Gear Factor | Featuring Nita Strauss of Alice Cooper

Nita

Inspired By A Movie

Most guitar players picked up their instrument after being inspired by a particular song or record. Nita Strauss on the other hand was inspired by a scene in a movie.

“The real turning point for me, when I said, ‘I have to do this,’ was the movie Crossroads,” she said in an interview with Gear Factor host Squiggy. The scene at the end of Crossroads – for those who haven’t seen it, I’m not going to spoil it – but I still can’t play that [part].”

(If you don’t mind spoilers, or you love the film and you want to re-live the epic guitar battle between Steve Vai and Ralph Macchio, here’s the scene she’s referring to.)

“I do remember being a kid and hearing Van Halen. My dad was always playing Van Halen in the car” — she launches into the “Unchained” riff on her ….. “Those classic Van Halen riffs really struck a chord in me. No pun intended!”

Come As You Are

When she began playing the guitar, her first riff came from one of the biggest albums of the ’90s. “The first riff that I totally mastered was ‘Come As You Are’ by Nirvana. I remember sitting there, plunking along, I was thinking ‘How do they even do this?’ I was definitely not one of those kids prodigy guitar players. Sobbing myself to sleep because I couldn’t play an open G chord.”

Her mastering of barre chords led to her being able to play more songs. “Then I learned ‘One Step Closer to the Edge” by Linkin Park and that was another of those ‘Aha!’ moments where I was like, ‘I’m the greatest guitar player in the world!'”

She Shreds

“The most awesome guitar player on the planet: Miss Nita Strauss.”

This is how Gear Factor host Squiggy introduces the guitarist. Nita, who is a member of Alice Cooper’s band, is currently working on an all-instrumental solo album.

“I don’t know if that’s true…” she responds, sheepishly.

He was speaking to the six-string hero backstage before one of Alice Cooper’s recent concerts and the conversation seemed to center around some of the innovators of music who are known for inventions or innovations, rather than their recordings.

Innovators of Music

First, Squiggy asked about Marshall Amps founder, Jim Marshall.

“The Father of Loud!” Strauss, who is endorsed by Marshall, responded. “I think somebody needed to take a risk at the time that Jim Marshall was building those first Marshall amps, somebody needed to take it to that next level, somebody needed to make that high gain leap. And nobody was doing it. The industry was ready for it, and no one was doing it. And Jim, having the cojones to say, ‘Let’s make it louder’… He’s an innovator and a trendsetter.”

Squiggy then asked about Larry DiMarzio, an absolute icon in the field of guitar pickups.

“Larry! I love Larry,” she says. “He’s another one of those innovators, another one of those trendsetters, to this day.”

Her relationship with DiMarzio is a bit more of a personal one. “He played a huge, huge part in the design of my [signature] guitar. Not just the pickup component, which he also did, which is obviously a huge part of the design.”

Black and Blonde

She goes on: “My boyfriend Josh and I were at lunch with Larry in L.A., and we were talking about the guitar, and the design, and the concept, and he said, ‘Well, what’s your color scheme going to be?’ ‘I don’t really know, I don’t want it to be pink, I want it to be all black.’  I wanted a black guitar with a black neck and black pickups and that’s what I wanted. So we’re sitting at lunch talking about it and Larry said, ‘Well, look at you: you’re wearing all black, blonde hair, black eye makeup, why not do black and blonde?’  That was the ‘Aha!’ moment that became the JIVA [the name of the guitar]. He just comes up with these ideas and isn’t afraid to take a risk.”

“Same thing with these cut-through pickups,” she continues. “No one’s really doing the thing where you see ….   there are a lot of cover pickups out there, we’ve seen very similar ones, but Larry’s the one who is doing the cut-through ones that you saw in the Woody [the new Ibanez Steve Vai Jem Signature Guitar], the John Petrucci ones, and now these.  And the Jake Bones Titan [aka Jake Bowen from the band Periphery]. These, for me. And again, it’s just a great example of the way that he’s not afraid to be innovative, and try something new, even though it’s expensive, even though Ibanez hadn’t approved it, even though it took a long time —  longer than we would have wanted — we weren’t afraid to make it happen and get something cool done. I think it adds immensely to the guitar, having that aesthetic component.”

“Jiva,” by the way, is a term from the ancient Indian religion Jainism that refers to the soul.

 

Nita Nita Nita

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Catch Nita on the road touring with Alice Cooper; get the tour dates here. Nita’s gear includes her signature Ibanez guitar,  a Marshall JVM410HJS Joe Satriani Signature Guitar Amplifier Head and a Marshall 4×12 Cab.

Check out Nita’s Gear Here- http://bit.ly/GearNitaPlays

 

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