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Samantha Fish says ditching her pedals “made me a better guitar player”

Samantha Fish
(Image credit: Tim Mosenfelder / Getty)

Is there such a thing as too many guitar pedals? Many sage players maintain that tone is all in the fingers, and it seems Samantha Fish would agree. The guitarist and vocalist says she made the call to lose her “massive” pedalboard five years ago, reaping the playing benefits of a simpler setup. 

In a new interview with MusicRadar, the guitarist and vocalist says, “I did away with pedals, probably about five years ago. I wasn’t using anything, just going straight into an amp. Before that, I had this massive pedalboard but I realised 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 makes it clear that she has gradually added some stompboxes back onto her 'board, she insists the benefits have been huge, not just in terms of her playing, but also in preparing for live calamities.

“It made me a better guitar player,” says Fish. “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’s new album Faster (due September 10) has been produced by Lady Gaga collaborator Martin Kierszenbaum, who she says also encouraged her to commit to simpler tones – mostly “an SG into a Deluxe and a Super Reverb”. 

“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.”

Fish has so far debuted three tracks from Faster, including Twisted Ambition, Crowd Control, and Better Be Lonely. If you like what you hear, you can pre-order Faster here.

Matt Parker

Matt is a freelance journalist who has spent the last decade interviewing musicians for the likes of Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, MusicRadar, NME.com, DJ Mag and Electronic Sound. In 2020, he launched CreativeMoney.co.uk, which aims to share the ideas that make creative lifestyles more sustainable. He plays guitar, but should not be allowed near your delay pedals.