Isabella of the all-girl rock band The Anti Groupies from Orange County, California, fills us in on her definition of tone, guitar gear, recording and practice techniques, and advice for aspiring young female musicians.
What is your definition of tone, and how has it changed over the years?
I tend to have more of a brighter tone when playing. I adjust my bass, mid and treble around the same amount. Often I would also turn up my treble. Gain is also an important factor to my guitar tone. I use a lot of gain when performing, especially with the help of my Tube Screamer pedal. I used to play with a really warm tone, but after experimenting with the EQ, I have realized that I prefer a much brighter sound.
Which guitars, amps, and pedals are you currently using and why?
I use a Blackstar Silverline Deluxe combo amp with an ESP Eclipse EC-256. Occasionally I also play a Charvel Pro-Mod DK24. The main pedals that I use are the Ibanez Tube Screamer and Cry Baby wah pedal. With my amp and ESP, I am able to obtain a really heavy sound that has enough crunch. Since it includes a variety of voicings and tube profiles, I’m able to have a variety of sounds.
What about strings?
I mainly use Ernie Ball Super Slinky 9 gauge strings. I like these strings because they feel pretty light and have a great sound. I prefer using thinner strings because there is less resistance to bend or use vibrato.
Are there certain recording techniques you prefer in the studio?
I’m still experimenting with different recording techniques as I record more frequently. When recording tracks for my band, I record guitar direct with an amp simulator. But in the past, I have also tried using a microphone with my amp. Based on these experiences, I have found that starting out clean and then adding the amp effects later with the amp simulator is more effective.
How do you keep your sound consistent onstage?
Utilizing the existing amp voicings, it is pretty simple to have a consistent sound. I am continuing to experiment with different pedals and sounds from my amp since I want to constantly improve my onstage sound.
What does your practice consist of?
Many hours of repetition, especially with a metronome. Almost every day I try to get at least an hour of practice in whether it’s going over scales, improvisation, technique, or learning a song. When it comes to learning songs, I listen to the song multiple times before starting to figure out the guitar parts. This is so I am aware of the form as well as the specific rhythms. Sometimes when I need to learn a solo or complicated riff I need to slow it down and play along with a metronome. This also helps point out flaws in my technique and results in playing cleaner.
Favorite guitar riff or lick that inspired you to play guitar?
Growing up in a family that frequently listened to AC/DC, “Back in Black” was one of the first riffs I learned when I started playing at age 11. A song that specifically inspired me to start playing guitar was “Dead!” by My Chemical Romance. I absolutely loved the dynamic between the rhythm and lead guitars and how they were able to create compelling guitar melodies.
What is your advice for young women who hope to work in the music industry?
My advice is to stay true to yourself. If you want to achieve something, stick with it no matter what others tell you. The music industry involves a lot of time and determination which is why a lot of people tend to give up on it. If you have the drive to achieve your goals, you will be able to get somewhere. There will be a lot of setbacks and conflicts, but the overall experience you’re going to gain will help you get closer to your goal. Also, I recommend becoming involved with any sort of music program or even the local music scene. The local music scene is a great pathway to the music industry since you’re able to meet tons of other people who are also passionate about music. Not only would this help with gaining connections, but also it will inspire you to achieve your own musical dreams. If it wasn’t for being involved in different music programs and attending local shows, I would not have gained the opportunity to perform with a band.