different setups. I mean, are there really layers that you can't hear on a lossless track from iTunes played on a surround sound PC setup? Does vinyl really sound that much better and present a fuller experience?


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 Post subject: Re: Joe Bonamassa speaks
PostPosted: 090408 02:05 
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That's exactly the sort of thing I'm dealing with now. Stickman's giving me these pedals, telling me, "the problem's not your technique, it's your toys!" I mean, I can play the same exact thing with two setups: one, with just my amp and its included distortion; and two, with a Microvibe pedal, a separate distortion pedal, a Wah pedal, and the amp, and the difference is the difference between an amateur and a convincing Robin Trower impersonator. Of course, you have to have the technique in the first place, or it'll just be crap with a tasty chocolate coating, but once you have the technique, you need the toys, too, or else nobody's gonna be able to notice the taste...

Ok, terrible metaphor. I read a long time ago about how a good guitarist doesn't need fx to sound good. A good guitarist can pick up a cheap, worn out acoustic guitar and sound fantastic. And this is true. But I made the mistake of thinking that the toys were irrelevant. I focused on playing the guitar, not the fx, which is important, but there are limitations. With the electric guitar, everything is about the sound, and the tone is king. A great guitarist can sound downright shitty with a bad tone, and even a crappy guitarist can sound amazing with a good tone. The difference is, the good guitarist might be able to compensate with great technique, whereas the crappy guitarist can't hide his lack of ability even behind a great tone. So you have to be a good guitarist *and* a good fx wizard.

Some guitarists can get away with a single, simple setup that sounds great. Other guitarists spend more time fooling around with their equipment. But a good guitarist needs a good tone to stand out and grab people's attention.

I'm not sure I understand your last paragraph.

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 Post subject: Re: Joe Bonamassa speaks
PostPosted: 090408 02:08 
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Does this mean you're going to be doing more research in the "toys" and perhaps looking into more to duplicate the setups of the artists you want to sound more like?


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 Post subject: Re: Joe Bonamassa speaks
PostPosted: 090408 02:12 
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Scott wrote:
Does this mean you're going to be doing more research in the "toys" and perhaps looking into more to duplicate the setups of the artists you want to sound more like?

Ugh. You can probably tell I don't have as much interest in that side of things. As exciting as it is to plug into a pedal and hear its effect on your tone, I'm just not as interested in the technical side of producing a good sound, as I am in playing the right notes and pouring my heart and soul (rather than my technical intellect) into the music I play. Besides, once you have a guitar, you just need to play it. With the toys, there are always more pedals and things to get, and those can be expensive... x_x

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 Post subject: Re: Joe Bonamassa speaks
PostPosted: 090408 02:20 
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Too bad there isn't some kind of equipment "library" where you can go check out gear for a few days for a minimal cost to try stuff out.

Though borrowing gear from other performers that are willing to help out would be a decent way to start... I mean, I guess it doesn't have to get super technical. You can learn that amps X and Y sound nice with pedal Z, or that box A produces a tone that you like... and you'll just sort of pick that up and remember what tone goes with what piece, I guess, without delving into the technical details and jargon.


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 Post subject: Re: Joe Bonamassa speaks
PostPosted: 090408 04:05 
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And then there's the stuff in the guitar itself - pickups, mainly. And of course, the design of the guitar, such as the wood used, affects the sound, though I have no idea to what extent. But different guitars may react to different effects differently. Whoo, that's a lot of differences...

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 Post subject: Re: Joe Bonamassa speaks
PostPosted: 090408 04:45 
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Talk about infinite combinations...

I don't suppose the stickman has a "high-level" guitar that you could play with? Or Glenn?


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 Post subject: Re: Joe Bonamassa speaks
PostPosted: 090408 04:58 
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Scott wrote:
I don't suppose the stickman has a "high-level" guitar that you could play with? Or Glenn?

Don't misunderstand. The guitar I have and use is a good one. Despite being a cheap beginner's guitar, she plays very nicely (ignoring the wiring problems, which can be fixed), and is very comfortable to play with. After showing me a few things, Stickman even remarked, "I see why you always play this guitar - the notes bend so easily". So, for the price I paid, I consider that guitar a godsend. I don't know how it compares to a "high-level" guitar, which I guess is essentially a "high-priced" guitar, but I'm fairly confident that this one can handle the workload, if only I would get those damn wires fixed up already.

Besides, she's beautiful. And she's the only guitar I'll ever own that was held by two of the three girls I ever fell in love with. Frankly, I can't imagine any guitar ever taking her place...

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 Post subject: Re: Joe Bonamassa speaks
PostPosted: 090408 05:06 
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I was thinking more of using it to compare the sound and toanl differences to see whether the extra money is a load of shit or what.

After all, you could replace the pickups or something in the guitar if you wanted to try to change the tone a bit, or if you found something you liked in another guitar. Of course, there's a limit... but still.


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