Let’s Talk Gear | Tone Talk with Genevieve ‘Genny Jam’ Cruz 

Photo Credit: Micky Freedman

It’s Women’s History Month and we wanted to talk to some of our favorites about their gear and tone setup(s). If you are not familiar with Guitar Girl Magazine’s “Tone Talk” series, this is where we dive into what makes the tone of different musicians’ setups unique to them. We unpack their likes and dislikes and what makes their setup perfect for them.

If you like what you read, check out Genny’s Tone Talk on our IG page where she walks through some of her favorite gear.

Genny Jam is a passionate, no holds barred axe grinder with her infectious funk rhythms and hard rock attitude. She has an amassed wealth of accomplishments in recording credits and television performances. Her professional career began touring with recording artists, Salt n’ Pepa, Hi-Five, Crystal Waters performing stadiums and venues around the US, Europe, UK, Japan, and Malaysia. She had the honor of gracing the stage with artists, Keke Wyatt, Stevie Wonder, Estelle, Chrisette Michele, Erykah Badu, MC Lyte, and the legendary Godfather of GoGo, Chuck Brown. She is the hired guitarist for Klymaxx featuring Bernadette Cooper and performs locally in the DC area with her band, Pebble to Pearl. She is also co-founder and Creative Director for Fretsisters, an online community highlighting female musicians in strings as well as editor/co-host of their exclusive podcast, Between Frets.

Beyond her success as a performer, she is an award-winning designer, video editor, and composer. Her work won numerous awards and has been recognized nationally by the Advertising Industry.

What is your definition of tone, and how has it changed over the years?
I see tone as a bunch of flavors. It can be clean, dirty, creamy, warm, raw—even delicious. It can come from different guitars, pedals, and amps but I truly believe it’s in your fingers. It took me a while to find my ‘aesthetic’ tone. I went through a bunch of amps and stompboxes vs. multi-processors. I love clean tones with a bit of delay to monstrous rock sounds. Even though I’m satisfied now, I’ll always want to explore. 

Which guitars, amps, and pedals are you currently using and why?
My two main guitars for performances are the 2012 Experience PRS Custom 24 and PRS Silver Sky. These guitars are very versatile in any hire situation. For acoustic gigs, I use a Taylor 410ce. I also have a lot of other guitars that are on-hand for recording sessions. My main amp is the Mesa Boogie Mark Five: 35. I’m in love with this amp. It gives me a clean friendly tone and a wonderful hard rock flavor. It’s small but very loud. For smaller gigs, I use the Orange Crush Solid State. This amp is superb for the intimate Rnb/Jazz shows.

My main pedalboard consists of many delightful stompboxes curated for my main gig. This includes the Digitech Whammy Ricochet, MC404 CAE Wah Pedal, Xotic SP Compressor, two distortions Tonebone Classic & TripleWreck, BOSS DD-7, Spark Boost pedal, Holy Grail Reverb, and three MXR analog pedals: Carbon Copy Delay, Chorus, and Phaser. For smaller intimate gigs, I use the BOSS ME-80 Effects Processor.

Photo Credit: Roxplosion

What about strings?
For my PRS guitars, I use the PRS Classic Strings 10-gauge. On my Tele and Strat, I use D’Addario XL 9-gauge, and on my Taylor acoustic, I use Elixir Phosphor Bronze light gauge.

Are there certain recording techniques you prefer in the studio?
For studio, I prefer playing through an amp whether it be my own or a studio setup and I always bring my pedalboard if it requires more sounds. I track better with headphones, especially if I am recording with a band. The usual process for me when it comes to recording with a band is to lay a scratch track mainly to get the drums recorded. Once the drums are recorded, I would lay down tracks for each guitar part. For smaller sessions where I’m tracking clean RnB Funk flavors, I would sometimes go direct and let the engineer color it.

How do you keep your sound consistent onstage?
My ear has developed enough to let me know what sounds right and what sounds terrible. In any setting, if I’m using a backline amp or my own gear, I somehow know how much to add or adjust to get exactly what I need. I’ve even gotten to the point of adjusting knobs on the fly while playing. Fun stuff!

What does your practice consist of?
Most of the time I am charting music for hired gigs. Stuff like this helps me learn new techniques and keeps good practice for my muscle memory. I also add a fifteen-minute warm-up during the day to loosen my hands. For wellness, I exercise each morning consisting of cardio, free weights, and stretching. This helps clear my spirit and keeps me in shape for onstage performance.

What is your advice for young women who hope to work in the music industry?
If this is your passion, if this is your drive, if you want this, then do it but know that you must practice, practice, practice. Nothing comes overnight. It takes hard work but if you truly love your craft then it will not feel like work. Know your weaknesses and be prepared for failures. And that’s okay, even the best out there make mistakes or have a bad night. We all go through it and we learn from it. That’s why we do it. Word up!

Follow Genny Jam on IG @gennyjam 

Check our Genny’s Tone Talk here

Gear Video Credit
Videographer: Mickey Freeman @itsmickeyfreeman 
Audio/Mix Engineer: teQnotic @teqnotic
Video Edit/Music: Genevieve Cruz
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Gabriella “Guitar Gabby” Logan is an Atlanta Native and proud graduate of Spelman College and Vermont Law School. Her background in environmental and music law fueled her desire to start and manage the international all-women touring collective, TxLips Band, LLC. Logan believes it is important for artists to be well rounded and versed in many areas of the music business, thus inspiring women worldwide to be an unstoppable force. She is the Diversity Editor for Guitar Girl Magazine and the Board Chair for Girls Rock Asheville. http://www.txlips.com