It’s no secret that Joe Bonamassa has an impressive guitar collection. Sadly, reading about those vintage beauties in a magazine, or seeing them onstage during a Bonamassa concert, is the closest most guitarists will ever get to actually touching such valuable and historic instruments.
But thanks to Ernie Ball, and it’s recent “The Joe Bonamassa Experience” contest, five grand prize winners were invited to the Vintage Room at Guitar Center Hollywood on January 29, to talk about music, blues, technique, and performance with Bonamassa.
And, yes, also get a once-in-a-lifetime chance to pick up and play a few of his classic guitars. The lineup onstage during the event included a 1951 Fender Nocaster, 1955 Fender Stratocaster, 1959 Gibson Les Paul, 1958 Gibson Flying V, and a 1958 Gibson EDS-1275.
Bonamassa provided each of the grand-prize winners—Daniel Moore of Ogden, Utah; Jason Wirch of Alberta, Canada; Damien Sancho of Castres, France; and Ricky Shepherd of Sheffield, England (Hannover, Germany’s Joachim Schuette was unable to attend due to illness)—with a short history and tonal evaluation of each guitar, before inviting them onstage one-at-a-time to play their favorite riffs on his babies.
“I wouldn’t want these locked away, never to be seen until some auction,” Bonamassa said. “I bought each guitar to play it.”
The Joe Bonamassa Experience was launched by Ernie Ball last summer, and it served up more than $70,000 in prizes—including “instant win” goodies identified by picks hidden in Ernie Ball strings purchased at a Guitar Center—before it closed on September 30, 2015. In addition to “a day with Joe and his guitars,” the five grand-prize winners received an Ernie Ball Music Man guitar, Ernie Ball strings and accessories, a Dunlop B95 Joe Bonamassa Cry Baby, and a Dunlop Joe Bonamassa Wah.
Joining Ernie Ball in supporting the contest were Guitar Player, Guitar World, Guitar Aficionado, Guitar Center, Sterling By Music Man and Dunlop Manufacturing.