NICK JOHNSTON TALKING SCHECTER GUITARS WITH TALIA FABER AT NAMM 2016!
Nick: Hi, I’m Nick Johnston, I’ve been an artist with Schecter Guitars for about a year and a half, I just got my first signature guitar with them which is very exciting, and it’s my third year at NAMM.
Talia: Can you give me a description about your guitar, what are some special features on it?
Nick: My guitar is the first actual signature custom shop guitar from Schecter, so it’s a pretty big honor for me. It’s based off the traditional model, which I’ve been playing for about a year before we decided to do a kind of unique version of it. It’s pretty much the same in playability and features, but it’s got different pickups. I’m using Seymour Duncan’s Texas Hot pickups; it’s got a unique signature color, atomic silver. It’s got locking tuning heads, 14-inch radius, 25.5-inch scale and it plays like a dream.
Talia:Why did you choose Schecter of all companies?
Nick: It’s funny, I had this impression about Schecter that they were more into the metal guitar scene and doing more of the import guitars until I actually played one. A friend of mine named Keith, who is another Schecter guy managed to get Schecter interested in me, they sent me a guitar and I played a couple notes on it and I just knew I was going to have to switch over. So it’s just that plus the people here; the team is amazing and I think it’s super important to be with a company in this industry that can help you and you can help them. There’s not a lot of those kinds of companies, especially with so many new guitar brands popping up every year; it’s like how do you find the right one? This one just fits like glove.
Talia: So you’re a solo artist, but what kind of music do you play? (For people who don’t already know)
Nick: I play instrumental rock music with influences from other genres, so I like to keep a pretty open genre I guess. It’s in the realm of rock, but sometimes I’ll take country influence, or jazz influence and just kind of throw it all in the mix. It’s getting a little bit more progressive these days, but still instrumental rock music with a lot of melody at its core.
Talia: Along with your Schecter, what kind of pedals, amps, or heads do you use?
Nick: I usually just plug my guitar straight into my Freidman Amplifier which is an amp company based out of Hollywood and I like to keep it really simple. I use some pedals here and there, but more so to just experiment. My main sound is just guitar into amp, I’m trying to rip off the Van Halen approach.
Talia: It sounds like it’s going well! Do you ever plan on going on tour or anything like that?
Nick: Well any of the traveling and performing I’ve done has usually been clinic tours. I was just in Chino for two and half weeks with Schecter, I was in England and we’re doing some European stuff in April. It’s kind of a weird way I’ve approached it, I don’t necessarily was to be stuck in a tin can with a bunch of smelly band members at this point in my life, or at least for now. I’m just kind of feeling it out doing the clinic touring and I am keeping busy with that; it’s just maybe not the traditional approach, which I think is cool cause the way the industry is moving, it’s very non-traditional and everything is changing.
Talia: So as a custom shop guitar, your guitar is it’s so nice and elegantly simple compared to most others. Was there a specific reason behind that?
Nick: Well I think it just has a lot to do with my personality, when it comes to my approach to gear I don’t like a million options, I’m one of those people that’s very particular, but I also don’t want to be bothered with distractions and if this is going to sound good or not. Just give me what I know will work and give me the best version of that and I’ll make do. I’m one of those guys that sometimes you’ll have a great performance and sometimes it’ll be horrible because you can’t win them all, but just having a guitar I know will straight up work for me at the base level is just a confidence boost. It makes me feel good to know that has my back, plus I think less is more with guitar sometimes. I don’t play metal so I don’t need active pickups, and I don’t need a whole bunch of switching and push/pull pods. I play rock music so I just need three single coil pickups, a volume knob, and a five- way switch.
Talia: What other things has Schecter helped you out with?
Nick: Everything, they even took me to a hockey game. It’s been great and they’re the most supportive team; Mark, Mike and Ryan. I’ve had a lot of relations with other companies, I’ve worked with Seymour Duncan and they’re great, we do a lot of stuff together, but the guitar company is just about finding the right fit and having that relationship where you do a bunch of stuff together and look out for each other. It’s that relationship where it’s very balanced and I’ve never had that and I think it’s cause they’re so interested in touring and traveling, you really couldn’t ask for a better company. How many guitar companies are willing to take a younger, newer and solo artist and take them all over the world; meet all the distributors, play a lot, have a good time, and actually be interested in what they’re doing? That’s not really a thing that happens, and I know how lucky I am, so that’s what they’ve done for me and that’s already too much! I’m very grateful.
Talia: Would you highly recommend Schecter for anyone?
Nick: Yes, I mean if you came up to their room or just go on their website you will see their line is insane. There’s so much stuff.
Talia: Hence why they get a big room every year!
Nick: Like I said, I didn’t get it until I played the guitar. That’s the other thing, the custom shop thing isn’t available in a lot of places, especially in Canada/North America. You have to try one, once you do it’s just like there you go.
Talia: So what made you decide to switch and what guitar company were you using before?
Nick: I wasn’t endorsed, but I was using Fender guitars, Ibanez, and Gibson stuff. I love the Fender guitars, they’re so beautiful.
Talia: It’s difficult to get anything with them though, isn’t it?
Nick: Yeah, and it was just the second I played the black Traditional, I was just like why have I never heard of this? That was actually one of the big reasons why they brought me on to do the signature guitar to kind of start pushing it and make this ridiculously awesome guitar and they’ve been around for 40 years. They were just great guys, so that has a lot of weight because people are always fighting for their own piece of the pie.
Talia: I feel like it’s kind of rare to see a solo artist getting sponsorships and endorsements, it’s just that much harder.
Nick: It’s tough, yeah, but thank goodness for the internet; I work really hard with the video stuff and social media stuff. I try my best to take advantage of that, get my name out there and try and be as personable as possible, and it works.
Talia: The whole collaboration with Polyphia probably did a little bit too.
Nick: Oh yeah, that definitely helped too and I’ve also done some stuff with Periphery, and Intervals. It all helps, and I don’t have a label or manger, I am 100% independent. It’s cool to attempt all this.
Talia: You’re more flexible of yourself, you control what you want.
Nick: Yes, and I think that’s kind of the way the market’s going, being in control of your own destiny.
Talia: Any tips for any new guitarists or upcoming guitarists?
Nick: I think it’s important to be realistic cause everyone has these grand goals of doing these crazy things. I think it’s important to have small goals and accomplish them. I’m 28 now and I’ve been doing the instrumental/independent thing for six or seven years and I’m only now starting to see the result of what I did six years ago. It’s very much like putting money into a bank every day, you watch it grow slowly and you be careful. Don’t talk badly about people, be nice and try to enjoy it. Motivation and positivity are a must in this line of work because it’s very easy to get bogged down. When I first started I knew I was going to need three to six albums before I start seeing any life in this, and that’s the way I still look at this.
You can check out Nick Johnston’s music here:
You can purchase his new signature model here: http://www.schecterguitars.com/custom-shop/usa-product-collection/nick-johnston-traditional-detail