To some guitarists (like this writer, for instance), pedals are a blessing, helping one push the guitar into previously uncharted sonic territories. To others though, they're a curse, standing in the way of the purity of the hands + instrument + amp combo.
Blues guitar ace Samantha Fish, as it turns out, has found herself in both boats. Having previously assembled a "massive" pedalboard, Fish – rather than downsizing gradually – decided to do away with all the pedals in her rig a few years back, with intriguing results.
“I did away with pedals, probably about five years ago," Fish told MusicRadar in a recent interview. "I wasn’t using anything, just going straight into an amp. Before that, I had this massive pedalboard but I realized I was using it as a crutch rather than finding good tone in my hands.
“I was really leaning heavily on pedals and effects to get that out, so I did away with everything and really challenged myself for a few years, just getting the guitar in my hands and the amps to do the work for me.”
Though Fish – who just released her latest album, Faster – did end up gradually adding a select few stompboxes back to her rig, she said that the results of purifying her setup were immediately tangible.
“It made me a better guitar player,” Fish said. “And it made me think you really should be able to do both [playing with pedals and without]. Shit does happen! Sometimes, you get to a festival and you get up there and nothing is working, and you’ve just got to get up there anyway!”
Fish went on to add that Faster producer Martin Kierszenbaum echoed her desire for tonal simplicity, leading to her to mostly use “an SG into a Deluxe and a Super Reverb" for the album.
“I’ve had records before where I have had 15 different amps in the room,” says Fish. “And all my pedals out there, and all the guitar options, and you sit there and you tweak it and you change it. But really, when you find something that sounds good and feels good, that’s your personality.”
To pick up a copy of Faster, head this way.
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Jackson is an Associate Editor at GuitarWorld.com and GuitarPlayer.com. He’s been writing and editing stories about new gear, technique and guitar-driven music both old and new since 2014, and has also written extensively on the same topics for Guitar Player. Elsewhere, his album reviews and essays have appeared in Louder and Unrecorded. Though open to music of all kinds, his greatest love has always been indie, and everything that falls under its massive umbrella. To that end, you can find him on Twitter crowing about whatever great new guitar band you need to drop everything to hear right now.