Guns n’ Roses bassist Duff McKagan spoke in an interview with Fender at NAMM 2019, and revealed how he found his original bass tone.
Here’s the statement:
“The bass tone you hear on ‘Appetite [For Destruction]’ is like a funk sound. I had to find the place to fit between Izzy’s thinner guitar, Steven’s [Adler] kick and snare and Slash’s thicker, all-encompassing guitar and the vocal.
That’s really important [to] find your space as a bass player… and being comfortable in that space and owning that space, and not trying to outshine anybody else in the band, or on the other hand, don’t get taken over by a drummer who just wants to play fills on every break. You’ve got to massage all that s–t together.”
On Fender’s bass guitars, he said:
“If you’re a bass player, Fender is the bass that all the greats played. That’s the one you want to play. I did not have the money to do that. [When] GUNS started, I had this Yamaha bass [and] an acoustic 2×15 cabinet, which I still have. I don’t know what my head was, but I had a sound that cut through. Things happened with GUNS — we started playing more and more in L.A., attracting bigger and bigger crowds, and we were writing what we thought were great songs.
Record companies started coming to gigs, and we got signed. It did not happen overnight — I’m just shortening the story — [but] my point [is] we got an advance, money to get gear and tattoos and s–t. We rehearsed right behind the Guitar Center on Sunset [Blvd.] in Hollywood, so as a result, you would go around the corner, go into Guitar Center and see the shit you couldn’t afford on a weekly basis. This Japanese Fender Jazz Special — this beautiful-sounding white guitar with [a] black neck — was my dream bass.
I would play it — I would be that guy who would come into Guitar Center and play the thing: ‘He’s here again, and he’s not going to buy shit.’ We got our advance, and Slash and I went out to the Valley to cash the check for the band — our portion of the advance. The bank teller was like, ‘That’s a lot of money’ — $30,000 for us to split to get gear — and they were not going to cash this check for us.
They thought we had stolen the check, and they had to call… Anyhow, we cashed the check, got the money and went straight to Guitar Center. I went in and I bought that bass. Finally, I had my Fender bass… That Japanese Fender Jazz Special bass that I originally bought was the only one I took on the road for the ‘Appetite’ tour.”