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The Latin Bass Issue – Nelson Segura


The Latin Bass Issue – Nelson Segura

Nelson Segura, Converging From Pop Music to Deep Instrumental Bass…

BMM Please share with us a little of your personal background… 

NS I was born and raised in Grecia a small town in Costa Rica, Central America. I started to play the electric bass when I was 16 years old. My passion for music was influenced by my father Gerardo Segura, who is an organ and piano player. 

I studied music at UNA (National University) and later I got accepted to the National Institute of Music and started to play the double bass. Ever since then I have not put the instrument down.  I have been playing with many musical bands, including some of the top bands in the nation, touring all over and outside the country. Ever since I have been a professional bass player I have had the opportunity to record over 30 albums, with many different artists.

BMM What was your first bass, and how did you come by it?

NS The first bass I played was a Dean 5-string that I borrowed from a good friend. Then I got a Yamaha 4-string bass for six months and tried to play almost every song on the radio by ear with those two basses. My first bass that I owned was a Washburn XB-600 6-string that my father bought me after realizing my passion to learn how to play bass.

Since the beginning I have preferred to play the 6-string bass; I was inspired by John Patitucci’s instructional video, which also made me realize that it would be a long road to learning music.

BMM Tell us about that very first day you had a bass in your hands.

NS My father introduced me to one of his friends who is a bass and guitar player. I remember falling in love with the sound of bass, as he was rehearsing Merengue music tunes and playing “boom slides” between the bass line of the songs. I asked him to show me how to play the bass and he let me borrow his for 3 weeks. After that I knew I had to get my hands on my own. Ever since those first notes, I have been playing the bass; I fell in love with the sound of bass guitar.

BMM As a bassist born in Latin America, do you find this to be an advantage or disadvantage?

NS For me I find it an advantage. It has been a challenge to learn many different musical styles, but the industry demands the kind of bass player who can play many different styles including Salsa, Merengue, Bolero, Cumbia, Bossa Nova, Samba, Timba, Cha-Cha-Cha, Pop, Ballads, Soul, Funk, Disco, Jazz, Afro-cuban, Fusion, Rock, Classical, etc. I have had the opportunity to travel to many different places and learn other music styles that I can put into my work. It is also very important to be able to play by ear and to read music.

BMM  What are your main musical and bass influences?

NS John Patitucci, Jaco Pastorius, Francis Rocco Prestia, Ray Brown, Victor Wooten. Salvador Cuevas, Erben Pérez, Alfredo Paixao and Ruben Rodriguez from Latin Music. Dominique DiPiazza, Carlos Benavente, Janek Gwizdala and Hadrien Feraud from Europe. Richard Bona and Armand-Sabal-Lecco from Africa and Marco Ortiz, and Danilo Castro from Costa Rica.

BMM How do you define the music style you play?

NS I like to play the bass as a singer or cello player. I like to sound like a fretless bass player, even if I play a fretted bass; I play that way and I apply this to many styles. I use different types of vibrato, bends, harmonics and slide techniques, combined with dynamics and legato on my playing.

BMM  How important is reading and studying music theory?

NS Very important. Music is a language, as in any language, to read it is essential. As a child you can speak your native language but when you learn how to read it, you can get lots of new information; in music it’s the same.

BMM What do you consider the differences that technology and the Internet have made for you as a musician, compared to the previous generations that didn’t have these tools?

NS The main difference is how fast you can get the information to learn music just by watching a video; you have almost everything in your hands. However, to me it’s important to take lessons with a good teacher and be part of the musical scene. 

BMM  Tell us about your gear.

NS I play Gonzalez Basses. I got the chance to work together with David Gonzalez, who is a great luthier from Arizona. I am using what he named my ‘Signature model’, the NS I, which is a 6-string, 26 fret, singlecut bass with a Mike Pope pre-amp and Kent Armstrong custom pickups with wood covers.

I am endorsed by Magma Strings from Argentina and TecAmp from Germany, where I use the two-channel Bonafide head and 2×12 S Classic cab. I love to use effects pedals like delays, tremolo, octave and envelop filter. I also use the Roland VBass and GK3-B pick up, yes… I like it!

BMM Who are your favorite Latin American bassists?

NS Alfredo Paixao, Igor Saavedra, Guillermo Vadala, Javier Malosetti, Cristian Galves, El Papa Pastor, Erben Pérez.

BMM  Please leave some motivational and encouraging words for the next generation of Latin American bassists.

NS Keep focus on your goals, don’t forget your role as a bass player, listen to the band, transcribe, compose, and practice every day! 

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