Enigmatic Player with a Truly Unique (Finger)style
For several years now, Jared James Nichols has been a name floating around guitar circles as one to watch, thanks in no small part to his epic blues rock inspired, high-energy performances and fingerstyle approach to playing. A fearless talent mixed with humble sensibility; Nichols has won plaudits from many in the industry for being down-to-earth yet a devil on the axe. With trusty Gibson Les Paul Custom P90 in hand – nicknamed “Old Glory” -, he is conquering the world with a no-holds barred attitude that embodies the spirit of rock ‘n’ roll.
1. Epiphone “Old Glory” Signature Guitar
Announced at NAMM 2019, Epiphone honoured Nichols by delivering the Limited Edition Jared James Nichols “Old Glory” Les Paul Custom Outfit. Featuring a classic 1955-style Les Paul Custom body with single Seymour Duncan P-90 pickup, the guitar is host to the specs and appointments coveted by the Wisconsin native. Not only that but the Outfit includes an EpiLite Case, Signed Certificate of Authenticity, and Gibson Accessory Kit.
Customizing a Les Paul Custom
Nichols is so rock ‘n’ roll that even the story behind how he fell upon using a single-pickup guitar includes a little-known guitarist by the name of Joe Perry…
When Nichols originally conceived the idea for a custom model back in the day, he went about purposefully gutting a Les Paul Custom to make it his own. First, he removed the neck pickup so that it wouldn’t hinder his fingerstyle playing, which in turn allowed him to get rid of the corresponding volume and tone pots.
Then he took switched out the bridge and tailpiece partnership to make it his preferred Les Paul Junior wraparound style. This in turn left gaping holes in the top where the tailpiece had been. After spotting plates on other models, he adopted his own, which has made its way onto his unique Epiphone signature model.
Let’s Go Over the Specs
Epiphone adopt mahogany as the wood of choice for the body with black aged gloss finish and multi-ply binding. A glued-in mahogany neck with mid-50s “C” profile and generous 24.75-inch scale length encourages you to race through licks at speed. The glorious ebony fingerboard with 12-inch radius responds beautifully to every bend, infusing each and every note with a divine character. Medium-jumbo frets with traditional pearloid block inlays guide your way in fine fashion.
At the top of the neck you’ll find a clipped dovewing headstock with Les Paul Custom-style split diamond graphics and a white “stinger” stripe on the rear, set beside a reproduction of Jared James Nichols’ signature in black. Grover Rotomatic tuning machines with 18:1 ratio uphold tuning integrity with impunity, whilst the wrap-around ‘lightning bar’ bridge acts as bridge and tailpiece. As noted above, just like on Jared’s own heavily customized vintage 1955 Les Paul, “Old Glory” features a plate engraved with “Blues Power”, stamping his seal of approval on this beauty.
At the heart of “Old Glory” lies a Seymour Duncan P-90 pickup, which is modelled on those coveted Seth Lover designed hand-wound pups of old. With volume and tone controls via Black Top Hat knobs at the ready, all you need to do is dial in and go.
2. Blackstar Jared James Nichols’ Signature Amp and Cab
As if getting his own Epiphone Signature model wasn’t enough, Nichols’ is onto his second generation of signature amps and cabs with the team at Blackstar, with the awesome JJN-20RH MKII Guitar Amp Head and JJN-212VOC MKII Speaker Cabinet.
He’s an old hand – so to speak – when it comes to working with Blackstar, especially as he’s been using their gear for over 9 years to ply his trade. That being said, these latest gems deliver the guts and glory tonal attitude one would expect from Nichols, in surprisingly compact form.
The JJN-20RH MKII Amp Head boasts an ECC83 preamp valve alongside a pair of EL84s in the power amp stage, which delivers a comfortable 20-Watt output without breaking a sweat. Across the front panel, finished to Nichols’ own design, you’ll find studio quality Reverb, Blackstar’s patented ISF tone shaping feature as well as tone-stack controls, Nichols’ unique Bluespower option with switchable voice option for Clean as well as Volume and Gain controls. There’s even a switchable power option taking the output from 20-Watts to a bedroom- and/or tour bus-friendlier 2-Watts.
Rear panel connectivity is equally as generous with USB audio, footswitch, effects loop, MP3/Line In, emulated outputs across both Line and XLR (DI Output), and a selection of speaker outputs. From home or studio use to small or arena sized gig venues, the JJN-20RH MKII is designed to be as adaptable as the man himself.
The JJN-212VOC MKII Speaker Cabinet features the same cool racing green exterior finish with vintage basket weave front panel design. Home to a Celestion V-Type and G12T075 partnership, the JJN-212VOC marries two rather distinct voices into an all-powerful sound. There are 4- and 16-Ohm inputs to accommodate whatever amp you wish up to a heady 160 Watts of power.
JJN Doing What He Does Best
If you’ve got a bit of time – roughly 40 minutes – then check out his Blackstar Basement Session from a couple of years ago (pre-Epiphone “Old Glory” mind you) in the video below. Grab a brew, kick back, and marvel at this ludicrously talented musician.
Don’t Miss This!
In partnership with our good mates over at Blackstar Amplification, we’re super excited to be hosting a Jared James Nichols’ Guitar Clinic over at our Dawsons Liverpool store on Wednesday 5th June from 7 – 9pm.
For all the info and to book your free place head to the Jared James Nichols’ Clinic Event.
Jon is a multi-instrumentalist with a passion for inspiring others to get involved in making music. After spending many years playing venues here, there and – pretty much – everywhere, he joined the Dawsons’ Music Web Team before progressing into his current role managing the Dawsons Blog.