Tone Talk with Teresa Topaz

Teresa Topas
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Teresa Topaz, “Guitar Goddess” is a Southern Rock and Blues Original Artist from Los Angeles, CA. Topaz is a vocalist, lead guitarist, composer, and record producer. She has been voter-nominated by the Willamette Week’s Top 5 Best Blues Rock Artist and the “Guitar Goddess” by the Portland Tribune. With her newly released single, “Whiskey Kinda Girl”, on New Year’s Day 2019, it’s a whiskey drinkin’ Friday night and a downright good ol’ time. “Whiskey Kinda Girl” is an original production by Teresa Topaz: Vocals, Lead and Rhythm guitar, with Keith Waters on Bass (Andree Thierry), Vince Littleton on Drums (Jerry Garcia, Trey Anastasio, Bonnie Raitt), and Tim Biedron as Head Engineer and Co-Producer. Topaz has a powerful vocal range meshed with a soulful, bluesy grit shaping a rare temperament while her electric guitar hooks reel you in
with catchy rhythms and screaming solos.

Topaz has performed live with artists such as Steve Vai at The Hard Rock Hotel and the Big Mama Jam-A-Thon, Roni Lee (Venus and the Razorblades, Joan Jett) to Jeff Kathan (Bad Company, Roger Fisher) to name a few. On her last record, Reset Me, Topaz composed and performed all instruments on the album featuring Keith Waters on bass guitar. Topaz is currently working on her upcoming record Point of No Return and is excited to get back out on the road to support the new release. Topaz is a rising leading woman in music and a force to be reckoned with.

What is your definition of tone and how has it changed over the years?

Tone comes from the heart, the hands, and the emotion that flows through you. My tone has changed over the years since I started playing at 12 dramatically. When I first started playing, all I wanted to do was crank up the drive and covered up all of my mistakes with pedals. Over the years, I have developed a respect and understanding of the power that comes from the simplicity of a pair of hands and six strings and strive to create as many voices as I can between
my hands and my guitar.

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

For guitars, my main guitar is a Gibson Les Paul Traditional “Rose” with a ‘59 neck profile, Seymour Duncan custom shop pickups I had wired in with vintage caps; it’s the best guitar I have ever owned. I love my Paul and remember the first time I heard Jimmy Page play 1959 Les Paul, I was hooked; I had to have “THAT” sound. Ever since I have been obsessed with Les Pauls. My slide guitar is another Les Paul, “The Green Machine,” which I just recently overhauled and upgraded which lives in open tunings for my swamp blues tracks. I layer rhythm guitar with my Fender Cherry Burst Strat with hand wired in Seymour Duncan little ‘59s and a Page Bucker in the bridge. And my Martin Rosewood Dreadnought that has been with me since I was 16 years old. I have many more guitars, but these are the ones I am using for this new project.

As to my amp and pedals, I run through a Kemper through a Marshall 1936 Lead A and B with Vintage 30 Celestions and use Mogami Gold cables on the road and Platinum in the studio. I have always been obsessed with Les Pauls and Marshalls since I was a kid. As to the Kemper, it’s the most efficient and quality profiler and has all the bells and whistles in one. Pedals, my normal layout is amp gain, Wah Wah, Tube Screamer for solos, a little Reverb and Delay, and on
certain songs, Tremolo.

Are there certain recording techniques you prefer in the studio?

Being in the studio, there’s a wonderful feeling of looking at a blank audio track and thinking the sky’s the limit with creation. I usually get a drum groove going, get the rhythm and lead guitars recorded, and the main vocals. Then I’ll bring in my bass player and drummer and give the idea and feel I’m going for that tack and let them have at it. The post-production is my favorite; the background vocals, the guitar harmonies, and small additions to the track really make it come to life. I do play and compose many instruments on my records and try to stay focused on one song at a time. I am very blessed with a talented engineer who handles making all of these instruments come together.

How do you keep your sound consistent onstage?
My performance tracks are pre-programmed in my rig but can and do sound different from venue to venue. My studio engineer, Tim Biedron, also handles my sound when out on tour and he knows exactly how to dial a room to create my sound every time.

What does your practice consist of?
For guitar, I use two 5 lb. weights and do “wrist push-ups” to help stretch out my hands, then I warm up by playing scales for a bit, then off to work on whatever song I stopped at the night before. For vocals, 30 minutes of vocal warm-ups with Throat Coat tea and honey including the ever so fun “Lip Trills” and lots of water. I have a wide vocal range from Tenor to Soprano, so depending on what song I am working on that day, I’ll focus on exercises in that octave that day.

What is your advice for young women who hope to work in the music industry?
Be Brilliant!! A dream is something we visualize and never let go of until we achieve it. Do not listen to the negative, there’s good and bad in every part of life. Life is about perspective and you can do ANYTHING you put your heart and soul into. Dream big ladies, and don’t take no for
an answer.

Teresa Topaz Rig

* Rose- Gibson Les Paul Cherry Heritage Traditional with Seymour Duncan JB Les Paul 59 Custom Shop pups
* The Green Machine- Gibson Les Paul- Bigsby Bridge
* Fender Strat Cherry Heritage – Rhythm Guitar
* Martin Rosewood Dreadnought
* Breedlove 12 String Acoustic
* Kemper Profiler Amp Head
* Marshall 1936 Lead Cab I wired Celestion Vintage 30’s into
* Vodoo Labs- Ground Control Pro Foot Controller
* Fishman Tripple Play- Midi Pickup unit
* Mogami Platinum Cables – Studio 
* Mogami Gold 1/4 – Tour
* The Rock Slide- Glass slide – Electrics/ Aged Brass and Nickle – Acoustic 
* Cool Guitar Picks- Medium
* Dunlop Guitar Pick- Heavy 
* TC Helicon Polytone


Photo provided by the artist – **I, Teresa Topaz,  am the sole owner of these photos taken and have obtained rights to post and use. **

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