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Raised in the humble, swampside locale of Woodbridge, New Jersey, Richie Sambora -- the gifted lead guitarist of the multi-million-selling rock act, Bon Jovi -- was initially inspired by blues-based icons of the 1960s such as Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton. Following a self-released eponymous 1980 hard rock album with an act called Message that he had co-founded with the late Dean Fasano, Sambora took a two-week trip to Los Angeles to audition for a place in Kiss. Although the audition was unsuccessful, on his return to New Jersey a reassuring friend suggested that he make contact with Jon Bongiovi, a local artist whose taste in music was perhaps more closely aligned with Sambora's than that of Gene Simmons and company. By 1983, Sambora had replaced Dave Sabo as the guitarist in Bon Jovi and the band was signed to Mercury Records.
Selling over 28 million copies, Bon Jovi's third album, Slippery When Wet, became their most successful record, ushering hair metal into the mainstream. Sambora had a hand in composing nine of the ten tracks, enjoying not unsubstantial royalties from what became the highest-selling album of 1987 in the U.S. As a result of this success, Sambora found himself in the media spotlight more than ever and his relationship and subsequent breakup with Cher were widely reported. Following an extensive promotional campaign for 1988s New Jersey, Bon Jovi went on a well-deserved hiatus. While Sambora's 1991 debut solo album didn't enjoy the same commercial success as Jon Bon Jovi's Golden Globe-winning 1990 release Blaze of Glory, Stranger in this Town allowed him to return to his beloved blues roots. With his hero Clapton contributing a deft solo to "Mr. Bluesman," there was the implied sense that Sambora had achieved yet another lifelong ambition.
A full seven years passed before Sambora issued his sophomore solo album, Undiscovered Soul. In the interim, Bon Jovi issued the successful studio albums Keep the Faith and These Days, and consolidated their global position with a world tour that visited 43 countries. Although 1998's Undiscovered Soul was considered to be a less strong set than his debut, most critics acknowledged that it was a more ambitious effort, showcasing a versatility of approach that found power ballads sitting next to arena rock material.
The June 2007 release of Bon Jovi's country-influenced tenth album, Lost Highway, coincided with a difficult period in Sambora's personal life. Following the breakdown of his marriage with actress Heather Locklear, his father passed away, and this turn of events led to a period of alcohol dependency and rehab. Building on the eclecticism of Undiscovered Soul, his third solo album -- 2012's Aftermath of the Lowdown -- found Sambora in determined mood when it eventually arrived. It was another opportunity for him to explore areas of music that Bon Jovi had neglected to visit, and included material that was comparable in style to artists as diverse as Coldplay and David Bowie.
Richard Stephen "Richie" Sambora (born July 11, 1959) is an American rock guitarist, producer, singer and songwriter who was the longtime lead guitarist of the rock band Bon Jovi for thirty years. He and frontman Jon Bon Jovi formed the primary songwriting unit of the band. He has also released three solo albums: Stranger in This Town in 1991, Undiscovered Soul in 1998, and Aftermath of the Lowdown, released in September 2012.Richie Sambora at Allmusic
"One of my earliest memories was sitting cross-legged on the floor in the living room of the house I grew up in and looking up at the black-and-white TV set and watching the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show. I was five years old and I remember thinking, 'Wow! That's what I want to do.' I know it sounds absurd – most five-year-old boys say they want to be firemen or policemen or baseball players, or even the president. Not me. I wanted to be one of the Beatles."~Richie Sambora, on the impact of The Beatles
Sambora was born in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, the son of Joan (née Sienila), a secretary, and Adam C. Sambora, a factory foreman. He is of Polish descent and was raised Catholic. He grew up in Woodbridge Township, New Jersey and attended Woodbridge High School there, graduating in 1977.
He played basketball in high school, where as a sophmore, his Woodbridge High team won the 1975 Group 4 State title.
