w/ Mary Timony
Who are you, and what do you do?
Mary Timony here. I’ve been in a bunch of bands and also made solo records. Right now I play guitar and sing in Ex Hex. I live in DC and have a cat named Burrs.
What hardware do you use?
The guitars in my life:
For years I played only one guitar at shows – a 1966 Fender Jazzmaster. The finish was stripped, which must have been one of the reasons I was drawn to it. I tend to like gear that is a little messed up - guitars with personality and a story. I guess it just makes me feel more creative. I learned to play on an acoustic guitar that was cracked and was missing a lot of frets. Entire sections of the neck all played the same note and while I’m sure it sounded terrible, I thought it was pretty cool and wrote a hundred angsty songs on it when I was a kid.
Even though I rarely played anything but my Jazzmaster, I ended up collecting a lot of guitars along the way. A bright green 1964 Epiphone Sorrento, a ’88 PRS, a Japanese Fender Mustang with racing stripes, a Silvertone bass, a cool custom gold Mulhauser made by my friend Chris…
When Ex Hex started a few years ago I bought a 1977 Les Paul Special with P90s. Before Ex Hex I was using alternate tunings and my playing had a lot of drone-y melodies moving around the neck, sometimes using just a few strings at a time. When writing for Ex Hex, I found myself in standard tuning and using straight up bar chords – the kind of stuff that needs to be loud and thick sounding and P90s were in order.
A few weeks ago, I got a sparkly white Koll Duo Glide made by Saul Koll in Portland and It’s easily the best sounding guitar I’ve ever owned. I worked closely with Saul to put together a guitar that combined the best parts of my favorite instruments with his expertise and craftsmanship. A Jazzmaster tremolo, a Mastery Bridge, a chambered body, block inlays, and for the first time… humbuckers. It’s the kind of guitar that’s hard to put down.
The most magical guitar I’ve ever owned is a beat up ‘60s Silvertone that someone left in the group house I was living in during college. It’s one of those guitars that came in a hard case with a built in amplifier. I have no idea who left it there (hopefully they’re not reading this) but it’s the guitar that I’ve written the most songs on. I rarely plug it in and change the strings only as they break. It’s scratched, dirty, and has never been set up. I don’t even know what it sounds like amplified -- probably not great, but something about it feels right. It just has song mojo.
The pedals on my board are always changing depending on the songs I’m working on, or what band I’m playing in.
Lately, I’ve been playing with a stripped down pedal board and focusing on getting a good tone from my amp. I go through phases with pedals. There’s something about having a lot of pedals that seems like a crutch to me right now, but that probably has everything to do with the music I’m making.
Here are the pedals that are on my board right now:
Fuzzy Logic by Magnetar (awesome)
Some all time faves:
Mellekko Diabolic (love it)
Ibanez Flanger (modified to self oscillate in a crazy way)
DigiTech Whammy Wah (I wrote an entire record using one setting on this pedal)
In Ex Hex I play through an Orange AD30 into a Orange cabinet with two 10” speakers.
And what software?
My fave plug ins are:
a bunch of microphones, and a few different kinds of pre amps, but I guess that is classified as hard wear
What would be your dream setup?
I’ve been dreaming about taking Lute lessons. So, for now, Lute is my dream set up!
By Mary Timony, distributed under a Creative Commons CC-BY license.
If that’s how you’re listening to music—you’re only ripping yourself off.
I am consensually working these long-ass, impossible hours to be paid in less money, but more freedom.
This independent creative life has myriad simultaneous jobs, no days off, no assurance of security and requires extreme self-discipline.