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Geezer Butler Tone?

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by Al3x, Jan 5, 2013.

  1. Al3x


    May 15, 2011
    Austin, TX
    I was wondering if anybody knew what he used in the studio for the first couple of albums. I know he used P-basses, and I heard that he used a guitar amp as well, but aside from that, I'm clueless.

  2. mcm


    Oct 2, 2007
    Nashville, TN
  3. MoscowRadio


    Sep 28, 2012
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think got his tone because some of his speakers were blown.
  4. J-O


    Jun 27, 2010
  5. Sartori

    Sartori Supporting Member

    I'm much more curious about his tone on "Master of Reality." I much prefer the sound of that album to "Paranoid."
  6. spacebassed


    Jan 31, 2009
    Much like Jack Cassady, Geezer Butler's tone comes from his right hand. A P-Bass and similar right hand technique will get you that tone, especially through something like an SVT.
  7. 1954bassman


    Jun 7, 2004
    Hickory, NC
    I thought his tone came from the guitar players amps. That's pretty well all the bottom end I ever hear. ;)
  8. Spatial


    Oct 30, 2012
    He used a Park Cab for "Black Sabbath" which was the one that had 2 blown speakers in it On the next couple of albums specifically on "Master Of Reality" im not 100% sure but I think he may have used laney heads(at least that's what it looks and sounds like here:

    which was filmed about a year before master of reality came out)

    As others have said a p-bass and playing over the neck will probably get close to his tone.
  9. Meddle


    Jul 27, 2009

    Especially NOT through an SVT. I'm tired of SVT's being used for pretty much every '60s or '70s bassist. Massively overrated piece of gear, and that nowhere near Geezer's tone. Geezer never used them back in the day. He used Laney gear (not Orange, that was just for that Beatclub video, but again is passed around as gospel). You want thin, unported 4x12 guitar cabinets to get the tone.

    The blown speaker story is used a lot, though I think there has to be a DI on the Paranoid album as well. I think he used tired and ancient roundwound strings. A lot of it is the technique up at the 15th fret. The attack of the note is pretty much a tiny hammer on, or harmonic, caused by the violent downward pressure applied to the bass string at this point.

    I used to have a video of me recreating the tone with none of the oldschool gear, but I deleted that account on Youtube. :mad:
  10. spacebassed


    Jan 31, 2009
    You're picking nits, you could certainly get that tone with an SVT and 810 -a V4b would work too, or a Sunn, or a Marshall Superbass, a lot of amps will get you in the ballpark. Sure, if you want to TOTALLY recreate the Sabbath thing a Laney would be preferable , but they're pretty uncommon compared to those other amps (an Svt being the most common). I will agree that I'd prefer a sealed cab, but really I think speaker choice is the least important part of getting a similar tone, ymmv. The most important thing is the right hand technique. Steve Harris is another guy whose sound is dominated by his right hand technique.

    ...and for strings I'd try D'Addario Chromes as suggested above. They're a great string, a nice bright flatwound - cheap too. If you listen to that Paris video posted above you can hear Geezer thumping on his bass unplugged at the beginning - cetrainly sounds like flats to me. If you don't want straight flats for whatever reason compression wounds/groundwounds would be something to try as well.

    EDIT: I noticed the OP specifically mentioned his STUDIO sound - to me it really just sounds like a DI with a distorted signal from the cabinets blended in.
  11. Meddle


    Jul 27, 2009
    Yeah the "Paris" (more like Belgium apparently) video is what made me realise he used dead roundwounds, when he's playing unplugged as you say.

    Having said that the closest I got to his tone was with groundwound strings... perhaps I don't have the patience waiting for roundwounds to 'die' enough for that bouncy tone. High action helps as well.

    I 'like' the idea of him using blown speakers (it helps with the uber poor rags-to-riches Sabbath story quite nicely), but surely a blown speaker will be unpredictable over the range of frequencies a bass puts out.
  12. AuntieBeeb


    Dec 12, 2010
    One difference to watch out for is the tuning: I think (could be wrong) on the first two albums, Geezer and Iommi were either tuned to normal pitch or maybe down a semitone. However, I think it was on Master of Reality that Iommi realised it was easier on his non-existent fingertips to tune down even further - they're tuned down either a whole tone or a tone-and-a-half on that album and that does make the sound a bit more foreboding. (See, e.g., the intro to "Into the Void", where the low E-string is tuned down to C#)