His first instrument was the accordion which he began to play at the age of 6. He began playing the guitar at the age of 12 following the death of guitar legend Jimi Hendrix in 1970. From his early days Sambora was strongly influenced by blues and 60s rock and roll. His most important influences were The Beatles, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Johnny Winter, Jimmy Page, Joe Perry, Joe Kmiecik, George Harrison, and B. B. King. He was also influenced by Spanish classical music and began a lifelong love of the Spanish guitar. Furthermore, he had stated that psychedelic soul singer Janis Joplin had a big influence on his musical style during her career in the late '60s and early '70s. Classical music directly inspired several of his songs, such as The Answer which was originally written on piano. He also plays many other instruments, such as drums, bass, saxophone, piano etc. The first time he performed on stage was at a CYO (Catholic Youth Organization) dance when he was a teen.
He has said that he is color blind to red, brown and green."ADAM C. SAMBORA, 70, of POINT PLEASANT". Asbury Park Press. April 25, 2007. "Rock star Richie Sambora's return for charity campaign rocks his hometown of Woodbridge".  Falkenstein, Michelle. "Around the Scene, a Whirl of Change", The New York Times, December 31, 2006. Accessed September 30, 2007. "Bruce Springsteen, who grew up in Freehold, served up the critically acclaimed "We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions" in April, and the singer Jon Bon Jovi, who was raised in Sayreville, and his band's guitarist Richie Sambora, from Woodbridge, will be immortalized as action figures next July by McFarlane Toys, it was announced in October." 1977 Woodbridge (NJ) HS Yearbook Pic "Richie Sambora – Free listening, videos, concerts, stats and pictures at". Last.fm. Retrieved 2014-07-15. Sambora playing the intro to his songs, 1995 on YouTube
Early Career and Bon Jovi
Sambora was a guitarist for the band Message, and with that band he gave out an independent record, which was re-released in 1995 under the name Message, and in 2000 as Lessons. He was later in a band, "Mercy," which was signed to Led Zeppelin-owned record label Swan Song Records, and then "Duke Williams & the Extremes," who were signed to Capricorn Records. Sambora was also in an improvisational club band called "Richie Sambora & Friends." He was part-owner of a club in New Jersey, and at age 19 owned his own independent label "Dream Disc Records." His first professional tour was as an opening act for Joe Cocker in the early '80s. Shortly before joining Bon Jovi in 1983, he auditioned for KISS, to be Ace Frehley's replacement.
Bon Jovi added Sambora to replace original lead guitarist Dave Sabo. Sambora had attended a live show of Bon Jovi, and after being impressed, approached Jon Bongiovi him and told him that he thought they should work together. They immediately hit it off as friends, and Sambora was invited to a rehearsal. By the time Jon arrived, the band was sounding better than ever and Sambora was hired on the spot.
Sambora has occasionally taken over as lead vocalist on Bon Jovi songs, most notably "I'll Be There for You" and "These Days" when played live on the Bounce, Have a Nice Day and Lost Highway tours, while on The Circle Tour he performed "Lay Your Hands on Me" and "Homebound Train." He has also performed his solo hit, "Stranger in This Town," during live performances. One of the live performances of "Stranger in This Town," recorded during the Keep the Faith Tour, was released on Bon Jovi's CD single "Dry County" in 1994.Celizic, Mike (June 17, 2007). "Richie Sambora: Getting ‘life back together’". MSNBC. Retrieved 2008-07-10. Barber, Nicholas (January 8, 1995). "How we met". The Independent (London). Retrieved May 22, 2010.
Sambora's first solo album was 1991's Stranger in This Town, a blues-influenced album that was received well by many critics although commercially a relative flop, some say because the tone of the record was not appealing to Bon Jovi fans. Eric Clapton played the lead guitar on track Mr Bluesman, backed by Sambora on acoustic guitars. He did a short US tour in support of the album, featuring Tony Levin (bass), Dave Amato (guitar), Crystal Taliefero (percussion) and Bon Jovi bandmates Tico Torres (drums) and Dave Bryan (keyboards). "Ballad of Youth" was released in the UK in summer 1991 and despite plugs from The Friday Rock Show on BBC Radio 1 the song barely skimmed the top 75.
