Lindsay Ell by Jessica Wardwell

Lindsay Ell is in the midst of writing and recording her debut full-length album, and she can’t wait to release the new tunes to the world.

“I’ve been doing music ever since I could talk but have never released a full official album, so this is my debut album!” she told Gibson.com. “As much as I’ve released singles, I’m so excited to show everybody this new music I’m working on. I moved to Nashville five years ago, and it’s a journey and discovery to find that sound as an artist.”

Amid recording sessions, Ell spoke with us about her favorite guitars (Les Pauls and Hummingbirds, all the way) and what it’s like being a young female country artist who plays a mean lead guitar.

When did you first start playing guitar, and when did you know you had a knack for it?

My first instrument was piano. I was learning classical piano at age eight, but it was a lot cooler to play Shania Twain on my guitar than classical piano. My dad loves classic rock, and I picked it up. My first song I learned on guitar was “Stairway to Heaven.” As a songwriter and singer, a lot of my inspiration came from country. I started writing songs at 10 years old, and that was all country stuff.

At 26, you’re the youngest mainstream country artist playing electric lead guitar right now.

Yes, that’s crazy! It’s been such an incredible time, especially in country music for females. I feel it’s a great time for female country artists, and there are a lot of great female guitar players. I’m really excited to lead the whole pack.

What makes a great lead guitarist?

My favorite players are because of feel. You can look at guys like B.B. King and Buddy Guy. I was able to tour with Buddy when I was 18. Standing side stage and watching him play, he’s one with that guitar. It’s so much a feel thing. I feel like I have an added bonus, because as a singer and songwriter, I get to go up there and sing songs, but the fact I can play guitar on top of that is like another voice. You can say so much.

Who have you looked up to as a guitarist?

Bonnie Raitt was a huge inspiration to me growing up, as well as Sheryl Crow, who didn’t play lead guitar but was a big bass player and played rhythm stuff. Both of those women carried class and musicianship. They started a foundation for the rest of us. Now, when I wanting to do some of these crazy things, those ladies have laid the groundwork.

Lindsay Ell by Jessica Wardwell

You strum a range of Gibsons, from Hummingbirds to Les Pauls.

I love Hummingbirds! My main electric is my goddess Les Paul. I’ve been playing that for 10 years. I play a slew of them. Picking the right guitar is a huge part of our tone. I love335s, too. I also play my Midtown at a lot of live shows. It’s great finding that happy medium between my electric and my hollow body.

What guitar do you play the most live?

Live, I probably use Les Pauls the most. I started playing with them in my late teens and found this sweet spot. There’s such a darkness to a Les Paul that you can’t get from other makes, and you can brighten it up in other ways. Having that mix of sounds frees me up stylistically. Most of my Les Pauls are chamber, so they’re light, and that piece of mahogany just becomes a part of me.

What’s your favorite acoustic guitar?

Hummingbirds. You can never go wrong with them. I like smaller bodies, too, because being a smaller girl, sometimes those huge body guitars sound amazing but are hard to get my arm around. Gibsons have been in my family for years. Gibson is a part of my family!

Thanks for the chat, Lindsay! Is there anything else you’d like to say?

I’m a social media fanatic, so if anybody wants, contact me on Twitter at @lindsayell or Instagram at @LindsayEll!

Photos by Jessica Wardwell