The silky smooth slide man may raise a few eyebrows with his gear—a hollow, steel-bodied baritone and .017s on a Jazzmaster—but every note and tone he plays sounds just right.
KingTone’s The Duellist is currently Ariel Posen’s most-used pedal. One side of the dual drive (the Bluesbreaker voicing) is always on. But there’s another duality at play when Posen plugs in—the balance between songwriter and guitarist.
“These days, I like listening to songs and the story and the total package,” Posen told PG back in 2019, when talking about his solo debut, How Long, after departing from his sideman slot for the Bros. Landreth. “Obviously, I’m known as a guitar player, but my music and the music I write is not guitar music. It’s songs, and it goes back to the Beatles. I love songs, and I love story and melody and singing, and there was a lot of detail and attention put into the guitar sound and the playing and the parts—almost more than I’ve ever done.”
And in 2021, he found himself equally expressing his yin-and-yang artistry by releasing two albums that represented both sides of his musicality. First, Headway continued the sultry sizzle of songwriting featured on How Long. Then he surprised everyone, especially guitarists, by dropping Mile End, which is a 6-string buffet of solo dishes with nothing but Ariel and his instrument of choice.
But what should fans expect when they see him perform live? “I just trust my gut. I can reach more people by playing songs, and I get moved more by a story and lyrics and harmony, so that’s where I naturally go. The live show is a lot more guitar centric. If you want to hear me stretch out on some solos, come see a show. I want the record and the live show to be two separate things.”
The afternoon ahead of Posen’s headlining performance at Nashville’s Basement East, the guitar-playing musical force invited PG’s Chris Kies on stage for a robust chat about gear. The 30-minute conversation covers Posen’s potent pair of moody blue bombshells—a hollow, metal-bodied Mule Resophonic and a Fender Custom Shop Jazzmaster—and why any Two-Rock is his go-to amp. He also shares his reasoning behind avoiding effects loops and volume pedals.
Brought to you by D’Addario XPND Pedalboard.
Blue the Mule III
If you’ve spent any time with Ariel Posen’s first solo record, How Long, you know that the ripping, raunchy slide solo packed within “Get You Back” is an aural high mark. As explained in a 2019 PG interview, Posen’s pairing for that song were two cheapos: a $50 Teisco Del Rey into a Kay combo. However, when he took the pawnshop prize onstage, the magic was gone. “It wouldn’t stay in tune and wouldn’t stop feeding back—it was unbearable [laughs].”
Posen was familiar with Matt Eich of Mule Resophonic—who specializes in building metal-body resonators—so he approached the luthier to construct him a steel-bodied, Strat-style baritone. Eich was reluctant at first (he typically builds roundneck resos and T-style baritones), but after seeing a clip of Posen playing live, the partnership was started.
The above steel-bodied Strat-style guitar is Posen’s third custom 25"-scale baritone. (On Mule Resophonic’s website, it’s affectionately named the “Posencaster.”) The gold-foil-looking pickups are handwound by Eich, and are actually mini humbuckers. He employs a custom Stringjoy set (.017–.064 with a wound G) and typically tunes to B standard. The massive strings allow the shorter-scale baritone to maintain a regular-tension feel. And when he gigs, he tours light (usually with two guitars), so he’ll use a capo to morph into D or E standard.
Another one that saw recording time for Headway and Mile End was the above Fender Custom Shop Masterbuilt ’60s Jazzmaster, made by Carlos Lopez. To make it work better for him, he had the treble-bleed circuit removed, so that when the guitar’s volume is lowered it actually gets warmer.
"Clean and Loud"
Last time we spoke with Posen, he plugged into a Two-Rock Classic Reverb Signature. It’s typically his live amp. However, since this winter’s U.S. run was a batch of fly dates, he packed light and rented backlines. Being in Music City, he didn’t need to go too deep into his phone’s contacts to find a guitar-playing friend that owned a Two-Rock. This Bloomfield Drive was loaned to Ariel by occasional PG contributor Corey Congilio. On the brand’s consistent tone monsters, Posen said, “To be honest, put a blindfold on me and make one of Two-Rock’s amps clean and loud—I don’t care what one it is.”
The loaner vertical 2x12 cab was stocked with a pair of Two-Rock 12-65B speakers made by Warehouse Guitar Speakers.
