Ten Signature Basses
We do get our fair share of complaints that we don’t feature enough bass gear – and, to a certain extent that’s fair enough – so here’s our choice of just ten signature basses out there that we feel deserve attention.
They’re in no particular order and are from various price-points too - one or two are, in fact, rarer than a Motorhead ballad - but all are extensions of their signatory’s own larger than life personality.
Warwick Bootsy Collins Orange Star
The true opposite of a shrinking violet, Bootzilla is pretty much the personification funk bass. His similarly understated signature model is resplendent with a sliver flake finish, orange stars (in this case) and active MEJ pickups and although costs the GDP of a small African country, is the pinnacle of style and substance.
Fender Geddy Lee Jazz Bass
Constantly vying with Maiden’s Steve Harris for the top spot of Best Rock Bassist polls, the erstwhile Rush man’s tonal spank, driven by Rickenbacker and Wal basses in the past, is at the very heart of the Canadian trio’s impressive catalogue. A Badass II bridge and two Jazz single-coils provide the bassics (sic) here and the look is pure seventies Fender. After all, it’s a far cry from 1973...groan.
Fleabass Model 32
Flea is easily the most technically impressive bassist to have emerged onto the world’s biggest rock stages in a long time and, as befits a man who once legendarily sported a sock on his tonk (and that’s when he’s not running around in his birthday suit), his new range of affordable basses are kerr-razy. This example is finished in eye-popping Sunny Bass and each example sold comes with a free DVD...give it away indeed.
Yamaha Attitude II
Bass God Billy Sheehan has played Yamaha for what seems a lifetime and although he enjoys dazzling audiences with one-off custom instruments like the all-chrome version or the double-necked Attitude that must weigh more than the man himself, he’s been a leading light in rock bass circles since the mid-seventies. DiMarzio pickups, stereo outputs and a Hipshot D tuner are just some of the highlights, and it’s a cool bass fo’ sho’.
Fender Steve Harris Precision
Iron Maiden’s Overlord has used a Precision for his entire career and this (fairly) new version of his signature bass is based on the classic metallic blue finish he employed during the late eighties. The cream and West Ham FC-logo’d instrument he’s used for the past two decades is, in fact, that same axe and, boasting a Seymour Duncan SPB-1 split pickup, not to mention flatwound strings, the reissue is perfect for recreating that Maiden clank...as long your right arm is up to it.
Ibanez Paul Gray PGB1
Although Slipknot bassist Paul is actually a left-hooker, right-handed versions of his cool signature are available, which is good for most of us. Factory-tuned to an earth-shattering B-E-A-D and based on the eclectic Ibanez ATK design, it also features a couple of rather snazzy fingerboard inlays and a ceramic humbucker that gives an output phat enough to level buildings. Wooargh!
Squier Frank Bello Jazz Bass
To go with a Fender version, this very smart Squier is the signature model of Anthrax four-stinger Frank Bello, a finger player in the Steve Harris vein. The skull decals and so-called ‘angry man’ design on the rear of the headstock will appeal to younger metallers, while the combination of precision and jazz-style pickups should make anyone sit up and take notice.
Rickenbacker Chris Squire
Based on the RM1999 model used by the occasional Yes man since the mid-sixties, this smaller version of the classic 4001 is hard to find yet lovely to play and listen to. It’s certainly an obscure model from a brand that seems to be increasingly difficult to get hold of, but eBay, as usual, would be the obvious location to start a hunt.
Produced under the Japan-only Edwards brand and manufactured by an arm of the ESP Custom Shop, this barking design is used by Ikuzo ‘Ikuzone’ Baba, bassist with Dragon Ash, as band that’s so big and influential in Japan that they’re regarded with the awe usually reserved for a deity. Boasting a weighty Duncan SMD-4D pickup and a trio of top-mounted controls, this is a certainly a bass to seek out should you find yourself with nothing to do in Ochanomizu.
The signature model of former Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony, this was introduced during the band’s extended downtime in the wake of the disastrous VHIII. Bassed (sic) on the truly classic BB design, the chilli pepper graphics mirror those tattooed onto the man’s equally stocky frame. Any chance of Wolfie using a BB whenever VH decide to hit the road again? Thought not...
To top us off, no mention of the bass guitar is complete without paying homage to Guitarist’s number one bass guy and top mate Roger Newell. So here he is, and, yes, we miss Bassist magazine like oxygen and pork pies too...sniff.