Undiscovered Soul was Sambora's second solo album, released in 1998. The album was produced by Don Was. In support of Undiscovered Soul, Sambora toured Japan, Australia and Europe in the summer of 1998. The band featured Richie Supa (guitar), Ron Wikso (drums), Kasim Sulton (bass), Tommy Mandel (keyboards), Everett Bradley (percussion; Japan only), Gioia Bruno (percussion; Australia only) and Crystal Taliefero (percussion; Europe only).
Fourteen years after his previous solo album, Sambora announced via his Twitter page that recording of Aftermath of the Lowdown had been completed with hopes that the album would be released in July 2012. Photographs were published of Sambora working in a recording studio. The new album was produced by Luke Ebbin, who produced Bon Jovi's Crush and Bounce albums. Aftermath of the Lowdown was released in September 2012.
Sambora announced in early 2015 that he is working on a new album in collaboration with fellow musician and girlfriend Orianthi.http://bravewords.com/news/richie-sambora-and-orianthi-hit-the-studio-new-album-in-the-works
Recent ventures have seen him compose television theme songs for both Entertainment Tonight and The Insider. He (along with Jon Bon Jovi) is part of the Ownership Group of the Philadelphia Soul, an Arena Football League football team.
Sambora made a cameo appearance in The Sims Superstar.
Sambora is featured on the track "Baby Rock Remix" from LL Cool J's 2008 album Exit 13.
He made a guest appearance on Bo Diddley's 1996 album A Man Amongst Men, playing guitar on tracks "Can I Walk You Home" and "Oops! Bo Diddley".
In 1999, Sambora was a guest vocalist on the Stuart Smith album Stuart Smith's Heaven & Earth, performing a cover of Deep Purple song "When a Blind Man Cries". Also in 1999, Sambora played the guitar solo on the track "Why Don't You Love Me" on the album Tuesday's Child, by Canadian singer Amanda Marshall.
Sambora also played on an album called Lessons from a band called Message. The album was recorded in the early 1980s.
Sambora sang "Long Way Around" for the 1997 Steven Seagal action film Fire Down Below. The song, written by Seagal and David Pomeranz, appears in the final scene. In a 1998 interview Sambora said his version is in the film itself but a different person's performance of the song is included on the film's soundtrack album, despite Sambora's name appearing on the album credits. Sambora also recorded the song "One Last Goodbye" for movie The Banger Sisters, and covered Jimi Hendrix's "The Wind Cries Mary" for the soundtrack of 1990 comedy The Adventures of Ford Fairlane.
His guitar work featured on the track "Misery" on Pink's 2001 album Missundaztood with Steven Tyler.
In 2004, Sanctuary Records released a self-titled album which had been recorded in 1978 by Shark Frenzy, documenting Sambora's first recorded material. The mix tapes had been damaged in a flood and band member Bruce Foster had remastered them for release many years later.
Sambora co-wrote several tracks and played guitar on Australian rock/pop artist Shannon Noll's third album Turn It Up. It was released in Australia in September 2007.
To coincide with his solo album Aftermath of the Lowdown, Sambora and friends performed as the house band on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson on CBS for one week (December 3–7, 2012). Several guests sang along with the band over the week, including Craig Ferguson (singing Sugar Daddy), Denis Leary, Eddie Izzard and even Larry King sang the Late Late Show theme song.philly.com – "Richie Sambora arrested for alleged DUI " – retrieved 13-04-2009 rollingstone.com – "LL Cool J Welcomes 50 Cent, Richie Sambora on New Album, Declares It a “Summer Blockbuster”" – retrieved 13-04-2009 independent.co.uk – "Rock legend Bo Diddley dies in Florida" – retrieved 13-04-2009 De Jongste, Arjan (October 30, 1998). "Interview with Richie Sambora". BJF-Europe. Dordrecht, The Netherlands. Archived from the original on May 11, 2001. Retrieved November 30, 2014. "Richie Sambora to Serve as The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson House Band for a Week". Retrieved November 18, 2012. "Craig Ferguson sings Sugar Daddy (video)". Retrieved December 9, 2012. "Larry King sings Ferguson's theme song with Sambora (video)". Retrieved December 9, 2012.
