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November 21, 2005 | Author: Greg Phillips

OrianthicropFor a start Orianthi is an official Paul Reed Smith guitar endorsee and in 2004 was invited to perform at that prestigious guitar maker’s 20th anniversary celebrations. She has traded guitar licks on stage with Steve Vai, Carlos Santana and Dave Hole. Santana once said that Orianthi is “an angel that can play guitar… a lady who has an incredible future”, and saw enough potential in her to have her signed to his personal management company. The Australian music products industry was recently introduced to Orianthi’s amazing fretwork at the Australian Music Association Convention on the Gold Coast, where she opened the Gala Awards Dinner in front of 600 people.

To get a proper perspective on Orianthi, we need to rewind to her childhood. Beginning on piano at the age of three, she then moved to acoustic guitar at six, and soon after studied classical guitar. Delving into her musician father’s record collection, Orianthi was instantly spellbound by  the guitar magic of Carlos Santana’s albums. At age eleven she saw Santana play live and begged her parents for a PRS guitar of her own. When Orianthi turned fourteen, she shipped off a demo of her electric guitar playing  toCarlos along with a bio and some classical guitar pieces. To Orianthi’s surprise,  when the band was in Adelaide, she received a personal invitation from Santana’s management  asking her to come down to sound check and bring her guitar.

“So that was fantastic and I just thought maybe he could sign my guitar” recalls Orianthi. “But then he  invited me on stage and I started jamming with his band, which was very surreal because it was the same line up from the ‘Sacred Fire’ video which I practised to. So I was looking over at Carlos to see where he was playing and at the bass player and trying to see what key they were playing in. There were about 10,000 people in the audience.”

Orianthi  always seems to have had a clear vision of where she wanted to go with her music. Not only had she sent a demo to Santana, which paid off handsomely… she also sent similar recordings to Paul Reed Smith. Fate took another valuable turn when Carlos played the Adelaide footage to Paul Reed Smith. Smith needed no more encouragement to invite Orianthi to play at the PRS booth at the US trade show NAMM and sign her as an official endorsee. He then followed that up the next year with a second invitation to appear at the 20th anniversary celebrations, where she met more guitar legends like Al Dimeola and Dave Navarro.
”I’m on the PRS website under ‘O’ which is very, very cool. I don’t know how to explain it, I just love their guitars.” said Orianthi of her coup.

orianthiportraitshotInspired by what she had already achieved at such a young age, Orianthi set about fine tuning her guitar skills, taking on vocal lessons, seriously concentrating on songwriting and fronting a cover band for the stage experience. In the meantime Santana management decided to take Orianthi under their wing and sign her to their stable, with a view to obtaining a  record deal in the not too distant future. After her Gold Coast  AMAC performance her keen US management was in constant contact with the Australian Music Association to gauge how she went.
While at AMAC, Orianthi was keen to talk about her prized PRS guitar and the other gear she uses to create her sound, which not surprisingly is flavoured with a Santana-like tone.

“I play a PRS Custom 22. I learned on a Custom 24. It was set for a country guitarist, so it had a really high action. It had tens (string gauge) so it was kind of hard to play, I really had to work at it. I think it worked well for me in the end because picking up other guitars now, it’s easier to play them. So if you begin with heavier gauged strings on an acoustic you really work the muscles in your hands. I use 9’s now. I’m using a Marshall amp here. I don’t normally use Marshalls but the one I’m using is awesome, a TSL100, it has a really great sound. I like to just plug in and play, I don’t use a lot of effects. At home I use a Hughes and Kettner and in the states I use Bogner. With my effects, usually I’ll use a delay, some reverb, a Vox Wah or Morley Two.

Orianthi possesses all the ingredients to take her talents to the world stage. A little more stage exposure, the right backing band, and some strong songs behind her will make her near unstoppable. As for what she wants in her music life, I’ll leave the last word to Orianthi.

“I guess to be able to tour the world and have people buy my albums and liking my music would be awesome. Also I’d like to be able to get more girls to play guitar. I think with a girl playing electric guitar, sometimes it’s seen a bit like a guy doing ballet. All the people I learned guitar from have been guys. There are some great female players like Bonnie Raitt and Jennifer Batten but very few. Being promoted as a bubble-gum type artist that has one hit and it’s all over is not something I want to do. I want a long career. I want to continue to play guitar and have as much guitar in there as possible in a commercial song without being too indulgent.”

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