Tone Talk with Trinka Dorsey

Photo Cred: Larry Koch

Trinka “Tink” Dorsey is a singer-songwriter and bassist who grew up around music with her mother serving as the pianist and lead choir director. Trinka graduated from Lincoln University, graduating with her B.S. in Biology and picked up the bass after seeing Dennis Brown (a bassist at her church) play. This inspired her to study James Jamerson, Pino Palladino, Anthony Jackson, Sharay Reed, and eventually, attend local open mics to study under legendary bass players in Philly. After being invited to play with the Ladybugs of Soul for the Wilmington, Delaware Ladybug Festival, she experienced what it was like to be on stage and immediately fell in love with that energy. 

She stays busy playing in a few bands, and she has her own band named Mahogany, which consists of three female singers, drum, bass, and keys. She is currently working on an EP that she hopes to drop by the end of the year. Her goal is to inspire women and show the world that you can save lives through music and having a heart for others. 

What is your definition of tone, and how has it changed over the years?
I would describe tone as “the voice you want to be heard through your instrument.” In any given genre of music, tone is the character of “voice” that gives the music your story and your emotions. I play in five different bands, plus my own, so I try to adapt my “voice” with every genre. Over the years, tone has changed with different genres of music. In the mid-’50s through the ’70s, there was really only one tone, which consisted of a lot of mids. Over the years, the bass has become a more versatile instrument.

Which guitars, amps, and pedals are you currently using and why?
Over the years, I have become very accustomed to different genres of music that require different tones and sounds. My main bass is a Fender Precision Player Series bass, which has a very versatile sound. I love Fender because they did excellent at creating a well-balanced mix of that vintage precision mid with a new age growl. When it comes to amps, I play my Fender Rumble 500 watt combo amp. This amp has proven to be very versatile, so no matter the gig, I can plug right into the house, select from the pre-sets, and rock out. When it comes to pedals, I use the Electro-Harmonix Big Muff pedal and my MXR Bass Envelope Filter pedal. 

What about strings?
I use the D’Addario XL medium gauge long scale strings on all my basses. These strings are easy for me to play and add great warmth and low end. These strings are also great for amplifying the exact tone I set my bass and amp to while I’m playing.

How do you keep your sound consistent onstage?
I practice adjusting my tone at home and at rehearsal. I always pay careful attention to the exact tone I am aiming for at rehearsal or at home and focus on remembering knob adjustments as well as tone variation for each song.

What does your practice consist of?
My practice regimen consists of three parts. 1) focusing on correcting anything I need to clean up; 2) practicing my arpeggios, playing scales in thirds and fourths, and then reviewing bass chords and theory lastly; and 3) I take all that I’ve reviewed to the piano because when applying all you have learned to other instruments, things can often become more clear which makes the creative process easier. 

What is your advice for young women who hope to work in the music industry?
I am a big nerd when it comes to Japanese culture and discipline. I’ve studied the lives of Samurai men and women but have been fascinated by the lives of the Samurai women in particular because these same women fought in places that men were too afraid to fight, and they succeeded in gaining victory and notoriety for their bravery and their honor in battle. I advise young women to be a Samurai in this music industry.

Diligently practice day and night and learn all you can. Enter this industry with much bravery, knowing that you are strong. Know your sword (your instrument) well to fight against all of the injustice and evil doings of this world with your music! Remember that there is no competition; your sole competition should be yourself! Most importantly, allow God to use you to have an impact on this world, it won’t be easy, but it’ll be worth it. Remember, your purpose is to save souls suffering from the sufferings of this world through music!

You can follow Trinka on social media @tink_tomoe.