Joe Bonamassa has ignited speculation that he will be following in the footsteps of Brian May and Joe Satriani and teaming up with digital amp modelling and guitar software specialist IK Multimedia for a signature AmpliTube guitar plugin suite.
The blues guitar star has got form for this sort of thing, casually letting the world know that, say, there was the Fender Custom Shop was making a forensic replica of his ’51 Nocaster, aka the Bludgeon, or letting slip that Joe Bonamassa ES-355 signature guitars were on the way from Epiphone. So maybe there is something in it when he broke his self-imposed social media exile to post a video to his official Instagram account from Ocean Way Studios on Music Row, Nashville.
The video shows Bonamassa’s monstrous live rig all miked up and in action as he noodles off-screen through an arsenal of rare and collectible Dumble, Marshall and Fender tube amps, with Bonamassa explaining that the ‘Amp Shanty’ was being modelled by IK Multimedia. “I wish every session was this easy,” he wrote, with a triumvirate of emojis to show he meant it.
What other explanation could there be? This all fits the IK Multimedia MO for the AmpliTube series, in which artists and the software specialists collaborate hand-in-glove on modelling the gear and turned into digital format to be rendered in a software package that can either sits within your DAW, or run as a standalone version for live performance.
Et voila, you have all the guitar amps, guitars and effects at the touch of a button.
Oftentimes, digital amp modellers are marketed on the amount of money you might save by having X, Y or Z amount of gear so readily available, but can you put a price on Bonamassa’s backline, in which there are vintage Fender combo amps, a quartet of Dumbles – two heads, two combos because you’ve got to double up on the Overdrive Specials – plus the trusty Marshall heads that are the cornerstone of his live rig?
Panning across you can also see a well-stocked pedalboard, and there is a boat of electric guitars waiting in the wings that suggests we there might be some six-string models just as May did with the Red Special.
The series has been a huge hit for IK Multimedia, complementing its range of plugin suites that offer digital emulations of gear from the likes of Fender, Mesa/Boogie and Orange amps. The AmpliTube Brian May offered sounds that were uncannily accurate. The prospect of Bonamassa making some of the most-hallowed pieces of gear from his collection digitally available is a tantalising prospect.
And even if Bonamassa is presently taking a self-imposed retreat from social media on account of it being a distraction – “This place feels like it has the maturity of high school and I fear I am gonna be provoked one day into saying something i might regret,” he explained – it is good to see he still makes time to check in every now and again, and maybe just maybe plant the seed that sometime in the not-so-distant future you want to expand your digital setup. Hey, it’ll be a lot easier to afford, and a lot easier to store too.
In the here and now, Bonamassa's continued collaboration with Epiphone is presenting plenty of options for the budget-conscious player, most recently in the shape of his hugely impressive 1962 ES-335 and 1959 Les Paul Standard 'Lazarus' signature models.