I have listened to Metallica's Ride the Lightning over and over again, but never paid an attention to the crunching bass sound Cliff Burton uses at some places in the song. Any idea how does he get that effect?


2 Answers 2


Cliff pretty much only used 2 effects:

  • Morley Power Wah Boost
  • Electro Harmonix Big Muff

And he ran through Mesa Boogie and Ampeg cabs turned up loud.

That's about it.

  • Thanks for the answer! Do you know, which one of those did he use for the effect described above?
    – Mikko
    May 15, 2012 at 8:49
  • It definitely has the Big Muff on - I can't tell if the wah boost is on. If it is, he is using it for its EQ, not actively using the wah.
    – Doktor Mayhem
    May 15, 2012 at 10:21

This style of hard rock bass playing usually involves setting the preamplifier's tone controls or equalization in the "scooped" configuration, where the midrange is turned down severely and the bass and treble frequencies are boosted.

In more sophisticated setups the signal from the bass guitar is further processed by being split through a crossover circuit and run to two different sets of amplifiers and speakers, one to provide loud clean bass frequencies and the other to provide overdriven or distorted treble frequencies.

In other less aggressive styles of music, the tone coming from the bass is amplified more or less "flat", meaning that no frequencies are sharply attenuated or boosted. This is referred as a "round" or "midrange" sound.

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