Sambora married actress Heather Locklear in Paris on December 17, 1994. Daughter Ava Elizabeth Sambora was born in 1997. Locklear filed for divorce in February 2006 citing irreconcilable differences. The divorce was finalized on April 11, 2007. Just nine days later, on April 20, Sambora's father Adam died of lung cancer. Sambora resides in Los Angeles and owns a beach house in Laguna Beach also Philadelphia as well as other properties.
From 1987 to 1988, he dated model/actress Stacey Alden (Lehua Reid). The Bon Jovi songs "Bad Medicine" and "I'll Be There For You" were written about this relationship.
In 1988, Sambora dated Brat Pack actress Ally Sheedy. Their relationship lasted for only nine months.
From 1989 to 1992, he dated entertainer/actress Cher, for whom he has also written and produced songs.
After Heather Locklear filed for divorce in February 2006, Sambora began to date actress Denise Richards. Their relationship lasted a year. However, they rekindled their romance in 2011. They broke up again in 2012.
Richie is now dating ex Michael Jackson, and ex Alice Cooper guitarist and successful solo artist Orianthi.
On June 7, 2007, it was announced that Sambora was entering an "undisclosed rehab facility in Los Angeles" for treatment related to alcoholism. Following his release, he told an interviewer, "I was just drinking too much and I needed to get my life together. I'm still in therapy and stuff like that, but it's good. I'm great. I feel fine." In the Bon Jovi documentary "When We Were Beautiful", Sambora talks candidly about his addiction to painkillers following a slip in his bathroom. He credited his bandmates and mother with helping him through the difficult time.
On March 26, 2008, Sambora was arrested for drunk driving in Laguna Beach, California. At the time, his ten-year-old daughter and her friend were both in his Hummer. He was pulled over at 10:52pm after an officer noticed his car "weaving on the road", but was "quiet and cooperative and didn't cause any problems". At his May 2008 arraignment, he pled no contest "to driving with a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher", was fined $390, placed on probation for three years, and was required to attend a driver's education course.
On April 28, 2011, it was announced that Sambora had made the decision to enter rehab again. Sambora was absent from the band for thirteen shows during the Bon Jovi Live tour, and Sambora's guitar and vocal duties were handled by well-known session musician Phillip "Phil X" Xenidis during those shows. This is Sambora's second stint in rehab and was announced just a week after he finished probation for drunk driving charges. Sambora returned to join the band in June 2011 in Zagreb, Croatia for the start of the European leg of the tour.people.com – "A Surprise Ending" – retrieved 15-04-2009 nydailynews.com -"BALDWIN LIFE OF PARTY? DEMS MAY CAPITOL-IZE" – retrieved 15-04-2009 rollingstone.com – "Bon Jovi Boys Keeping Busy" – retrieved 15-04-2009 usatoday.com – "Heather Locklear, Richie Sambora divorce" – retrieved 15-04-2009 people.com – "Heather Locklear & Richie Sambora's Divorce Finalized" – retrieved 15-04-2009 canada.com – "Richie Sambora's father dead" – retrieved 15-04-2009 US Magazine article: "Richie Sambora Seeks Treatment."  "Richie Sambora's DUI arrest". The Boston Globe. March 27, 2008. "Jon Bon Jovi's Opening Act". CBS News. May 15, 2008. Diane Herbst. "Richie Sambora Felt Dragged Through 'Hell'". People Magazine article: "Richie Sambora Busted for DUI; Daughter Was in the Car". "Richie Sambora's DUI troubles might get worse". Reardanz, Karen (April 23, 2008). "Sambora Pleads Guilty To Drunk Driving". The San Francisco Chronicle. Riedel, David (April 28, 2011). "Richie Sambora reportedly going back to rehab". CBS News. "Bon Jovi to Continue Tour". Archived from the original on July 21, 2012. "Bon Jovi Touring Without Rehabbing Richie Sambora". Retrieved April 29, 2011.
