If you ask Jared James Nichols, the tone is in the fingers. Recently, Total Guitar published an interview with the blues virtuoso of the younger generation where he was asked to weigh in on the matter. And, in the defense of his theory, he recalled playing through one of the old Eddie Van Halen amps. When asked on the matter, Nichols replied:
“Definitely fingers! Two weeks ago, we played this festival and the guy who brought the gear had worked for Eddie Van Halen.“
“He brought me one of Eddie’s personal modded Marshalls from 1984. I plugged in and it was incredible, but I sounded like me.“
Further discussing the matter, Nichols went into some specific aspects of what makes you sound like you. Some of the factors that give your tone a very personal touch and that outweigh the gear include the way you handle the instrument, and even the way you hold it.
But, of course, it all comes down to basic technique fundamentals. As Jared explained:
“Having a great foundation of techniques – bending, vibrato, phrasing – is something that’s unique to you. It comes down to your hands, the way you hold the guitar, the way you strike the strings.“
To those who might not know, Nichols plays without a pick. However, he manages to get things to sound the way they should, even if it’s something hard rock or heavy metal-oriented. And it’s all thanks to his unique approach to fingerpicking. He added:
“Your touch is everything. When I play with my fingers – I don’t use a pick – I want those characteristics to come through.“
Jared’s latest release was 2021’s EP titled “Shadow Dancer.” You can check out the title track’s lyric video in the player below.
In a last year’s interview, Jared James Nichols reflected on one of his biggest influences — Zakk Wylde. We could argue that there are some very noticeable similarities between Jared and Zakk. And to the blues rock guitarist of the new generation, this goes back to first seeing Zakk play live when he was only 14 years old. He recalled:
“One of the first concerts I attended as a kid was Ozzfest. I was 14 and already in love with rock ‘n’ roll. A friend and I were determined to get as close to the stage as possible, and we ended up sneaking to the front row.”
“I’ll never forget the moment I first saw Zakk playing in the flesh with Ozzy – it was beyond powerful. I was mesmerized. I had yet to start playing guitar, but the moment I picked one up months later, I was already influenced and had a lifetime guitar hero in Zakk.”
During that same interview, Jared also reflected on his playing style, explaining how he keeps things very blues and hard rock-oriented. He said:
“There’s still huge parts of me that are so rooted in playing that really lowdown blues. But there’s also so much more that I grew up listening to, from Black Sabbath and Mountain to grunge to some funky stuff, all of which you can hear on the record.”
“Really, my biggest goal with all of this was to just be me, and to open up and say, ‘This is what I’m feeling, this is what I’m digging, let’s see if we can make it work.’ It was a beautiful experience.”
“And the coolest part is when you listen to the EP [‘Shadow Dancer,’ 2021], you’ll hear it exactly as it was laid down. There’s no trickery.”