Interview with Nicholas Slaton of slicnaton
Name: Nicholas Slaton
QRD – What was your first bass & what happened to it?
Nicholas – It was a Hohner fretless. It was a cool bass, thin body with a brown to red sunburst & no fret markers. I sold it to upgrade at some point, but I wish I had kept it.
QRD – What’s your typical set-up from bass to effects to amplifier?
Nicholas – I like my basses with long scale lengths & setup with high action. I usually play with a dry sound, but when I use effects I use whatever is available. I use anything from expensive pedals to junk. I always am looking for new ways to get cool sounds. I use a solid state amp with various speaker cabinets.
QRD – What’s the most important part of your rig – bass, amplifier, or effects?
Nicholas – Fingers, anything can sound good if you play it right.
QRD – What’s your main amplifier & why?
Nicholas – Acoustic Image Clarus IIR. My amp of choice. Solid state power with a nice EQ, I use this as a head anytime I plug in & when this one dies I’ll get the new version to replace it.
QRD – Do you prefer upright or electric bass?
Nicholas – I prefer having the right instrument for whatever I’m playing.
QRD – Do you prefer to use a pick, fingers, or a bow?
Nicholas – I like fingers & bows; I rarely use picks, but once in a while I’ll borrow one.
QRD – How many strings do you think a bass should have?
Nicholas – 1-6.
QRD – Why do you play bass instead of guitar?
Nicholas – The low-end.
QRD – How is a bass different than a guitar other than being lower in pitch?
Nicholas – They’re just bigger.
QRD – What’s your main bass & what are the features that make it such?
Nicholas – These days I grab for my Chinese no name double bass. It was in a car accident & the whole top got smashed. The repair estimates where higher than the value of the bass so I got another bass & it went in the closet. After several years I decided to try to put it back together. It isn’t pretty, but it still sounds good.
QRD – What do you think of the thumb rests on some basses?
Nicholas – Cool for decoration but seldom used, rarely do they get in the way. They never seem to be close to the place on the string I like to play.
QRD – If you had a signature bass, what would it look like & what would some of its features be?
Nicholas – It would have a big body with high action, neck-through with string ferrules. Fretless with a fixed bridge. I’ve thought about this a lot & my dad & I are going to build one eventually.
QRD – If you had a signature pedal, what would it be & what would some of its features be?
Nicholas – I have a Demeter Compressor pedal that would look good with my signature on it.
QRD – How many basses do you own?
Nicholas – 7.
QRD – How & where do you store your basses?
Nicholas – In the case at room temperature.
QRD – What features do you look for when buying a bass?
Nicholas – Feel & sound first, but it’s got to look cool.
QRD – How much do you think a good bass should cost?
Nicholas – Between $0-$120,000.
QRD – Do you upgrade & customize your bass or just stick with what you get?
Nicholas – I will, but only if they break & I usually replace with comparable if not identical parts.
QRD – Are you after one particular bass tone & locking into it, or do you like to change your tone around a lot?
Nicholas – I like to switch it up.
QRD – What are some basses, amps, & pedals you particularly lust after?
Nicholas – Right now I want a Zon Legacy Elite 6, a Czech Flatback, a campfire style acoustic bass guitar, & some bizarre custom fretlesses.
QRD – What do you think are some important features to be on a person’s first bass that aren’t always there?
Nicholas – Good tuning pegs.
QRD – What have been the best & worst bass related purchases you’ve made?
Nicholas – Worst was The ART Nightbass multi-effects. It was awful; I bought it in the late nineties so I might like it now! I guess the best would be my Acoustic Image amp; it’s my daily driver & workhorse.
QRD – What are some effect, amp, & bass brands you particularly like or dis-like & why?
Nicholas – I like Demeter, Electro Harmonix, Fender, Bergantino, Acoustic Image, Alembic. I use a lot of varied equipment. It’s hard for me to name brand I don’t like because everybody makes something cool. Some of my favorite pieces are from brands you wouldn’t expect.
QRD – What’s the first thing you play when you pick up a bass?
Nicholas – Whole notes.
QRD – How old were you when you started playing bass?
Nicholas – 13.
QRD – At what age do you think you leveled up to your best bass playing?
Nicholas – Hopefully not yet.
QRD – Do you feel bass lines should echo & emphasize guitar & drum parts or be their own distinct elements?
Nicholas – It depends on the setting, I like both when done well. It’s always nice when the bass can add or emphasize parts without sticking out.
QRD – Would you rather people hear or feel your bass?
Nicholas – Feel.
QRD – Why do you think a bass fits you more so than other instruments?
Nicholas – I always liked the bottom.
QRD – Do you see your bass as your ally or adversary in making music?
Nicholas – Definitely an ally, a coalition member!
QRD – Do you think people anthropomorphizing their bass is natural or silly (e.g. naming their bass)?
Nicholas – Basses have their own personalities, they don’t need human characteristics.
QRD – What’s the most physical damage you’ve done to a bass & how did you do it?
Nicholas – Again, that’s the Chinese bass that was in the car accident. It was smashed into kindling.
QRD – What do you do to practice other than simply playing?
Nicholas – Think & listen.
QRD – How many hours a week do you play bass & how many hours would you like to?
Nicholas – Nowadays about 10 hours a week, used to play much more, would like to play more.
QRD – What gauge strings do you use & why?
Nicholas – Whatever the biggest gauge is at the store.
QRD – How often do you change strings?
Nicholas – As little as possible.
QRD – How often do you break strings?
Nicholas – Several times a decade.
QRD – Which do you feel is more proficient, your strumming/bowing hand or fretting hand & how does that effect your style?
Nicholas – You kind of need both.
QRD – What tunings do you use & why?
Nicholas – I use standard tuning, dropped D, & some unspecific non-diatonic tunings.
QRD – Do you prefer tablature, sheet music, or some other notation system for writing down your own ideas?
Nicholas – Sheet music is good. I don’t do tab.
QRD – What’s a bad habit in your playing you wish you could break?
Nicholas – Not playing loud enough!
QRD – Playing what other instrument do you think can most help someone’s bass playing?
Nicholas – Definitely drums & then piano.
QRD – What’s a bass goal you’ve never accomplished?
Nicholas – When I was a kid I always wanted to play with Madonna.
QRD – What’s the last bass trick you learned?
Nicholas – I like your trick where you have a second bass leaning against the amp that is just used as a drone.
QRD – Did you ever take bass lessons & if so, what did you learn from them?
Nicholas – I’ve taken lots of lessons, I learned that every player has their own way of doing things & so should I.
QRD – What would you teach someone in a bass lesson that you don’t think they would generally get from a bass teacher?
Nicholas – Harmony.
QRD – What’s something someone would have to do to emulate your style?
Nicholas – Play less.
QRD – If a band has good bass work, can you ignore the rest of the band not being good?
Nicholas – Every good band needs a good bass player. If the band sucks usually a good bassist will move on.
QRD – Where can people hear your best bass work?
Nicholas – www.Extemporate.com
QRD – Anything else?
Nicholas – Thanks for having me!
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