Musicians that redefine an art form are few and far between. Yet in the span of a few years, guitarist Joe Bonamassa has singlehandedly transformed blues rock with his own unique fusion of both old and new ideas. His distinct interpretation of the blues, and his extraordinary guitar skills, have earned him a fitting a tribute from the Gibson Custom Shop—the new Joe Bonamassa Aged Les Paul Goldtop.
Bonamassa played his first guitar at the age of four. By seven, he had stepped up to a full-scale model and had mastered many of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s signature licks. At 10, he was playing regularly around the state of New York, garnering the attention of blues legend B.B. King. Two years later, he was opening up for King, and eventually stars like Buddy Guy, Robert Cray, Stephen Stills, Joe Cocker, Gregg Allman, and George Thorogood. After hearing him play for the first time, King said, “This kid’s potential is unbelievable. He hasn’t even begun to scratch the surface. He’s one of a kind.”
Those are lofty words for anyone, but Bonamassa has lived up to them, continuing to develop his own style as one of contemporary music’s most profoundly gifted guitar players.
The Joe Bonamassa Aged Les Paul Goldtop from Gibson Custom is a tribute to this extraordinary guitar virtuoso and his ever-growing legend, built in close collaboration with Bonamassa. This exceptional instrument begins with the most traditional of all Les Paul features – a body consisting of a carved maple top matched with a weight-relieved, two-piece light mahogany back. Single-ply crème binding adorns the top, which accents the perfectly applied Antique Goldtop finish reminiscent of the most storied Les Pauls of the early 1950s. The standard 24¾-inch scale one-piece mahogany neck is shaped with a traditional 1959 rounded neck profile, a 22-fret rosewood fingerboard and figured acrylic trapezoid inlays.
All of the hardware is nickel, and softly aged to give it the look of a classic, vintage Les Paul, including an ABR-1 bridge without the retainer wire and an aluminum stopbar tailpiece. The headstock is also reminiscent of the vintage Gibson Les Paul headstocks of the early 1950s, which are slight narrower than today’s version. The pickups and power in this outstanding signature Les Paul comes from a pair of Gibson’s legendary Burstbucker pickups – a Burstbucker 2 in the neck and a Burstbucker 3 in the bridge. Together, these two pickups successfully capture the subtle variations of true, classic humbucker tone with historically “unmatched” bobbin windings and Alnico II magnets. Other standard appointments include Grover kidney tuners, a “Bonamassa” truss rod cover, vintage CTS pots and bumble bee capacitors, Amber Top Hat knobs for the neck volume and tone controls and Gold Top Hat knobs for the bridge volume and tone controls, Dunlop strap locks, and black pickup rings, switchwasher and pickguard, just as they appeared on some of the vintage Goldtops from 1957. This model comes with a standard Gibson Custom case and a certificate of authenticity.