Tone Talk with Tish Hinojosa

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Photo by Natalie Rhea
       

Hi Guitar Girl Readers,

My name is Tish Hinojosa, and I am a singer-songwriter from Austin, Texas. I was born and spent my formative years in San Antonio, Texas. Being the youngest in a large Mexican-American family, I was influenced by the sounds of Mexican music my parents listened to and the pop music flowing from the transistor radios of my older siblings in the 1960s. I fell in love with Linda Ronstadt’s voice when I was twelve years old and decided then that I wanted to be a singer.

Acoustic guitar playing came pretty easy to me and my voice singing the songs of Joan Baez, Linda Ronstadt, John Denver, Paul Simon, and a few Latino stars such as Spain’s Raphael could be heard drifting out of some of the clubs and restaurants on San Antonio’s famous Riverwalk when I was old enough to play there.

Songwriting surprised me when a friend suggested I write a couple of songs to enter in a songwriting contest. I won! Over the years, I have recorded sixteen albums on major and independent record labels, and I have toured around the world. I have played my custom-made Dillon acoustic guitar since 1992. A love song to this guitar, called “My Good Guitar,” appears on my 2018 record, “West.” Presently, I have joined fellow singer-songwriter friends Stephanie Urbina-Jones and Patricia Vonne in a trio, The Texicana Mamas. We just released our first record together today and are thrilled to share our music.

What is your definition of tone, and how has it changed over the years?
When I first started out playing in public in the 1970s, the tone of the acoustic guitar accompaniment was miked rather than built-in in order to capture the natural guitar sound so important in those days. Today, whether in a band environment or playing solo, I like the tone of my acoustic guitar to be warm with some brightness. Some of my songs are upbeat Mexican style and country two-stepping, so the strumming rhythm sound is important to cut through. For my ballads, I fingerpick, so the warmth serves great there.

Which guitars, amps, and pedals are you currently using and why?
I currently still play my Dillon Guitar. Luthier, John Dillon, built acoustic guitars in the 1980s and ’90s. Some of his more famous clients were artists such as Michael Martin Murphey and Bonnie Raitt. I love a guitar that is beautiful but has endurance, travels well, and stays in tune. That’s still my Dillon. It suffered some hardships and breaks, but was restored to its almost original beauty by a fine craftsman and is lovely as ever. My equipment and set up is simple. I have a built-in L.R. Baggs Anthem pickup. Baggs is one of the all-round best on the market. The coolest part of the Anthem is that it has true mic and pickup, so it’s as if the guitar is both going through a microphone and pickup at once. I also use a Red Eye Pre-Amp with a boost button (for boosting fingerpicking), and a Boss plug-in tuner.

What about strings?
I have used Elixir Bronze medium gauge strings since Elixir hit the market in the early ’90s. They are strong, last long, have a beautiful tone, and are easy on the fingers.

Are there certain recording techniques you prefer in the studio?
In the studio, I like to mic the guitar. I feel I get the best clean, true sound in the controlled environment of a studio.

How do you keep your sound consistent onstage?
The Red Eye Pre Amp boost button allows me to have a certain volume for strumming songs, then boost it up when I’m going to play a soft fingerpicking song.

What does your practice consist of?
My practice consists of playing through old songs (mine as well as covers) and challenging myself to learn new chords.

What is your advice for young women who hope to work in the music industry?
Stay true and follow through. Keep it honest. Listen closely. Pay close attention to the business and recording of your work. Always work on pushing yourself to get better at your craft.

To learn more about The Texicana Mamas, visit their site – www.thetexicanamanas.com

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