By Andrew Catania
Young, intelligent, talented, colorful, and high on life, the next-age music sensation, Nikki Stringfield has managed to make herself a household name. With a myriad of accolades to her name, including a Schecter Guitar endorsement and bagging in tremendous praise from the critic’s camp. This Red Oak, Texas native is a sure sign that she’s going places and adding more on her acclaim and well-established fame as she progresses in her career.
She started by attending the University of Texas, graduating with a degree in Radio/TV Film. After interning for Warner Brothers Music, Nikki relocated to Los Angeles to join the band Before the Mourning. With superior guitar skills, Nikki also joined the all-female tribute band The Iron Maidens. The Iron Maidens have featured guitarists such as Nita Strauss, who’s with The Alice Cooper band, and Courtney Cox, who presently shreds with Nikki on the extensive collection of Iron Maiden covers. Since then, she has toured worldwide, joined forces with Femme Fatale, guitarist Brad Jurjens, and shared the stage with many other acclaimed artists. Nikki also won Guitar World’s “Model Search” contest and was featured in the Guitar Review Guide for 2015.
The chronology of her career is a strong validation of the mastery and expertise that she holds, with the riffs, shreds, and chords of her signature Schecter Guitar.
Being extremely busy these days with multiple projects in the pipeline and planning future tours, it was quite a feat getting the “Queen of Strings” for a brief music canvass, but it turned out to be entirely worthwhile as we managed to gain first-hand insights from her about her musical endeavors, the instruments she’s playing, and future aspirations.
Bright, talented, witty, and meticulous as she is, we share the quizzy-conversation as it played out as an informative and thrilling treat for the readers and her fan base. Read on.
You’re becoming a household name with your guitar playing. How did you start playing the guitar?
I started playing guitar when I was 14 years old. My dad had bought my first guitar when I was younger (I can’t remember exactly what age), but I didn’t develop an interest in learning how to play it until I started listening to Nirvana. I bought a tab book of their greatest hits and learned every song and taught myself to play through that. Afterward, I moved on to things like Iron Maiden, Motley Crue, and then I heard Avenged Sevenfold’s City of Evil album. That inspired me to start learning leads and got me into more challenging things. I tried taking a few lessons so I could learn theory, but they weren’t really for me.
What was the first guitar you had?
My very first guitar was a little starter Strat, but the first guitar that I picked out on my own was a Schecter Gryphon Diamond Series guitar. I still have it to this day! That started my obsession with Schecter guitars, and I’ve been in love with them ever since.
Were you in a band during your teens? If so, what kind?
I wasn’t in any bands growing up.. I’m from a small town in Texas, and not many people were in bands or into the music I was. I decided to go to the University of Texas for college because I heard Austin was the “Music Capitol of Texas,” thinking I’d find people there to start something up. But still, nothing happened, so I just kept posting guitar videos online instead. I jammed with a few people just for fun, but the first real band I joined was Before The Mourning when I moved to Los Angeles, and then I started playing with The Iron Maidens shortly after.
How did you get involved with the Maidens?
I met Courtney through the guys in Before the Mourning. They needed a guitar sub for a show, so they asked if I could fill in for a show or two. That ended up turning into a regular thing as Nita, and I traded off shows since we were both in original bands at the time. And eventually, it turned into a full-time position, which is a blast getting to travel so much and play Maiden tunes!
How is it playing alongside Courtney Cox?
It’s always fun! We like to have fun at the shows and make sure we put on a badass show for everyone.
Did you play with Nita Strauss before she left to join Alice Cooper?
Nita and I were both playing the Dave Murray position and rotating out shows, so we never played a full show together. There was one show where she joined us for a few songs, and we did a killer three guitar line up though!
Are you still playing in Femme Fatale?
Yep, still with Femme Fatale! We just played the Monsters of Rock Cruise on the west coast. Hopefully, we’ll get more dates going soon!
How are you enjoying playing with the Maidens?
I love it! I couldn’t be in a band if I didn’t like what I was doing. I’ve always loved Iron Maiden, I get to travel the world with friends, and we still have fun. Plus I’ve got to make so many friends through playing these shows. Can’t beat that!
Let’s talk about your rig. What are you presently using? Does Peavey still endorse you?
I’m using a Schecter Hellraiser 100 amp, which I’ve been using since early 2014 I believe. The tone is amazing! The only thing about Peavey that I still use is the Valveking slant cab until I can get something else. I’ve got a lot of pedals that I use off and on. I have the Seymour Duncan 808 Overdrive and the Palladium Gain Stage Pedal, MXR Black Label Chorus, BBE Sonic Maximizer, BBE Boosta Grande, MXR Carbon Copy Delay, and Boss AutoWah pedals. I switch things out depending on who I’m playing with or what I’m playing.
Schecter Guitars endorse you. You have one sweet signature guitar! Tell me how this came about it.
Thank you!!! It’s indeed a dream come true. I still have to pinch myself haha. Michael Ciravolo, the president of Schecter, just emailed me one day and said he thought it was time to create a signature guitar for me. They had only made a one of a kind green avenger for me about a year before while I was on tour, and people had been asking about it a lot. So I decided to do something similar but still change things up a bit to make it new. When I finally saw it in person, I was speechless!
What kind of strings are you using?
I’ve been using GHS Boomers, 9-42. They’re such a great company, and the strings feel amazing to play!
Did Seymour Duncan approach you?
They contacted me after my signature model came out actually. I’ve always had Seymour Duncan in my guitars, usually a different one in each guitar, and my signature has an Invader. I took a tour of their factory in Santa Barbara, and it was so refreshing to see that everything is made right there at that location. You can’t beat their quality!
Who are your influences?
There’s so many.. I guess the main influences would be Kurt Cobain since he got me into guitar initially, Synyster Gates of Avenged Sevenfold, Dimebag Darrell from Pantera, Marty Friedman and Megadeth, I could go on and on!
What guitarists presently do you listen too?
In addition to all of the above influences, right now I’m listening to Jeff Loomis, Andy James, Per Nilsson of Scar Symmetry, Nick Johnston, Daniele Gottardo.. the list goes on and on!
What are your plans for 2017? Will we see a solo album from you?
I’m hoping to get at least a solo EP out at some point in 2017. I’ve got a few songs in the works right now and can’t wait to get them out there. I know there will probably be a lot of touring with the Iron Maidens as wells, so it looks like it’s going to be a busy year!
You can view Nikki’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/xNikki.Stringfieldx/