Hailing from Mansfield, Oh, Narrow/Arrow, and specifically Cody Nicholas, are extremely unique. It’s not often that you get to witness one man play 2 guitars at once, but that is exactly what Cody does. Pushing the boundaries of what playing guitar is, we talked to Cody about his guitar set-up.
Gear Metropolis: Hey Cody, what do you play guitar wise and how does it fit your style? Have you used anything different in the studio?
Cody Nicholas: Let me introduce ya to the team haha. Starting from the left is my “Trophy Wife” Marla. She’s secretly a Schecter Omen 8 String, but I upgraded the passive stock pickups to Active EMG808X’s. I hate active pickups but the low end is super flat and muddy otherwise. When I’m doing the double guitar work, I typically approach it like a non-linear piano, left hand handles the bass lines but doesn’t always have to. The right hand handles the melody, but doesn’t always have to. She stays in standard tuning, which for an 8 string is F# B E A D G B A.
Next is Gabriella, she’s a Fender Thinline Telecaster ’72 Replica. I have had her since I was 13 and she’s the only original member of the team. I sold the neck humbucker to my brother (I think he turned it into a microphone). And then used the money to get the flat white pickguard cut. I C-Clamp it onto a piano stand that’s at its tallest position, and play counter melodies with my right hand. It’s bright and twinkly tone is the perfect compliment to the punchy bassyness of the 8. She stays in D A D G A D, and I adjust the capo to be in whatever Key I’m playing in on Marla.
Then we have James Blonde, he’s an Epiphone ES-339, and is the newest edition to the team. All the songs played on it originally start out on an acoustic. But in a live show setting, especially in DIY spaces, the acoustic isn’t ideal. Feeds back, gets drown out, by the time you get it loud enough to hear in basement show scenario, it doesn’t even sound like an acoustic at that point. So now Jimmy makes those unplugged riffs work for him, I also like the idea that on the record it’s a pretty acoustic, but live the song is on a grungy hollow body. I keep him an open tuning: D A D F# A E, open D with the 9th.
Last but not least is Stella, She’s a Breedlove Cascade. Like I said about James Blonde, I start all of his riffs on Stella. On our EP “Middle Children” we used her on “impress your parents” and “air run”. I don’t take her on the road anymore, but she’ll get more than a lot of time in the studio this spring. I think it’s important as a guitar player to put in just as much time playing your acoustic, as you do your electrics. You have to take a different approach to them.
GM: So what inspired you to play 2 guitars at once? Is it always the tele and you switch around the other one?
CN: It all kind of evolved from one thing to the next. The horizontal tapping business started with the guitar in an open tuning and resting on my lap. I was trying to play like this dude I saw named Erik Mongrain, he plays an acoustic on his lap in the song “airtap”. I didn’t have an acoustic at the time, so I fucked around with it on an electric.
After a couple months of wood-shedding I had a piece that I wanted to perform live with my band at the time. I didn’t want to sit down to play it on my lap, so I rigged it with the C-Clamp to a piano stand. So essentially in the beginning (2009, I was 18) I would play one Tele around my neck, then when it was time for my piano stand guitar song, I’d just pull the cable from one and plug it into another. Then one day somebody said (pretty sure it was Jonathan, the drummer of N/A) “you should get a Morley switcher and play them both at the same time”. So then it transitioned into two tele’s I’d play together, then I switched to the 8 string to get a wider range with my left hand. And that became my main guitar. When I’m not using the 8 string, that’s when I’m playing James Blonde.
GM: So let’s move to amps? what are you running all of this into?
CN: My amp is real cheap and Frankenstiened together. I run a Bugera 333XL, except I spray painted the grill so you can’t really tell til ya get up close. It’s 120W and has 3 channels. But I only use the clean channel and the reverb unit. Like my 8 string, it’s kind of marketed to teenage metal heads who want a lower end, big tube amp. I picked up a blank seismic audio can and through a Celestion V30 in the left side, and a Celestion G12 in the right. Ripped em out of some old cabs I had.
Those seismic audio cabs are usually a really good deal. So you run the amp clean, do you run pedals for either guitar? Both?
I run both guitars through the same clean channel using a Morley switcher. My pedalboard is pretty straight forward, I run a Tube Screamer, digitech R-7 for extra reverb, a freeze pedal for transitions while I tune, and each guitar gets an LB-1 to boost the pickup frequency for punchy tappy parts.
GM: That’s rad. So with the unique setup, what is it like when you go into the studio?
CN: We run the guitars through separate rigs in the studio and run them in stereo. For the upcoming full length we ran the Tele through a 4×10 fender Deluxe and the 8 string through a Peavey 6505 with a Mesa 4×12. And then blended those two amps for the songs with the 339. With the double guitar tracks, I always have a bit of a hangup recording because I can hear them as two different parts. But since they run through one rig typically, I’m only ever used to hearing them as one part.
GM: So whats up next for Narrow/Arrow?
CN: We currently are in the middle of recording our first full length, which is definitely our number one priority right now (other than installing a new sound system in our our van haha). We’ve done two 15 day tours this year, and plan to hit the road, headed east, mid-May. We’re all really excited to see where this year takes the group, and pursuing every opportunity that will help it to continue to grow.
Narrow/Arrow’s debut EP ‘Middle Children was released by Other People Records, Check that out while we wait for some new tunes.