Few companies have been quite so successful at getting their guitars into the hands of musicians as Fender with its American Acoustasonic Stratocaster, and the latest player to be impressed by the format is UK soul singer-songwriter and former Prince collaborator Lianne La Havas.
But during a studio session testing the hybrid acoustic-electric with producer GEO, La Havas revealed that we may never have heard any of her trademark lush chord voicings because she was initially discouraged from picking up the guitar as a child.
“I never had any role models that were female playing the guitar – nobody that looked like me,” she reflects. “So I used to think that guitar was just for boys. And I remember rejecting a guitar at the age of about six or seven, thinking, ‘No, that’s just for boys – I can’t do that.’”
Thankfully, La Havas – who released her superlative self-titled album this year – began playing in earnest at the age of 18, inspired by ’80s jazz great Emily Remler, who was hugely influential on her approach to extended chord voicings.
“I found something very addictive about guitar and the muscle memory,” La Havas continues.
“ I just became really obsessed with how the strings feel as you pluck them and the picking style that you choose, and I became obsessed with discovering new styles that could use as many fingers as possible, and the richest chord possible, and then I just put that all together.”
And, as she discovered during the songwriting session at Bermondsey’s The Pool Studio, those innovative voicings turned out to be the perfect fit for the Acoustasonic.
“The Acoustasonic is definitely new to me, but so familiar in a lot of ways,” La Havas muses. “I’m always trying to find the perfect balance of electric and acoustic or hard and soft or rough and smooth – I feel like there’s a perfect middle, and this allows me to do that, so it’s really interesting exploring the guitar.”
And to hear La Havas’s distinctive rhythm style in action – on a Harmony Alden H45 Stratotone, no less – we’d recommend checking out choice cut, Can’t Fight, below.