Duff Mckagan Sound

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by Bass Boy J, Jun 13, 2021.

  1. Bass Boy J

    Bass Boy J

    Mar 3, 2020
    I’m a huge fan of Duff’s sound on the GNR and Velvet Revolver albums, and I’m trying to get a similar tone. I have a Rumble 200 combo amp, fender American professional ii jazz bass, a TC Electronics Afterglow chorus pedal, and very similar EQ settings. However, the sound I got is close to his sound, but it isn’t where I want it to be.

    I was thinking about this setup. I’ll swap out my bass’s stock pickups with Seymour Duncan hotstack jazz pickups(the ones he uses in the bridge position on his jazz specials), into the same chorus pedal, going into a Sansamp RBI or Boss GEB-7(to get the effect of his TBX), into a GK 800RB into two acoustic 115’s.
    Does this setup sound like it would get his tone?
  2. two fingers

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

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    A PJ doesn't sound like a jazz. A PJ, an 800RB, amd a GREAT picking hand will get you pretty close. Dude is a great pick player.
  3. Bass Boy J

    Bass Boy J

    Mar 3, 2020
    I know a PJ doesn’t sound exactly like a jazz, but there is a pickup near the neck and bridge in both types of basses. My question is will using the same jazz pickups he uses get a similar tone?
  4. Smurf-o-Deth

    Smurf-o-Deth Nothing to fret over. Supporting Member

    Oct 2, 2007
    The state of denial.
    How's your picking technique? He plays his bass slung low, and his pick attack sort of scrapes across the strings. This is a part of his tone that nothing other than how you pick will approximate.
    Roger W, Rich67, TC424 and 7 others like this.
  5. lokikallas

    lokikallas Supporting Member

    Aug 15, 2010
    los angeles
    PJ bass on full blast and a GK amp. Done.
    SC Bassboy, Flog, FlyingV73 and 6 others like this.
  6. Bass Boy J

    Bass Boy J

    Mar 3, 2020
    My picking technique is basically the same as his technique.
  7. Duffs tone is mostly a gk Amp and aggressive playing.

    I can get it fingerstyle on a p bass pretty handily.

    Fresh steel strings are huge too
  8. melloncollie

    melloncollie Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2016
    Something like the GK plex pedal may be a better option than an RBI. The RBI will emulate a tube amp sound which is pretty far from the sound of a GK
    lowdownthump and SLO Surfer like this.
  9. hbabels

    hbabels Supporting Member

    Jul 26, 2015
    Phoenix, AZ
    Rotosound swing bass 66 steel strings. A Sansamp would help you get the slight grit to his doubt. GK amp into 1x15 s definitely right direction.
    lowdownthump and MOTORHEADBANGER like this.
  10. andare


    Oct 4, 2016
    I remember reading an interview with Duff way back in the day where he said that he used a flanger, not a chorus. Could be, with subtle settings

    MOTORHEADBANGER Spud-boy looking for a real tomato Supporting Member

    Dec 23, 2008
    Somewhere in Time
    Having copied his tone quite a few times unabashedly in my younger days, the recipe is pretty simple, but there aren't many substitutes.

    1. PJ Bass of some sort (A jazz bass with 70s position bridge pickup like a Geddy Lee can get in a rough ballpark, but only if a PJ isn't an option. They're bit twangier than a standard jazz and slightly different mids)
    2. Fresh strings (preferably steel strings like Rotosound 66's. I've had great luck with DR Hi Beams and they last much longer)
    3. GK amp. There's something about the GK tone stack and baked in eq that works with his tone. You can dial out the baked in tone, but it's hard to add it to a non-GK amp. I've used everything from the 400RB to MB Fusion and they all work.

    Supplemental: Chorus pedal (really any decent one will do) for a few songs, and maybe a bit of compression for the pick attack. I wouldn't worry about any sansamp except maybe to tweak the eq a little or add a tiny bit of grit. The GK is the predominant tone factor amp-wise for his sound. The RBI is a very different tone and investing in a rack unit is dumb for a limited application. If you absolutely want one, I'd suggest a para-driver di or a Q-Strip. The para driver is much more versatile than the RBI/Bass Driver (it's the RPM rack in a box) and the Q-Strip is a wonderful eq/tone sculpting tool.

    My advise is to buy a PJ bass of some sort. Swapping pickups on that jazz will be a money pit and won't get you closer to his tone at all. It's about the pickup configuration and placement. My personal recommendation is a used Japanese made Fender Jazz Bass Special from 1984-87. They are incredible versatile basses, lightweight, and comfortable. If you can't find one for a decent price, Fender just reissued a fairly close copy of them called the "Boxer" bass. Having played one this week, they nail the tone including the TBX control and don't have the painted black neck of the originals and his signature bass. Also, get a GK amp of some sort. If you can afford it, the new Legacy amps are fantastic and sound much like the old RB series while being lightweight and having modern features. If you can't, a used MB series head or combo (including the fusions) will do the trick as will an old RB series if you can heft the extra weight.
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2021
    obimark, Rich67, 31HZ and 4 others like this.
  12. two fingers

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

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Honestly, I don't think it will get you there. Others may disagree.
  13. lowdownthump


    Jul 17, 2004
    Like others have stated above , you need that PJ , GK, and fresh rounds.
    obimark and SLO Surfer like this.
  14. There is a scene in an old MASH episode in which they were talking about Colonel Potter’s paintings. He said, “Well, I’m no Norman Rockwell!”…..to which a war journalist responded, “That’s OK. We already have one!”
    In essence, create your own sound. Why try to sound like someone else? It is said that two bass players can play the exact same bass with the exact same settings, exact same amp with the exact same settings, exact same cabinet yet sound completely different. Is the old adage, “one’s sound is in their fingers” true?
    I have never purposely tried to sound like someone else. Whether I do sound like so and so is just by chance. I would hope that if someone heard me playing without seeing me they would recognize my sound.
    Anyway, good luck on your journey to emulate Duff McKagen.
    BLDavis likes this.
  15. Bass Boy J

    Bass Boy J

    Mar 3, 2020
    I’m basically looking for a pedal/rack mount unit to sort of emulate the sound of a TBX without messing around too much with my jazz bass. So would the GK Plex or BOSS GEB-7 be better options?
  16. Bass Boy J

    Bass Boy J

    Mar 3, 2020
    Maybe this is a better question- are there any other ways to get a similar tone, but without using a jazz bass special?
    SLO Surfer likes this.
  17. cataract

    cataract Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2007
    Columbia SC
    This works for meee
  18. kmon

    kmon Supporting Member

    May 11, 2009
    Austin, TX
    No to derail anything, but is that a pedaltrain template drawn on cardboard? Are you trying pedal arrangements before committing anything to velcro?

    I really dig that amp setup BTW.
    cataract likes this.
  19. cataract

    cataract Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2007
    Columbia SC
    Yeah! Needed a way to give the velcro on my actual board a break from my OCD, haha. This does the trick
    31HZ, kmon and Lownote38 like this.
  20. Fresh strings, thick hard pick, mostly bridge pickup, compressor, chorus, light grit, and eq with high mids bumped up. That's where I would start. Also, keep in mind that you are usually listening to his studio tone so listen in a studio-like setting, not in a live room. The tone will change when you get out in a live setting.
    SLO Surfer likes this.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Jul 27, 2021

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