Ariel Posen’s Pedalboard
There are a handful of carryovers from Ariel’s previous pedalboard that was featured in our 2021 tone talk: a TC Electronic PolyTune 3 Noir, a Morningstar MC3 MIDI Controller, an Eventide H9, a Mythos Pedals Argonaut Mini Octave Up, and a KingTone miniFUZZ Ge. His additions include a custom edition Keeley Hydra Stereo Reverb & Tremolo (featuring Headway artwork), an Old Blood Noise Endeavors Black Fountain oil can delay, Chase Bliss Audio Thermae Analog Delay and Pitch Shifter, and a KingTone The Duellist overdrive.
Another big piece of the tonal pie for Posen is his signature brass Rock Slide. He worked alongside Rock Slide’s Danny Songhurst to develop his namesake slide that features a round-tip end that helps Posen avoid dead spots or unwanted scratching. While he prefers polished brass, you can see above that it’s also available in a nickel-plated finish and an aged brass.
Following a long road from Saskatchewan to California, this master builder lands in Corona, to painstakingly reproduce Jerry Garcia’s “Alligator’ and other gems.
Like everything in the Grateful Dead’s orbit, each of Jerry Garcia’s stage guitars has been pored over by Deadheads, with data on their usage rivalling baseball-stat-level analysis. Dedicated fans can hear the differences between each of these iconic instruments—not just because of their tones, but in the type of music and playing they inspired. So, it’s only natural that each 6-string has its own subset of fans. Some love to hear and see Wolf and Tiger—custom instruments built by Doug Irwin, both of which have their own merch, including T-shirts, hats, and miniature replicas. And some prefer Garcia’s deep-cut Travis Bean era. A large cadre of others prefer Alligator, the Stratocaster that Graham Nash gave to Garcia as the Dead embraced cleaner, country- and folk-inspired sounds.
Oddly enough, until now, some of the finer details about Alligator and its extensive modifications remained improbably unknown. A quick visual inspection will catch the brass control plate and unique bridge assembly, and maybe even the brass nut. The details of what lies inside, however, have been less reported. So, when Fender set out to create a Custom Shop Jerry Garcia Alligator Stratocaster, master builder Austin MacNutt took on the monumental task of analyzing the finest nuances of the original in order to painstakingly recreate each and every one.
Master builder Austin MacNutt joined the Fender Custom Shop team in March 2022.
Photo by Han-Su Kim
When he took on the project, MacNutt was already familiar with Alligator and some of its unique attributes. “I’ve seen pictures of it,” he says, “but not detailed shots. There’s not a lot of great pictures of it from back in the day.” MacNutt was given one day to spend with the guitar and collect all the necessary data. “That day when we brought it in,” he recalls, “we opened it, and the room was just silent—everyone taking it in for a good minute or two before anyone even touched it. We pulled it out, put it on the table, and started taking it apart. To get to disassemble it is such an honor.”
MacNutt knew he had his work cut out for him. “There’s a lot of strange stuff on it,” he says. “It’s one of a kind, for sure. It was definitely a work in progress, like a test bed, where they’re trying out different things.” He took extensive notes and photos on everything from the guitar’s boost circuit and the unique metal bar that serves as a string retainer, to more refined details, like the scalloping on the brass nut and unique hammer-pattern on the control plate. “I was writing down how thick this thing is, what size this screw is, how long is this screw,” he explains. Surprisingly, when he disconnected the neck joint, MacNutt discovered that Alligator—believed to be a 1957 Strat—was actually assembled by ground-floor Fender employee Tadeo Gomez back in 1955.
“That day when we brought it in, we opened it, and the room was just silent—everyone taking it in for a good minute or two before anyone even touched it.”
Over the course of a couple months, MacNutt set about creating a prototype for a limited edition run of instruments. When we talked in mid-November, the production of those guitars was under way, and MacNutt sat at his computer with a rack of six in-progress Alligator builds behind him. When MacNutt talks about the process, his face lights up. It’s not lost on him that the Alligator model is a full-circle project with deep personal roots.
Growing up in a musical family in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, both of MacNutt’s parents played country music. His older brother is also a guitarist and helped Austin find his way to classic rock when he got started playing around the age of 11. While MacNutt’s first guitar was a Hondo Paul Dean II, it wasn’t the Loverboy guitarist’s signature model that really inspired him. It was his dad’s 1963 Fender Jaguar that was often laying around the house. He says he felt that the Jaguar was special even before he started playing.
MacNutt’s first build was a Tele copy with a Jerry Garcia-style flourish. Here, he works on an actual Fender Telecaster.
