Guitarist Nikki Stringfield (USA) plays along some of the biggest names in the game, while creating her own unique tones on her solo projects.
Nikki Stringfield is a highly sought after guitarist. Already touring with Iron Maiden tribute band, “The Iron Maidens“, Stringfield also performs with “Heaven Below” – a band that features Union Underground’s Patrick Kennison – in addition to writing and producing her solo material.
On top of all these projects, Stringfield also lends her string-bending skills to the world’s only female Journey tribute act Sheclipse, highlighting her popularity within the hard-rock, touring community.
Switching between different projects requires a certain amount of dexterity and an awareness of sound. To achieve this flexibility Stringfield uses a profiling amp on the road and in the studio, to get the required tone and style that each project requires.
“My Kempfer Profiler makes touring so much easier because of its size and weight, but you still have your consistent, monstrous tones every single show,” Stringfield states when asked why she uses the amplifier. “It’s the most reliable, versatile piece of gear I’ve ever owned, and I don’t know what I’d do without it.”
With a new album out later this year, we sat down with Stringfield to find out how she can switch between different projects while using a modern profiling amp to achieve such stylistic results.
Hi Nikki, great to have you on our blog! Let’s jump right in: How did you start making music?
“For as long as I can remember I’ve always wanted to create and perform. My parents were both into rock and metal; my dad played guitar and my mom took me to concerts. I just remember looking at the musicians onstage and thinking, ‘Hey, I can do that!’ Before I started performing, I bought a small interface and started trying to write and record on my own while I was in college. My life now revolves around music, and I don’t know what I’d do without it.”
How do your different bands vary in terms of your guitar sound and the gear you use to get that sound?
“I use my Kemper in the studio and take it everywhere I go. To get those classic Maiden tones I’ve been using the ENGL Powerball profile, although I do have a hint of my own tones in there as well.
My solo material and Heaven Below, have pretty similar sounds, for which I tend to use the Friedman profiles. I haven’t dialed in a new bank yet for the Journey [Sheclipse] songs, but I’m really looking forward to getting some new tones for that. It still amazes me that I can get all this versatility from one guitar amp.
I use my signature Schecter guitar for all my live shows as well, and a Schecter seven-string for some of my solo material and for Heaven Below. For my signal chain, I go from my Shure GLXD6 wireless into the Kemper. When I’m home and can use my own gear, I go through a Marshall 2X12 Silver Jubilee cabinet. Depending on the venue, I’ll either go direct or mic’d, or both.”
How do you shape your tone for a recording session in the studio vs. your live sound?
“The Kemper is whatever you want to make of it. You can either plug in and play and get killer tones, or you can profile and create whatever tone you desire. I love the endless possibilities. For my live sound I really tried to emulate Iron Maiden with some of my own touches, but in the studio it’s a totally different story. We tweak tones depending on the song and project.
I’ve played on a song that needed a beautiful clean, bluesy tone which is unusual for me. We spent a while dialing in that perfect tone, and I used a custom Strat for that. I believe we used seven-eight different guitars on my upcoming album. Lots of time is spent getting different tones in the studio.”
Is there something particular you enjoy about recording in the studio?
“I love the entire process of creation. Having an idea in your head and seeing and hearing it come to life is unlike anything else. And I love going back and listening to the rough demos after the song if finished to see how much it has grown and changed. We always have a lot of fun doing the guitar overdubs and fills at the end. It’s amazing how much the little things can really add to the song!”
What role does modern equipment, like your amp profiler, play in all of this? Do you use a traditional guitar cab with the profiler, or how do you get your guitar signal loud?
“When I’m onstage, I always use a cab since our other members use cabs as well. However, if everyone was on amp profilers, I’d love to just go direct. The sound is so clear and full that way in the front of house. But for now, we mix modern with old school. Everyone in Heaven Below uses Kempers live, but we’re still using cabs there as well.”
What does your setup currently look like?
“I have a little home studio where I recorded my rough demos. I actually just use Garage Band since it’s super simple through a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 interface, amp profiler, monitors and headphones. Then we take it to Patrick Kennison’s [Heaven Below] home studio for the final versions. Drums are recorded elsewhere, but all bass, guitars, and vocals are recorded in Patrick’s studio through Logic and Digital Performer. From there we send off to an outside studio for mixing and mastering.”
What can we expect to see from you in the near future?
“There’s a lot going on for the rest of 2023. I’ll be releasing my upcoming album, Apocrypha later this year. I plan on having an album release show to finally play my first solo show and I can’t wait. We’re working on a new Heaven Below album, which will hopefully be released this year as well. I’ll have my first show with Sheclipse in August, and The Iron Maidens are touring heavily throughout the year! We’ll be hitting Australia and Canada next, so, lots of exciting things to come.”
Exciting, indeed! Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us and all the best for all your projects.