Nikki Stringfield of The Iron Maidens talks covers versus originals

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Nikki Stringfield Photo by Jack Lue

As seen in Guitar Girl Magazine Issue 9 – Autumn 2019 – Ladies of Metal

Nikki Stringfield is the powerhouse guitarist of the only all-female Iron Maiden tribute band, The Iron Maidens, who have featured such guitarists as Courtney Cox and Alice Cooper’s guitarist Nita Strauss. She originally hails from Red Oak, Texas. After earning a degree in radio/tv and film at the University of Texas and interning for Warner Brothers Music, she relocated to Los Angeles in 2012 to pursue her musical dreams.

Nikki joined the LA-based metal band Before The Mourning and then The Iron Maidens. Since then, she has toured internationally, joining forces with Femme Fatale and guitarist Brad Jurjens, along with sharing the stage with many other acclaimed artists. In 2015 she won Guitar World’s “Model Search” contest and launched her own signature Schecter Guitar in 2016 at NAMM.

Tell us about your beginnings as a guitarist.

I started playing guitar when I was 14. My dad played guitar, so naturally, I wanted to as well! Nirvana was my favorite band, so I bought a tab book of their greatest hits and learned every single song. That’s basically how I learned how to play. I started making YouTube videos when I was around 17 or 18, I believe, of me playing songs and it just kind of went from there. I moved to LA when I was 21, joined a few bands, and started playing shows.

How did the Iron Maidens come into your life?

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I met Courtney and Nita through the guys in my original band at the time, Before the Mourning. After hanging out with them, Courtney asked me to fill in for a show. It’s hard to believe that was over seven years ago! At that time, the band had a few Dave Murray subs, so after playing a few shows with them, I started rotating out with Nita and eventually it just became a full-time gig.

Who were your musical influences growing up and who are they today? 

I have a wide variety. Nirvana was probably the biggest influence along with Avenged Sevenfold, Megadeth, Iron Maiden, and Pantera. Today those bands are still huge influences along with Marty Friedman, Scar Symmetry, and way too many others to name.

Do you prefer playing originals or covers? What’s the best thing about playing both?

While I love playing covers, nothing can beat playing your own original songs. Playing Maiden is so fun, and I couldn’t imagine paying tribute to any other band. The fans are so passionate and sing along to every word, so it’s always a blast being on stage. With original songs, it’s totally different. You never know how people will react to them, but it’s a piece of you. I guess that’s the thrill of it.

What musical equipment are you using today? Why do you prefer these?

I use my signature Schecter Guitar for both recording and playing live. It’s everything I’ve ever wanted in a guitar! It’s got a Seymour Duncan Invader and a Sustainiac, so the tone is just killer, along with a thin neck with a satin finish to really make it easy to shred. I use a Kemper Profiler amp — it makes touring so much easier because I can take it on the plane with me and I’ll have my tone everywhere I go, no matter what! It’s so versatile, and its tones and possibilities are endless. I’m still learning new things about it every day.

Speaking of tone, what is your definition of tone?

I believe that tone is unique to every individual person. It comes more from their playing than the instrument. Almost every great guitarist can be identified just by the tone of their playing. It’s also always evolving; your tone may sound completely different with one instrument or another as well as in different environments. Tone is really what defines you as a musician.

What are your preferred strings?

I use GHS Boomers 9-42s. They provide a really rich tone, and they can really take a beating with our tour schedule! They’re always durable and reliable.

What are your plans for the near future and long-term goals? 

Right now, I’m recording my debut solo EP which I’m hoping to release soon. Other than that, I’ll be hitting the road with the Maidens and touring quite a bit throughout the rest of the year. As for long term goals, I just plan on continuing to make music and tour as much as I can. Hopefully, I can start playing some of my own material live as well.

What are your other favorite things to do outside of music? 

When I’m home, I try to spend as much time as I can with my friends, family, and animals. I love to draw and work out. Other than that, I love spending time at the beach! We don’t get much time at home, so I try to enjoy every minute of it.

What’s your advice for young girls looking to get into the industry? 

I’d say follow your heart and never lose your passion for music. Don’t let anyone discourage you from following your dreams and always practice! Try to build a thick skin and always believe in yourself.

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