Tone Talk with Keona Lee

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Photo by Jack Lue
       

As seen in Guitar Girl Magazine Issue 9 – Autumn 2019 – Ladies of Metal

Up-and-coming San Diego guitarist Keona Lee from the metal band Kryptid has some serious chops at the young age of 18! Honored to win the Music Experience shredding contest at Aftershock Festival in 2018, she’s also caught the attention of Loudwire’s Gear Factor team where they had her appear at the PRS booth at Winter NAMM 2018 to meet Mark Tremonti and Dustie Waring and demo their new PRS gear. 

What is your definition of tone?

To me, tone is a kind of voice. Take different guitars as an example. Many aspects of that guitar will alter the tone – the wood, pickups, strings – and will make it stick out. Each guitar has its own unique voice that’s embellished with the personal touch of the musician that holds it. Each guitar has its own voice and “personality” if you will.

Which guitars, amps, and pedals are you currently using and why?

For our more recent shows, I have been using my Ibanez Prestige, Carvin, and Dean Z Explorer. I use the Prestige for the first four songs of our set because it’s…well…that’s my shredding guitar and some of those songs are where I go nuts. The thing that drew me towards the Prestige was the crisp clarity that’s consistent across the fretboard. However, in the upcoming shows, I’m planning on using my new Kiesel A7. I’ve been doing a lot of writing on this guitar recently, and I’ve fallen in love with its sound and look. If anyone reading this was at NAMM and checked out the red Aries at the Kiesel booth, you know what I’m talking about. That thing is a beautiful monster that has the perfect aggressive crunch I love.

For the larger portions of the show, I choose to alternate between the Carvin and Dean because of their signature chunk. Since I got those two guitars, in particular, I have been looking for the sweet spot where they sound best. I discovered that to be between a half step and full step down. Not only do those guitars feel amazing to play in those tunings, but I love the tone they have. It’s rich, warm, and have that chunk that just resonates in your chest. It’s a good contrast.

At home, I have other axes in my arsenal that include a Schecter Diamond Series C-1 Custom, LTD EX-50 Explorer, Gibson RD, Ibanez AEG10E, LTD Snakebyte, Dean From Hell Lightning, Gibson Sully Erna Les Paul Studio, and more. I have a lot of different tone/personality options at my disposal.

As for the rest of my gear, I have been using a Kirk Hammett wah pedal and a Fractal Audio MFC-101 Mark III with an Axe FX II XL+ through a Carvin V3 half stack. I like to design my own tones and effects on my Axe during my free time.

How do you keep your sound consistent onstage?

I personally prefer a consistent tone, so I tend to use the same gear in the studio that I use live. If I’m playing through a backline, I’ll bring my head and my Axe, which helps me keep the main aspects of my tone and I’ll do minor adjustments to tailor it to the cab I’m using at the time. If I’m bringing my entire rig to a show, I’ll bring the same gear I usually play at home. Technically, I could just bring the Axe, but I made my main tone specifically to be played through my V3, so I like to use the V3/Axe combo as much as I can.

What does your practice consist of?

My practice at home consists of playing songs. Most times I’ll warm up with some familiar “slower” tunes before jumping into heavier songs and maybe learning a new song to push myself. When it comes to learning new songs, I learn it at a slower tempo and will speed it up when I feel I’m ready. I tend to test myself over and over again and won’t let myself increase the speed until I get it as close to perfect as I can while emphasizing picking and clarity of notes. I’ll continue this process until I get 10bpm higher than the original because the riff feels easier to play if I can nail it at a higher tempo. If I feel like learning an easier tune, I’ll pull up the tabs or will learn it by ear and will run through the song once or twice with the tabs before playing it without any help. When it comes to learning by ear, I’ve trained myself to pick out any open notes, particularly on the lower strings. This has come in handy in learning songs in drop tunings. Once I get started, I won’t be out for a few hours.

Based on your experience so far, what is one tip you would offer for a young girl wanting to work in the music industry?

My biggest tip for young girls wanting to work in this industry is to not give in to any stereotypes. You’re going to have them thrown at you, and you can’t let them get to you. If anything, just smile and do what you can to prove them wrong.  Trust me; it’s fun to see the reactions on their faces. Don’t give anyone any ammunition to further these either. Just be respectful and be the person people want to look up to.

NOTE:  Keona is our November featured artist in our 2020 Calendar which can be purchased HERE.

Keona Lee November 2020 Guitar Girl Magazine Calendar photo by Jack Lue

 

 

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