Tone Talk with MB Padfield

Photo by Kristen McFarren (@kgmac)

I’m MB Padfield, and I am a songwriter and live performer based in Los Angeles. I have been a full-time musician since age sixteen and have played 1000+ shows. I’ve worked with acts like Eric Gales, Daughtry, and Howie Day, and I was recently selected for Joe Bonamassa’s Keeping The Blues Alive Grant. My upcoming album, S U R F A C E, is an honest pop record that blends edgy Boston roots and SoCal flair.

What is your definition of tone, and how has it changed over the years?
Tone is just another vector in my craft, like notes and chords.  When I first started playing, I didn’t know anything about it.  As I progressed, I became more aware of the role it played in the performance.  Getting the right tone is HARD and styles always evolve.

Which guitars, amps, and pedals are you currently using and why?
I’ve had a lot of guitars (oops), but my D’Angelico Deluxe is my go-to axe because it’s the most comfortable to play.  In my live performance, looping guitar can really complicate things, so I currently go through a Sans-Amp so that it doesn’t take up a lot of real estate on my board. There’s always new tech coming out; it’s hard to keep up. My rig rundown is really complex, but here’s the gist:

Tuner pedal (for tuning and muting while I use my beat pad—the struggle is real for ground floor noise when looping), a mini Cry Baby (but I really miss my BBE Ben Wah, but it’s 10lbs and impractical to fly with), a BOSS OC-3 (Octaver pedal; fake bass woo!), a BOSS DD5 (Delay), a Hall of Fame 2 (buttery reverbs), and most importantly, my Pigtronix Infinity Loop Pedal has two inputs and outputs (my guitar chain goes in one, and my sample pad in the other). Out of the guitar chain output of my looper, I have a Coppersound Telegraph Stutter, which has been my secret weapon for a while; it lets me intermittently mute the channel to make the looping more interactive. Those channels then go to my mixer that has more processing.

Are there certain recording techniques you prefer in the studio?
Yes! I love my Apollo Twin, and I use the slate bundle plug-in amps. It’s a different approach from the live setup, but it works for me.

How do you keep your sound consistent onstage?
Digital Mixers help a ton. I’ve played 1000+ shows, so it’s given me A LOT of time to get comfortable with my settings, but some nights sound different than others; sometimes depends on the venue!

What does your practice consist of?
I go through waves of practicing all the time and droughts when I don’t really want to play either; I think it’s pretty normal.

What is your advice for young women who hope to work in the music industry?
1) There are more people rooting for you than it might feel like. 2) Asking questions feels SO better than feeling lost. 3) The weirdos don’t last in this industry—even when it looks like they’re winning, they’re not. 4) One person won’t make or break your career. 5) Talent isn’t everything, but professional relationships are. 6) It’s good enough; just release it. 7) Here’s a weird hack, but it’s always worked for me to help keep away unwanted romantic advances: Wear men’s cologne.