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Tone Talk with Jen Majura

As seen in
Guitar Girl Magazine Issue 19 – Spring 2022

My name is Jen Majura, and I am a guitar player, singer, and songwriter. In 2015, I joined the GRAMMY award-winning independent rock band Evanescence on guitar, with whom I recorded two albums so far; our latest album, The Bitter Truth, came out in March 2021 and went No. 1 in several countries. As a solo artist, I have released two albums; my latest solo album, InZENity, released in Nov 2017, includes guest contributions by Alex Skolnick, Mattias IA Eklundh, and Jeff Waters, just to name a few. Another studio side project of mine is SOMETHING ON 11, together with my friend Alen Brentini; we digitally released our self-titled album a few years ago.

Editor’s Note: Jen Majura is no longer with Evanescence.

What is your definition of tone, and how has it changed over the years?
When you are young and inexperienced, the belief that quality gear gives you a better tone is a given, I think. Of course, over the years that changed — the definition of “tone“ is definitely not calculable in the $-worth of your gear, whether if it’s guitars, amps, or pedals, but in your fingers and your soul! If I’d plug in to Nuno Bettencourt’s rig, I’d still be sounding just like me. “Tone,” in my opinion, is not defined by certain scales or modes you play but by your personal vibe, your understanding of phrasing, your preferred amp settings, your vibrato, etc. Scales/modes, effects, and recognizable licks are the icings on the cake.

Which guitars, amps, and pedals are you currently using and why?
I’ve been an Ibanez gal now for way longer than I’d like to admit, and some of my favorite axes are my JEM77-BFP equipped with the Mad Hatter Guitar Product Terminator Kit, the PIA3761, and my white RG450 equipped with Fishman Fluence PUs. With Evanescence, we use a lot of 7-strings, and I got to understand to love them too — I don’t believe the approach of a 7-string is “just a 6-string with a lower B-string attached.“ For me, 7-strings are completely different instruments, as they vibe, play and feel different to 6-strings. My main 7-string for Evanescence on tour is the RG2027 XLDTB, which has a 27.5” scale that makes it even more stable in tune and intonation and perfect for the road, in my opinion.

For amps, I am lucky enough to work together with Synergy amps, as their concept of exchangeable pre-amp modules convinced me very much. For Evanescence, I use the rack version with the Friedman HBE and the BE-BB.

I’ve never been a crazy pedal gal, so I was very happy to hear when Line 6 came out with the HELIX, which I use via the FX Loop for Evanescence shows, but also as a multi-effect amp modeler and interface to work from home. On tour, as a practicing and recording device, I have my Line 6 HX Stomp with me.

What about strings?
I play D’Addario strings, the EXL125 (0.09-0.46) for my solo work and the EXL110-7 (0.10-0.59) for Evanescence mostly.

Are there certain recording techniques you prefer in the studio?
When it comes to recording, I like to track “old school” and put several mics in front of the cab. I am not a big fan of re-amping as I still feel the digital sizzling, although technology has become so much better during the past ten years. I don’t know what it is about the warmth and depth of a real tube amp that just can’t be digitally simulated in my ears. I like to record three to five rhythm tracks, one C, and the others slightly panned L/R to support the main guitar track. Also, I like tracking those with different PU configurations to add frequencies to the main track (Fishman Fluence for the mid low end, but then maybe add one track doubling with Bare Knuckle Aftermaths or a Single Coil configuration of my Fishman Classics for the crunchy punch, etc.)

How do you keep your sound consistent onstage?
We work with a fantastic crew, and I work very tight together with my guitar tech Tyler Dragness on constantly improving the sound, but also keeping the core of it consistent. As we work with in-ear monitoring, we are blessed with a very consistent stage sound every show that just needs adjustment to the size of the venue sometimes, as it makes a big difference whether you play an arena for 35.000 people or a theater for 3.000 people.

What does your practice consist of?
I hardly practice as much as I should, to be honest! I have never been a “shredder” in terms of sitting down with a metronome and, day by day, gaining another bpm to my speed; this seemed never enjoyable to me and felt more like sports than music. I like to think of “practicing” more as “spending time with your instrument.” I enjoy putting on some jam backing tracks and playing along for hours, discovering new licks or transitions, or even learning how to play songs from other artists like Steve Vai, Guthrie Govan, Richie Kotzen, etc. as I believe there is always space for improvement and something that you can learn from others.

Favorite guitar riff or lick that inspired you to play guitar?
Oh, wow, that is a tough question. One album that for sure inspired me is Steve Vai’s Passion & Warfare which I bought after my dad took me to my very first G3 concert when I was a kid. Up until then, I liked playing Bon Jovi songs / Richie Sambora solos but discovering Vai was a gamechanger and a great influence to me. I have a few great friends who are outstanding individuals that keep inspiring me every day and influence my music all the time (Mattias IA Eklundh, Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal, …)

What is your advice for young women who hope to work in the music industry?
I myself have been struggling with testosterone-driven idiotic comments all my life, and I think my one big advice to up and coming young female musicians is to stay true to themselves, be in it for the sake of playing music and creating arts instead of fame and likes due to cheap photos to push your career! Just be authentic in what you do, put your heart and soul into everything you do, keep working hard, constantly seek improvement, learn from others, and believe in yourself!

GGM Staff

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