Public service and recognition
Over the years, Sambora has been an ardent fundraiser for many charities, such as Dream Street, the Steve Young Forever Young Foundation and Michael J. Fox's Parkinson's disease charity. He has donated money privately to various cancer charities since the death of his father, including both hospitals where his father was treated, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and M D Anderson. Sambora's fundraising with the charity Stand Up For a Cure allowed for three mobile full service hospital units to be brought to the streets of New York, two of which were named after his parents, respectively.
In May 2004, Sambora was bestowed with an Honorary Doctorate of Letters by Kean University where he attended the awards ceremony and gave a speech of acceptance. He attended Kean University as a freshman, but dropped out to pursue a career as a professional guitarist and session musician.
Sambora and Jon Bon Jovi were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame on June 18, 2009.
On November 24, 2009, Sambora launched charitable effort You Can Go Home in his home town of Woodbridge Township, New Jersey, which unveiled a street renamed Richie Sambora Way. He also donated funds to renovate part of his alma mater Woodbridge High School, which opened a new weight room, the Adam Sambora Fitness Center, dedicated to Sambora's father.
On May 7, 2012, Sambora was recognised by the Midnight Mission charity for his work, dedication, and support to their cause, with the Golden Heart Award.looktothestars.org – "Richie Sambora's Charity Work" – retrieved 13-04-2009 "Richie Sambora Still Standing", People.com. Retrieved April 13, 2009 nj.com – "Bon Jovi kicks off concert series for lung cancer research" – retrieved 13-04-2009 huffingtonpost.com – "Life After Graduation (Even if its Been a Few Years)" – retrieved 13-04-2009 Songwriters Hall of Fame (official site) YouCanGoHome.com<.ref>Thompson, Brian. "Bon Jovi's Sambora Comes Home to N.J. for Special Cause", WNBC, November 24, 2009, via WKIT-FM home page Bangor, Maine Web site. Retrieved 2009-11-25.
ContentsInstruments and equipment1.1 1980s1.2 1990s1.3 2000–present
Instruments and equipment
Sambora has been known to use a wide variety of equipment throughout his career. He has an extensive guitar collection, featuring more than 120 instruments. Information can be found at the website www.richiesamboraguitars.com
In the 80s, Sambora mostly played Kramer, Jackson, Charvel and Hamer superstrats as well as modified and custom Les Paul models, such as his Rod Schoepfer model. In early-mid 1987, Kramer put out a Richie Sambora signature model with three humbuckers, pointy headstock, gold hardware, star-shaped fingerboard inlays and a Floyd Rose Original locking tremolo, which quit production in 1989. Today it has been reissued by MusicYo, and is named "Jersey Star", no longer carrying Sambora's actual name. His two most notable guitars from the Slippery When Wet era were his Kramer Richie Sambora signature and a custom white Jackson with gold hardware and a Floyd Rose tremolo, HSS pickup configuration,reversed Strat-like headstock and a star on the body and headstock. This guitar is featured on the videos for Living On A Prayer and You Give Love A Bad Name. Another Kramer he used during this tour in 86/87 was the 'King Of Swing' guitar. This was a one off with orange flame maple top, three humbuckers, Floyd rose, gold hardware and pointy Kramer headstock. It was damaged in a flood mid tour and was rushed to Rod Schoepfer's workshop where he replaced the neck with a left hand Kramer one with the pointy headstock reversed. It was only used on the song 'Let It Rock' live. On the video's for Wanted Dead or Alive and Wild In The Streets, Richie can be seen using a black Kramer RS model with rosewood fretboard. It was used live sometimes on Raise Your Hands at the start of the set on this tour.
