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How To Sound Like James Bay

It’s an understandable request to want to sound like one of the most successful male solo artists to emerge out of the UK in recent years, but we’re not convinced simply donning a hat and growing your hair a bit will result in the kind of dreamy acoustic sound that James is able to produce. It’s also probably worth mentioning that he’s a total guitar head who has a pretty serious collection – this list will detail only a few of them!
It goes without saying that it takes more than just equipment to achieve the sound of a globally famous pop-rock star, but we can give you a few headers to help you on the way to achieving his signature sound with some great products we’ve put together for you.
Editors Note: I’m sorry to say we don’t actually sell hats or skinny black jeans. You’ll have to figure that out for yourselves, I’m afraid.
1) Epiphone AJ-220S Vintage Sunburst – £145
EA22VSNH3James Bay actually uses something a little pricier than this little chap to our left – he uses a Gibson J-185 which will set you back a pretty hefty £1K + price tag. This lovely guy will cut that price down by 90% and still deliver that lovely warm tone you’d associate with James Bay.
The AJ-220S’s balanced, smooth tone will make other acoustic players who have spent much more on their Guitars wish they had gone to Epiphone instead. Like all our Epiphone acoustics, the AJ-220S is legendary for being easy to set up and for staying in tune – so no matter how much playing time you have, it’s always ready to look AND sound great.
2) Tanglewood: TWD1 Resonator Guitar – Sunburst £399.00
Known for it’s bluesy beginnings, the resonator was brought into fashion by acts like Josh Graves and Phil Leadbetter. Bay has brought this into his playing because of it’s instantly recognisable plucking sound. Here we’ve broken down some stats for you on the make-up of this model to give you an idea where that price tag comes from – and trust us, in this instance, you get what you pay for:

  • Top: Spruce
  • Back: Mahogany
  • Sides: Mahogany
  • Neck (Material): Mahogany
  • Fingerboard: Rosewood
  • Bridge: Chrome
  • Binding (Top): ABS Black & Ivory
  • Binding (Side): ABS White
  • Nut (Width): ABS White (43mm)
  • Machine Heads: Gold Die Cast
  • Strings: Bronze Light

3) Epiphone: Les Paul Special II (Vintage Sunburst) £145.00
This work-horse of a guitar accompanies James Bay wherever he goes on tour – it’s renowned for it’s hardiness and consistency when going through a grueling tour schedule. When it comes to long lasting guitars James has this to say:
“I was loving that guitar and it had these funny little old pickups and some changed parts on it like brand new tuning pegs, so it was a bit of a ‘Frankenstein’ but it sounded great, man. That thing felt a bit like a toy guitar and it was definitely in that slightly Jack White kind of vein”.
4) Yamaha: THR 10C Blues Desktop Amplifier £248

This little guy packs a heck of a punch in terms of desktop amplification – it also looks pretty sweet and comes at an extremely reasonable price considering the power of the sound.
“More than a sound, it’s a feeling – the THR10C is the new boutique model, and takes the personal amplifier concept to a new level of audio fidelity. The finest tube amps respond to a player’s every touch, with picking dynamics and playing style adding as much to the tone as your guitar and pickups.”

  • Amp Types: Deluxe, Class A, US Blues, Brit Blues, Mini Bass, Acoustic, Flat
  • Effects: Chorus, Flanger, Phaser, Tremolo, Delay, Delay/Reverb, Spring Reverb, Hall Reverb *Compressor, *Noise Gate – using THR editor only
  • EQ: Tone
  • 5 User Presets
  • Chromatic Tuner
  • Connections: Input (Standard Mono)
  • Speakers: 2 x 8cm Full Range
  • THR Editor
  • Rated Output: 10W (5W + 5W)
  • AC/Battery Power (Adapter Included)
  • Weight: 2.8kg
  • Accessories: USB Cable, Stereo Mini Cable

5) MXR: Carbon Copy – Bright Delay Guitar Effects Pedal £149.00

In terms of his pedals James Bay has always been somewhat of a minimalist:
“No, I don’t have many. I have been using an MXR Carbon Copy delay because I wanted a simple decent go-to delay pedal and I like the modulation button on it. There are loads of great delays, but I can only get so deep or else I’ll fall into this endless cycle of options”.
6) MXR: M169 Carbon Copy Analogue Delay Pedal £139.00

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