Tash Sultana is one of those success stories that the music world will never stop loving. Honing her craft over years of busking across the streets of Melbourne, the multi-talented artist has developed a signature roots-inspired guitar style, layering dense, reverb-heavy loops in conjunction with ethereal vocals and impressive beatboxing abilities. After a live video of her performing her now-signature tune 'Jungle' went viral last year, Sultana has enjoyed global success, touring non-stop throughout 2017 and building a solid fanbase as she continues to release her own self-produced music. With new single 'Mystik' bouncing about the airwaves in anticipation of her huge upcoming Australian tour, we take a look at the plethora of Fenders and stompboxes that skyrocketed Tash Sultana to international acclaim.
Like most people, there’s a good chance you first saw Tash Sultana when you were scrolling through your newsfeed one day and happened upon her viral performance of ‘Jungle.’ Throughout the video, Sultana bops about her bedroom, stacking layers strumming away on an Olympic White Fender Jazzmaster with a tortoise shell pickguard, which you can see above.
It also looks like Sultana owns another Jazzmaster, decked out in a Seafom Green finish, which is used sporadically for live performances and can be seen in pictures from her busking days.
FENDER ’72 REISSUE THINLINE TELECASTER
One of Sultana’s main touring guitars, this Fender Telecaster is a semi-hollow 70’s reissue with a natural finish and maple fretboard, and fitted out with two fat-sounding Fender Wide Range humbuckers.
FENDER JIMI HENDRIX SIGNATURE STRATOCASTER
In a recent performance for Rolling Stone, Sultana can be seen shredding away on a Fender Jimi Hendrix Signature Stratocaster, modelled with a reversed headstock and slanted pickups in tribute to the famous maple fretboard ’68 model played by Hendrix at Woodstock.
FENDER RICHIE KOTZEN SIGNATURE TELECASTER
Acquired from Melbourne’s GH Music last year, Sultana uses this Richie Kotzen Tele as another touring guitar. Distinguished by its gold hardware and DiMarzio Twin Blade bridge pickup, it looks like Sultana swapped out the original pickguard in favour of a tortoiseshell guard, which appears to be the only significant modification to the guitar.
EPIPHONE LES PAUL CUSTOM PRO
If you ever spotted Tash Sultana busking around Melbourne’s Bourke Street mall before she became a global sensation, you might have seen her rocking this bad boy. A higher end Epiphone model, the Custom Pro offers all of the same features of a Gibson Les Paul Custom for a whole lot less dough, making it a viable option for musicians on a budget.
MATON SRS70/C 12 STRING
Similar to the style of fellow Aussie guitar virtuoso John Butler, Sultana plays a Maton SRS70/C 12 string tuned to Open C on her track ‘Blackbird.’ Discussing the piece with Premier Guitar, Sultana confessed that she, like Butler, only plays with 11 strings on her Maton. “It just breaks,” she says. “It is the most common string that I break. If it’s broken, I won’t put it back on. I don’t really care.”
Sultana also tours and records with an Epiphone MM-50E Mandolin, featuring a NanoMag pickup system with the controls laid into the pickguard of the folk instrument.
In the studio, Sultana tends to rely on the tones of four different amps, often simultaneously, using a Vox AC30, a Fender Deluxe Reverb, a Marshall JCM2000 TSL100 head, and an Orange head with a matching cabinet, which can be seen in the above image.
However, due to her layer-heavy live sound, Sultana eschews the use of live amplification, instead plugging straight into the P.A. “I don’t use an amp live,” Sultana told Premier Guitar in an interview conducted earlier this year. “Too much bottom end comes through and amps don’t work with drum samples. It doesn’t sound as good for how I’ve set my stuff up.”
A true effects junkie, Sultana operates an extremely sophisticated effects setup to beef up her guitar chops, with a Boss RC-30 Loop Station at the heart of her rig to layer loop upon loop of sound.
While Sultana is super secretive about the specifics of her signal chain, by looking at a couple of shots of her pedalboard, you can spot a whole bunch of BOSS pedals including three BOSS GE-7 Equalisers, a BOSS DD-7 Delay, a BOSS TE-2 Tera Echo, a BOSS AW-3 Dynamic Wah, a BOSS TR-2 Tremolo, a BOSS ST-2 Power Stack, and the classic BOSS TU-2 Chromatic Tuner. In addition to that, she also runs a Dunlop Crybaby Mini, an EHX Soul Food Overdrive, a TC Electronics Hall of Fame Reverb and a Beta Aivin OC-100 Super Octave for simulating bass lines live.
Vocal manipulation and processed harmonies also pop up throughout most of Sultana's tunes, which tend to be done with two seperate TC Helicon VoiceTone Harmony G units set up for different effect modes, which can be seen on her separate board.
A tried and true classic used by musicians around the world, the familiar sight of a Korg MicroKorg can be spotted in various pictures of Sultana in the studio, presumably used for its array of synth bass and pad tones.
NORD ELECTRO 4
The organ sounds of the Nord Electro 4 can be prominently heard in Sultana's groove heavy track, ‘Murder to the Mind.’
While she also uses a SPD-SX drum-pad and a HPD-15 Percussion Controller for triggering and creating drum loops on the fly (which can be seen all together in the above image), Sultana's core drum sound tends to come from the humble Roland SP404SX sampler, a highly respected and heavily used sampler used by dozens of electronic and hip-hop producers for its intuitive sampling abilities.
(Feature Image: Alicia Fox)