For the New Jersey tour, Sambora used many more guitars including a quilt top red Kramer RS as seen in the video for I'll Be There For You. This was his most used guitar on this tour. This tour spawned many more one off Kramers. The 'Bad Medicine' Kramer was a white Baretta body with black hardware and Richie's tattoo design from his right arm painted on it. It also has 'Bad Medicine' in red lettering on the back as seen in the video for Bad Medicine. It had a rosewood fretboard and black Floyd Rose and hardware. The purple 'Peace Sign' Kramer was a Baretta body painted purple and featured a white peace sign on the body, large white peace sign fret inlays on a maple fretbaord and gold hardware. Another guitar he played on the songs You Give Love A Bad Name and I'd Die For You on this tour was a custom flip top burnt blue Kramer Stagemaster standard with single humbucker and gold hardware with rosewood fingerboard. On the song Wild In The Streets, Richie sometimes used a gold/yellow Gibson Les Paul fitted with a Floyd Rose tremolo. Probably the most famous one off Kramer from this era/tour was the RS model double neck. This guitar had a bridge humbucker and single coil neck pickup with a fixed bridge for the top neck. The bottom neck was a standard Sambora Kramer with three humbuckers, etc. This guitar was featured in the video for the song Lay Your Hands On Me and was used on this song live at the start of the show for this tour. The top neck was tuned to drop d to facilitate playing the songs main riff whilst the bottom neck was in standard tuning and used for the solo.
Throughout the years having played various guitars, one he played on the Slippery When Wet,New Jersey and his first solo tours was a custom black superstrat which featured a single humbucking pickup in the bridge position, Floyd Rose tremolo system and a maple neck and fretboard with a reversed Strat-like headstock and all black hardware. This guitar once had a Kramer logo on the headstock for a short time during the 86/87 tour which was removed soon after. On closer inspection there is a Charvel neckplate on it. It was retired from touring after the Stranger In This Town tour but remained with Richie and was in his guitar rack on his 2014 solo tour. According to his guitar tech, Tachumi, this guitar was used to record all the Slippery When Wet album.
Richie used a few acoustic guitars live during this time. On the Slippery When Wet tour,Richie used an Ovation acoustic before he used a custom Ovation double neck Sambora model. This featured pearloid binding on the body with star inlays and 24 carat gold hardware with pearloid tuners. The necks are arranged reverse to what is common on double necks, 12 string on top and 6 string on the bottom as Richie said he preferred it the other way around. This guitar was used for his acoustic solo before opening Wanted Dead Or Alive on the 86/87 tour. This guitar can be seen in the video for Wanted Dead Or Alive. Two one off's used on the New Jersey tour were a black triple neck and a white triple neck. Both were built to the double neck's specs but featured a mandolin as the top neck. At the time, Sambora was playing more mandolin and wanted to incorporate it into his live show. Both guitars were built for Ovation by Luthiers in Germany circa 1988 and reportedly cost $150,000 to produce each. These were used for the same parts in the set as the previous tour.
Throughout the 80s Richie used Marshall jcm800"s both 2203/2204 and 2210s and up to ten of them in his rig at once. For his acoustics he would use kmd amps with a shure sm57. His effects consisted of a Eventide h5000, a Yamaha spx-90, A bk butler rackmount tube driver, And a Electro-Harmonix Golden Throat for his talk box.
In 1991, Fender issued a Richie Sambora signature Stratocaster model which featured an original Floyd Rose tremolo system and an HSS combination of DiMarzio PAF Pro humbucking and 2 Fender Texas Special single-coil pickups. This guitar came in two versions; American and later in 1996, Japanese. US-made Sambora model featured an alder body with ash veneers and was available in Cherry Sunburst and Arctic White, while the Japanese version had an alder body with black paisley graphics (LTD), Snow White or Cherry Red Sunburst finish available (per the 1996 and 1997 catalogs). Other features included a one-piece maple neck/fingerboard with 22 frets and star-shaped position markers, as well as a 25 dB active mid-boost circuit (US version only) with TBX (US & Japanese Paisley) tone controls and an active/passive push-button switch.
In the 1995 video Live from London, Sambora uses a custom orange burst double neck Fender Stratocaster featuring a traditional maple neck with star inlays and a locking tremolo (on the lower neck). He uses this guitar on the song 'Lay Your Hands on Me' on the London DVD.
