By Christopher Scapelliti
Joe Bonamassa has been playing, buying and collecting vintage guitars and amps for most of his life. Today, at 39, he has a vast collection, enough to create his own museum of rare and vintage gear: the Bona-seum.
Bonamassa invited Reverb.com, the online marketplace, into the Bona-seum for a first-hand look at some of his prized guitars. The result is the short film Welcome to Nerdville: Inside Joe Bonamassa’s Museum and Guitar Collection, as well as an interactive virtual reality tour that lets viewers explore his labyrinth of vintage gear firsthand.
“Hi, my name is Joe, and I am a guitar addict,” Bonamassa says in the film, shown below, as he takes the camera crew around his museum. “And this is what happens when addiction coupled with a modicum of success in the music business meets and there’s no authority figure to say ‘No’ and ‘Please stop!’”
In the film, Bonamassa talks about his lifelong experiences collecting guitars on his various “guitar safaris,” and reveals how the market has changed while he shares some of the finer points of buying vintage instruments. “You have to ask yourself, Are you a player? Or are you a collector?” he says. “I serve both masters.”
Mostly, though, he shows some of his gorgeous instruments. Among the guitars featured and discussed are his 1955 Gibson Les Paul goldtop, which he’s nicknamed “The Cajun”; a 1955 Fender Stratocaster —the earliest known black Strat made by Fender—which was owned by Howard Reed, who replaced Cliff Gallup in Gene Vincent’s backup group, the Blue Caps; a 1955 Fender sunburst Telecaster, one of the rarest Fender guitars he owns, which is among just a handful of sunburst Teles made in 1955 and 1958; a 1958 Fender Mary Kay Stratocaster, of which he is just the second owner; a 1966 Seafoam Green Fender Jazzmaster, a 1962 Fiesta Red Fender Jaguar, and an original Gibson Flying V with a great history—and which was also seen in the 1984 film This Is Spinal Tap.
Take a look at the film below to see these and other guitars.