Many music fans were introduced to Fred Sablan when he was tapped as the Deftones’ bassist in mid-2022. Originally from Cupertino, CA, Sablan played both guitar and bass in various punk bands and, like many of his contemporaries, was influenced by Joy Division and New Order bassist (and Yamaha signature artist) Peter Hook. Sablan’s career trajectory would eventually land him the gig with Hook, and that coincided with his introduction to Yamaha basses.
“I got my first one in 2018 when I was playing with Peter Hook on tour for the Substance albums,” he recalls. “I was playing a BB734A and instantly loved it.” Sablan’s fondness for that BB bass led to him collaborating with the Yamaha Custom Shop to design his current instruments. “My customs were based on those BB734As, but stripped back a bit.”
Sablan’s punk ethos informed his choices when designing his custom basses, with one word describing what he was looking for: “Simplicity,” he says. “I don’t need lots of different knobs and switches. Purely a good neck, good pickups, volume, tone, and a pickup blend. When playing shows, the less I have to think about with regard to all that the better [laughs].”
Working with the Custom Shop was an easy process that so far has produced two standard-tuned models and a third that he tunes B, E, A, D, low to high. “Honestly, I just gave them a few notes about what I was looking for in a custom bass and they nailed it. I used two of my customs on tour last year on tour with Deftones. I just got my third one, and that’ll get integrated with the next album and tours.”
While his Deftones gig certainly keeps him busy, Sablan has also been involved in other projects, including the hardcore punk supergroup Heaven’s Blade, and he finds time to noodle around the house on a Bigsby-equipped Revstar model. (“Great guitar!”) Given his musical and professional journey, Sablan’s relationship with Yamaha seems to be a natural fit. “Some of my favorite bassists have played Yamaha BB basses. I was looking for the one that fit my music. So playable and versatile.”
Keep up with Fred on Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/fredsablan/