Jennifer Batten Interview
The 80’s was the time of the male dominated ‘Shred’ genre of Guitar Playing, but with one notable exception……… The fleet-fingered and digitally dexterous Jennifer Batten.
Jennifer was born in Upstate New York. She got her first Guitar at age 8, having been inspired by her sister who already owned one. Other big influences from around that time were The Beatles and The Monkees. At age 9 her Family relocated and she found herself in San Diego, California.
In 1979 Jennifer enrolled at the Guitar Institute of Technology. It was here that she met and became good friends with another aspiring student Steve Lynch (later of Autograph) and it was through him that her interest in the newly practiced form of ‘Two Handed Tapping’ was acquired. Batten took this style and perfected it like no-one else at that time. She later wrote an instructional book on the subject called ‘Two Hand Rock’. Once she graduated from GIT she put herself through a rigorous practice regime whilst, at the same time, she also became a teacher at GIT and played in several local Bands to scratch a living.
Her ‘tapping’ version of John Coltrane’s ‘Giant Steps’ appeared on one of American magazine Guitar Player Monthly’s compilation CD’s. John Stix wrote that it was considered by her peers to be the “scariest and most requested cut on the disc."
At one point, Jennifer was playing in 6 different Bands and covering many genres of music, including Fusion, Funk, Rock and Metal. It was at this time that she was chosen from over 100 other Guitarists to become Micheal Jacksons Guitarist for his upcoming 18 month Tour. Instead of trying to secure a tryout right away, Batten took an uncommon approach, she secured her tryout on the last possible day -- that way, she would have as much time to learn and perfect the King of Pop's repertoire. Her plan worked and she secured her spot touring for the next year and a half.
She prominently appeared in the video for "Another Part of Me" after undergoing an image makeover, which saw her transformed into a peroxide-hairsprayed guitar goddess (she even sported a Mohawk for a spell)
Info by GuitarMasterClass.com
Jennifer Batten was very helpful and more than willing to discuss her Washburn days with me. Enjoy!
Thank you Jennifer. I appreciate your help and willingness to answer some
questions I will try and keep it short and simple (try).
1. Tell us how you got involved with Washburn. To my understanding, you
joined the roster right around the time Grover Jackson went on board in
the early 90s, correct?
I was frustrated that all 7 of my Ibanez guitar necks warped. A builder
told me I just had back luck with necks. Around that time Del Breckenfeld
who was working AR at Washburn enticed me to go to Washburn. (He later left
2. Many of your early Washburn promo photos show you holding a MG113
Performer with a swamp ash body. Was this your main guitar for a while,
and were you involved in the creation process of it?
I had several guitars in the beginning but really settled into what would
become the JB 100 body. It just felt very comfortable from the start. I had
2 of them built for the History Tour and am still using one of them as my
3. Tell us about your Batten signature series in regards to the process
of creating it. How did it come to be?
They sent me the basic guitar and I added the original Floyd Rose trem,
Seymour Duncan JB Jr and Duckbuckers, Roland GK2 synth pickup, and requested
swamp ash as I wanted the lightest guitar possible, and a rosewood neck.
It's a glued sculpted neck with a very comfortable heel. I prefer the short
scale to a Fender scale for the size of my hands.
4. What were some of your other most notable guitars you've played
throughout the years? I see you played the Ibanez throughout some of your
Michael Jackson tours. I visited the Washburn custom shop and seen a
Parker prototype with EMG 81xs which was going to you. How did your
guitars "evolve" over the course of the years?
I started the Bad tour off with Ibanez Saber guitars. Jon Clark and I both
used them. They were very thin necks and bodies. For the Come Together
video, Michael had a dozen guitars brought down from Guitar Center and chose
one he liked the look of, which ironically turned out to be a Jackson.
I had a gorgeous Ibanez with King Tut painted in gold leaf by Pamelina
Hovnatanian (www.pamelina.com) which resides at the pyramid shaped Hard
Rock Café in Myrtle Beach NC.
I also had one I used for many years and even recovered from a a theft which
had Isis painted on it. I can't remember any model numbers of these. That
one also had both Nigel Tufnel and Jeff Beck's autographs on the back!
5. What was your very first guitar?
It was a no name electric which is pictured on the inside cover of my
Momentum CD. My Dad bought it for me when I was 8.
6. Are there any guitars you wish you
Yeah an Ibanez tobacco sunburst George Benson model. I probably wouldn't
even play it but I liked the look and smaller size for a jazz box.
7. Which guitars in your possession hold the most sentimental
value to you?
3 guitars I inherited from my father; a Gibson L 5, an L 4 I used at GIT,
and a Parker bronze acoustic which I've fallen in LOVE with! My main
Washburn has been through MANY battles and stages too, so lots of memories
and funk in that one. I also have my first acoustic my Dad bought me for
Christmas when I was 12--a Gibson ADJ50. That one is well worn and sounds
I'm now in transition and am looking into a lighter guitar so Parker is
ideal but I also want the new modeling technology in it so fingers crossed
I'll have something new this year. I'm playing a lot of acoustic and cannot
take 2 guitars on the road as most of my dates involve flying. Modeling
allows altered acoustic sounds and tunings as well as Strat, Tele, 335, Les
Paul modeling in one guitar. Pretty exciting times to be in!
Thank you Jennifer! We hope to hear more soon.