Krist Novoselic bass tone?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by mattbmw101, Nov 23, 2012.

  1. mattbmw101


    Nov 23, 2012
    Hey guys my name is Matt and I'm 16 years old. As you can probably see I am a new member here. I started to play the bass a little while ago (influenced by Nirvana), and have so far been just using my dads equipment, but would like to purchase some of my own now.

    I really want to get a sound like Krist Novoselic from Nirvana. Here are some clips of what I think it would be cool to sound like:

    you get the idea... that "bung bung bong" sound.

    The equipment I am using right now is the following:
    fender american P-bass.
    ernie ball slinky strings (I think).
    med-heavy pick.
    no effects pedals.
    fender 75 watt rumble amp.

    So, as I am still a newbie to bass playing, could anyone tell me what equipment I should get, or if any of it is fine already? I have quite a bit of money saved up finally and am ready to purchase some stuff.

    The only thing I know that Krist used in his nirvana days was a gibson thunderbird bass for sure, and they look pretty cool, so I guess I could get one of those.

    Sorry if I posted in the wrong thread, feel free to move it if you want.


  2. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
    I think his bass sound is pretty straightforward I think the cheapest way would be to get a Tech 21 VT Bass or a Sansamp you don't need that Thunderbird unless you just like that particular bass.


    Jul 16, 2009
    No need to go Gibson. (unless you really want to) Epiphone just came out with a (from what I've heard) great copy for a fraction of the price.
  4. Yup Epi Thunderbird Classic Pro!! I am thinking of getting one!!!
  5. TBird1958

    TBird1958 As a matter of fact....I am your Queen! Staff Member

    Mar 13, 2008
    Seattle Washington
    Endorsing Artist Mike Lull T Bass pickups
    He's playing and RD in the first clip, likely modified with two J pickups
    The second clip he's on a post '88 Thunderbird -
    Third clip is likely a Ripper.
  6. Caca de Kick

    Caca de Kick Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    You don't need a new bass, the one you have is more than perfectly fine, and is a very nice quality instrument.
    Since you're new to bass just concentrate on getting some lessons and learn the instrument.
    The only thing you'll need after that is a better/bigger amp.

    Krist owned alot of different basses.
  7. j.kernodle


    Nov 23, 2008
    Charleston, SC
    a little overdrive goes a long way (second the suggestion for the tech 21 VT bass pedal) keep newish round wound strings on that p bass, crank the tone wide open and attack hard.
  8. Great suggestion!!! :)

    For me though I am still thinking of getting one. Not for the OP's reason. Always wanted a Tbird, about as close as I can afford to get with out actually getting a Gibson.
  9. I consider myself an enormous Krist Novoselic fanboy. Like a nerd, I have closely analyzed his sound: technique, equipment, style, all of it. Here are my findings.

    1. He mostly played Gibson basses. On most of the Nirvana albums, he used a Gibson Ripper. He also toured a Gibson RD Artist bass a lot. He had that Thunderbird sometime in 1992. These are very expensive and harder to find, albeit AMAZING basses. An Epiphone Thunderbird will get you closer than you think, as they sound remarkably good.

    2. He played with a pick. He also had a really heavy hand and laid into those strings. His bass was slung rather low that allowed him to really dig in for that aggressive sound.

    3. His amps varied over the years, but he used an Ampeg Svt-400T on Nevermind, and the head went through a 2x15 cab. Playing through 15s will give you a punchier low mid sound like he had. In later years when they were doing arena shows, he changed to 8x10 cabs. On In Utero he had a highly modified Hi Watt head that was really, really dirty going through IIRC a 4x12.

    Sometimes he used a Pro Co Rat pedal to wonderful results.
    AkaGoal likes this.
  10. Really lay into those strings with your pick for that "bung bung bong" sound, it's as much the electronics as the way he's hitting them. Try out a few different types of picks, you'd be surprised how much they change your tone, I know I was! A big fan of Krist Novoselic here, btw.

    In the end, you can want to sound like him, but that doesn't mean you should sound like him. Nirvana was a band for the times, with a timeless sound, but aping them isn't going to be doing right by your own musical ideas. What kind of music do you play with your band and how are you going to make your tone fit in that setting is what's most important.

    You have nice gear. Don't put the cart before the horse.

    - Jimmy Rage
  11. Andii Syckz

    Andii Syckz

    Jan 2, 2011
    First, i'd like to say welcome to the world of bass. Second, well the gear you have isnt to bad. But krist didn't always use Gibson. He did for nevermind and so forth. But he used an ibanez eagle (essentially a jazz bass with i presume higher output pickups). So if you want to buy gear, i'd suggest a jazz bass. IF you really want a thunderbird, look into the new classic pro series from epiphone. Same build design like the real gibson just few changes.

    Before you get new gear, try this setting on your amp with the precision bass:

    bass: 6, Low mid: 4, high mid: 4, treble: 7
    Use the overdrive channel with gain: 2 and blend at 6

    Best of luck man.
  12. Andii Syckz

    Andii Syckz

    Jan 2, 2011
    His RD isn't modified. It's stock with the active humbucker pickups.
  13. knumbskull


    Jul 28, 2007
    A US-made P bass is a fine place to start, tho it's not what he played :)

    heavy pickstyle, play slightly towards the bridge, tone on full. if you want to upgrade your gear, start with the amp!
  14. smcd


    Jun 28, 2009
    Boston, MA
    A Fender American P-bass can cop the sound you hear in those clips, no problem. What you need is a decent amp/cabinet.
    TrustRod likes this.
  15. andysleigh


    Aug 23, 2007
    the first clips a Gibson RD artist. With a ampeg svt 400 ontop, and a Fender BXR Bass Amp below, or spare.
    I think thats his best sound. just a shame they re dubbed the bass audio on breed and some other songs on the remastered paramount DVD. It sounded killer in breed.

    the Second is pretty much the straight gibson thunderbird sound.

    Thirds the ripper, with an amp that MTV got him to use for that performance. which kept cutting out. so he got annoyed and threw his bass.

    Just have a good amount of top end.
  16. mattbmw101


    Nov 23, 2012
    Thanks so much for the help guys I should have joined this form sooner!! from what I get,no new bass needed. however, I really do like those thunderbird basses. The classic pro epi looks like a pretty nice bass for the price.

    So basically what I will need is:
    heavy pick, also hitting the strings hard
    round wound strings (earnie ball slinky?)
    tech 21 VT bass pedal
    ampeg SVT 3PRO amp
    and a speaker cabinet. either 2x15 or 4x12 I guess.

    I think I will buy the amp setup first then. Anybody have any ideas of how much that will cost me?

  17. andysleigh


    Aug 23, 2007

    I use a .88mm pick and find it gets me a closer sound to krist, than a harder pick.

    svt 400's are out of production now.
    and would be expensive probably.

    try googleing various things, different models etc
  18. I think you may want to go back and carefully read the comments above, before diving in to some major gear purchases. you could probably turn the knobs on your amp and bass for awhile and find some tones that are reasonably close to Noveselic, without spending a dime.

    I would do a whole lot more research on your own before buying anything.

    I will say, you've picked an excellent bassist to look up to, very underrated, imo
  19. TBird1958

    TBird1958 As a matter of fact....I am your Queen! Staff Member

    Mar 13, 2008
    Seattle Washington
    Endorsing Artist Mike Lull T Bass pickups
    The Epiphone Classic Pro IV will run 499, I have one and have posted a review on the forum, it's a very nice Thunderbird at that price. Played with a pick and Round Wounds it'll sound great!
    Good luck ;)