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Opinions on Joe Bonamassa latest statement about pedals?

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Silver Supporting Member
Well the noise makers passing themselves off as players should aggravate anyone who has spent time learning their craft. It's another rung down ladder of dumbing down music.
yeah the ratio of great noise makers (like david torn) to mediocre is pretty slim. Than again the ratio of great blues players (like Joe B) to mediocre is pretty slim as well.

ps - david of course make great music whether through many effects or straight into an amp
Cogent observation.

Steve Vai is as musically knowledgeable and capable a human - let alone guitar player - as anyone yet the quality of his music output is very poor. Kurt Cobain once said all you need to know is a power chord and Nirvana's catalog (whether you personally care for them or not) still resonates deeply with many.
very true...I liked vai stuff with david lee roth...but not since
its about the songs...always has been


Gold Supporting Member
When I read the article I remembered a band audition almost 30 years ago. We wanted to have 2 guitars in the band and this guy comes over with topnotch gear. Dual-mode distortion and delay pedals from Digitech and a very colourful Ibanez Steve Vai guitar. Pretty good tone-sculpting tools in my opinion.

We started playing and he could do all these crazy hammer-on licks and bends and it sounded quite massive. We were impressed. Then we asked him to have a go at the riffs and he just couldn't get the rhythms right, he couldn't do a couple of 4/4 bars without rushing the beat and he was really struggling with the chords which were pretty basic.

The guy didn't seem interested in the more fundamental aspects of playing music such as time-keeping, chords and tight riffing. He was a nice guy but I just didn't feel the urge to play in a band with him. :)

I think Joe was just having a go at people like him.

Pedals are great and you can do fantastic things with them. And I always have an extra look at the pedalboards in use on stage when I go see bands play live. It inspires me and I love pedals !


Silver Supporting Member
You are so missing the point....
no - I agree with Joe, just found the way he said it condescending. There's lots of "guitar players" now that essentially rely on the effects and pedals and wouldn't be able to do much with them stripped away. Joe would sound great and creative whether through tons of pedals or straight into an amp.


Senior Member

edit after over 150 replies:
but, but, but...i bought my mean guitar to punish my mom, how can I do that without my algo-rythms?
I agree up to a point... If your playing 100% orginal music, It's your show, and if you get off 100% of the time with only a guitar and amp, I say great ! But you should have a real good bag of tricks, or you will start to sound like a one trick pony to you audience eventually.

But... there might be times when you're playing a less that lively room and to creat a different effect, an ambience, one that matches or enhaces the mood of your song, you may want to add reverb, delay, chorus, or some other effect.

Man does not live by bread alone. It's ok to include other stuff...

Here's where I agree with him 100%, a majority of your time should be spent actually playing. If your not doing that, you swimming, but sideways IMHO. You will stall in your attempts to become better at actually playing. Playing good is the fundamental base for sounding good, Like a good sounding tube amp is to a guitar rig.

Also, you need to play with a band, at least part of the time. It hones many other skills as well.

Now, when you are doing covers, I feel you owe it to you audiance to get at least Some of the original texture and effect of the guitar. It may often take a long time to get it to sound exact, but there's also a resonable amount you can cut off at, say 80% correct (by your own estimation, but be truthfull to yourself...). That usually doesn't take a 100 hours of exploration, more like a few hours trying different things. Most of the benefit for searching for a correct album tone comes in the first 20% of you effort. Perfect is an illusion.

You can keep playing the song live, and practice, and the other things will come to you. Specifically if you play against the recording ocassionally. Guitarists have a tendency to drift to their own habits and their copy of a song will start to drift away from the original, and that's not a bad thing in the balance (you might sound good in you own style !), but people get off on hearing things close to 'The Record', as it were. Try to capture the emotion, and that is even more important than using "Stomp Boxes" obsessively.

Always remember, you are an entertainer, and playing for your audience. If not, you should seek a new profession or hobby, or at least don't play live, IMHO.

Playing and creativity comes first, Texture a close second (boxes and rack units can help, but use with caution), and third Perform ! You are an Entertainer !!!

