Australian Guitar - - Feature -

In a three-piece band with no bassist, you’re go­ing to need some pretty tasty gui­tar work to fill out the sound – and the key, as Brownstein learned, was to tune down to C#.

She later told Rolling Stone: “It’s one-anda-half steps be­low stan­dard tun­ing, which cre­ates a sour­ness and a dark­ness… So even when we’re get­ting to­ward some­thing with a lit­tle bit of catch­i­ness or pop sheen, there’s this un­der­ly­ing bit­ter­ness to it.”

That was how Tucker got her unique sound as the leader of Heav­ens To Betsy, of whom Brownstein was an ob­ses­sive su­per­fan; when they formed Sleater-Kin­ney in 1993, they were equally ob­ses­sive in work­ing to find the gaps in each other’s parts. As the band de­vel­oped, their roles would some­what set­tle – while never hard-and-fast, Tucker usu­ally plays the meat of the song and Brownstein does the rest.

Their unique bass-free sound also had cer­tain ad­van­tages for record­ing. As fre­quent pro­ducer John Good mason said of record­ing their break­though third al­bum, Dig Me Out, “The awe­some thing about hav­ing no bass player is that you can make the gui­tars sound as big as you want. Usu­ally, you have to clear all that room out so you can hear the bassline. With no bass there, you can just go for gi­ant gui­tar sounds.”

Axe-lovers, take note.

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