Nita Strauss and Yvette Young once traded signature guitars – but found each others’ designs damn-near unplayable

Nita Strauss playing her Ibanez JIVA and Yvette Young with her YY20 signature guitar
(Image credit: Roy Rochlin / Phillip Faraone / Stringer/ Getty)

Nita Strauss has revealed that she and Yvette Young traded signature guitar models, only to find that each of them struggled to play the other’s guitar.

The two guitarists come from different ends of the rock spectrum, but both have multiple signature models with Ibanez – namely, the JIVA series for Strauss and the Talman-based YY10 and YY20 for Young. 

Now, in a new interview with Ultimate Guitar [below, around 20.05], Strauss recalls a moment in which the virtuosos temporarily traded their instruments. 

“A couple years ago at NAMM, Yvette young and I had signature models come out on the same day,” explains Strauss. 

“We were both at an Ibanez event… and I said ‘Hey, can I play your guitar?’ and she's like, ‘Yeah – only if I can play your guitar!’ So we traded guitars and we noodle around on each other's guitar for a second and then we handed it back. 

“We were [both] like, ‘Oh no!’ The style was so different and the setup was so different and she was like, ‘I wouldn't even know how to play your guitar’, and I was like, ‘I wouldn't even know how to play your guitar!’”

Strauss says that despite the fact Young’s model felt so alien, the situation actually left her feeling very positive about the health of the guitar industry. 

“That was a really telling moment of how much innovation is happening in this instrument,” says Strauss. “You’d think, ‘Oh Nita and Yvette, both Ibanez girls. They must be pretty similar’, but we literally couldn't be more disparate musicians. So I just think it's so cool – it's such a cool time to be a guitar player right now.”

Strauss’s tale certainly says something about both players’ idiosyncratic designs, but also about the increasing diversity of Ibanez’s artist lineup, given such opposing talents are housed under the same brand.

It’s a pattern we’ve seen repeated elsewhere in recent years, where even the corporate might of a brand like Fender seems at home building signatures for the likes of Tash Sultana and Jim Root –  two artists that might otherwise seem to have little in common.

Perhaps it’s no surprise that Strauss struggled to adapt from her super-slick JIVA to Young’s YY10. The latter is based on Ibanez’s discontinued Talman model, with a matte neck and was likely tuned to Young’s preferred FACGBE. The Covet guitarist also insisted on a heavier string gauge on her signatures.

“I wanted to puts .12s or 13s on these but they were like, ‘That’s a little intense, people are going to be bleeding from their hands…’ So we compromised at .11s,” Young told Guitar World in 2020

“I wanted a heavier string gauge because for people doing fingerstyle, I find you get a better tapping tone when you have a heavier gauge string and it’s easier to bend things sharp or flat.”

Strauss had an equally well-defined checklist for her signature, as she told Guitar World last year.

“I already had all my dream specs in my head... I knew I wanted a mahogany body, a quilted maple top and an ebony fretboard,” says Strauss in the 2022 interview.

“I wanted a guitar that screamed 'me', and that’s what we got with the original JIVA 10… I only play my signature guitars, not just because I designed them, but because I feel I designed the perfect guitar for my playing style.”

Trading signatures with Young only seems to have cemented that point.

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Matt Parker

Matt is a staff writer for GuitarWorld.com. Before that he spent 10 years as a freelance music journalist, interviewing artists for the likes of Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, MusicRadar, NME.com, DJ Mag and Electronic Sound. In 2020, he launched CreativeMoney.co.uk, which aims to share the ideas that make creative lifestyles more sustainable. He plays guitar, but should not be allowed near your delay pedals.