David Ellefson bass sound

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by hahallur, Jul 11, 2013.

  1. hahallur


    Jul 11, 2013
    Although I'm not the biggest Megadeth fan, one of my favorite album for bass sound is Countdown to Extinction. As a recording engineer/mixer/bass player, I'm wondering if people here might know his instruments, amps and/or processing on that album.

    Regards. H
  2. Miskatonic


    Sep 15, 2009
    Portland, OR
    Not sure of what exact gear he may have used during recording, (which I know doesn't answer the heart of the question) but he has been a long time user of Jackson and Hartke. Recording is a different world altogether from playing live, but I would start there.
  3. Mola Ram

    Mola Ram

    Jan 18, 2010
    I don't think he had switched over to Modulus at that point so I believe he was still using his Jackson concert basses and Ampeg amps.

    From various interviews I've seen Ellefson do he gives some good insight into how he gets his tone. First is that he EQ's in a way most bassists dont and it's actually where I learned this from. A lot of bassists scoop out the mids where he actually bumps them. Basically instead of a smile the parametric eq is more of a frown.

    The other thing I've seen is that he picks very close to the bridge for a crisp attack and while the basses I have seen him use have pickups at the bridge and neck he has said that he uses only the neck pickup.

    Hope that helps and definitely take a look on youtube. Ellefson gives a lot of interviews and does a lot of clinics where he talks about his tone.
  4. Was gonna mention the pick usage. Key to his tone, if you ask me.
  5. IPA

    IPA Supporting Member

    May 5, 2010

    It's a combo of mid/mid highs being bumped and I believe usually P/J pickups, both pickups on full.
  6. Mola Ram

    Mola Ram

    Jan 18, 2010
    It's possible that he's altered things over the years but according to this clip (go to 1:38) he says the neck pickup is gerenally where he plays most of the time.
  7. hahallur


    Jul 11, 2013
    wow... what an active forum! Thanks for the response, definitely helps!

    Keep em' coming if you have more insight!
  8. Mola Ram

    Mola Ram

    Jan 18, 2010
    Hmmm, I may have been wrong about the EQing. I think Alex Webster was the one who I heard talking about boosting mids.

    Ellefson talks about scooping mids and sometimes even leaving things flat in this clip:
  9. hahallur


    Jul 11, 2013
    I think pick thickness may also be a factor, know what type of picks he uses ?

    He definitely picks at the bridge pickup and uses the neck pickup I think.
  10. jamminology101


    Aug 22, 2012
    Indianapolis In
    Endorsing Artist: Glockenklang
    Opposite to crack a smile eq'n....I crack a frown where bass is flat...bump up mids and lower highs a bit. Granted im a fingerstyle player buts gets me a good semi growl tone picking by the bridge pickup. This as his tone is more aggressive. U liie this tone...forget the smile n go for the frown.
  11. xUptheIronsx

    xUptheIronsx Conform or Be Cast Out....

    Feb 6, 2010
    C-ville, Col, Ohio
    not s'possed to smile in metal anyways ;)
  12. IngerAlb


    May 11, 2007
    As you know, what you say you're using and what you're actually using are 2 different things (especially when recording)...but quoting from the album's sleeve: "Megadeth play & endorse the following: Jackson Guitars, D'Addario strings [...] Gallien Krueger Amplifiers, Samson/Hartke [...]". IIRC he said the tone from those years was due to using Jackson basses and Hartke cabs.

    Apart from the EQ, pick playing is key (valid for almost any other thrash metal band); playing towards the bridge will indeed give you a more mid-rangy-metallic tone. Use flexible picks and pay attention to the material they're made of - believe it or not, it's critical.
    Rickter likes this.
  13. mmbongo

    mmbongo I have too many basses. Supporting Member

    Countdown was the album that came out before Youthanasia. They filmed the recording of Youthanasia, and in there he shows off the basses he uses for recording. He had a Jazz, a Pedulla, a BC Rich Eagle, and a Steinberger Q4 (wood body). He's mostly seen playing a Jackson, though.

  14. Mola Ram

    Mola Ram

    Jan 18, 2010
  15. ddawson2012


    Aug 30, 2011
    Farmingdale, NY
    D'Addario Marketing Specialist; Don Dawson
    Also note that Dave is now playing SIT strings....
  16. During a clinic in the Netherlands I asked David about the Steinberger (I'm a huge fan of these basses).
    He didn't even remembered it :crying:. He told me they hired a lot of of basses and amps during the recording of Countdown. Just to check out, to see what worked the best within the songs.
  17. ntbhoang


    Nov 1, 2010
    Does anybody check out the bass tone of Annihilator, i think that band has the best bass tone in Thrash Metal along with Rex Brown from Pantera.
  18. AdamR

    AdamR Inactive

    Sep 24, 2007
    Bethel CT
    Rust in Piece and Countdown he used GK 800RBs, Hartke 115XL, Hartke 410XL, Hartke 210XL Ive seen him use this rig live, If its all actually plugged in I would guess Hes running the 15 and the 410 off the low amp and the 210 off the high amp.

    Jackson basses with passive electronics, Rotosound strings and records with bolt on neck basses. He plays on the neck pickup. No effects. He says he scoops his mids because the guitars are mid heavy.

    One thing to remember is just because he scoops mids live doesnt mean that how it was mixed and the mid range on a guitar amp and the mid range on a bass amp are necessarily the same frequency. If you listing to the isolated bass tracks on Rust in Piece it sounds heavily compressed. He also uses a lot of palm muting.

    Definitely the tone Ive been trying to get lately.
  19. songwriter21

    songwriter21 I have an obsession for wood. The musical kind. Supporting Member

    Jul 31, 2005
    I know that in the Rust and Countdown days, he used Rotosound strings, too. Then, from Youthanasia on, he switched to D'Addario strings, and went with the Prisms (discontinued), and now has been using the Pro Steels.

    He does have one of the best metal tones ever, but these take the cake, imo:

  20. AdamR

    AdamR Inactive

    Sep 24, 2007
    Bethel CT
    He has a SIT string signature set now.