Could You Handle Nuge’s Early Gear?

September 21, 2011 | By | 8 Replies More

Nugent_Ted_79_1Ah, the Nuge. The NUGE, man!

He so crazy.

Crazy fer sher, and a crazy tone combo. The guy’s old-school woody rig was a hollow-body, feedin’-back mother f***er plugged into 180-watt Fender amps designed to be clean as your a** the day you were born you bark-at-the-moon insane tone-crazy mother f***ers!

Okay, enough of the Nuge talkin’ style…but the tone parts are true. Who in his right mind would use a Gibson Byrdland into cranked Fender Super Twin for rock ‘n’ roll?

Who would take the time to learn the feedback boundaries of such a rig and ride the guitar’s volume knob while running around the stage dressed only in a loincloth?

Who would willingly play that loud?

Told you already: The NUGE! Here’s a bit on his rig back in the days.


According to Gibson, the Byrdland was:

> A fully hollow thinline archtop model co-designed by two first-call ’50s session players, Billy Byrd and Hank Garland. Its hollow construction was a feature always prone to introducing feedback at high volumes (which the jazz cats never had to worry about).

> Aimed primarily at jazz, country and dance-band guitarists.

> Had a shorter-than-normal scale – 23.5″ rather than the standard Gibson 24.75″ – and a narrower neck than usual.

> Spruce top like an acoustic, maple sides, maple neck, ebony board.

> Pickups were humbuckers in the Nuge’s guitars, apparently stock so either original PAFs, maybe T-Tops, don’t think anyone knows for sure. Bottom ine they were vintage humbuckers, now seen as “low output.”



> Sounds like he used a Fender Deluxe, tan or brown, the same lower-watt amp allegedly favored by loads of older-school rockers (like Billy Gibbons).

> I’m no expert in old Fender amps, but the reissues at least use 6V6 power tubes, if that gives you a flavor of things.


> Six Fender Super Twin 2×12 amps (six 6L6 tubes for 180w). With such a powerful amp, assume the speakers were pretty dang efficient, meaning clean.

> Someone on a forum (forgot to copy the name!) said “these amps they have a lot more crunch than a Twin, closer to a Bassman, and since they have a Preamp Volume and a Master Volume you can get it to overdrive at lower volumes. But if you keep the preamp volume low and crank the master you get almost infinite clean headroom.” He also said Super Twins These have a 5-band active EQ.

> From a back-in-the-day Nuge roadie at “Ted’s Fenders amps were not modified at all. We spent the time working on “standardized” tube combinations that worked based upon the size and type of gig. We carried six combos with extension cabinets. Depending on the gig, we would use two at one time, but each of the three [amp] pairs had different tube combinations for different tones.”

> Speaker-wise, other than the speakers in the combo, seems he used cabs with 12″ speakers and then switched to six Dual Showman Reverb cabs – which had two JBL 15s – not sure about the model (anyone?).

Old Fender ad (click to see bigger).

Old Fender ad (click to see bigger).


> Stick that on stage and control it! From the same roadie: “You don’t realize how good he was and what he could do with his guitars and amps. When I first started touring with him I’d pickup the Byrdland and the damn thing would do nothing but feed back due to the volume. It took me a long time to learn how to get a real sound out of it at that volume. Ted could walk up and just for fun play a very gentle musical passage at 110 db and not one touch of feedback standing 5 feet from the front of the amps. In all my years of touring and in the studios I never knew of or worked with, anyone that could control a hollow body the way Ted could.”

> No effects.

> I’m virtually certain I read somewhere that Nugent got the idea for the crazy Byrdland rig from someone else he saw play it in Detroit, someone from a semi-famous band, I believe. But I can’t find the quote – little help anyone? [Update: This was Jimmy McCarty of Cactus fame, who at the time was in the Detroit Wheels.]

Stranglehold, 1977

Wang Dang Sweet Poontang, 1980

Stranglehold, 2010 – Rated R!


Category: Gibson, JBL speakers, Super Twin, Ted Nugent

Comments (8)

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  1. SRVTWO says:

    I believe he got the idea of the Gibson from Jim McCarty from Cactus…
    The Tonequest he was in said this IIRC..

  2. guitthumper says:

    I was wondering when you’d get around to the Nuge’! Dig it!

  3. T.L. says:

    I don’t know why, the the ’77 version sounded much better…

    • guitthumper says:

      Derek’s voice actually sounds better on the recent version. ’77 is certainly a louder, higher energy, more rip-roarin’ rendition. But hey, they were 30-odd years younger then!

  4. Montrose! says:

    Ted had his Byrdlands ghost built … they are NOT gibsons.

    • Hunter says:

      Uh…wrong. The black is a ’61, white is an ’02’, tobacco used during last years tour is a ’66. Gibson, repeat, GIBSON Byrdlands.

    • Deenohh says:

      Absolutely wrong. Though the white one is a custom shop model. The black and sunburst that he uses are dead stock Gibsons.

  5. T.L. says:

    The best tone Ted ever had was with Damn Yankees…

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