Joe Bonamassa: This Was the Hardest Thing for Me to Get the Hang of on Guitar

Joe Bonamassa performs live on stage at the Holland International Blues Festival in Grolloo, Netherlands, on June 9, 2018.
(Image credit: Alison Clarke/Future)

Pandemic or not, blues guitar master Joe Bonamassa has kept plenty busy in recent months, completing and prepping for the release of his new album, Royal Tea.

The long-teased new album was recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London, and was inspired by Bonamassa's British blues-rock guitar heroes - Jeff Beck, John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers, Eric Clapton and Cream.

Bonamassa recently sat down for an insightful interview with Glide magazine, where he chatted about the new album, writing and the one thing he struggled with the most when first mastering the guitar as a youngster.

"I think developing your own tone is difficult," Bonamassa said. "It’s not hand-eye coordination, it’s muscle memory and it’s strength in your hands. It’s the note within the note, the little subtleties that make a pro a pro. When you hear someone that has been doing it for a long time, you know that person knows what they’re doing, cause they have control over every aspect of the instrument. 

"The instrument doesn’t control them," he continued. "That’s what you look for in a great guitarist. That’s what you look for in a great race car driver. That’s what you look for in someone who has been in business or any profession. It’s the macro, it’s the little things, the subtle things. 

"Like, anybody can ask questions, okay, but do you ask interesting questions that not only interest yourself but also the reader or the viewer. That’s the difference between being a pro and just asking questions. And it’s the same thing with guitar.

Royal Tea - which was produced by longtime Bonamassa producer Kevin Shirley - is set for an October 23 release via Provogue/J&R Adventures.

To preorder the album, step right this way.

Jackson Maxwell
Associate Editor, and

Jackson is an Associate Editor at and He’s been writing and editing stories about new gear, technique and guitar-driven music both old and new since 2014, and has also written extensively on the same topics for Guitar Player. Elsewhere, his album reviews and essays have appeared in Louder and Unrecorded. Though open to music of all kinds, his greatest love has always been indie, and everything that falls under its massive umbrella. To that end, you can find him on Twitter crowing about whatever great new guitar band you need to drop everything to hear right now.