“I Wanted to Sound Like Eric Clapton”: Joe Bonamassa Teams up With Epiphone to Create the 1962 ES-335
The blues-rock titan’s latest signature model is based on one of his most cherished electric guitars
Joe Bonamassa holds a special place in his heart for the ES-335.
After purchasing a red 1962 Gibson model in the mid-‘90s he put it to good use recording his debut solo album, 2000's A New Day Yesterday (opens in new tab).
“That debut record we made, A New Day Yesterday, was a college education for me in how to record – and a lesson in music history, too,” Bonamassa told Blues Blast (opens in new tab).
Launched in 1958, the Gibson ES-335 set a benchmark for all semi-hollow electric guitars that followed.
In 1962, small block inlays replaced the earlier ‘dot neck’ design, and this iconic look appears on the new Epiphone Joe Bonamassa 1962 ES-335 (opens in new tab).
Originally offered in either Sunburst or Natural, Gibson’s luscious Cherry finish became an option for 335 orders by 1960.
A popular choice ever since, Bonamassa’s new signature model is decked out in a cool retro Sixties Cherry finish.
When the 335 first arrived, it sported a pair of Gibson’s groundbreaking PAF humbuckers. Along with its maple center block and laminated maple construction these pickups helped give the guitar its unique voice.
Capturing that classic PAF-style tone, Bonamassa’s new Epiphone ES-335 has been fitted with a pair of Gibson BurstBuckers (a BurstBucker 2 in the neck and a BurstBucker 3 in the bridge.)
Commonly used in both the neck and bridge positions, Gibson BurstBucker 2s have a medium output, whereas Gibson BurstBucker 3s are overwound and hotter, making them an ideal bridge pickup choice.
BurstBuckers are not wax potted and are renowned for their open, airy sound – much like a typical vintage Gibson PAF humbucker.
Utilizing high quality CTS pots and Mallory tone caps along with a Switchcraft pickup selector and jack, Bonamassa’s new 335 allows these popular Gibson ‘buckers to shine.
The Epiphone Joe Bonamassa 1962 ES-335 story is an interesting one. Many of us guitar players pine for ‘the one that got away,’ and such was the case with JB’s original ’62 Gibson.
In an effort to help fund his move from New York to Los Angeles, the guitarist regrettably sold this treasured axe in 2001.
But by a strange twist of fate, Bonamassa was able to reunite with his long-lost companion many years later.
This time around, however, he made a promise to himself that his prized 335 would stay by his side for the rest of his days.
Priced $1,299, the Epiphone Joe Bonamassa 1962 ES-335 (opens in new tab) is shipping now with a custom hardshell case and certificate of authenticity.
Visit Epiphone (opens in new tab) for more information.
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Rod Brakes is a music journalist with an expertise in guitars. Having spent many years at the coalface as a guitar dealer and tech, Rod's more recent work as a writer covering artists, industry pros and gear includes contributions for leading publications and websites such as Guitarist, Total Guitar, Guitar World (opens in new tab), Guitar Player (opens in new tab) and MusicRadar (opens in new tab) in addition to specialist music books, blogs and social media. He is also a lifelong musician.