Born in Guayaquil, Ecuador to Lebanese and Spanish parents and raised in New York City, Cecilia Villar Eljuri is a compulsive genre-fuser writing songs that mirror the experiences of her life. Touted as one of the best Latina guitar players in the world, Eljuri navigates through musical landscapes ranging from rock and pop-punk, to bolero, reggae, and Afro-Caribbean rhythms, all presented with an elegant and empowering female voice. This impassioned singer, songwriter, and guitarist has released four solo albums and tours internationally as a power-trio performing her global rhythms and universal truths. Eljuri is an artivist… passionate about her songs and empowering her listeners through her performances and lyrics that aim to create positive change.
What is your definition of tone and how has it changed over the years?
My definition of tone is my “unique sound.” I think it makes my guitar sing and differentiates me from others. It’s different than “style” or “technique” which can vary but tone is the unique sound of your soul, an identifiable sound through the instrument regardless of the gear.
Which guitars, amps, and pedals are you currently using and why?
For recording, I use a mix of guitars, pedals, and amps including:
Guitars (electric): As an endorsee of Gibson guitars, I primarily use Gibson Les Paul Customs/Standards, also use D’Angelico EX-DC semi-hollow, Fender Strat, Peekamoose guitars and a custom electric Tres (that I invented).
Guitars (acoustic): Martin (JC-16 GTE) Jumbo Cutaway and Epiphone Masterbilt AJ-500
Pedals: Zvex (fuzz factory, double rock, wah probe), Pigtronix Philosopher’s tone, CryBaby Wah pedal, Seymour Duncan Vapor trail, customized tones in Line 6 Helix & HXFX, Digitech Whammy
Favorite amps: Fender Twins, Bogners, Orange Tiny Terror.
Are there certain recording techniques you prefer in the studio?
Many. I like miking the isolated amps with different mics so I can record in a single take and then choose single or blend of mics. I also prefer to pick the guitar and effects to get the sound I’m after before recording and not at the post-production stage.
How do you keep your sound consistent onstage?
For live, I tour with my Gibson Les Pauls and program my sounds into Line 6 pedals (Helix, HXFX) or the Tech21RK5 pedal for one-off fly/guest gigs. My backline is usually a Fender Twin Reverb amp. I usually also travel with my Epiphone acoustic and a Fishman Aura Spectrum DI and occasionally a BOSS RC-20 XL Looper.
What does your practice consist of?
I vocalize with scales every day. As for guitar, first, it’s exploration of parts and sounds when creating new songs. Then, mostly translating recorded parts and sounds for live, and rehearsing/playing and singing for live shows and touring.
What is your advice for young women who hope to work in the music industry?
Find your voice and commit to it. Take the time to develop all the skills needed to hone your craft. Search out mentors and teachers. Believe in yourself and go for it!