Rigged: Bassist Bryan Beller (The Aristocrats, Dethklok, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai)
The Aristocrats — the funky, jazz, oftentimes metallic three-piece comprised of Guthrie Govan, Bryan Beller and Marco Minnemann — released their sophomore full-length Culture Clash in July (check out a clip from the album here). Bassist Beller is a veteran of the metal scene, having played with with Dethklok, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai and more, a phenomenal, multi-faceted player and an unabashed gear nerd. Follow along today as Beller breaks down his rig for MetalSucks readers.
The Aristocrats are on tour right now through the end of August! Get dates here.
I admit it – I’m a gear nerd. It probably comes from me having worked for 8 years at an amplifier company, SWR. While I worked there I had unlimited access to a professionally treated sound room and I spent hours upon hours listening to different amps, cabs, basses, effects, you name it. But once I decide I like something, I stick with it. So here’s what I’m using now.
AMPS & CABS
After playing SWR for nearly twenty years, a couple of years ago I switched to Gallien-Krueger and I’m really happy with that choice. I’ve always dug the old standbys in their pro line – the 800RB, 1001RB and 2001RB – but they came out with a revised version of their standard preamp in the Fusion 550, and as soon as I heard it I was sold. It’s a tube/solid-state hybrid, and it’s got that classic GK punch, but now with some additional warmth and clarity on the top end. I tested it against top-of-the-line models from many other manufacturers (a gear-nerd-tastic story which you can read about if you like) and it just blew away the competition in everything from rock to fusion to metal to R&B and anything else you can think of.
I use the Fusion 550 with a 2001RB as another power amp, and then I run those two amps into two 4×12 cabs. I dig the 4×12’s but honestly I could use four 4×10’s just as easily. I slightly prefer the openness of the 4×12’s, but sometimes backline companies only have the 4×10’s, and that’s fine.
I’ve been playing Mike Lull Custom Basses since 1999. My red Modern 5 is my main axe and has been since the first time I picked it up. It’s a bright active 5-string jazz bass with unbeatable playability, killer tone, and enough midrange and high end aggression for rock and metal when I need it. The ash body and maple fingerboard really brighten it up. For The Aristocrats I use that as my bright bass, and then I have a 5-string passive P/J with an alder body and rosewood fingerboard that I use for the darker, warmer, more fusion-y and rootsy stuff.
I also have a 5-string Modern 5 fretless and a passive 4-string plain old jazz bass, which is great for slapping when I need to go there (for example, I used it on the Steve Vai tour when I needed to play “Answers”). But then there’s Dethklok, and for that I break out the Mike Lull T-Bass, the Lull version of a Thunderbird. It’s just the thickest, roughest, nastiest sounding thing ever. Dethklok tunes to C standard, so I use the bottom four strings of a five-string set (130-105-86-65) to get C-F-Bb-Eb, and it feels like I’m playing telephone cables. The sound is huge.
D’Addario Pro Steels. That is all. The only other strings I use are D’Addario Nickels on my passive P/J (which I let die and keep them on for at least a year!), and D’Addario Half Rounds on my fretless.
This could go on forever, so I’m just going to list what’s on my current “monsterboard”:
- Ernie Ball VP Jr. Volume Pedal
- Boss TU-2 Chromatic Tuner
- Boss OC-2 Octave Pedal
- Xotic Effects Bass BB Preamp
- Digitech X-Series Bass Driver
- Aphex Bass Exciter
- Darkglass Vintage Microtubes
- Dunlop CryBaby Bass Wah
- Electro-Harmonix MicroSynth
- Dunlop M-80 Bass D.I.
- Retro-Sonic Stereo Chorus
- Boss DD-3 Digital Delay
- TC Electronics Flashback Delay
- TC Electronics Hall Of Fame Reverb
- MXR M87 Bass Compressor
- Demeter Opto-Compulator
- Xotic Effects EP Booster
- Voodoo Labs Pedal Power 2 Plus
- G-Labs 8-Isolated Power Supply
This has everything I need for Dethklok, The Aristocrats, and Joe Satriani all on one board.
I always run at least three tracks simultaneously. My main tube D.I. is actually an ART TubePac (not the most expensive piece of gear) which I prefer to run into a vintage Urei 1176 compressor whenever I can rent one. I like solid state compressors vs. tube “LA-2A”-type compressors for bass because they’re just faster. My second channel is a SansAmp PSA-1 preset, #32, called “jazz”, which I just use as a slight subsonic boost. And my third channel is a dirty direct channel, which is wacky: Raven Labs PHA-1 headphone amp as a preamp, into an MXR M-80 DI/distortion box, into a crappy old dbx163 compressor. Somehow it works. And sometimes I alter that third channel to include more overdrive, sometimes with the Darkglass Electronics B3K Bass Overdrive. For example, on The Aristocrats’ new album Culture Clash, that’s the sound on “Ohhhh Noooo.” Also, I used the SWR Mo’ Bass BassSynth effect as a fourth channel for “Dance Of The Aristocrats.”