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Artist Spotlight: Nik Sampson

This artist spotlight is focusing on the enviable skill of Nik Sampson. I first met Nik about eight years ago when we shared a gig together at a venue in Central London - I was immediately blown away by how easy he made it look when he played! He was also quick to compliment my guitar tone, something I appreciated despite me having borrowed a friend's Friedman amplifier for that particular show.

I would describe Nik as a ‘modern metal genius’, though he refers to himself as primarily a ‘rock or metal musician’. Whether he is writing lead or rhythm guitars, or laying down a solid bass foundation, he always seems to be in his element and having extreme fun whilst he does it.


Nik was encouraged by his family to start learning the guitar at the age of 13, and soon he started taking lessons at a local guitar store using an old classic guitar that was gathering dust at home. This was the beginning of a lifelong love story!

In a slightly fortunate turn of events, he was introduced to a well-known guitarist a number of years later who became his friend and mentor.

“After a few years of playing, I was introduced to Chris Broderick (formerly of Megadeth and currently In Flames) and have been taking lessons from him to this day since 2010!”

Chris Broderick is a legend in his own right, having played with Nevermore and Megadeth in the past - he now plays for Swedish metal heavyweights In Flames. By Nik’s own words, “ [Broderick] opened up a whole world of possibilities - not just on the instrument but in music holistically”. 

Having made himself known in his local scene and further afield, something we will discuss later, he eventually got the opportunity to join bands such as Devilment (with Dani Filth of Cradle of Filth fame), Damim, Omicida and most recently, UK death metal legends Benediction on bass. 

What Kind of Music Do You Like/Not Like?

Being a fan of jazz, country and film scores allows him to innovate and approach a song from a different perspective if required. I am sure that, like so many musicians, I would be unable to pin Nik down to give me examples of each style - there is just so much to choose from, for me at least!

When asked this question, Nik was forthcoming with his answer on what he didn’t like. He is not a fan of trap or grime music, both offshoots of hip hop, rap and EDM music. 

“But then again, it’s probably something I should check out to see what I can find in there!”

Only a seasoned and consummate professional would still look for ways to appreciate something he doesn’t like. This is shared by myself, all of the other artists in the Spotlight series and every other successful musician I admire. Nik told me that, when listening to any music, he likes to find something that is new to his ears, or at least interesting. Things like a key change, technique, textural sounds or a production trick all have merit whilst not being directly related to playing the guitar. 

Working as a Musician

Whilst he has been teaching students with a range of abilities for the past decade, the majority of Nik’s time has been spent playing with all of the bands mentioned early. Currently, Benediction are gearing up for recording an album before playing a selection of festivals over the summer and embarking on a South American tour after that - there is always something on the horizon and a working musician cannot sit still and fester. Again, this is a popular theme you might notice!

Check out this performance from Benediction at Hellfest, France in 2023:

It is not all big festivals and sweaty rock clubs though, despite how fun an experience that is. There is also some session work whereby Nik has recorded solos for the cellist Jo Quail, Nic Meier (Jeff Beck Band), and also working with famous YouTube guitarists such as Bradley Hall. 


Nik is fortunate enough to be an endorsed artist with Jackson Guitars, and can often be seen playing his custom shop built seven string King V guitar, the very one I saw him play that night in London. Most of the guitars he plays are on the extreme side of things visually, but hold their own otherwise. 

Touring the world on a strict budget meant that using a digital rig, usually from Fractal Audio Systems, was a necessity but not a compromise. He still prefers the real thing, currently an EVH 5150iii and some pedals, but admits that there is not much in it. 

 “- there’s that 1% mystery factor that the valves bring that digital hasn’t quite got yet, even though a lot of it is really hard to tell the difference between now!”

As alluded to before, having visually extreme guitars can lead people to make assumptions about ones playing, however, that does not really matter here as he is playing in one specific area in the myriad of genres available to us and the aesthetic of the guitars fit. Compare this to Joe Boult (see the other blog post) who requires versatility, visually and aurally, for his professional work, Nik made his choice based on convenience.

For his bass rig with Benediction, the set-up is much more straightforward owing to the fewer number of tones required. A solid Jackson bass, naturally, is paired with the ever-popular Darkglass B7 Microtubes pedal - this can go into any bass amp and turn it into a snarling monster, or be linked directly to a PA system.

Some could argue that these rigs, and the musician by extension is not clued up on what choices to make gearwise - I have found that almost exclusively the opposite is true. Purists of either discipline might chastise these choices for their simplicity, but the fact is they do their job extremely well and that is the goal. 

Has Your Playing Ever Been Judged Prematurely?

Nik is a towering figure and could probably bench press me with one hand. Also, he is always smiling and, with possibly the largest hair known to man, does not necessarily fit the image of a shredder whose playing will literally melt the skin from your face. 

“It’s normal for people to look at you and make assumptions about you and that’s something we have to deal with on a daily basis.”

Nik tells me this anecdote relevant to the subject. After playing a show, a guitarist from another band ended a pleasant conversation about technique and gear with the words “- you were a lot nicer than I expected you to be”. Perhaps there are many reasons for this, it could be that they were jealous of his technical skill (something I could understand!) or otherwise intimidated. In any case, he chose to make a presumptuous decision about someone in what should be a community driven endeavor. He explained to me that “you have to develop a thick skin and let criticism and judgements roll off your back” - this is relevant not just for the music industry, but life in general. 

Nik goes on to discuss the role social media platforms have in the showcasing of our individual talents, and how we should be able to identify when to take criticism as a chance for you to advance yourself in a positive way or recognise when someone is simply trolling. 

Advice for Beginners

In the first line of the response I got for this question were the words “- practice, practice, practice”. I think everyone, and I often try to steer my own students onto this path, should try and enjoy the process of practice and savor the rewards that come as a result. 

“Many of the opportunities I’ve had have come about from simply being out there”

The bulk of the advice I was given here was to just get out there and make yourself known, play with as many people as you can and make some friends. Become a regular face at shows in your local area and eventually a chance will present itself. One thing I am extremely jealous of, is when Nik and some friends attended a local jam night in Dartford, United Kingdom to have none other than Guthrie Govan attend, and act like he was a mere mortal walking among us (he supposedly just borrowed a guitar and joined in the fun - madness!). 

I think experimentation is extremely important, and being able to incorporate that into your own playing even more so. He also recommends keeping an open mind and not to be afraid to try new things and fail.          

“ - this is where we learn the most about ourselves and how we can improve and be better.”

What is New?

As you must have guessed, Nik is an extremely busy individual, a testament to his skill and popularity as a musician. As well as gearing up for the recording and touring schedule with Benediction, there will undoubtedly be one-off shows with his comedy thrash metal band Prolapse AD. There is also a solo EP nearing completion, with a few secret guests. A hope shared by the both of us is that this will open the doors for some more solo material in the future and allow for more creative freedom and not be constrained by a signature band sound or image. 

You can follow Nik Sampson on Instagram here:

Or on X (formerly known as Twitter) here:

I recommend you keep up to date here, ready for the announcement of the solo EP and future music. I know I will be! Let us hope he gets to visit Japan soon!



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