Ariel Bellvalaire is a recording artist signed in Nashville as well as a touring lead guitarist, singer, songwriter, and aerialist. She captivates audiences by combining her intricate guitar solos with her gymnastics tricks on stage as well as upside down on an aerial hoop while still playing the guitar. She has toured with the I Am King Michael Jackson Experience on lead guitar as well as Paradise Kitty, the all-female tribute to Guns N’ Roses. In addition to touring as a hired lead guitarist, Ariel is also a solo artist and has recorded a full-length album of original music combining her love of pop melodies with rock guitar and a hint of country. She plans to start touring her original show in the upcoming year along with the release of her album.
What is your definition of tone, and how has it changed over the years?
Tone is the sound you get when you combine your specific guitar with pedals and the amp sounds. There are many different combinations; you can have your funk tones, distortion tones, clean tones, and even signature tones that people can identify you with! When I first started playing rock, I had a very high gain heavy tone with a lot of treble. Over the years my favorite tone became a more mid-range full sounding distortion with sole reverb.
Which guitars, amps, and pedals are you currently using and why?
Currently, I use all Fender guitars. My main “go-to” guitar is a custom shop Stratocaster with double humbuckers – a Jeff Beck pickup in the neck and a DiMarzio Super Distortion in the bridge. I’m able to get that nice big heavy distortion sound but also that nice clean Fender tone as well. It’s so versatile and can go anywhere from heavy rock to jazz. I like to pair every guitar with the Fender Deluxe Reverb amp because it has such a great clean channel with the perfect reverb sound and pairs great with all my pedals. Currently, my pedalboard has the BOSS DS-1X, Fulltone OCD, Electro-Harmonix Canyon delay, and the Morley Bad Horsie 2 wah. All these sounds plus the clean channel of amp work great live and are very versatile.
Are there certain recording techniques you prefer in the studio?
I love to record overdubs of the same part with different guitars and stack them to get one big wall of sound!
How do you keep your sound consistent onstage?
I try to bring all my own gear whenever I can but sometimes I’ll fly out to a venue and be given a different amplifier than I’m used to so I’ll try and get the clearest clean tone I can, add some reverb from my Electro-Harmonix pedal to my OCD distortion, and keep adjusting the levels until it sounds as close to my normal rig as I can get it.
What does your practice consist of?
Recently, I’ve been touring and having to learn new songs for upcoming shows while on the road so practice is much more planned out so I can get everything done. I’ll come up with a list of what order to work on things and set deadlines on when each song needs to be done. I’m also learning new techniques as well as more theory that I work on after I’m done with songs or shows for the day.
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What is your advice for young women who hope to work in the music industry?
Never give up. It’s tough being a woman in the industry sometimes but your love and passion for music and performing get you through. If you’re feeling discouraged, pick up your guitar and play your favorite riff or song on a loop. It will remind you why you fell in love with guitar in the first place! There is always something new to learn and there’s room for everyone. Just keep doing it!