Cliff Burton's gear

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by FC Bass, Dec 8, 2007.

  1. Ondskan56


    Dec 17, 2010
    I think he relied on the boost, the boost adds so much power to the sound that i'm sure he used it.
    I have Big Muff V3 (1978) and i get pretty close to some of his tones but it's dirtt sometimes.
  2. I use my chain like this Amp with high gain > Morley power wah boost > ts808>boss cs3 > Aria pro ll sb bass . I wish I had a cs2 lol
  3. Check out my YouTube channel for an example of my setup ! ( argiebass ) is my channel name
  4. ERicks


    Feb 22, 2014
    This is a great thread. I used to spend lots of time trying to figure out what the guys were using back in the 80s, specifically around the MOP era. A few observations:

    -The Tube Screamer looks more to me like a TS9 than an 808...the footswitch looks a little wider, like a 9 would have.

    -You can get pretty close to his regular, broken up tone just by cranking the channel volume on a of my favorite bass amps! I feel like he used less pedals live later in his life, maybe this aspect of the amp has to do with that.

    I found this photo on Instagram the other day-I have no idea how to log into it on a computer but here's the link, maybe someone can blow it can see his Morley and a footswitch for something (maybe the Ibanez HD1000), not sure what the other stuff is:

    Caloiski likes this.
  5. Ondskan56


    Dec 17, 2010
    This picture is between 1984-1985.
    Near the Morley Power Wah Boost you can see Morley A/B/Y which he used to switch or combine channels.

    Attached Files:

  6. REMBO


    Jul 26, 2011
    i saw him live!! he was awesome!!!!
  7. 000_Unknown


    Jan 18, 2014
    Dont forget you have to pack three in the hands of the big riggers..
  8. funkytoe

    funkytoe In Memoriam

    Jan 17, 2008
    Northern California
    A reference to the "Cliff 'em All" video... The "Big Riggers" were Cliff, Jim Martin, Jim's older brother Lawrence "Lou" Martin, and Dave DiDonato. That video was filmed in Lou's garage in Castro Valley, California. The house has since been sold many times, but I have a clear memory of that garage and the starry - solar system wall covering.

    Ironically, people always associate "big riggers" and weed references. The name actually grew out of their love for night fishing. Thanks for the memories...
  9. 000_Unknown


    Jan 18, 2014
    Mind if I access your brain sometime?? I always thought the "big riggers" were truckers who hauled in the "square groupers".. Considering this opportunity, would you happen to know what tune Cliff is whistling?? I have been wondering about that for close to 20 years now.
  10. Master of Puppets8

    Master of Puppets8

    Aug 24, 2014
    Does anybody know what settings to put on the Ts808?
  11. Ondskan56


    Dec 17, 2010
    When i used the ts808 i use overdrive all the way up, tone closed and volume at 1 o'clock depends on how much you need to push the amp for gain.
  12. downeastthrash


    Jun 11, 2012
    I've been searching for the proper way to set up the Morley and muff for years, but people need to understand is that the old Tel Rays had the the input and output on one side. So we cant always set up the pedals he has in the order we see.
  13. Another lil tidbit to add...
    Cliff's sister is on Facebook, and posts some pictures of his belongings occasionally. She posted this today and is adamant it is Cliffs only Aria. As we all know, it wasn't, but its interesting to see, regardless.
    (In Connie's defence, I'm sure my sister wouldn't even be able to tell the difference between my basses and an acoustic guitar!)

    pasi likes this.
  14. Bear in mind he removed the mute from the Ricky's bridge and had someone put a strat pickup in the space. It says in his biography it gave him more of a 'lead sound'.
  15. funkytoe

    funkytoe In Memoriam

    Jan 17, 2008
    Northern California
    That is true. Local guitar tech Chuck Martin completely changed all pickups in Cliff's Rickenbacker. The neck pickup was replaced by a Gibson EBO humbucker. The bridge pickup was replaced by a Seymour Duncan stacked jazz pickup. Finally, Chuck routed out the area in the Rick's bridge where the mute would normally go and installed a hot Seymour Duncan strat pickup. It was connected to the bridge pickup volume knob, which was replaced by a push pull pot. Cliff called it his "secret weapon." When engaged, it really add a treble "bite" to his sound.

    Unfortunately, I think the secret pickup and the push/pull pot were taken out of the Rick sometime during the recording of the Kill 'em All album. I recall Cliff telling me that they caused too much noise and that the studio engineer wound up rewiring the Rick during the recording of that album.
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2015
    ERicks likes this.
  16. Oh. I didn't know. Thanks for the info anyway!
  17. ERicks


    Feb 22, 2014
    So I thought about this thread last week after I got a copy of "Back To The Front," the new book about the making of/touring behind Master Of Puppets. It's cool! There are some interesting photos and quotes I haven't come across before. I'll type all the pertinent Cliff gear quotes that I can remember. I'll put a descriptor of who's quoted for some context.