Photo by Han-Su Kim
“My dad tinkered on his stuff a lot,” he reminisces. “He worked in a music store. When I was real little, I have faint memories of being in the basement where all the parts are. It was always fascinating to me.” Austin took to tinkering at a young age and, after high school, he decided to attend the Guitar Craft Academy in Hollywood.
During the program, he built his first guitar, a Telecaster-style instrument with some auspicious modifications. He explains, “The bottom horn was kind of like some of Jerry Garcia’s Alembic builds, with the little thumb. Three P-90s, a wraparound bridge, the big Strat headstock on it, ebony build with no face dots. It was a lot of weird stuff. A lot of times, people’s first guitars are filled with strange choices.”
The folks at the Guitar Craft Academy must have noticed something special in Austin’s work, because once he finished the program, they offered him a job. “Before, I was working at a grocery store, saving up money to go there, and I didn’t know what I was gonna do next,” he explains. “At the end of it—honestly, I wasn’t even sure I was gonna stay in L.A.—they offered me a job.”
The painstakingly detailed Custom Shop Jerry Garcia Alligator Stratocaster prototype.
Photo by Han-Su Kim
He found teaching to be a great experience. “It was a perfect opportunity,” he says with a warm, appreciative tone. “Not only did I get to work there, I kind of got to continue my education by continuing to keep the rate at which I was doing all that stuff up.” But that wasn’t the only opportunity that came from working at the Academy.
“We brought Ron Thorn [of L.A.’s Thorn Custom Guitars] in for a day, and he’d go over inlay work—he’s a master of inlay,” he says of the esteemed luthier. The two hit it off and Thorn invited the up-and-comer to join him at his shop. Starting first as a part-time employee, MacNutt eventually moved on after five years of teaching to join Thorn Custom Guitars full time. In the small, dedicated shop, MacNutt gained loads of new experience. “I was resawing wood, fretting, truing boards, picking the wood, gluing body blanks, whatever needed to get done,” he says. “I got to learn a lot of skills under the whole umbrella of guitar building.”
But in 2018, Ron Thorn took a job at Fender and closed his shop. MacNutt moved on to Xotic and also began running his own shop, where he focused on repair work. Along the way, he stayed in touch with his old boss. And when there was a position available in the shop, Thorn gave him a call. “I jumped at the chance,” MacNutt says.
“A lot of times, people’s first guitars are filled with strange choices.”
Last March, MacNutt joined Fender as a master builder and says there have been “whirlwind aspects of it, definitely diving in and just getting the lay of the land.” It’s not lost on him that, like many builders, his first build was a Telecaster copy, and now he gets to build the real thing. “The first one I put my signature on the back of the headstock,” he says, “I had to sit and look at it for a little bit, taking it in.”
By the time we spoke, about eight months later, MacNutt estimated he’d built about 100 Fenders. In the shop, he spends his days bouncing between various builds and says he gets to work on a nice variety of instruments. “It’s a good mix between spec pieces—things I want to build—and something a customer or a dealer has ordered,” he points out.
His favorite spec piece so far was a special one: a copy of his dad’s ’63 Jaguar. “I pitched it to a dealer, and they loved it,” he enthuses, “and they wanted me to go ahead and do it. I had my dad take pictures and send them to me. Nobody else knows that guitar, but it was special to be able to do that.” He adds that it was weird to play a copy of the guitar he’s admired for his entire life. “There’s a few paint chips on the back that I remember noticing when I was a kid. To see the paint chips on there, they’re strange.”
MacNutt and longtime Grateful Dead crewmember Steve Parish take a close look at the Alligator prototype.
Photo by Han-Su Kim
The Alligator project drew on the same inspired, detail-oriented skills. “When that opportunity came up, I knew the guitar,” he exclaims. “Ron pitched it to me, and immediately, I was on board.” While MacNutt was the expert on his dad’s Jaguar, he turned to former Grateful Dead crew member Steve Parish—who made some of the guitar’s modifications—to give his Alligator prototype an enthusiastic thumbs up (and there’s a video to prove it).
Re-creating the iconic Alligator has a unique angle. “To see a vintage Strat like that heavily modified, you’d never see that now,” he says, shaking his head. “But in the early ’70s, it was just an old guitar—‘Let’s hack it up, let’s customize it.’” And reproducing his reproduction is another endeavor. “Up until this point,” he says, “I’ve been building different guitars, and I relic them however I want them to look. Whereas with these, I’ve got a template that I stick to. That’s been a new experience. It’s fun the whole way through.”
