Appetite for Distortion

Duff McKagan’s main bass is an inexpensive mid-‘80s Fender Jazz Special with Seymour Duncan Hot Stack pickups and Rotosound strings. “Before we started recording I was playing a Music Man bass instead, to get more of a growl,” he says. “It was great live, but when we made the Velvet Revolver record I went back to playing my Fenders.” A longtime devotee of Gallien-Krueger amps, Duff’s current tone is based on the classic G-K sound but with a bit more aggressive rasp and bite. In the studio and on the road, he’s using a 2001RB head into two G-K RBH 4x10s, an 800RB head into a G-K wx15 for distortion (G-K is designing an 8x10 for touring), and for extra bite, a Marshall JMP guitar head, THD Hot Plate power soak, and a Marshall 1x12 guitar cabinet. “The combination of the Gallien-Krueger bottom and the Marshall growl is perfect for me,” says Duff. “I still own and us the G-K rigs from the Guns N’ Roses days. They’ve never broken down on me.”

McKagan uses Dunlop Tortex picks, straps, and straplocks. He sometimes also goes through an MXR —80 distortion box, and he used a Z-Vex Woolly Mammoth on the tune “Set Me Free” from the Hulk movie soundtrack. “Those are great pedals. On the road with Velvet Revolver I’ll probably end up using some delays and stuff, but not a lot. Mostly I go for a straightahead sound. I’m not going to get too trippy.”

Bass Player Magazine, March 2004

Many thanks go out to Duff's bass tech McBob for the equipment pictures!

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Duff's Basses (click image for individual basses)

Duff's Gallien-Krueger bass cabinets
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