Tone Talk with Marlene Mendoza

Photo Credit: Derek Soto of Sinestra Studios
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Marlene Mendoza is a solo metal artist from New York City. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Lehman College with her Bachelor of Science Degree in Music and three certifications from Berklee College of Music in Music Production. Since then, she has toured in several bands as a guitarist and is now working on her own music in which she sings, plays guitar, and writes for. She has two singles available now: “A Battle Between Two Lesser Evils” and “Not Afraid.” When not writing new music, she teaches guitar, piano, ukulele, and bass at a music school.

What is your definition of tone, and how has it changed over the years?
I always say this to my students, “The tone comes from your hands.” You can have the most expensive gear in the world but if you don’t strum properly, maintain your instrument, or/and practice, your tone will not sound good. But, tone has changed over the years based on the genre of music you play. If you play heavy metal, you want a guitar tone that’s very dirty. If you want to play djent, you want a tone that’s punchy and tight. And to be honest, you can manipulate that sound digitally with editing if you’re recording. That’s what has changed over the years. 

Which guitars, amps, and pedals are you currently using and why?
I currently play Ibanez guitars. I love how lightweight they are, which is very important to me due to my height, plus I love being able to spin my guitars around without breaking my back (haha). I like using Marshall Amps on stage, and I use the Line 6 Pod HD Pro X for live gigs. My next goal is to get a Kemper or Axe FX that I can incorporate into my shows and recording.

What about strings?
It depends on the guitar. On my acoustic guitars, I love using Ernie Ball Light or Medium Earthwood strings. They sound super warm and have nice clarity. On my seven-string guitars, I like using the D’Addario NYX strings. And on my regular electric guitars, I like using Ernie Balls as well. 

Are there certain recording techniques you prefer in the studio?
I like to just use a guitar plugin amp when it comes to recording. But, depending on the song, I can reamp it or use my Line 6 Pod HD PRO X to the computer to get the sound I would like. As long as everything is neatly organized and not too time-consuming, I am fine with any technique that will yield the sound I am looking for. 

How do you keep your sound consistent onstage?
Using a rack setup helps keep my sound consistent onstage. I don’t have to worry about knobs being accidentally touched during travel, which can compromise my sound. I like to turn it on to a save preset and just go! 

What does your practice consist of?
I have a few guitar books that I look back into that consist of practices that I can do each day. It’s fun doing those with a metronome to keep my timing right.

What is your advice for young women who hope to work in the music industry?
You’re stronger than you think! Do not give up! You got this. And women’s intuition is real; listen to that feeling because it’s there for a reason! Always believe in yourself because there will be people that do not. And most importantly, have fun! 

You can follow Marlene on social media @marlenemendozaofficial.

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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.