JANE GETTER BEGAN HER CAREER AS A precocious straight-ahead jazzer, rapidly securing
gigs with luminaries such as saxophonist Joe Lovano
and pianists Kenny Barron and Richie Beirach—
but it was an extended outing with Hammond B3
maestro Jack McDuff that dramatically altered her
perspective. “I had been writing music that was
more of an intellectual listening experience, and
people in the audience would just stare off into
space,” says Getter. “But Jack played jazz-blues
party music that was really fun to listen to, and
people would be dancing and clapping and having
a great time. That experience made me want to do
something more like that with my own music.”
From there, Getter continued to expand her
curriculum vitae, winning the ASCAP Gershwin
Award for Music for Theater or Dance, co-writing
the smooth jazz hit “Hopscotch” with drummer
Lenny White, amassing credits with artists ranging
from jazz sax giant Kenny Garrett to punk veterans
the Jam to hip hoppers the Roots, playing in
the Saturday Night Live Band, and recording two
solo albums and a collaboration album with guitarist
On her latest release, Three [Digital Nations/
Alternity], Getter ventures into progressive rock
territory accompanied by her keyboardist husband
Adam Holzman, bassist James Genus, and
drummer Anton Fig. She also makes her debut
as featured vocalist. “I’d sung backups in different
contexts before, and after taking some voice lessons
I decided to go for it,” she says. “After all, the
singing doesn’t necessarily have to be the strongest
element in a primarily instrumental rock band
as long as the artist is communicating what they
want to communicate in the song.”
Have you become a progressive rock guitarist?
I don’t know if I’m a progressive guitarist,
though my music has been slowly going in that
direction, because that’s the kind of music that
has gotten me excited for the last few years. My
husband plays with Steven Wilson’s band, and I
particularly like what Steven does on his own and
with Porcupine Tree. There are also some jazzier
pieces on the album, though, such as “Scofused,”
which I dedicated to John Scofield. I like many different
styles of music and so I’ve never really been
comfortable just staying within one genre—but
I’ve always maintained my jazz roots.
What guitars did you play on the album?
I played my ’71 Tele with a Roger Sadowsky humbucker
in the bridge slot on a few tunes. That was
my main guitar for years before I became a Fender
artist and they made me a Stratocaster. My Strat
is based on a ’60s model, and other than swapping
out the bridge and tweaking a few things I
kept it the way it was. I also played a ’74 Martin
D-28 acoustic and an ’80s Ovation nylon-string
on the album.
So, the Strat is your main guitar now?
Yes, though Paul Schwartz at Peekamoose built
an instrument for me that I just got a few weeks
ago. He knows what I like, right down to the finish.
I’d wanted a Les Paul for a while and this is similar,
with incredible Seymour Duncan humbuckers.
Do you have other guitars, as well?
Yeah. I have an amazing ’53 Gibson ES-175
that I used to play back when I was doing straight-ahead
jazz with Jack McDuff and others. These days
that guitar sits in its case a lot, mostly because it
feels so different from my other guitars, though
I do pull it out for certain gigs. I also have a nice
Fender cutaway nylon-string.
Do you string the ES-175 with flatwounds?
For a while I was using flatwounds. The straight-ahead
jazz tone is really round and midrange-y, with no highs or punch, and that’s the sound that
I used to love. But now I like to have a little
more punch and edge. I tried putting lighter
strings on it so that it would feel more comfortable,
but .011 sets were as light as I could
go before I began losing some of that beautiful,
What strings do you use on your Fenders?
I use GHS, because they make the inbetween
gauges that I need. Right now the
gauges are .046, .036, .026, .017, .0115, and
.0095, low to high. They were making .0165
for a while, but now I can only get .017 for
the third. I like .0095 for the first string
because .009 is a little too light and .010 is
a little too stiff.
Do you have a favorite amp, and if so, did you
use it on the album?
