rock

This month Martin Cooper ducks for cover as he checks out the play­ing style of the Mo­tor City Mad­man, The Nuge – the great Ted Nu­gent!

Guitar Techniques - - Contents -

Martin Cooper gets cat scratch fever while he plays in the rock gui­tar style of Ted Nu­gent.

Born in Detroit in 1948, and the son of a very strict Army staff sergeant, Ted Nu­gent found fame both with The Am­boy Dukes in the 1960s and the Damn Yan­kees in the 80s. but it was as a 70s solo artist that he en­joyed most of his suc­cess. These days he is also as­so­ci­ated with strongly Con­ser­va­tive po­lit­i­cal views on hunt­ing and gun own­er­ship. How­ever, al­though he is of­ten crit­i­cised for these views, he is also an ac­tive cam­paigner against drug and al­co­hol abuse. While he may not nec­es­sar­ily be a house­hold name out­side rock gui­tar cir­cles, Nu­gent has sold over 30 mil­lion al­bums in a ca­reer that has spanned al­most 50 years. And he ac­tu­ally played his first gig at just 10 years of age!

Ted’s mu­si­cal out­put is firmly in the clas­sic rock genre, but he has also toured with the likes of US Coun­try star Toby Keith, and played on Chris­tian artist David Crow­der’s Rem­edy al­bum. Ted is also a fan of mu­si­cians as di­verse as Frank Zappa and Muddy Wa­ters, and he has also ap­peared in TV shows such as Mi­ami Vice, and also in Nick­el­back’s video for their hit Rock­star, in 2007.

Nu­gent is famed for play­ing through amps at ex­tremely loud vol­umes, but he has also suf­fered con­sid­er­able hear­ing loss over the years - so don’t crank up the vol­ume to haz­ardous lev­els this month!

When Ted formed the Damn Yan­kees, he joined forces with some stars of the day such as Night Ranger’s bassist, Jack Blades, and for­mer Styx gui­tarist, Tommy Shaw. But it is his solo out­put from the 1970s that we’re ref­er­enc­ing this month. This era of The Nuge’s play­ing fea­tured plenty of blues-rock riff play­ing, not a mil­lion miles away from south­ern rock bands like ZZ Top. His tone and gui­tar equip­ment was unique in rock cir­cles (see our Get The Tone box), and he al­ways played ag­gres­sively but with plenty of taste. The high-vol­ume at which Nu­gent plays, and the na­ture of his gear (a hol­low thin­line Gibson Byrd­land), means he of­ten uses sus­tained feed­back notes in con­cert. Ted still tours to this day, al­though with­out quite match­ing his sched­ule of 300 con­certs per year dur­ing the late 60s and early 70s!

Our mu­si­cal ex­am­ple is in the key of A mi­nor (A B C D E F G), al­though the G and D power chords in bars 13-14 and 17-18 hint at a bVII-IV pro­gres­sion in A Do­rian, which adds to the blues-rock feel. It’s built around a driv­ing rock riff, with clas­sic power chords, rhythm gui­tar ar­peg­gio parts and a solo that uses uni­son bends, mi­nor pen­ta­tonic and blues scale phras­ing.

The feel is ag­gres­sive but con­trolled dur­ing the rhythm part, so it’s best to mute any un­wanted strings and play the open fifth string and power chords ac­cu­rately. Also feel free to add some palm mut­ing to the rhythm part. There’s a slightly lazy, al­most be­hindthe-beat feel to some of the lead phras­ing, par­tic­u­larly with some of the string bends, so aim to get the cor­rect feel here as well - and don’t rush ahead of the beat.

While he may not nec­es­sar­ily be a house­hold name, Nu­gent has sold over 30 mil­lion al­bums.

Ted Nu­gent: bran­dish­ing a Byrd­land

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