Let’s Talk Gear | Tone Talk with Maiyana Davis

Photo courtesy of artist

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 Maiyana’s Tone Talk on our IG page where she walks through some of her favorite gear.

Maiyana Davis (My- ya-na) is a graduate of Wayne State University and has been playing the guitar for over 10 years. With inspiration from Lenny Kravitz to En Vogue, she realized life was too short and she wanted to make the most of it by playing something that would give her joy. Over 10 years later she is still playing and believes in using her story to inspire others. 

What is your definition of tone and how has it changed over the years? 

Tone is your distinct voice on guitar. Famous singers have certain things about their voices that make them recognizable immediately. That is what tone is all about. It’s your fingerprint that no one else has. Everyone knows Carlos Santana, Jimi Hendrix and BB King from the very first note that they play. My tone has changed over the years as I grew in being a stronger musician. I am a blues-rock jam-band player so my tone has matured over the years. Before I had ever heard a blues record, I had a blues tone. I really like having a heavy bottom end gritty tone. 

Which guitars, amps and pedals are you currently using and why? 

I have a Vox AC30 and a Blackstar EL34 for amps and my Fender Blacktop Stratocaster is my main guitar. It has Seymour Duncan Humbuckers in it to give me that bottom end I look for. My go-to pedals are the Real McCoy RMC10 wah, Dunlop Jimi Hendrix FuzzFace, Tube Screamer T808, MXR Phase 90 Script, MXR Analog Chorus, Jext Telez Range Lord Treble Booster and a D-Seed Delay pedal. I use these pedals to color my tone and drive the amp without having to crank the volume in small settings. My phaser, chorus and delay are used to give my playing a bit of shimmer and psychedelic sounds. For my wah pedal (the RMC 10) I decided to go with something that would give me that crisp wah sound that I was looking for. It is more expensive yes, but the sweep is amazing, and the body is built like a tank!  

What about strings?

I use D’addario XL 10-52 and 11-56.  

Are there certain recording techniques you prefer in the studio?  

In the past, I would go to studios and record a few songs but I would never like how anything turned out. So, during the pandemic I decided to finally take the advice of a friend and do it myself. As a communications major, I had to take audio production courses in school so between my experience in studios and the things I learned in school, I knew I could figure out the best setup for me. No more allowing the engineers to record my stuff without my knowledge of mic placement on amps and drums. Too often do men see women and look to take advantage of us by assuming we do not know what we are doing or talking about. When it comes to capturing my tone, I really look to have Ribbon microphones on my guitar amps and vocals. 

How do you keep your sound consistent on stage?  

Rehearsal and sound check is really the only way. Every room and space sounds differently. In rehearsal I like to turn my amp up just to see how things sound and then I make the adjustments from there.

What does your practice consist of? 

I practice scales, finger exercises , jam tracks and theory.  

What is your advice to young women who hope to work in the music industry? 

Study whatever it is you love. By gaining knowledge, you slow down the opportunities for people in this male dominated industry to cheat you out of your money or time. Take lessons and reach out to others who are more advanced than you. Keep learning. You should know how everything works, don’t allow anyone in this world to think for you and make decisions for your music. That is something you should do for yourself! Lastly, your body, mind, and heart are yours. There is a lot of power that you have to make change in this world. Learn your craft and command respect.   

Follow Maiyana on IG @detroitdavis1982

Check out Maiyana’s Tone Talk video here


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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