The Fender Custom Shop is making a Joe Bonamassa '51 Nocaster signature model

(Image credit: Joby Sessions / Future)

Blues superstar and gear collector extraordinaire Joe Bonamassa has dropped his 1951 Fender Nocaster off at the Fender Custom Shop, where master builder Greg Fessler is going to create a replica signature model from what is Bonamassa's most-prized electric guitar.

Only 100 of the Bonamassa Nocasters will be made, and when they emerge from the Corona facility they will be available through his website, with a number probably finding their way to select dealers worldwide.

Bonamassa delivered the news in a couple of Instagram posts over the weekend. That he is going to be apart from "Mr Nocaster" for a number of months has got to hurt; back in August, he declared that it was the "best" guitar he owned.

"It is as much a tool as it is a weapon," said Bonamassa. "It is the most dynamic instrument I have ever played in my life.”

In 2015, Bonamassa told Ernie Ball that he bought the Nocaster because the Gibson PAF humbucker (serial no: 1755) in the neck position made it look like Keith Richards’ guitar. The mod was performed sometime before Bonamassa picked the Nocaster up from Nick Conte at Guitar Center, Hollywood.

1951 was a big year for Fender, but for a while they were in a bind, trying to think of a new name for their Broadcaster electric after Gretsch had a drum kit with a similar name. In the meantime, they just trimmed the word Broadcaster from the headstock decals and sold them as is. The Nocaster was born. Just months later, Fender settled on a name: the Fender Telecaster.

In an interview with MusicRadar Bonamassa talked some more about the Nocaster, listing it in the top 35 items of gear he owns. “It howls in all the right ways, and quite frankly, kills my '59 Les Pauls on occasion,” he said.

All this tone could soon be yours. 

Mr Nocaster hanging at his temporary home for the next few months. 😎👍 Joe Bonamassa

A photo posted by @joebonamassa on Oct 3, 2019 at 2:53pm PDT

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.

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