Duff Mckagan Sound

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

  1. I also concur his chorus settings had a lot to do with that trebly tone. Back in high school when the Use Your Illusion albums came out, I remember being ridiculously obsessed wanting that sound lol I must say it works extremely well with GnR and the type of songs they make.
  2. HardNHeavy


    Apr 17, 2014
    Milford, PA
    CheckBass likes this.
  3. If someone can listen to a recording, much less a Rock recording and tell the type of wood the bass being played is made of, I would be beyond impressed.
    Rich67, getbent, mcnach and 6 others like this.
  4. TuneIn


    Feb 15, 2010
    New strings, every time he plays helps, give it a try.
  5. Savage_Dreams


    Jan 8, 2007
    Or get the tc electronic corona chorus and use duffs TonePrint ;)
  6. Altitude

    Altitude An ounce of perception, a pound of obscure. Supporting Member

    Mar 9, 2005
    Denver, nee Austin
    I in fact had a white Fender Jazz Special back in the mid 80s that had a Seymour Duncan in the J position. This was before Duff was Duff, so it's kind of neat. Maybe he saw me play Duran Duran covers at a skating rink one time and my bass was his inspiration.

    In any case it had no issues with assertiveness. I remember dialing it back a little at the amp, even back in those days when we were all had super bright tone goals. 2x15 cabinet, too.

    The SD pickup in mine had 3 tiny white switches built onto the pickup cover. I didn't take time to understand what they did. It was a lifetime ago so I don't remember what model it was. Anyone know?

    Here I am rocking my pre-Duff Duff at a festival in Austin in 1986, then a year or two later after I'd discovered Mark King and was wearing it way up there like he did.


  7. Stevorebob

    Stevorebob Well... I Am Here, Aren't I? Supporting Member

    Sep 29, 2011
    Los Angeles
    The recordings likely have a healthy amount of, if not exclusively, DI in the mix.

    But also — as has been said — new strings, scooped mids with maxed contour, shimmering chorus and aggressive pickplaying near the bridge pickup. Plus, good 15s deliver high end and basswood is not dull (check out a Bongo). And, the cabs were probably 410s.
    SLO Surfer likes this.
  8. Bass Boy J

    Bass Boy J

    Mar 3, 2020
    Duff said he used a 2x15 cabinet for those albums
    jeff7bass likes this.
  9. smtp4me


    Sep 30, 2013
    Philadelphia, PA
    Is that an RB850? If yes, I owned a Red one from the time I purchased it new in 1984, until 2013. Great bass.
    BrentSimons and Standalone like this.
  10. Rabidhamster


    Jan 15, 2014
    Good 15s can reproduce all the treble you’d ever want from rock bass.

    Same way a strat can sound great through a 15”, or even be too bright, the size of the speaker doesn’t tell you it’s frequency response.

    The recording method also plays just as much importance.
  11. Standalone


    Jan 17, 2005
    New Haven
    It really is. Only my fancier 82 Musician outdoes it, but not on all fronts -- nothing has quote the great grindy rock drive like that 850.
    smtp4me likes this.
  12. BurtMacklinFBI

    BurtMacklinFBI Degen from Up-Country

    Apr 3, 2018
    Did he specify that was what he did on the GnR records? His tone on the Velvet Revolver stuff sounds quite a lot less trebley to my ears.
    DavidEdenAria likes this.
  13. MTN.bass72

    MTN.bass72 Supporting Member

    Jan 9, 2010
    Blue Ridge, Ga
    My thoughts exactly... pick, his J bass special... and what the engineer eq'd his DI sound at
    two fingers likes this.
  14. J-Mags


    Jun 18, 2018
    Durham NC
    The special secret ingredient: play standing and wear your bass low. That enables the relaxed, powerful and elegantly inelegant picking hand with the scrapey pick attack. Picking hand mechanics become very different when the bass is low. Duff generally places his picking hand right around the P Pickup on his bass, although he'll change it up from song to song.

    Aside from that, the usual: PJ Bass, new strings, energetic attack, chorus, loud amp. I'd disagree that the chorus needs to be up all the way. Just get to the point where it sounds good.

    Incidentally, I'm not a huge GnR fan, but the white P-J special with the black headstock and murdered out hardware is the one specific artist look I want to ape. Dunno why.
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2021
  15. TheSeagoats


    May 21, 2015
    What someone says their rig is doesn't always equate to what was used in the studio. I haven't yet used one of my live bass amps to record bass. I'd be willing to bet there's some kind of studio compression on his sound too, nearly everything gets compression in the studio.
    SLO Surfer likes this.
  16. Bass Boy J

    Bass Boy J

    Mar 3, 2020
    In an interview his bass tech(Mcbob) said that’s what he did on the records
    BurtMacklinFBI likes this.
  17. coy garcia

    coy garcia

    Jan 18, 2020
    Chorus, Compression, Pick near bridge, rounds.
  18. 15s can definitely be very bright. Especially with the right bass. For the duff tone it definitely has to be a Fender Jazz Special. The signature model comes close but the original 80s Japanese ones give you the exact tone. I have the signature and two of the original Japanese and it's night and day. I'm using a GK 400RB with a 115B and 115T cabs (which he used in the 80s and 90s GN'R tours). Not sure if I'll add a 410, don't know if it'll add anything to the Duff sound. You can see in the videos that they always miked the 15" cabs. For chorus I have the Ibanez CS9 which is what he used in the early days and today. Rotosound 66LD strings. Dunlop .73 picks. Regarding picking, I notice that in the AFD days he would pick near the bridge and in the UYI days near the neck, very different sound which is in agreement with his sound in those albums. He also explained once that one picking technique he has is sometimes mimicking a "pop" with the pick on the higher notes (just slightly). That actually works in copying his sound.
  19. I didn't (surprisingly) see anyone mention that his bass had a TBX tone circuit... Which is the only bass made (to my knowledge) that had such a device. I have an original J Bass Special, and with new strings, it pretty much sounds like him, plugged in to an Ampeg, with very little tweaking.

    However, I'd say that about most P's with new strings.

    As for the TBX... I install one on all of my basses, and Ive done so for well over a decade.
    Plectrum72 and Bass Boy J like this.
  20. Bass Boy J

    Bass Boy J

    Mar 3, 2020
    Is the TBX circuit essential for his tone?
  21. Primary

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