There was also a Mexican-made standard version of the instrument, featuring a DiMarzio PAF humbucking pickup in the bridge position and two standard single-coils in the neck and middle positions. The guitar also sported a rosewood fingerboard with 21 frets and white dot inlays, as well as a Floyd Rose II locking bridge. Both the US and Mexican-made Sambora models were discontinued in 2002, though now there is a Fender Standard Series Stratocaster HSS Locking Tremolo with about the same specs as Sambora's own guitar, but its only available through Guitar Center.
Sambora continued to use his black Ovation double neck until 1999 when he joined Taylor. On the Keep The Faith tour, he sometimes used a red/orange Ovation Sambora model.
In 2000, Taylor started the production of a Richie Sambora signature model, a 6-string acoustic made of koa wood, called the RSSM. Only 100 were made all in the year of 2000. All of his double neck acoustics feature a 6 string neck on top and a 12 string neck on bottom, opposite of the normal manufacturing standard.
Since Sambora has been known to use his favourite Martin acoustic, among others, on a lot of recordings, Martin guitars put out two of Sambora's signature models in 2006, a 6-string and a 12-strings, based on his mentioned favourite 1930 Martin OM-45. He has also been seen using a Yamaha double neck acoustic at specific live shows.
He still plays a variety of Fenders, apparently over 40 Stratocasters (mostly vintage, American Deluxe and Custom Shop models), such as the Telecaster doubleneck used on "Have a Nice Day". Sambora also has a '59 ash-body Telecaster used for "These Days" and "Someday I'll Be Saturday Night". From 2003–2006, he played a wide variety guitars on stage, including custom "Sambora" guitars built by his guitar tech Chris "Lumpy" Hofschneider, Zemaitis Guitars, Floyd Rose guitars, Ovation, Taylor and Martin guitars, vintage and Custom Shop Gibson and Fender models, as well as guitars from his collection. One of the guitars built by his guitar tech features a fretboard made of both maple and rosewood, on an ash body with neck-through-body construction and a custom humbucking/single/single pickup layout. Currently, he mostly plays the custom black "Sambora" guitar (which is now a custom model called Sambora SA-2 for ESP), different models of Gibson Les Pauls and Fender Telecasters and Stratocasters (American Vintage, American Deluxe, Custom Shop and other models). On October 10, 2012, when he was about to play his second gig of the "Aftermath of the Lowdown" Tour in Amsterdam (NL), Richie got a custom Italian guitar hand crafted by Fabrizio Paoletti as a tribute to his music. Bon Jovi Club Italy organized the delivery. He loved so much the guitar that he played "Stranger in Town" with it, the same night. From that day, the Paoletti Wine Stratospheric has become a permanent instrument in his live guitar racks and was used on the "Because We Can Tour" as well.
Sambora also used Gibson and Guild acoustics, particularly a Guild F-50 12-string, which he used on the song "Wanted Dead or Alive". He acquired this guitar directly from the Guild factory due to it having a finish flaw.
For most of the 80s and early-mid '90s, he used Marshall amplifiers, particularly the JCM800 models with 4x12" speaker cabinets and a variety of rack and pedal units (including effects). During his Stranger in This Town tour, Sambora used 2 Marshall JCM800 2203 heads and a Fender amp head (model not specified), with 3 4x12" Marshall cabinets. In 1995, Sambora started using Fender ToneMasters with Fender ToneMaster 4x12" speaker cabinets, following the These Days Tour. On tour, he used up to 12 cabinets on stage. For the studio sessions of his second solo album, Undiscovered Soul, he also used a Fender Bassman 4x10" combo and a Vox AC30. On the tour, he used Fender ToneMasters, a Marshall amp head, a Vox amp head and a VHT Pitbull in combination with Fender ToneMaster 4x12" and 2x12" speaker cabinets. In 2000, Sambora started using the Marshall JCM2000 DSL series (both on the tour and recording sessions of Crush). The song "It's My Life" was also recorded with a Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier. He has also used the Marshall DSL series on the Bounce tour, as well as a Hughes & Kettner amp, occasionally. During their Have a Nice Day tour, Sambora used Diezel and Divided by 13 amplification and custom made 4x12" speaker cabinets. During the studio recording sessions of the Lost Highway album, he used Matchless, Bogner Ecstasy and Diezel Herbert amps. In 2007, he started appearing on stage with 2 halfstacks, again featuring Marshall JCM2000 DSL amplifiers and custom made 4x12" cabinets.
