Duff Mckagan Sound

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Bass Boy J, Jun 9, 2021.

  1. Bass Boy J

    Bass Boy J

    Mar 3, 2020
    How did Duff get such a trebly tone with 2 fifteen inch speakers on the GNR records? I know that he didn't use compression, and that he used a seymour duncan hotstack j pickup for the bridge. But the body of the Jazz Special is made of basswood and basswood tends to have a duller sound. To me using only a seymour duncan hotstack j pickup with a basswood body and 2 fifteen inch speakers probably wouldn't add too much treble to the sound.
  2. Coz 15s don't sound dull, and he probably turned up the treble on his GK gear
    mcnach, Rocker47, Plectrum72 and 13 others like this.
  3. Bass Boy J

    Bass Boy J

    Mar 3, 2020
    On his settings(on the GK amps) he dials the treble back. It’s on his Instagram from about a year ago
    rodl2005 likes this.
  4. Maybe *YOUR* 15 sounds dull and muddy, but most don't.

    Speaker size means nothing other then the size hole it is mounted in.
  5. levis76

    levis76 Defender of the Low Ender

    Apr 14, 2007
    Metro Detroit
    Fresh roundwounds, bump the treble on the preamp, boost the high mids on the amp a touch and play with authority. Duff used to really dig in with the pick, made them strings sing.
  6. David76112


    Feb 19, 2012
    Active EQ helps a lot too. Not to mention all the other mechanics involved in tone.
    BrentSimons and dkelley like this.
  7. jeff7bass


    Apr 9, 2009
    I got it pretty good with my Spector Euro and GK700RB/115 combo sitting on a GK210. We played Night Train. A blast on the bass.
    BrentSimons, Reedt2000 and tindrum like this.
  8. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    First off, Duff is an outstanding pick player. That's part of it. Where/how he picks likely has something to do with it.

    EQ. Speaker/driver size has nothing to do with it. I could be wrong, but I bet his cabs weren't miced up in the studio anyway.
  9. jeff7bass


    Apr 9, 2009
    I played Night Train with a pick also. That was back in my younger days. It's strong pick attack with good left hand grip, plus the right GK settings.
    shoot-r and two fingers like this.
  10. Smurf-o-Deth

    Smurf-o-Deth ¡No me gustan mis pantalones!

    Oct 2, 2007
    The state of denial.
    He also likes a bit of chorus in his tone.
  11. Smooth_bass88

    Smooth_bass88 vaxx! Supporting Member

    Oct 31, 2006
    North AMERICA, USA
    Unless you were there, it impossible to know what Duff’s exact signal chain was on, say, Appetite for Destruction for example. Besides some of the aforementioned points above, his tone is in his fingers; it’s the way he strikes the strings with his right hand.
  12. Standalone


    Jan 17, 2005
    New Haven
    Part of the GK/15" tone IME is that the GK will drive with a sweet warm clear upper mid and treble complexity to the tone when you push it.

    Play the right wattage classic GK for your application, with the treble tone flat or even nudged back, but get the gain staging right and have some hot pickups and a strong RH technique... and the treble comes through from the drive.

    This is my experience, and I haven't given super close listens to Duff since back in the day, but I'm betting that this is part of it.
    BrentSimons and cataract like this.
  13. Standalone


    Jan 17, 2005
    New Haven
    A white bass helps, too
  14. How do you know there was no compression on his bass and that they mic’d his cabs in the studio? I always heard a bit (or sometimes a LOT) of chorus on his bass in GnR tracks.
    BrentSimons and CheckBass like this.
  15. arbiterusa


    Sep 24, 2015
    San Diego, CA
    Pick, hard. He’s a great pick player.
  16. OkayistBassist

    OkayistBassist Supporting Member

    Jun 17, 2017
    Pick hard, but also almost hold your pick sideways. He scratches the strings on his attack.
  17. Anemic_SluG

    Anemic_SluG Supporting Member

    Dec 1, 2009
    I will add in, as I own a jazz bass special and have had GK rigs. It’s the combo that brings out that Duff tone. That bass covers a lot of ground and doesn’t sound anything like my other pj style basses. It has a ton of lows but a high mid that cuts through, and I have to eq it differently then a lot of my other basses to sit where I like it. So I think it’s his bass, a GK amp and his playing style.
    Groove Doctor likes this.
  18. Klangfarbe


    Jan 12, 2020
    tl;dw: He makes massive use of the Contour Control on his GK-Amps. This will boost (around) @50 hz and 7 khz and cut @500 hz. The Treble/ Presence Control sits a little higher around 10 khz. The 7 khz is probably what you hear.

    Have a look into this:
    BrentSimons likes this.
  19. Savage_Dreams


    Jan 8, 2007
    what makes you think he used 15s back then? im fairly certain it was 10s for him in the (original) GnR days.

    can also see him with 10s here

    Ive seen him with mixed stacks of 4x10 & 15s, even just 12s at times when he was with walking papers i think, but never just 15s.
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2021
    CheckBass and SLO Surfer like this.
  20. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol

    Not just a bit, humongous amounts of chorus and the pedal is always on.
    That's where the shininess, swift attack and easiness to cut through comes from.
    To sound like him the chorus is a must.
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