Thursday, August 8, 2013

Joe Bonamassa - Story of a Quarryman solo w/tab

The first time I heard the song "Story of a Quarryman" it jumped right off the record with its crunchy groovy riff. The track comes from his 2009 release "The Ballad of John Henry" which in my opinion, is one of Joe's best. Rather than your typical power chord style riff, Joe thickens it right up by employing the 3rd and the 6th to thicken the root. Super cool. 

It has been fun watching Joe Bonamassa rise to the status of a 'known player'. When I first started listening to him, over a decade ago on his first release "A New Day Yesterday", he was a relative unknown. Fast forward 13 years, and I now hear his name regularly among non-guitar geeks. Which is very cool and well-deserved. Happy for him and a testament to all his years of VERY hard work.

The solo begins over an Amin to A#Maj (one bar each) vamp. Over the Amin part his note choices come mostly from A Dorian. Over the A# his note choices come from A# Lydian (Same notes as F Major). The cool part is how he ends the phrases over the A#. The first time he ends the phrase on the Major 3rd. The second time on the 6th. 

As the progression moves along it changes to a G tonality (walking down). Over this section he again goes for the Dorian sound - this time G Dorian. Pretty much all of the notes are within the G Dorian (again, same notes as F Major) scale. There is some very tricky bending in this. So it is a real ear stretcher in spots.

Getting the sound
When I recorded this I was sleeping at the wheel and used my Strat... But to nail Joe's tone use a Les Paul or another solid body guitar with humbuckers. Set it to the neck position and add some Marshall style woof to the cabinet. Joe's tone is VERY full-bodied. Lots of lower end frequencies (that engineers hate!). But Joe's tone lives mostly in his hands and vibrato. If you can nail that, then what type of setup you use is less important. My Strat sounds very close in this recording. When in reality, a Strat couldn't be much more sonically different than a Les Paul. Tone is in your hands folks - always remember that.

The files
Here is the TAB sheet for your downloading pleasure.


  1. Great tone and playing. Thanks for helping me along my way to guitar OKness :)

  2. Hey Jeremy! I have a question for you: despite of the tonality changes between A and G during the solo, the rest of the song is in E, right?

    Oh, and congrats for your great blog! Just found it out by googling something about this song's solo. I liked some of your articles, and the way you analize the songs, it's not a common thing out there.


  3. Hey Gabriel, thanks for the kind words! Glad you are enjoying the blog. Yes this song is mostly in E (minor). The solo section goes up a 4th to Amin (then A# and back) before carrying on. I love the end of the solo - the chromatic build that hangs on the Eb before resolving back to E for the main riff. Nice writing using the major7 to root - a classic voice leading resolution. These kinds of ideas are excellent "borrowing" for your own writing.