In late 2007, Sambora became an endorsee of The ESP Guitar Company, and a new Richie Sambora signature model, the LTD SA-2, was debuted at the 2008 Winter NAMM show.
According to Young Guitar (Japanese magazine), Richie Sambora used (during the Tokyo shows in 2008) an A/B box, Framptone Talkbox, Jimi Hendrix Dunlop Wah, Keeley Sd-1, Stock SD-1, Roger Mayer Octavia (butane paintjob), Boss CH-1, EHX Electric Mistress Deluxe. He also uses a MIDI rig.
Sambora is endorsed by D'Addario and uses D'Addario strings on all of his guitars. He uses a variety of sets for different tunings, including EXL110 (.010-.046), EXL115 (.011-.049), EPS540 (.010-.052), EXP15 (.010-.047 acoustic), and EXP38 (.010-047 acoustic 12-string set).
Sambora Is currently endorsed by Blackstar Amplification,
Now, from 2010/2011, Sambora is using a rack system. Some effects the rack includes are: Furman Power Conditioner, Lexicon and Eventide rack effects. Some of the pedals that Sambora is using on the Circle tour are: BOSS OD-1, Hermida Audio Zendrive, Tone Freak Effects Naked OD and Abunai 2, Klon Centaur, Analog Man Octron, EHX Micro POG, Tone Freak Effects MelloTremo, BBE Soul Vibe, Retro-Sonic Chorus, MXR EVH Flanger, MXR Phase 90, Maxon Auto Filter, EHX Deluxe Memory Man. These effects are all run by a MIDI Controller. The effects he has running from his guitar to his amp are: BOSS TU-2 Chromatic Tuner, Moollon Wah, and an Ernie Ball Volume Pedal.
Sambora professes that he still takes guitar lessons to improve his skills and is being taught how to play fingerstyle by Laurence Juber, after meeting him in a guitar store and thinking it was two guitarists playing from a distance. They later performed together and with Tommy Emmanuel, recording an acoustic version of "Livin' on a Prayer".
Among of Sambora's current touring guitars are: 1961 3-tone Sunburst Fender Stratocaster called Beater, one of his 1959 Gibson Les Paul Sunbursts, 1957 Gibson Les Paul Goldop called Goldie, another Gibson Les Paul which was refinished to 1959 specifications, 1953 Fender Telecaster signed by Keith Richards, Gibson Flying V, 1954 Gibson Les Paul Junior, 1959 Gibson ES-335 in natural finish with dot inlays called Alvin, PRS custom 24, reliced 3 tone sunburst Fender Custom Shop Stratocaster with HSS pickup configuration, Floyd Rose tremolo and black pickguard, loosely modeled after Stevie Ray Vaughan's No. 1 Stratocaster, old Black Charvel-Jackson Superstrat with 1 Humbucker, Floyd Rose and a maple neck with reverse headstock (this was Richie's main guitar in 1986–1991 period), brand new Rockbridge acoustic 6/12 and his Taylor acoustic 6/12 double neck.
Sambora is currently not on tour with Bon Jovi, having left due to personal issues, although he is on tour as a solo artist.
On June 29, 2014, Sambora made a special unannounced appearance on stage with Dolly Parton during her encore at the Glastonbury music festival in the UK.
On July 23, 2014, Sambora honored legendary guitarist Les Paul at the Iridium Jazz Club in New York City, where Les Paul himself performed weekly until his death. He performed two sold out shows that were aired on the PBS series Front and Center.Video on YouTube