Nikki Stringfield is a great guitarist with some very impressive credits already to her name and an undoubtedly exciting musical future to come. As one part of the guitar duo in The Iron Maidens, Nikki shreds on Maiden classics all around the world. She also plays in the reactivated Femme Fatale and makes her own music, and Nikki has just been honored with her first signature guitar, the Schecter Nikki Stringfield A-6 FR S. We thought it was time we caught up to talk about the new guitar, her background as a player and her tips for making it in the industry.
What specs did you require for your signature guitar?
I wanted an edgier look so I had to go with the Avenger body shape. One of the major requirements for me was the ultra thin neck since I have pretty small hands, along with the satin finish on the back which really gives you the ability to shred! I also had to have a Seymour Duncan pickup along with the Sustainiac.. it’s such a fun hing to have in your guitar, especially when you’re recording. Also the Floyd Rose was a huge must have so we went with the new Floyd Rose 1500 series.
You’ve selected the Invader humbucker for your guitar. What do you like about that one?
It was a tough decision to make because I’ve had a different pickup in each Schecter I’ve played, and I love them all. I’ve had the Nazgul, Full Shred, JB, the Screamin’ Demon, and I figured it was time to go to the Invader after playing through it a few times. I play music in so many different tunings ranging from E standard to Drop C or sometimes even Drop B so I needed a passive pickup that would really bring out the low end while maintaining clarity. The first time I used it on stage our drummer could totally tell the difference and couldn’t believe how it cut through the mix so much! And the tone you get from recording just speaks for itself. Amazing.
When did you start playing Schecter? You were a Schecter fan prior to working with them, right?
Oh yeah! I got my first Schecter, a Diamond Series Gryphon, when I was around 15 years old… and the rest is history! I’ve been hooked ever since. So, getting to design a signature model was very surreal!
What are you working on musically at the moment, when you’re not tearing heads off with the Iron Maidens?
In addition to the Maidens, I’m playing shows with Femme Fatale, also another all female rock/metal band that was formed in the 80s by Lorraine Lewis, which is a blast! I’ve also been working on some original songs with guitarist Brad Jurjens that are all instrumental which we’ll be jamming at NAMM for a few clinics. I’m really excited to be finishing up an original song that I hope to be releasing very soon that I think really shows who I am as a guitarist.. just me.
What’s your background as a guitarist?
I’m pretty much completely self taught. My dad’s a guitarist so he bought me my first guitar and taught me the basics. I grew up listening to AC/DC, Megadeth, Guns N Roses, and Motley Crue thanks to my parents so that definitely had a huge influence on me. I tried taking a few lessons after a few years to learn the theory behind it but I was in college so something would always come up. I’m from a small town in Texas so I never really had anyone to jam with, but as soon as I moved to Los Angeles I was in two bands within a month. And that’s how it all started I guess!
What are the top 5 albums that have contributed to your guitar style?
Nirvana – Nevermind
Megadeth – Cryptic Writings
Pantera – Vulgar Display of Power
Iron Maiden – Piece of Mind
Avenged Sevenfold – City of Evil
I know this is a weird one, but Nirvana’s Nevermind was a huge influence on me because Nirvana is actually what first got me into playing guitar. I sat down and learned every single song off of that album because I loved the music so much. I was a pretty quick learner, even for a beginner so I moved on pretty quickly and that’s where Megadeth and Pantera come in. Marty Friedman is one of my favorite guitarists and Trust was the first Megadeth album I had so it was a huge influence on me. Dimebag Darrell is also one of my favorites, so it was really hard to pick just one album from Pantera. I think Iron Maiden is pretty self explanatory, haha. I can’t get enough of the dual harmonies, and thats why I love Avenged Sevenfold’s City of Evil album. That’s probably the defining album for me that really made me want to play lead guitar.. it was new, fast, and just so guitar driven. It was different from a lot of the other music coming out at the time and it really inspired me.
Any advice for musicians wanting to make the move to LA who might not know where to start or how to network?
I would say the most important thing to do is network for sure.. go to local shows or anything music related and talk to everyone you can. Also social media is a very powerful tool to get to know musicians around the area. Be sure to put your music out there and know how to market yourself! I started out putting videos on YouTube and building an online presence years ago and that is what eventually got Schecter to see me in the first place before I moved to LA. I went to the NAMM show when I moved here in 2012 and met them personally, and it just kept going from there.
Do you have a particular practice routine or favorite practice tools?
I change it up regularly depending on what I’m working on at the time, but I always run through certain scales or solos when I’m warming up. When I’m learning a difficult solo, or writing one, repetition is key. I’ll just run through it a million times so it’s all just muscle memory.