“I know it sounds weird, but if you’re stuck in a rut I always say, stop playing”: Joe Bonamassa on why he stepped away from long warm ups

The blues rocker has found that by “going in cold”, he’s much more “lyrical” as a soloist.

Joe Bonamassa wearing sunglasses and a suit, playing guitar on stage

Image: Roberto Ricciuti / Getty Images

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Blues rock guitarist Joe Bonamassa has revealed why he’s decided to take a step back from extensive warm up routines, and instead has stripped his pre-show prep right down.

Bonamassa releases his latest record, Blues Deluxe Vol. 2 this Friday (6 October). The album expands on his original Blues Deluxe record which landed in 2003, and features two original songs plus eight covers.

Warm up routines are something that most guitarists swear by, not only to practise those all important licks and solos, but to also avoid awkward cramps and discomfort. Bonamassa however, having been in the game for over 20 years, swears by a different personal approach.

Speaking in a video for the Gibson Gear Guide via Music Radar he says, “I’ve tried a new approach at the shows. We soundtrack [before] every show and maybe do one or two songs… as soon as I get the thumbs up from out the front, we’re good. I save it for the show.”

He adds, “It used to be where I used to warm up with a bunch of nonsense, just to get the hands moving. I stopped doing that. I‘ll soundcheck and I’ll [play] a song that has a decent solo and I’ll dig in a little bit and then I’ll just shut down until the show.

“I found that my lyrical approach to soloing is better than if I spent a half hour [playing fast scales] because you’re kind of programming yourself that it’s your default,” he explains.

“If I go in kind of cold, I’m much more lyrical as a soloist – I tell a story. I find I’m speaking more with the guitar and making better note choices. Playing some stuff I don’t normally play – without warming up.

“And I know that’s a completely converse and diametrically opposed to what people say to do, but I found myself last year just saying [to myself] when I’m up there on stage, ‘You suck, you’re terrible’ – this is the internal conversation.”

Bonamassa concluded by adding his top tip, one he admits might seem odd to some, but he believes it works: “I know it sounds weird – and again, it’s my opinion and my approach – but if you’re ever stuck in a rut I always say, stop playing. Don’t power out of it because you’re gonna frustrate yourself and all the demons that lie in your head and gonna start creeping up into reality.”

Get tickets to see Joe Bonamassa live via his website.

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