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Cliff Burton - style & technique

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by prof_nutbutter, Jun 8, 2005.

  1. prof_nutbutter


    Jan 6, 2004
    yo guys,
    i'm really into the old metallica stuff with cliff burton atm. the last few days i learned master of puppets and the four horsemen on bass easily. and i am really amazed by cliff burtons cool basslines. i once saw a video and noticed that he was developing his own technique and style.
    what do you think of him, opinions please and tell me if you think that metallica would have become greater than they already got with jason newsted.


  2. Tash


    Feb 13, 2005
    Bel Air Maryland
    Cliff is a very popular bassist on these boards, for good reason. Personally Cliff is the reason I started playing bass, and the same is true for a number of others here.
    Tedthulhu likes this.
  3. To me he was the best. Im sure by most peoples standards he is up there among the best metal bassists ever. It has been suggested that his death "made" him greater than he really was. Maybe so, but he still was an amazing player by the age of only 24. He could play the really fast thrashy stuff like Fight Fire With Fire, Whiplash, Damage Inc. etc and very melodic stuff like Orion and Fade To Black with a kickass groove.

    As a songwriter he was also great and influenced Metallica alot. He knew when to back the guitars to create the "wall of sound" sound :) and when to create cool basslines.

    His right hand technique is somewhat hard to describe from the video clips that I have seen. It seems like he used 3 fingers to pick/strum. Although he did anchor his thumb sometimes, he rarely did and didnt need to. It just floated around and he had great control from playing so much :)

    I think Metallica would have been better if Cliff had never died. I dont know how popular they would have gotten, but it certainly would be good to have as great a songwriting talent/bassplayer like Cliff in the group. At least they let him write something :p unlike the years with Jason :/

    In conclusion: Cliff rules! Now he plays the harp, but he probably rules at that too :D
  4. Matt Till

    Matt Till

    Jun 1, 2002
    Edinboro, PA
    To get Burton's style down, I'd recommend growing your hair out, wearing old jeans/band shirts and getting a Misfits tattoo... then headbang all crazy like.
    Oleg BassPlayer likes this.
  5. metron

    metron Supporting Member

    Sep 12, 2003
    Cliff is one of the bass players that got me started too in the late 80s early 90s. The latest bass player mag featuring him (i think it was feb of this year) noted that he studied classically and that found its way into his playing. He wasnt just shredding, there was theory behind what he did.
  6. BassGod


    Jan 21, 2004
    Cliff has been my biggest influence for a long time now, he's a great bass player. Anyone interested in his playing needs to buy the DVD Cliff 'em All. He got me into the 'lead bass' style of playing, along with Steve Harris and Steve DiGiorgio, and also into the use of effects on bass. The solo in 'Orion' is amazing, very melodic. He also turned me from playing with a pick into playing fingerstyle (though I play with a pick in a couple of my band's songs).

  7. Vorago

    Vorago (((o)))

    Jul 17, 2003
    Antwerp, Belgium
    With Cliff I experienced the "Flea-syndrome". He's great when you start playing bass, but once you really get into it, you start to realize that your hero isn't that god-like as you tought he was. I noticed it with Flea, and same thing with Burton.

    Ah well, to each their own I guess.
  8. CBAnaesthesia


    Jun 2, 2005
    What are you talking about? have you seen Cliff 'Em All? If God wasn't God, he would be Cliff! I realize he's not the fastest or best player out there, but just cause you can play his songs, doesn't mean you could have written them. Best metal bassist EVER, IMO.
  9. Suckbird

    Suckbird Inactive

    May 4, 2004
    I'm not really into metallica but to me it seems that the bass players are mostly just following the guitars, and then people says "great basslines" :rolleyes: .

    The only song i really like of metallica is orion, and there you have great basslines..
  10. Hekbass


    May 21, 2005
    Zephyrhills, FL
    Yeah, dude. So, to play like Jaco, wear a bandana, and a Native American indian quilt over your clothes, play barefoot and pour some baby powder on the stage (Jaco was known to do this)...and voila! Flawless 16th note grooves, harmonics, and advanced chordal/melodic ideas will just flow through your fingers!! Ain't that neat? What a jack@ss.
    Cliff is the reason I became a bass player, and to this day (18 years after first hearing him) his playing still amazes me.
  11. Matt Till

    Matt Till

    Jun 1, 2002
    Edinboro, PA
    it's actually jack@ss.com

    Just so you know... sometimes I make jokes... sometimes there not great... but sometimes people can't tell I'm telling jokes. When I say Cliff's "style" I was make a little joke as to discuss his fashion sense. I respect Cliff. I wouldn't say he had advanced chordal/melodic ideas... but I'm not suggesting torn jean will turn you into a monster bassist.

    Ooops, I forgot you were talking about Jaco... yeah, he had some advanced chordal/melodic ideas.
  12. Hekbass


    May 21, 2005
    Zephyrhills, FL
    Alright....you got me there. :meh:
    You are right, it is hard to tell that it was a joke. Anyways, it's good that you took it in stride, instead of getting back at me with some nice four letter words.
    Now, where did I leave my Misfits T-shirt and my bell bottom jeans?
  13. Tash


    Feb 13, 2005
    Bel Air Maryland
    Cliff did too, for his style of music. Of course if you used a 3rd in metal back then you were pushing the limits of musical accomplishment.

    A lot of Cliff's theory background came from studying not only classical, but Jazz as well. He was a HUGE Jaco fan by all the accounts I've heard and you an definately see elements of Jaco's attitude and style in Cliff's phrasing and approach to harmonies.
  14. Where have you heard this?
  15. Hekbass


    May 21, 2005
    Zephyrhills, FL
    I second that one. I have never known that he liked Jaco. In Classic Rock magazine, they ran a rather long piece on him, and they mentioned Stanley Clarke, Geddy Lee, Geezer, the bands Discharge, and R.E.M., and of course his classical studies. Also, Bass Player ran a cover story on him on February, and I am sure they did not mention Jaco. I am not saying it is impossible, just that we'd like to know where did this info come from.
  16. Tash


    Feb 13, 2005
    Bel Air Maryland
    Several interviews with Cliff from way back in the day regarding influences. He often cited Steve Harris, Geezer Butler and Jaco along with other. I also recall reading an interview with Kirk from shortly after Justice was released where he said he'd tried to bring more Jazz theory into his soloing, having gotten heavily into Jazz and Fusion after Cliff introduced him to Jaco and Weather Report.
  17. Matt Till

    Matt Till

    Jun 1, 2002
    Edinboro, PA

    Yeah, I forgot to add a few of these friendly little fellows: :p ;) :hyper: :D :ninja: :bassist: :cool: :smug: :bag:
  18. EddieG


    Jan 19, 2005
    I think Cliff was great, his style of playing and his tone really suited Metallica for that period, when they were quite punky.

    However, today I got a copy of the Ride The Lightning stems from Guitar Hero, which gives you Cliff's isolated bassline. And while it's a pretty ballsy tone, the playing itself is pretty scrappy. It seems that technically, Cliff wasn't as great as I thought he was...
  19. \m/cliffB\m/


    Jun 23, 2009
    dirty jearsy
    u no all that stuff is re recorded by another band to put in to the game its not the original
  20. jonly


    Oct 3, 2005
    Springfield, il
    if only cliff could be resurrected as easily as his thread...

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