RIGGED: RED FANG’S AARON BEAM ON THE “JUNK” IN HIS ROCKSTAR ENERGY MAYHEM FESTIVAL GEAR RIG
(photo from Oregon Live)
As part of our coverage of this year’s Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival – currently winding its way through North America — we’re bringing you a series of “Rigged” columns in which several of the tour’s musicians take you on piece-by-piece guides of their current live rig setups. Check out the rigs of Machine Head’s Phil Demmel, Unearth’s Buz McGrath and Ken Susi, Hatebreed’s Wayne Lozinak, In Flames’ Peter Iwers and Dethklok’s Brendon Small. Here’s Red Fang bassist Aaron Beam:
My live and recording set-ups are exactly the same, and it is very, very simple. I play a mid-80s G&L SB-1 bass (which is the only piece of equipment I own that I have absolutely no recollection of buying) through a Sunn Beta Bass amp running a Traynor 4×12 speaker cabinet. The only pedals I have are the channel switcher that comes with the amp and a Boss TU-2 tuning pedal.
The bass: When I switched to bass in Red Fang (I originally played guitar, but I was the only one who actually owned a bass), I used the SB-1. When I first started using it I remember exclaiming, “I am NEVER using this bass in public!” Of course now I am totally in love with it. The SB-1 has the most aggressive, mid-rangey (read: guitar-like) tone I have ever heard. One reason I didn’t want to use it originally is because it is physically quite hard to play. Even after getting it set-up and having the action lowered, it is still just a bitch to handle. But I think that has positively influenced my style — I have to fight the bass so much it makes me play more aggressively. Now when I pick up other basses they feel like toys to me!
The amp: I bought my first Beta as a fluke. For about three seconds I was playing guitar with Big Business (this was many, many years ago), and my amps were nowhere near loud enough to keep up with Jared’s bass, so I went online and bought a Sunn Beta Bass. The amp has two identical channels with EQ, drive and level (sort of like gain/pre-amp), and a master volume. I run just one channel most of the time, and rather than switching between channels, when I want some extra boost I run both simultaneously. It can get pretty squirrely, so I have to be careful.
The cabinet: It’s actually Bryan’s, so I don’t know that much about it. It is a Traynor 4×12 with some kind of extra heavy duty mystery speakers. I never bothered to find out what they were because it sounds great and has never given me any problems (knock on wood!). I always loved Rob Wright’s (nomeansno) bass tone, and he plays through a Marshall half-stack. I figured, “If it works for him, it can work for me!”
The pedal: I use a Boss TU-2 tuning pedal because it is chromatic and we use several different tunings. It is the most accurate, reliable tuner I have used for bass as well as guitar. I see that there is a TU-3 out now, so maybe if this pedal ever breaks, I will replace it with the new and improved version. I have used other tuning pedals before and they either can’t handle the bass frequencies very well, or they are built poorly and have just fallen apart. I admit I am pretty tough on my pedals, but come on – don’t make your housing out of plastic!
I think that about covers it. I guess the only thing I would add is that all three guitarists in Red Fang (two guitars and bass) use Sunn Beta amplifiers, so the tones work together really well. The Beta Bass does not really put out that much low end, and to my ear, it sounds terrible through regular bass speakers, at least when the drive is up as high as I run it. It has to be played through a guitar cabinet. There is enough low end and enough sonic similarity with the Sunn Beta Leads that you don’t notice it missing, but more importantly, if we are playing a decent-sized venue, most of the low-end for the bass is coming through the mains anyway.
– Aaron Beam / Red Fang