Looking ahead, MacNutt sees a lot of builds in his future and is plotting out some new spec pieces. But he feels like the Alligator will loom large for quite some time. “I know that guitar pretty well at this point. I’ll come across a picture of it on a random Instagram post now, and it’s like, ‘Hey, there it is!’ It feels strangely like a part of me now.”
What started in Sacha Dunable's two-car garage has now expanded to include a dozen riff maniacs building impeccable riff machines. Join PG's Chris Kies to go inside these guitar junkies' L.A.-based shop.
Dig into this inside view of the Dunable guitars shop in Los Angeles, conducted by PG’s own Chris Kies and namesake builder Sacha Dunable. It’s a major step up from the two-car garage where the company started in 2012! Dunable grew from making one-off guitars for Sacha and his fellow Intronaut guitarist, Dave Timnick, by generating word-of-mouth about the instrument’s easy playability and biting rock tone. “Before I know it, I was getting orders for guitars,” Dunable says.
Our tour starts in the tonewood storage room: mahogany, limba, maple—mahogany primarily for guitar necks and maple primarily for bass necks. Fretboards are ebony. For bodies, it’s mahogany, limba, and swamp ash. Watch a run of bodies for Dunable’s Gnarwhal model in the saw shop (check out the stunning buckeye burl wood for tops) and eyeball the varieties of raw ebony for fretboards. In the CNC shop, you’ll see how to design a custom guitar and then observe one of Dunable’s two CNC machines in operation. “It’s about the consistency, not the speed,” Dunable assures.
Also, you’ll see that all the final cut and trim work is done by hand, as is the artful sanding. (You’ll eyeball a Yeti being smoothed.) In the neck area, Dunable explains the various scale lengths on the company’s instruments, and how some of their production-run necks are farmed out to Grover Jackson’s Tennessee shop. Frets? Dunable’s come from respected fret-wire company Jescar, and they’re typically nickel extra jumbos. After the necks are glued in place, it’s time for paint prep: removing minor blemishes, etc. A gel wood sealer is part of Dunable’s finishing process, “so you can really feel the wood grain and hear the wood resonate,” Sacha explains. He displays a fresh black rainbow sparkle finish with nitro lacquer and a rose-gold over swamp ash, which really lets the wood grain show. Also, get a look at a beautifully finished Dunable Minotaur, plus a rare 9-string Yeti (with doubled treble strings).
In the assembly shop, it’s time to check out Dunable’s own pickups. They’re double-wax-potted by hand (unless requested otherwise). Some Cave Bear pickups are displayed—the latest in the company’s 10-humbucker line. And the last step is final assembly for Dunable’s roughly 50 guitars shipped per month, and includes custom setup if requested. As the video concludes, Dunable talks about his Southeast Asia-made, lower-priced DE Series, which are setup, tested, and quality checked at the L.A. shop before leaving for stores and individual owners.
She’s climbed the mountain of shred, toured with Alice Cooper and Demi Lovato, topped a half-dozen charts with her solo debut, and earned a Super Bowl ring. Now, the Ibanez-toting barnstormer’s poised for her next victory.
Defining “Hurricane” Nita Strauss is difficult. She’s one of the most visible players out there, yet she’s still underappreciated by the mainstream. As a solo artist, Strauss is the premier torchbearer for ’80s-informed shred metal, but her music sounds modern, and her “day job” is as a first-call session and touring guitarist for the biggest names in pop and classic rock—from Demi Lovato to Alice Cooper. She also regularly tops lists of the best female guitarists, but the truth is she’s simply one of the finest contemporary guitarists—period.
Embracing every opportunity and refusing to be pigeonholed, Strauss is proud of her music, regardless of style or who she makes it with. She also flies the flag for female rock ’n’ rollers while calling out any limitations that might put her in a box.
“A really nice illustration is when Yvette Young and I had signature guitars come out the same year,” Strauss says. “I played her guitar, and she played mine, for about 15 seconds, and we handed them back. We were like, ‘We hate it.’ [Laughs.] Her style is so vastly different from mine that her guitar was so uncomfortable for me to play. We’re just so different. That [diversity] is what makes it great.”
It’s not that Strauss rejects labels. It’s just that if she had her way, the rest of the world would drop the preconceived notions that come with them. Case in point, Strauss is the first woman to have her own signature Ibanez guitar, called the JIVA. She’s incredibly proud of the honor. But it didn’t happen because she’s a woman—obviously. It happened because she’s so damn good.
