Why Joe Bonamassa Had Difficulty In Playing Eric Clapton’s Guitar, Joe Explains Himself


In an interview with Wong Notes podcast, Joe Bonamassa talked about his experiences of playing Eric Clapton‘s iconic guitars, Hare Krishna ES-335 and ‘Blackie’ Stratocaster, and explains why he had trouble playing the Blackie.

The talented blues-rock guitarist, songwriter, and singer Joe Bonamassa most recently released his highly-anticipated studio album, ‘Royal Tea,’ on October 23, 2020. Bonamassa previously stated that the album was inspired by the works of Jeff Beck, John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers, Eric Clapton, and Cream.

In a recent interview he joined, Joe opened up about the time he had the opportunity to play two of Eric Clapton’s guitars, Hare Krishna ES-335 and ‘Blackie’ Stratocaster. Apparently, while Bonamassa was spending some time with his friends at Guitar Center, he got to play Hare Krishna ES-335 which was played by Eric Clapton during his time with Cream as well as his farewell concert at the Albert Hall.

Joe described Hare Krishna ES-335 as ‘the most vibrant, lively, explosive-sounding ES guitar’ he has ever played in his life. On the other hand, Bonamassa stated that ‘Blackie’ Stratocaster was a ‘rough ride’ for him possibly because its strings were rusty. He also added that it wasn’t the most easy-playing Strat even though it sounded fine.

Here is what Joe Bonamassa stated about Clapton’s guitars:

“I got to play the ‘Hare Krishna’ Gibson ES-335 – it’s that guitar, Clapton At Albert Hall, he’s the reason I wanted to play Albert Hall, it’s because of him and that guitar. And Blackie, and Lenny, Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Lenny, so I got to play all three of those in a single afternoon.

The most vibrant, lively, explosive-sounding ES guitar I’ve ever played in my life. And I tried to weigh the experience, ‘Is this what I want to hear or is it what I’m actually hearing?’ Because this is hallowed ground, and a lot of people, I go, ‘No, this is actually really f-ing good, I could see why they liked it.’

Blackie was a rough ride for me. Maybe it’s that the strings were rusty, but it was not the most easy-playing Strat. But it sounded fine. He played this guitar throughout the 70s, and that was his guitar.”

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