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Joe Bonamassa Shares 5 Tips for Guitarists to Control Their Ego and Sound Cool in a Session

By Ian Holubiak i.holubiak@classicalite.com on Dec 22, 2014 07:55 PM EST

If you aren't in the know about Joe Bonamassa, the eloquent blues guitar player, then you should know his chops are up to snuff and, most importantly, he's a player true to the art of playing. That is: Bonamassa knows a thing or two about playing the guitar and has a few sound tips for up-and-comers.

Sometimes the kind of advice a novice can receive from a player they look up to is unparalleled. And, being a touring and performing guitarist myself, there are certain tips you learn from years of playing out on the road that are central to forming your style.

But, before the stage there is only an instrument, and understanding five basic things about it will make it not only easier to play in the long run but will give you an easier time finding the one intangible quality all artists must possess: a voice.

And just a disclaimer, "a voice" isn't with your vocal cords but, instead, it's what you can say without your breath. As a writer must pen their voice so a musician must play theirs.

Via Music Radar, here are some of the tips offered to us by the great Bonamassa:

Learn to tune your guitar.

"I know this sounds kind of academic, but there's some tricks to tuning your guitar properly. When tune your guitar, play a bunch of chords you know to make sure they sound right. A lot of times the meter will say the guitar is in tune, but to my ear certain chords might sound a bit off."

Try plugging straight into the amp.

"I know we live in an era of soundscape-ists, people who, in lieu of listening to Jimmy Bryant or Ry Cooder, can run a Holy Grail reverb pedal better than the next guy. And it can be fun to go on the internet and read all the product reviews or going on YouTube and checking out the latest pedals and digital plugins. I get it. But every once in a while, try plugging straight into the amp to see what happens. It can be a really liberating experience."

Work on styles that you don't play for a living.

"If you play blues for a living, work on country. If you play jazz for a living, work on blues. If you play country for a living, work on blues and jazz. And so on — if you play heavy metal, work on jazz and country."

Turn down your gain.

"If you like the gain set at five, try it at four. I've discovered that people like to see you struggle a little bit. If you're too comfortable on stage, chances are you're not sweating enough for the music."

Bring gear that's appropriate for the session.

"If you're lucky enough to play guitar for a living and you're called to do a session that might not be your style of music, bring the gear that's appropriate for that session, not what's appropriate for your ego."

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TagsJoe Bonamassa, Music Radar, 5 Tips for Guitar Players