“I was always on that relentless pursuit for shred,” the L.A. native says. “My family didn’t have a lot of money, growing up, so I couldn’t afford lessons or anything like that. I just absorbed whatever I could from listening to albums and watching instructional DVDs. But when I saw Steve Vai in Crossroads, that was my aha moment of, like, ‘That’s what I want to do.’”
“The first album was almost like a temper tantrum.”
Strauss’ style is still informed by the players on those DVDs. While a lot of modern rock and metal embraces 7- and 8-string guitars, jerking prog rhythms, and harmonic dissonance, she leans toward Malmsteen, Petrucci, Friedman, and Vai. “I think the reason why a band like Animals as Leaders was so groundbreaking is because they said, ‘This is who we are, and this is what we write.’ If I chased that [prog-metal] trend, I wouldn’t be authentic. And I think you have to be authentic as a songwriter.”
Which brings us to Strauss’ first solo album. Controlled Chaos, released in 2018, clearly demonstrates her authenticity, which resonates with fans. The album was fueled by a Kickstarter campaign that aimed to raise $20,000 but reached an impressive $165,755. A full-on shred record, it brings to mind classics like Cacophony’s Speed Metal Symphony, Jason Becker’s Perpetual Burn, and Joe Satriani’s Surfing with the Alien. She puts on a clinic in high-octane electric guitar heroics from beginning to end. And the rock world noticed. Controlled Chaos landed in the Top 10 of Billboard’s new artist, indie label, hard music, rock, and internet charts, and hit No. 20 in top albums. The second single, “Mariana Trench,” was chosen by the World Wrestling Federation as the theme for its NXT TakeOver: War Game 2018 livestream. Not bad for her first adventure into solo guitar music—one she never wanted to undertake in the first place.
Nita Strauss has toured with Alice Cooper since 2014, but her first high-profile gig was with the Iron Maidens, a festival-level-touring Iron Maiden tribute band that she joined in 2010.
Photo by Annie Atlasman
But Jack Butler changed all that. “It was actually my hero, Steve Vai, that pushed me off the edge and into the deep end of the pool,” Strauss says. “He asked me to contribute a song to a compilation album [2017’s She Rocks, Vol. 1], and I agreed without having a song to contribute. I mean, I’m not going to say no! [Laughs.] I sat down at my kitchen table the next day, and I wrote ‘Pandemonium,’ which was my first solo single.”
The song was a hit, with well over a million views on YouTube. Diving in headfirst, Strauss then knew exactly what a Nita Strauss solo album should sound like, and no one was going to get in her way. “The first album was almost like a temper tantrum,” she laughs. “I had so much to say, and I didn’t let anybody into my creative process. I produced it, and I recorded everything. Then, when it came out and was super well-received, that made me realize, ‘Yes, I can do this.’”
“I was always on that relentless pursuit for shred.”
It wasn’t long before Strauss was planning her next record, due in early 2023. And this album will be different. She determined it would still feature plenty of technical playing and demonstrate her songwriting and production skills, but she’d supercharge it with some of the most well-known vocalists in the heavy-rock game.
So far, three singles have been released as teasers. In October 2021, Strauss turned loose “Dead Inside.” Her guitars sound heavier, the song structure is catchier, and the intense playing is pushed over the top by the signature rasp of Disturbed’s David Draiman. The tune made Strauss the first solo female artist to top the Active Rock radio chart and has more than 10 million streams on Spotify. Her instrumental banger “Summer Storm” was released in August 2022, followed by the even wilder aggro-shred diamond “The Wolf You Feed,” featuring singer Alissa White-Gluz of Arch Enemy. In its first day on YouTube in October, "The Wolf You Feed" garnered 670,000 views and, as of this writing, has surpassed 2 million views.
Nita Strauss’ Gear
How sturdy are Strauss’ workhorse Ibanez signature model JIVA guitars? Tough enough for whammy-bar levitation with feedback every night onstage.
Photo by Ken Settle
- Ibanez Signature JIVAX2
- Ibanez Signature JIVA10
- Custom Ibanez Signature JIVAJR
Amps & Effects
- Boss GT-100 Effects Processor
- Kemper Profiler
Strings & Picks
- D’Addario NYXLs (.010–.046)
- Grover Allman .65 mm
But Strauss admitted that writing for vocalists isn’t as easy as her instrumental work. Making things even more challenging was that she had no idea who would end up singing on the new tracks. She was, as she puts it, “writing for a style of vocalist. It was a huge challenge for me. I had to take into account a singer’s vocal range, style, lyrical content, and what rhymes with what. But there was only one song, I think, where it was actually that singer [I imagined] that ended up on the track. For most songs that I would write, I’d go, ‘I’d like someone like this singer or that singer.’”
