Jennifer Batten: “My pedalboard is about simplicity… the funny thing is I don’t even really like pedals”

The former Michael Jackson guitarist likes to keep her ‘board as simple as possible.

Jennifer Batten performing live

Credit: Alberto Gandolfo/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

When it comes to pedals, the guitar world seems split down the middle. Some guitarists swear by them, and make it their life’s mission to collect as many as possible, while others are content getting the tones they need out of minimal equipment.

And in the case of Jennifer Batten – former Michael Jackson guitarist and preeminent player in her own right – she sits in the latter group.

In a new interview with Guitar World, Batten discusses her pedalboard, and explains why she likes to keep things as simple as possible.

“My pedalboard is about simplicity,” she says. “Weight is also huge because 99 percent of my gigs involve getting me on a plane. I also need functionality. But the funny thing is I don’t even really like pedals.

“I got into them when I started doing clinic tours for DigiTech in the ’90s. Since then, I’ve used them, but constantly stomping on different pedals to get what I need is still bonkers.

But despite the fact she doesn’t “really like” pedals, she concedes that some are needed to get her show on.

On her current pedalboard setup, she says she has a D’Addario XPND ‘board, which houses a BluGuitar AMP1 Mercury Edition, MeloAudio MIDI Commander, MXR M293 Mini Booster – which gives her “a little extra” during solos – a Line 6 EX-1 Expression Pedal and a Boss stereo volume pedal. There’s also a Line 6 HX Stomp XL multi-effects pedal for good measure.

“As simple as my ‘board is, the cabling is not,” she goes on. “I’ve got cabling going between everything, and I colour-code it all to keep it straight. And I always take a spare snake in case a cable goes out. If I lose one of the cables, I have no time to troubleshoot it. So I slam a whole new colour-coded snake in when that happens.”

Asked which unit on her pedalboard she’d pick out of all the others if she had to put on a show with only one, she replies: “That’s a trick question, because I need that BluGuitar AMP1; otherwise, there’s no sound. But assuming I’ve got that, it’d be the Line 6 HX Stomp XL, because it has everything under the sun.

“The way I can route everything through that is so powerful. It’s almost like a preset pedalboard on its own since it can be kicked up to eight effects simultaneously, with tons of presets and nerdy guitar stuff.”

Last year, Jennifer Batten claimed her being a woman prevented her from auditioning for Ozzy Osbourne back in the day.

“I know my audio got to the right people, and I didn’t even get a chance,” she said. “Looking back, it’s a super macho gig, and they probably wouldn’t even consider a female for that…[However,] if it was the same thing today, I think it’d be a whole different story.”

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