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 Joya’s Tone Talk video walkthrough where she talks through some of her favorite gear.
What is your definition of tone, and how has it changed over the years?
Tone, for me, could be described as the climate, texture, and emotional intention of a song, instrument, or note. My musical tone has changed with me over the years as my skillset has increased. This has allowed my voice to come through more clearly in my music. It will continue to change and grow with me.
Which guitars, amps, and pedals are you currently using and why?
I have gravitated more toward electric violin as my playing has progressed. As far as amplifiers go, I am currently using a Roland Cube X. I chose this amp because of its battery-operated portability and its instrument tone (hee hee). Electric violins can be harder to EQ on less qualified or less instrument-tailored sound systems. I was sold as soon as I played through it and heard rich, warm textures and a power I have never experienced through a battery-operated amplifier.
My favorite pedal is my BOSS ME-25 pedal. Now discontinued, but still worth every penny. It’s a perfect all-in-one for me as it contains a wide array of FX, foot pedal volume control (so you don’t have to bend down to create dynamics while performing—which sucks in a miniskirt), and looping capability. It’s a great piece of equipment and it fits in your backpack—another bonus.
What about strings?
I don’t spend a lot on strings! Since I play an electric, there is a lot I can kind of get away with when it comes to string/sound quality. I am also a very passionate player, so I tend to break strings frequently. Higher quality strings make more of a difference on acoustic instruments than electric ones.
Are there certain recording techniques you prefer in the studio?
When it comes to recording, I need to hear myself very loudly in my headphones. This way I can hear the intricate emotions, textures, and tones to get the best recording possible.
How do you keep your sound consistent onstage?
Unless you can bring your own sound system everywhere, generally it’s quite difficult to maintain a very consistent sound onstage. As long as I have a loud stage monitor in front of me, I’m usually good with fine-tuning my performance to achieve the best sound within each scenario. It can be a [fun] challenge, as every show presents some unforeseen obstacle. These obstacles only make me better at my artistry.
What does your practice consist of?
I play and sing the hardest songs I can for about the first twenty minutes as a way to warm up and ‘free up myself’ (as we say in Jamaica). One of my favorite warm-up songs to sing/rap is actually “Satisfied” from Hamilton. Then I just play until I’m exhausted. I find new ways to sing and play the same songs/passages. This evolutionary process stretches me creatively and allows me to continue growing in different ways.
What is your advice for young women who hope to work in the music industry?
I would first give the same advice Michael Myers, the actor, gave me when I asked him while working at a grocery store in SOHO NYC 10 years ago:
“Never give up” with the same deadpan face he gave me. Beyond that, the advice I would give from my own experience is: we all have a specific light inside us that never dies. Basically, our musical essence/truth. I’d say never stray from following that light. Don’t change yourself to fit any mold or situation, just focus on being better than you were yesterday, always.
Follow Joya Bravo on IG @joyabravo
Check our Joya’s Tone Talk here