If you’re wondering who the other vocalists on her upcoming album are, you’re not alone. So far, Strauss has played the details extremely close to the vest. What she will discuss is the gear she used throughout.
Rig Rundown - Nita Strauss
“Live, for my solo band, I use a BOSS GT-1000 pedalboard,” she says. “But for my session work, it’s my Kempers, and the majority of the record is the same tones you hear onstage with the Kemper. Funny enough, it’s modeled from my previous processor, which is a Rocktron Prophesy. It’s not modeled from any amp in particular. It’s just pinched, pulled, massaged, and tweaked to be my own tone. When I switched over to Kemper, I couldn’t find anything I liked as much, so I hooked up the modeling software and modeled my processor. And it’s my signature Ibanez JIVAs across the board—all the gigs, all the time.”
Although she’s currently on tour with Demi Lovato, Strauss still considers herself part of Alice Cooper’s band. She joined the troupe of the veteran rocker, who gave her the nickname Hurricane Nita, in 2014.
Photo by Annie Atlasman
With the new record being done for quite some time and two successful singles already released, you might wonder, “Where’s the album?” Strauss says she is so busy with other projects that it’ll have to wait a while more. On top of her hectic solo career, she remains an active member of the Alice Cooper band, a spot she’s held since Orianthi’s departure in 2014. Sonically, she’s the perfect fit, and her stunning performances led Cooper to give her the nickname “Hurricane.” While Orianthi brought her fabulous blues/classic rock approach, Strauss’ style sounds custom-built for Cooper’s ’80s, ’90s, and current catalog. She’s such a fixture of the band that fans were stunned when she recently stepped out of Cooper’s tour to hit the road with pop mega-star Demi Lovato. (Meanwhile, guitarist Kane Roberts has returned to Cooper’s band.) Those fans, of course, quickly took to social media to voice their opinions.
How could a shred-metal hero go pop? “Easy,” says Strauss. “Demi is an absolute powerhouse of a vocalist and a performer. And I’m not gate-keeping rock like a lot of these people are. Demi had it made. She had everything she ever wanted as a pop star. She had no reason to go back to her original love of rock and heavy music unless she really wanted to. And, honestly, it’s a rock show, and a rock show is a rock show. I’m using my same guitars, my same rig.
“Demi is an absolute powerhouse of a vocalist and a performer. And I’m not gate-keeping rock like a lot of these people are.”
“When I got this opportunity, I went to Alice and talked to him face-to-face. I said, ‘I have this opportunity and I’d really like to do it, but it would conflict with our fall tour. What do you think?’ He said, ‘Go, I’m so excited for you. Take a break and if you want to come back, come back.’ And that was it. There was no I quit, I’m out, I’m finished. In my mind, I’m not any more or less a part of the band than I ever was.”
Lovato is touring with an all-female band that also includes bass player Leanne Bowes, keyboardist Danielle McGinley, and drummer Brittany Bowman. Strauss sees it as an opportunity to bring great rock to a new audience. “There are so many people to inspire at any show,” Strauss says. “Maybe one person every single night will look at Britt, or look at me, or Leanne, or Demi and go, ‘I want to do that! I went to a Demi Lovato show, and now I want to get a guitar for Christmas instead of a video game console.’ That’s what it’s all about.”
How Nita Strauss Gets Huge Tones with No Amp
Strauss knows what she’s talking about. She remembers when she was the one watching her guitar heroes rocking millions of fans. “Jennifer Batten was a big one! Seeing a girl standing up there with the big boys, in the big gig, playing the Super Bowl, playing the biggest stage in the world, that was a big inspiration for me. She’s the best!” (Batten played with Michael Jackson as part of 1993’s Super Bowl XXVII halftime show.)
Fascinatingly, as the Los Angeles Rams’ official in-house guitarist—not the most common position in a football franchise—Strauss also regularly displays her prowess in the NFL. And she has a Super Bowl ring to prove it. But how does she balance a solo career, playing with classic rock royalty, sharing the stage with the biggest names in pop, and still be there for every snap of the football?“It’s definitely been challenging trying to keep everything straight in my head,” she admits. “But I love playing guitar as much as anyone going home from their jobs and picking up their guitars and playing. It is exhausting, but it doesn’t feel like work.”