Learn to play electric guitar like Ted Nugent– lessons in the techniques that made Scratch Cat Fever and Strangle Hold such classics – with tab and chords
To many, the name Ted Nugent means extreme right-wing politics, an anti-drugs stance and the craft of slaughtering unsuspecting mammals at 100 paces with a hi-tech bow and arrow – but there’s more to the man than that. ‘Although the guitar and sound spectrum theoretically only has x number of notes, dissonance and variations on a given theme are infinite,’ reasons the wild man of rock. ‘If you think of the open A pummelling from the Stranglehold and Cat Scratch Fever school of songwriting, there’s unlimited bastardisations on E, A and D.’
Yep – The Nuge digs the importance of dynamics and contrast in music. ‘There’s a place for noise, a place for feedback, a place to be soft, a place for everything. It’s just a matter of doing it with taste.’
Nugent is one of the few rock guitarists to use a semi-acoustic, a Gibson Byrdland. Rather than stuff the body in order to eliminate feedback, Nugent left his guitar hollow and sought to control the feedback to be used at will, exploiting the tonal possibilities offered by playing a supposed jazz guitar at high volume. Nugent can be heard using feedback early in his career with the Amboy Dukes at the start of his solo in Journey To The Centre Of The Mind.
‘When I performed it every night, I had to find the point to catch that hum. I used to put tape on the stage to mark the spots,’ he explains. ‘When one note feeds back in a certain spot it will occupy all the acoustic area of that note, and no other note will be able to get in edgewise. I can catch an A note feedback, step to the side two inches, and another note will kick in.’ Nugent also takes care to avoid unwanted feedback using a combination of right and left hand muting and by standing in the right places onstage. For example, if he wants to avoid feedback when playing single note passages with silences between notes he will stand away from his speakers, such as in front of the drums.
When using Fender Twins earlier in his career, all the settings on the amps would be on 10 (treble, bass, midrange and volume), and the Bright switch would be on. Despite wearing an ear plug in one ear, Nugent damaged his hearing. ‘My left ear’s destroyed. I wear an ear plug in my right ear, but my left feels like there already is an ear plug in it. Thing is, I don’t play amps that loud anymore – the PA does all the damage to the unsuspecting civilian public!”