With her latest Boden Standard NX 6 signature guitar finally being revealed, .strandberg* signature artist Sarah Longfield sat down to talk with us about her new 6-string model, how it fits into the lineup of her other signature guitars, the direction of her music in the future, and more. Read the full written interview and watch her newest demo on YouTube below.
Tell us a little bit about your new Boden Standard NX 6 signature model! What are some of your favorite features?
So I really love the bevel on the back of the new model. It’s so smooth and comfortable and I love the Richlite fretboard [too]. I always live in cold conditions and when we’re touring, the temperatures are fluctuating like crazy. And usually, you’ll have frets pop out on the edges of all of your guitars when it gets super dry, and in Minnesota, that’s a constant issue no matter how many humidifiers I have going. With Richlite, that doesn’t happen. You’re not having the expansion and contraction of the fretboard, and it’s also super resonant. I know that was a lot of people’s concern when they heard about a composite board, but you have so much resonance, even acoustically, when you play these. And I think that’s due to the Richlite board. It’s lightweight, you’re not going to have any issues that you have with ebony: no cracking, no frets poking out, and it’s very, very resonant. It also feels very smooth. It feels kind of like soft rosewood, which was my favorite fretboard wood – I prefer it over ebony because it has that softer feel on your fingers.
Which pickups are in this new model and how would you describe them?
So we have the 6-string .strandberg* OEM pickups in this. And I would say sonically they’re very diverse. You can get a lot of different tones and it has a 5-way switch. You can get anything from like a very, almost single-coil-sounding passive to a really thick and warm midrange sound for distortion if that’s what you’re going for. I personally use Fishman Fluence Moderns and the Tosin series in my guitars, but that’s just because of all of the tapping that I do. But I also use these regularly for recording when I’m not on tour!
What are some of your favorite sounds that you’re able to achieve with the Boden Standard NX 6?
I try to get a lot of varied sounds from all of my guitars, so there’s not anything specific that I’m going for. But I do look for sustain, that’s huge, even with active pickups. If I’m doing tapping, I’m not usually always fast tapping, I do like melodic solos and stuff, just tapped. So I really need the sustain to hold out so that I can move from one note to the next. And it has like a really snappy, punchy sound for the cleans, you know, a lot of attack, but it isn’t dry, empty attack. I have a telecaster and I’ve had it forever. I really like it, but it’s only attack with tapping. There’s no sustain and it doesn’t really hold out. And with this, I can get the attack and the punch that I’m looking for, but it still has the body of the tone that I need. So anything that I’m working with, whether that’s a plugin, an amp, or whatever, I can always get the sounds that I’m looking for.
You have a few different signature .strandberg* models with differing amounts of strings. In terms of 6- vs. 8- vs. 7-strings, do you have a preference for how you use each one?
People come up and ask me, “Well, how much more difficult is it to use an 8-string vs. 6-string?” and for me, they’re all physically the same level of ease to play. But I use them in different situations. So when I’m writing on my 6-string, I’m usually focused on melodic things and solos. It kind of forces me to be more choosey about my voicings and how I’m phrasing things. I don’t know why, it’s just always been that way. And then when I moved to my 8-string, I was much more focused on percussive techniques and texture because I have that range. So there’s a lot more that I can do. I can have the left hand doing something that the right hand isn’t doing. I can have more interplay between those. And then the 7-string is just, I think it’s like the most comfortable guitar. I love the way the 7 sits in your hand, I love the way it feels to play. I love having the option to go lower. So it’s kind of that middle ground where you can be percussive and you can do heavier stuff, but it doesn’t come to mind as quickly as the 8. So I guess it just depends on what I’m writing!
Aside from performing live, you spend a lot of time creating and recording music in the studio. Have the ergonomics and weight of your new signature model helped you during the recording process in any way?
Well first off, I’m so clumsy [laughs] and my studios, they’ve varied in size over the years and I’ll always bump things. And so just being able to pick up a guitar that weighs almost nothing and set it down, it’s eliminating the barriers that get in the way of recording and playing. For me, it’s the smallest thing. If the smallest barrier is there, I will not do it. I cannot overcome the ADHD urge to just like, not [laughs]. So it’s really nice and it doesn’t take up much space, and we all know how expensive rent is, so space is an expensive commodity right now. It’s also nice because I do a bunch of woodworking, I do a bunch of crocheting, and a bunch of painting. I do everything that your hands don’t want you to do. I’m going to be a nightmare of arthritis in 10 years and so I feel so good knowing that I’m playing the most ergonomic guitar. It’s the most comfortable for my hands. I have no pain. I have no tendinitis. I have no carpal tunnel. I can play for hours and be perfectly comfortable when I’m staying live, it doesn’t hurt my shoulders. It’s just something that feels almost integrated into your body, rather than this giant separate thing that you have to play on. It responds immediately to you, which is cool.
You’ve incorporated electronic elements more recently into your music. What has inspired this, how has the process been, and what’s next?
Actually, I started with electronic music before I started playing guitar! I’ve always loved electronic music. I love dance music and club music. I know it’s so opposite from prog metal and the nerdy world of guitar, but my mom is super into that stuff and has always listened to it, so I’ve been wanting to find a way to incorporate the kind of artistic and technical aspects of guitar because I love that. There is something deeply fulfilling about the complexity and the intricacy of the current guitar music. But I don’t find it compelling enough as it is, just because I need a driving beat, you know? [laughs] So I’m trying to find ways to blend what’s so fun about guitar because it truly is just fun to play. Like, even more than to listen to, the guitar is so much fun to play. So finding a way that I can blend what I like to do with what I like to listen to, I think is my end goal and always has been. So I’ve been looking at ways to incorporate various aspects of electronic music production that are maybe a little bit more complex than just, you know, downloading samples and importing them into Ableton or whatever. So like modular synths and analog synths. And I always try to find and explore pedals to get new tones on the guitar to find ways to blend them with that music. Still an ongoing process though, so we’ll see.
How does your new Standard NX 6 model fit in with your other signature guitars?
I love all of my models that have come out so far for different reasons. And this specifically, I mean this will probably be my new daily driver, my new tour guitar. Hopefully, we’ll have some tours coming up this summer! This is great because I never have to worry about like, temperature or humidity really. This is something that I don’t have to worry about setting up constantly like my other guitars in the winter. And .strandbergs* hold up better than other guitars. They really hold tune incredibly well, especially when you’re on the road. I’m always shocked at how they just stay in tune almost all the time. So there’s no drastic difference in what’s going on here. The quality among all of the guitars is the same. Ola is very particular about where he gets his guitars produced. I have my custom 8-string and I love it just as much as I love this guitar. They’re two different guitars, but there’s no difference in quality. So just for the sheer fact that I don’t have to worry about the humidity affecting the fretboard, this will be my daily driver for a while. But, that doesn’t take away from any of my other guitars. I love and play all of them regularly!
Be sure to follow Sarah on Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok to keep up with her latest videos, future music release plans, and upcoming tour dates.