One last foot note I will add, I don't believe it ever helps to be nasty to any of you fans, even if some of them are jerks and losers. Just take a page from a Buddhist Monk, and let them be, or go one step further (not saying it's easy), be nicer in the wake of their being nastier. That's the strength of character of a true and top Entertainer !
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Moderation is key
Staff member
I’m just happy for folks if they’ve found a setup that works. I find judging people, or their musicianship, based on their gear choices...really lame.

Whatever it is that makes you happy and inspires you, do that, and don’t listen to anyone else about it bc it ain’t their music. Ya know?

If you want to use 25 pedals and theee amps. Go for it.

Want to go without pedals, use an improvised light plug turned into a guitar cable, and a 1920s amp shooting out sparks....go for it.

Bc why the f would I care? Everyone just needs to worry about themselves and avoid these big sweeping generalizations w music


Silver Supporting Member
I enjoy Sigur Ros, Radiohead and Explosions just as much as the next kid who came up in the nineties and early 2000s, but those folks make pedals a part of their art. I don't think has talking about those artists.

I have a larger board I use in my studio for flavor when needed. Its a lot of fun to add some character to a well practiced and thought out part. However, there are many guys these days...many of them I've heard on TGP who he is talking about. Guys in the P&W genre, guys who have 4 delays to get the feelz. Guys who don't incorporate the use of pedals as art, but rather as a mask. Joe isn't wrong, it's a real style these days and quite frankly it's pretty lame.

...But then Blues Hammer is also lame and as another poster wrote earlier Joe is definitely the real life version of Blues Hammer.
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He’s a great player and all, but I don’t care about his original music at all, or care what gear he’s using, or care what his opinion on gear is. I’ll continue using whatever I think sounds good, I don’t play guitar for anyone else’s approval.


Him doubling down means Joe himself has probably read thru this thread, right here. Now he knows a whole lot more opinions!

So SRV was lazy? (just one example) He “copped” plenty of previous blues players licks and their tunes. All blues players stole each other’s licks and songs and are (were) not ashamed to say they did.
THAT'S the nature of Blues. A lot of SRVs success was the result of good timing, but Texas Flood was 35 years ago. Remember that.

Just as "off-pissing" as Joe's comments are, is all the 'stale old blues, dad music, it's impossible to do anything legitimately creative if you're playing blues, etc" comments. Wanna rip Joe's arse, go for it. I kinda did. But don't diss an entire genre of music! Look. Blues is pretty much the original electric guitar music. It HAS been around forever. Just about everything HAS been done. And it has a formula, a blueprint that needs to be basically followed. Most ALL(OK, at least half) other genres were born out of someone tweaking or breaking from the blues formula. What I'm saying, is, it's harder to be totally fresh and creative when you have to color between the lines.

Here's the thing. A lot of us LIKE coloring between the lines. I'm mostly a blues player. Why? That's what I love. I have no ambition to create anything "new to the music world" I want me and my band(who also love what they're playing) to play it well and enjoy ourselves, express ourselves, maybe even entertain people. People who went, CHOSE, to go see a blues band play blues. That audience, Joes audience, doesn't expect Tom Morello on guitar and would be put off BY Tom Morello on guitar.(I LOVE RATM btm).

Notice i haven't dissed any genre of music or guitar playing. I won't. There's stuff I fing hate. But stop dissing blues because you're pissed at Joe and Joe plays blues. Trace most any experimental alt/post/nu/core/whatever back to the 1940s and it either comes from country, jazz or blues.


Joe is a freaking smart dude with some attitude
Look at some crowd shots for his shows and the BBC shows, it looks just like a gun and knife show crowd.
That age group controls plenty of money and will pay big to see him and it's no big deal.
In the mean time he does not need or want a hit song. He can play his own stuff and throw in some old Zep, ZZ Top , with a Frampton ending.
Boom on the road all the time and he has enough $$, so he sells endorsed guitars and pedals to buy some 50's and 60's stuff.
I love pedals.
He worded it poorly but I kinda have to agree with his overall point.. People can talk all they want about ambient music and soundscapes, but if you can't properly strum an open chord without bum notes (yes I've seen this several times), then the huge pedalboard ain't gonna help you. It shows when people hasn't put the hours in, no matter the style. When people actually have a vision and the skill to make it happen then yeah pedals can be powerful tools.

They way he said it was very provocative, but it gets people talking and I like that.
Most of my favorites got there without doing this...blasting out some power chords or cool little riffs in a great song does it for me
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