Tone Talk with Vanessa Izabella

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Vanessa Izabella is an Atlanta based guitarist. She is the guitarist and lead singer for the rock trio BAST and guitarist in Klymaxx. She is the winner of Gibson Guitars SG gal contest and was a finalist for Beyoncé’s all-girl band. She has performed with groups that have been supporting acts for KISS, Skid Row, and Darius Rucker. BAST will be releasing their first official release this summer.

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

I view tone as the voice of your instrument. It’s a great tool to use to change vibes on songs or to create some atmospheric tones to tell your musical story. Over the years, I have found that less is more for me. In the beginning, I was using big digital effects units and today I use a few analog pedals and am able to achieve what I want with much less than I used to use. I love when you can tell who the guitar player is just by hearing a few notes of their tone – so it can define who you are as a player.

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

I am a Gibson fan and am playing my Les Paul Traditional. I love that guitar and I am grateful that Gibson makes it for us lefties! For my big rock ‘n’ roll shows, I use my 100watt Marshall JCM 800 with an Orange 2×12 cabinet. I feel that combination gives me a great tone without needing much else. I do have a few analog pedals like the Ibanez Tube Screamer for some extra gain during solos, the MXR Carbon Copy for some cool delay during solos, an Electro-Harmonix Micro Pog for this tone on a particular guitar riff in a BAST song, and a hot-rodded RAT pedal to take things up a notch when the spirit moves me 🙂

Are there certain recording techniques you prefer in the studio?

I love recording guitars organically. The engineer will usually put my amp in a separate room so I can crank it up and get a great tone from it. I like using a mic that is close up on the speaker and a room mic about 6 feet away and blending the signals to record my tone.

How do you keep your sound consistent onstage?

This is one of the main reasons I use pedals. At certain shows, especially the Klymaxx shows where backline is provided, I generally use Fender amps for those gigs. I may not get the exact same Fender model every time, and it’s ok because with my pedals I can achieve a consistent tone no matter where I go. I bring my little pedal board along and I’m ready to go!

What does your practice consist of?

I am not practicing as much these days, and I know I need to be, but I really am into learning riffs from popular songs. There are a lot of very cool riffs out there, and I want to learn a bunch of them. It’s cool to see how the riffs are played, and it expands my technique by learning another guitarist’s riffs. I have pretty small hands, so sometimes it can be a challenge. I try to keep my hands limber because technique is definitely a “use it or lose it” skill.

What is your advice for young women who hope to work in the music industry?

Stay true to yourself, don’t try and be someone you aren’t – people will be able to tell. Practice hard and network with other like-minded musicians. Keep going, and don’t give up because the road ahead seems difficult, there are always ups and downs in every career. And lastly, stay humble and kind. There is enough room in the music industry for everyone that works hard enough.

Learn more about Vanessa at BASTmusiconline.com.

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