Known as one of the most critically acclaimed female guitarists of our day, Anne Erin Clark who goes by the moniker of St. Vincent and sometimes simply “Annie”, has a revolutionary sound and style that is avant-garde in texture and ambiance. Her sound contains a jagged edge with a rugged feel as it grinds out gritty chords, placing fans in an electronic silo with electrifying interference and tormenting reverbs that haunt listeners infinitely. On the other hand she can also kick out a deep blues style tune indicating her diverse level of performance. After a rendezvous Polyphonic Spree and Sufjan Stevens, the gifted guitarist has embarked on a journey that has left fans asking the question:

“how does she do it?”

 

History reveals that there are few electric guitarists that eclipse time with rare distinction; able to be imitated but never duplicated. St. Vincent is one such musician that rouses such curiosity among avid fans, followers and media gurus, intriguing audiences with alienesque performances and exceptional sound effects. As one might expect, such a labyrinth of sound is not easy to achieve. Many inquisitive minds have taken an interest in the gear behind St. Vincent’s signature sound. Unlike many musicians who shroud their recipes to success with vague utterances, St. Vincent has spoken candidly about the gear that has helped to articulate her unmistakable style.

Annie, the niece of jazz player Tuck Andress was described by Premier Guitar as an “ultra-badass” player and every bad-ass player needs a custom weapon to carry out massive damage. St. Vincent’s weapon of choice? A 1960s Harmony Bobkat. A surprisingly modest figure of yesteryear, the Harmony Bobkat was sold by Sears Roebuck. A rare find in the modern market, the Bobkat includes dual golden-tone pick ups, adjustable vintage polepieces and a Type “G” or “W” vibrato. St. Vincent uses .011s for tuning and favors the tremolo arm. As a go-to guitar, St. Vincent is known for keeping at least 3 of these handy for performances.

Harmony Bobkat

To tweak her sound to achieve the grizzly distortions and chaotic riffs that she is known for, St. Vincent also rigged up a 1980s Hagström Super Swede, another vintage model electric guitar that is known for it’s H-Expander Truss Rod which allows for a solid neck making it more resistant to wear. It includes a Hagstrom Resinator fret board material that allows greater sustain and balanced tones.

St. Vincent augments her sound using a 70s Fender Princeton Amp for studio work. A mutli-player instrumentalist, she utilizes several pedalboards and operates them using an RJM Mastermind and remote keyboard player. In order to capture a mass of cosmic and eccentric sounds, she relies on an Elecro-Harmonix Cathedral Reverb pedal. Having received an award for Guitar Player Magazine’s Top Editor Pick, the Electro-Harmonix Cathedral Reverb is known for providing high-quality verbs.

Fender Princeton amp

Just as top manufacturers build guitars with the world’s greatest musicians in mind, for St. Vincent’s live performances, Nice Rack’s Mike Vegas developed a custom board for St. Vincent with all the bells and whistles needed to carry a flawless tune. She relies on the use of many different petals to tweak her sound but, has found solutions that enable her to focus solely on performing rather than maneuvering the floor to gain access. Two key pieces of equipment that are packed in her rigs are a MasterMind Midi Amp Pedal Controller and an Eventide stompbox that transports tempo changes through strategically placed midi jacks. St. Vincent’s rig also includes a ZVex Mastotron Fuzz Guitar Effects, a fuzz effects pedal that controls volume, tone, pulse through various controls. The set-up which captures her musical genius also includes a Death By Audio Interstellar Overdriver which works to control the drive output producing anything from warm sounds to more aggressive expressions.

ZVex Mastotron Fuzz Guitar Effects

To handle shift pitching a Boss Super Shifter was also added to the rig. Utilizing a basic knob system, the Super Shifter allows pitch shifting, detunes, and harmonizes along with providing tremolo arm effects. Her tricked out kit was also comprised of True Bypass Series wiring for special effects, a Voodoo Lab Pedal Power 2 Power Supply which is known for “isolating” output, enabling players to power-up their guitars efficiently. Additional customizations included a Nice Rack Tap Tempo Switch, Albeton Live Rig for added sound effects and percussive elements. The package was finished off with silent tuning options and Moog expression pedals which are used for keyboards and synths perfect for Clark who is known known for being a multi-instrumentalist.

Nice Rack Tap Tempo Switch

St. Vincent, who has shared her techniques and systems with fans on YouTube and in interviews demonstrates the gravity of electric guitar accessories in executing the best performance. Her expansive use of multiple pedal options with simplified controls allows her to move freely without having to excessively manipulate different elements to change tones, tempos and pitch. With seemingly basic knobs and easy access through midi output, she is able to deliver a brilliant performance and unparalleled sound.


Credit: Guitar Moves

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