In honor of the recent release of Motorhead’s latest album, Aftermath, I had the idea to make this week’s selections some of Lemmy’s best bass cuts.
For those who don’t know who Lemmy is…
Lemmy Kilmister (born Ian Fraiser Kilmister, December 24 1945, also known as Ian Fraiser Willis and Lemmy the Lurch) is an English bass guitar player and lead vocalist. He is known primarily as the founding member and leader of the heavy metal band MotÃ¶rhead.
Lemmy has used Rickenbacker 4001 and 4003 bass guitars almost exclusively since the Hawkwind days, though some of these instruments were modified with the installation of Gibson Thunderbird pickups in the neck position. Rickenbacker recently produced a 50-bass run of Lemmy Kilmister signature basses, the 4004LK, which is fitted with three pickups, gold hardware, and elaborate wood carving in the shape of oak leaves. Recently, he has been using a customised 4004.
The phrase “everything louder than everyone else” sums up Lemmy’s sonic approach, as he plays at an absolutely earsplitting volume. He uses the bridge pickup exclusively and turns everything on the bass up full. On the amplifiers, he turns the bass and treble off, and the midrange up all the way, with the volume and presence up to 3:00. The result is a biting midrange sound which is distorted but not fuzzed out and blurry, a formula well-suited to Lemmy’s use of open-string drones and power chords, all of which is played at hell-for-leather tempos.