I have a Mesa/Boogie Mark IV and a Fender
Hotrod Deluxe. The Boogie is so heavy that I
only take it out for certain gigs. The Fender
is my main “around town” amp. I used both
of them on the album, as well as a Marshall
half-stack that they had at the studio.
What’s your signal chain?
My foot is always on my Ernie Ball volume
pedal, because I’m continually feeling like I need
to adjust my volume. My basic clean sound
is an MXR Dyna Comp into a Boss DD-3 set
to a short delay, and the reverb on my amp.
I leave the compressor and the delay on all
the time, so I’m getting a second delay pedal
that I can use for longer delays. I also have
a Vox Wah pedal and an old TC Electronic
Stereo Chorus+ pedal that I use sometimes.
So, you get your overdrive and distortion tones
from your amps?
I use the Lead channel on the Boogie,
which I love, but when I’m playing through
the Fender or a backline amp I’ll often use
pedals. For lighter overdrive I’ll use a Boss
SD-1 Super Over Drive, and for heavier distortion
I have a Seymour Duncan Lava Box,
which has a really full sound.
You play with a hybrid picking style. Describe
what’s going on there.
When I’m playing straight lines, I use a
pick and alternate picking, but I use hybrid
picking for just about everything else. I hold
the pick with my thumb and first finger, and
use my other three fingers to play the strings
I’m not playing with the pick. That gives me
more precise articulation of each string, particularly
when playing rhythmically complicated
patterns, and even some melodic lines. I also
just like the sound of flesh against the string.
What kind of picks do you like?
I prefer the heavy teardrop-shaped white
Fender picks, though they don’t sell them
anymore. The company that made them says
that the currently available picks are the same
exact weight and size, but they aren’t. To make
them more comfortable, I file the point and
the edges down so they are a little bit rounder.
You sometimes create your own scales. How do
you do that, and how do you use them?
I started experimenting with my own scales
when I was looking for certain sounds that I
wanted to have in my lines, and there weren’t
scales that I knew about that had those sounds.
For example, one of the first ones was basically a minor pentatonic scale, but with a major 6
instead of a flat 7. It still had the pentatonic
vibe, but with an added little something that
sounded slightly different, and didn’t scream
“minor pentatonic scale.” Then, once I had
the notes, I worked out the fingerings all
over the neck by simply modifying the five
basic fingerings of the minor pentatonic
scale, and connecting everything together.
I also created arpeggios within the scale
that brought out its nuances.
Another example might be a situation in
which I want to maintain the root and the 7
within a scale, but be able to use it in either
a major or minor context. I could leave out
the 3, or include both major and minor 3rd
tones, and either would accomplish that. And
then I would decide how many notes I want
to have in the scale—five, six, seven? There
are lots of techniques you can use to construct
new scales, including using triads [see “Creating
Scales” in the August 1999 issue of GP
and “Synthesizing Scales from Triads” in the
January 2000 issue], but the important thing
is to get them under your fingers and be able
to use them in your playing.
Do you ever reverse the techniques and harmonize
the new scales as part of your compositional
No, I haven’t. That’s an interesting concept
that I’ll have to think about. But the riff
on the opening track on Three, “Inversion
Layer,” was derived from one of my scales, as
was the riff on “Over the Edge,” so the scales
do inspire songs.
You’ve played with some great horn players. Has
listening to horn players influenced your approach
to your own instrument?
Like a lot of people, I was really inspired
by John Coltrane, and when I was getting
into jazz it was like what the heck is this guy
doing? What are these notes he’s playing?
How is he thinking? I transcribed his solo on
“Blues to You,” so I could at least see what he
was doing in that particular case, and among
other things that really opened my eyes to
the concept of superimposing different triadic
lines over the notes in a certain key. I
think listening to that kind of approach also
helped me to develop this whole thing with
creating scales, because I wanted to get those
sorts of sounds without just playing back-to-back
arpeggios like a lot of guitarists do. By
creating my own scales I’m able to play more
fluid, horn-like lines in a way that works for
me as a guitar player.