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Ted Nugent Rates Other Guitar Players in 1987 Guitar World Interview

Ted Nugent Rates Other Guitar Players in 1987 Guitar World Interview

Here's a Ted Nugent interview from the March 1987 issue of Guitar World, which featured Steve Vai and Billy Sheehan on the cover. The original story by Bob Grossweiner started on page 74 and ran with the headline, "Terrible Ted Rates The Players: If there's one thing Ted Nugent likes more than playing guitar, it's talking. Just listen to this ..."

To see the Vai/Sheehan cover — and all the GW covers from 1987 — click here.

Ted Nugent is the first to admit that his career has had its ups and downs since the turn of the decade, which he attributes to poor management and overexposure.

So the Nuge started to manage himself and switched record labels and booking agencies to get his career back on track. And while he was recording his most recent album, Little Miss Dangerous, he got a call from Bill Conti to work on the sci-fi movie Nomads starring Pierce Brosnan, Lesley Ann Downe and Adam Ant.

Nugent is obviously more animated than the movie, which never caught on with the public — the soundtrack album was never released.

"The feedback, the dive bombers, the explosions, the rhythms, the aggressions — all the good things," he enthuses. "It elevated me, inflated my feedback — it was my typical bombastic approach. Conti boosted me. He has the computer mayhem. My inherent gut-level elements of 10 years of rock 'n' roll is on the score — the aggressive, the audacity, the sonic warfare elements."

The Motor City Madman has put his Les Paul Fusion, Gibson Byrdland and ’59 Les Pauls to rest and is now exclusively using Paul Reed Smith Wonder guitars he helped design — he even provided the maple from his Michigan property.

"The instrument is magic," he says with a smile. "It sounds like a Black & Decker guitar. It has one of the finest tremolo systems in the world. I contoured the back to fit my body. It has a trim neck with width and depth and tall aggressive frets. It's a special guitar in the feel, touch, sound, dynamics and sonic dimensions."

Nugent plugs into Marshalls "With everything except volume at about a half up." He also has Fender amps with Celestion bottoms and JBL speakers, and a Sunn Penetrator amp (not marketed yet). He uses a stereo chorus and a little DDL for effects. Nugent also plays Guild and Fender basses.

Nugent lists James Brown and Wayne Cochran as his biggest influences for their groove, while also mentioning Lonnie Mack, Duane Eddy, Chuck Berry, Keith Richards, the Kinks (actually Jimmy Page's solos), the Yardbirds, Jimi Hendrix, Sun Ra and John Coltrane as influences.

"The caliber of guitar playing today," he says as a preface to the rating of the ax players, "is beyond scope. People accept an earth-shattering guitar solo as a good guitar solo. When Neal Schon does a solo at the end of a Journey song, it's acknowledged as a nice bridge when, in fact, he has come close to reversing the axis of the earth in doing such a brilliant guitar solo."

JEFF BECK: "An innovator — a master toucher and emoter of guitar fluidity."

JIMI HENDRIX: "A master craftsman, a pilot of an emotional roller coaster who came the closest to anyone in the history of the guitar to master the unlimited dimensions of the tonal and lyrical capabilities of the instrument. "

ERIC CLAPTON: "The definitive reorganizational white blues guitarist."

MIKE BLOOMFIELD: "One of my biggest influences — an early assertive tone-conscious white adaptation to the blues masters with a very excitable and flamboyant flair for rhythm and blues-based rock 'n' roll"

EDDIE VAN HALEN: "A contemporary leader of the pack with as much impact as any individual guitar player who ever lived — an innovator when innovation seemed to be attacked, an inspiration to every guitar player who wants to take the lyrical interpretation of the instrument beyond its confines."

YNGWIE MALMSTEEN: "A sensational technician — an innovative adapter of classical Baroque into a rock 'n' roll contemporary flash."

GARY MOORE: "A deceptively underrated guitarist, who has the widest range and repertoire of styles that I would like to hear more of. He’s a sensational guitar player."

CARLOS CAVAZO: "An interesting, exciting guitarist who has some unique statements on the instrument which we don't hear from other people."

DAVE MENIKETTI: "A real traditionalist who has a lot of fire in his playing."

VIVIAN CAMPBELL: "He's a bit better than I thought; he was in a band that opened for me in Europe in 1977 when I did not think much of him. His recent work with Dio was upper-caliber stuff"

ANGUS YOUNG: "If you can separate the energy from the guitar, his guitar playing is one of the most exciting and well constructed for his genre of any of the rock 'n' roll guitarists."

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