Tone Talk with Rosie Flores

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Photo by Valerie Fremin
       

As seen in Guitar Girl Magazine Summer 2020 Issue

Rosie Flores’ latest release—a blues and R&B album—shows us that going slow can pay off quite handsomely. Flores fills us in on guitar tone, guitar gear, recording and practice techniques, and advice for women in music.

What is your definition of tone, and how has it changed over the years?
I believe tone is all in the fingers, your individual touch. I’ve been able to learn what that tone is that makes me happy. It’s also a mix of the amp and the pedals, and the room and the sound on stage. I have a bit of arthritis in my hands nowadays, so I’m not as strong as I was where I used to get a gnarlier attack, like in my punk days in the Sirens. So I guess my tone has a journey to go on through the following years.

Which guitars, amps, and pedals are you currently using and why?
I like Fender amps. If I could carry, my favorite is the Super Reverb (blackface ‘60s), or any old ones are so nice and warm and kick ass. I’ve had various Fenders from Princeton to Deluxe Reverb and Bassmans, all of which I’ve enjoyed playing in the studio and live on stage. But in answer to your question, what am I playing now? I’ve got a Quilter, Micropro mack 2. It’s 200 watts, and it’s got all kinds of tone settings that I can play with and an effects loop, line out, and mic input. For a versatile amp with great tone and weighs hardly anything (solid-state), it is pretty cool to gig with.

What about strings?
Ernie Ball Strings, who thankfully endorse me. I play a very unusual set: .009, .011, .014, .020, .030, .038.

Are there certain recording techniques you prefer in the studio?
I like recording live. Overdubs for guitar fixes and editing where need be, that’s always fun. I try to get where I can see everybody when we’re tracking. Overdubs are icing on the cake and so much fun to get my imagination going with collaborating with the engineers and producer. I’ve coproduced my own records as well as produced other artists from time to time, which I absolutely love. The studio feels like the most amazing playground, I can’t get enough of it, and dream of having my own studio one day and bring in my favorite engineers, who I really leave most of the magical techniques up to.

How do you keep your sound consistent onstage?
Well, I probably just keep messing with it from stage to stage and find my favorite tone. I like to experiment, so there no rules to be totally consistent.

What does your practice consist of?
I sit on the couch where I can easily grab my guitar, play along with YouTube, or the TV. It’s fun to tear apart solos that I like and try to figure licks out by inspiring pickers. I love the slow down apps or the speed control on YouTube. I never grow tired of learning and practicing—it makes a big difference in how I play.

What is your advice for young women who hope to work in the music industry?
Get out while you can!! No, just kidding! Seriously, I’d advise young women to study your craft and really try and master whatever you’re in to. Be a nerd about it. Then do study the business side of it. Learn how to be smart so you can be confident when you ask for what you think you deserve. Have a good sense of humor; this is actually very important. Learn everything you can about social media and music videos, essential these days if you’re an artist. It’s a man’s world out there, and you can get respect when you know what you’re doing. It takes time, but, in the end, if you’re in this for the long haul, you’ll earn more and be happier and fulfilled.