    Flemming Rasmussen (MOP/RTL Producer): "Cliff more of less played Rickenbackers, but he had a deal with Aria Pro, so he'd occasionally swap basses depending on the song. The thing about Cliff was that he needed to be in a good mood to do a decent bass track. He was a real artist. When he was pissed, you wouldn't want him to play, but when he was feeling all right, he'd go for hours."

    James Hetfield: "The Morley [wah-wah pedal] was what Cliff used for distortion. I think at the time he was also using a SansAmp, but man, his foot was stomping on all kinds of poopie."

    -I think James might be misremembering a little since the SansAmp was not made until 1989 or so, but Jason Newsted definitely used one, so maybe he's getting them mixed up.

    Flemming Rasmussen: "Cliff did a lot with volume pedals. (there's more to this quote but it's just a basic description of what a volume pedal is, not super pertinent to anything about Cliff really)"


    Eddie Kercher (Cliff's tech): "A lot of Cliff's sound came from the way he'd bend the strings. It was his fingers, his technique. It wasn't all effects. I remember experimenting a lot with his pickups, just lining them differently to achieve various types of harmonic sounds. At one point, we dipped them in wax. That gave him a tighter overall sound and kept [the pickups] from feeding back, especially when he'd pound the open strings the way he did."

    John Marshall (guitar tech/TM/fill in for James): "Cliff used a Morley fuzz box with a built in wah. The crowd loved it: this skinny guy with long, red hair making these enormous sounds. Nobody had ever heard anything like it."

    Big Mick (FOH engineer): "Cliff would stomp on that pedal, and his bass would swell to four times the normal volume. I'd say 'Cliff, we've got to turn it down man. You're killing me.' He'd go into those massive Whaaa! sounds; the big shaging roaring bits with the Morley, and it was difficult to get the PA as loud as the bass rig."

    There's a picture caption where the author describes everyone's rig for the tour-it's pretty broad and incomplete, with photos right in the book giving more detail. Anyway, it says Cliff's rig was a "Mesa Boogie D180 Power Amp and Mesa Boogie cabinets," and that he used "a compressor foot pedal and Morley Power Wah" for effects. It might be of note only for the fact that I haven't seen anything about him using a compressor live at this stage anymore.

    There are a few cool Spastik Children photos too, one with the P Bass that was talked about earlier in this thread, and then some others where he is playing one of the Aria Pro II basses. You can even see his old Sunn Beta Bass head in one of the photos - I guess his Mesas were in storage for touring by then and he pulled out his old amp for the SC show.

    As far as any other gear-related photos, there isn't really much new unfortunately. Plenty of great live shots of him playing the Arias, Rick, and maybe one or two with the Alembic, plus a few live shots where you can see the two D180s in the big road case offstage. There's one photo from the last night of the Ozzy tour where you can see what looks like his Morley and a black pedal to the right of it, but it's too small and dark to really tell what it is. The quote above about the compressor pedal got me wondering if maybe that's what it is, and that maybe he was using a Morley Pro Compressor - it looks like the Morley AB Box that was posted earlier in the thread, so it might make sense if he had been using that for a while or something. Plus, the quotes from John Marshall and Big Mick definitely make me think that he was using the Power Wah Fuzz live on that tour.

    His shoes look like old Brooks running shoes.

    Sorry for the massive post! The book is definitely worth grabbing if you're a fan. There are so many great stories and memories in there, it's definitely like being able to look into a slice of the lives of the band and the people around them...very cool.
    tigny, barach713 and mkfanforever58 like this.
  18. Canadian APII

    Canadian APII Supporting Member

    Feb 3, 2013
    Ottawa Ontario
    So Cliff had three Arias. Makes sense. The SB1000 he played at the Green, The B&G given to Audrey Kimball and the one Connie has. I suspect the bass given to Kimball was the one that had a PJ Marxx pickup in it temporarily.
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2016
  19. slagheap

    slagheap Supporting Member

    Dec 23, 2011
    My band shared a bill with Trauma, the SF bay area based band Cliff played in immediately prior to Metallica. He was already the fully developed player & head-banger, same style and solo piece as later, etc. He played a single pick-up Aria.
    TuneIn, mkfanforever58 and ERicks like this.
  20. barach713


    Jan 17, 2016
    alright the thread is on...always hated how there is so little to no information on his gear...nowdays you can tell exact signal path certain musician uses..but back way when...not so much...alot of these info we had is either from personal experience or few blurry pics, someones story and our own deductive thinking...we should definitely keep the post live and well
    mkfanforever58 likes this.
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