10 questions for Jackie Venson: “The greatest guitar tone I ever heard? Derek Trucks. That guy’s tone sounds like a human voice”

(Image credit: Daniel Cevazos)

Don’t Lie To Me, Austin-born guitarist Jackie Venson’s latest single, lures listeners in with breezy reggae grooves, but a searing overdriven solo confirms the singer-songwriter’s fierce musical intent courtesy of some searing Strat licks.

Venson’s new EP Transitions spans funk, soul and hard-rocking pentatonic riffs, all delivered with her trusty Fender Elite Strat - the guitarist’s genre-hopping dexterity even caught the ear of Gary Clark Jr, who enlisted her support for his 2017 tour.

Here, we caught up with Jackie to hear all about her essential gear and the awkward moment when her piano-playing skills were called upon at the last-minute…

1. What was your first guitar and when did you get it?

“I bought it in 2011 - it was a Fender Mexican Strat with Sunburst finish, rosewood neck and gold hardware.”

2. The building’s burning down - what one guitar do you save?

“Herbie, my white, rosewood 2016 Elite series Fender Strat.”

3. What's the one effects pedal you couldn't do without, and why?

I haven't found a distortion pedal I love more than my Keeley-modded DS-1

“My Boss DS-1, Keeley modded. Because I haven't found a distortion pedal I love more, and I've tried a whole bunch.”

4. Is there a guitar, or piece of gear, that you regret letting go?


5. And what's the next piece of gear you’d like to acquire?

“I'm looking at different types of looper pedals - haven't settled on one yet but I'm looking. I’m also gonna get a little MIDI keyboard controller, 25 key... I'll probably go with the M-Audio one [Oxygen].”

6. What’s your favourite chord, and why?

“B minor 7 with a 9 [7-x-7-7-7-9], because it’s a key that's nice for my voice.”

7. What’s the greatest guitar tone you’ve ever heard?

“Probably Derek Trucks. That guy’s tone sounds like a human voice.”

8. If you could have a guitar lesson from one guitarist, dead or alive, who would it be, and why?

“George Benson, he's so agile. I want to get some exercises from him - also, I'd like to know more about jazz.”

9. What’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to you onstage?

“The power went out at a concert in the Czech Republic and they wheeled an acoustic piano out and I had to play and sing after not working out anything on the piano for a while. My ass was all the way out (metaphorically, of course)!”

10. What advice would you give your younger self about playing the guitar?

“Don't worry so much, just enjoy the ride and keep practising, keep performing live and be sure to love every minute.”

Transcends is out now.

Michael Astley-Brown

Mike is Editor-in-Chief of GuitarWorld.com, in addition to being an offset fiend and recovering pedal addict. He has a master's degree in journalism, and has spent the past decade writing and editing for guitar publications including MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitarist, as well as a decade-and-a-half performing in bands of variable genre (and quality). In his free time, you'll find him making progressive instrumental rock under the nom de plume Maebe.