Guest Blog: FES Break Down Their Top 5 Essential Pieces of Guitar Gear

Having just released their debut album, With Regards From Home, Leeds-Peterborough band FES have previously received acclaim from the likes of Guitar World, BBC 6 Music and Noizze, and have also wowed crowds at festivals such as Portals Festival and Bad Pond, and supporting LA duo Standards on tour.

Reflecting on themes of grief, loneliness and front-person Pollyanna Holland-Wing’s identity as a young queer woman, with the new album FES showcase their knack for delivering fuzzy, swirling riffs, creating quirky math-pop melodies with a catchy punk-pop energy. With its slick, scuzzy, emotion-rich anthems, With Regards From Home is sure to propel FES further into the stratosphere of music fans’ hearts.

To celebrate the release of the album, we spoke to Pollyanna about her love of her guitar equipment and the five favourite pieces she used on their 2017 single ‘Inside Out’. Read more below and watch a new, awesome ‘play along’ video of Pollyanna playing guitar to the track at the bottom of the feature…

For so many years I’ve always had to borrow equipment. It wasn’t until we started on ‘Inside Out’ that I started my own collection of equipment. It’s been a long journey getting our sound right and finding budget friendly equipment that still has a lot of oomph behind it, but I think I’ve nailed it now!

Marshall DLS 20
I really believe the amp is the most important part of my core guitar setup. I think you can plug a rubbish guitar into a great amp and you’ll be alright. But a great guitar into a crap amp will do you no favours. As well as sounding great, I needed an amp that was going to be slim and light to carry- my Marshall is just that! To help get my sound for ‘Inside Out’, on my amp I have the bass turned to 10 o clock, the mid at 12 and treble at about 1. I love a crisp clean sound from my amp that’ll rock a punch, but I believe it’s important to let the actual bass take charge of that low end. There’s no need to let our sound get muddy.

Stratocaster Guitar
I’ve always been a Tele girl for the most part and I think I even use one for the studio version of ‘Inside Out’. That middle pick-up sounds great on record, and I have no regrets! However, since then I’ve come to love the classic Strat. I can’t go back now! I love the total uniqueness and variety in tone. ‘Inside Out’ uses the middle pick-up which I find has the perfect balance in bass and treble alongside my amp. I think they’re quite complementary of each other. However, being in a three piece it’s imperative to still achieve those big sounds. The Strat definitely takes the cake over the Tele in this regard!

5 Ages Walrus Overdrive Pedal
Okay, so I believe I used the Fulltone OCD in the studio, but damn do I wish I used the ‘5 Ages’. This pedal just can’t be beaten in my eyes. I just love the versatility of it! It has five different types of overdrive which has been so handy when double tracking guitars in the studio. I used to swear by the Fulltone OCD but like many others, I fell out of love with the company and frankly the Ages does everything the OCD did but with so much more flavour. My personal favourite mode to use is the 3rd mode with the gain turned up to 12 o clock. I find that although I pretty much always have the overdrive switched on, I don’t like the sound to get too muddy. In ‘Inside Out’ there’s a lot of chord progressions and chord voicings that are important to not get drowned in overdrive. The major seven chords hold so much emotion in them, I can’t let them get lost.

MXR Micro Amp Pedal
This pedal is great! I don’t use it often but that doesn’t mean it isn’t as important as all my other equipment. I use it for the breakdown at 2:16 in ‘Inside Out’ to thicken out the sound. Like I mentioned earlier, being a three piece it’s important we sound as big as possible with the limited musicians in the band. Utilising pedals is our best bet at doing so. The MXR is straight to the point with one stomper and 1 big dial to control the gain. Bish bash bosh!

Walrus SLO
Gosh, this pedal is so dreamy! The thing I love about the Slo is the added low octave that it adds to reverb tails. This again comes in handy when wanting to create bigger sounds, but I find that it’s not too overbearing. Whilst some reverbs can sound like a huge cathedral, the Slo adds colour without losing itself in massive swirling worlds of reverb. I use this setting live just after the breakdown at 2:42 in ‘Inside Out’.

FES’ new album, With Regards From Home, is out now via Small Pond Records.