Robert Trujillo & Cliff Burton: bass playing style comparison
Compare Robert Trujillo and Cliff Burton… I’d never thought that I’d be doing this. Nevertheless, I’m going to be impartial. As a bonus for you, my AVanguard comrade – bass tabs of a couple of Robert’s bass solos from my recent tribute to him. Here we go!
It’s been 7 months since I was dealing with something besides “Total Cliff”. I haven’t enough time to be fully in making videos or playing bass because of personal life and earning money, you know. Total Cliff, and now also AVanguard and writing my first instructional book – it’s my opportunity to stay in good shape as a bass player.
I waited with kind of excitement for the day of me making Robert Trujillo’s tribute. First of all, this is the bassist which inspired me to become one. Also he gave me (through videos on Youtube) the basement of finger-style technique, awareness of bass soloing and sound, expression on stage.
On the other hand, I’m always looking for a thing which could set me on a new level of playing and composing. I’m looking for short and strong kicks in my ass)) The day of making Robert’s medley was such kind of things. And my fingers got it!
Third moment. I had a proposal to compare playing styles of Robert and Cliff. I found it very interesting. Not saying who’s better – both are unique, both are masters. Let’s do this \m/
First thing to notice: in general, their techniques are very similar. Blues and chromatic scale often used, fast two-finger tremolo, pedal notes… That’s the basis of a number of bass players, so there’s nothing unusual here. What about differences?
Robert has one incredible skill: flamenco-style tremolo. He can play 16th in 200 bmp (so we’re observing in his “Pulling Teeth” performance, “Jungle Essence” solo, and “All Nightmare Long” live). And do it by ONE finger. Close to rasgeado, but adapted to bass. It’s easy to play tremolo chords this way. But single string, in so high tempo… I cannot perform it yet, so I changed the manner to three-finger tremolo in video.
Guys discussed that Robert’s feature in “Some Kind A Monster” movie. I’m sure, Cliff could acquire the skill. Or he got it already, who knows.
Cliff played harmonics in the end of “Anesthesia” by tapping. Robert found for him more suitable to do with tweaking. Trujillo’s vision is closer to my style. Maybe it’s because we both have long nails on right hand (they make attack), and it’s not so comfortable for tapping. Sounds good though.
Few words about holding bass manner. It’s determined partly of their body constitutions. Rob holds bass pretty low, and Cliff did it in middle position. Soloing Robert has to use a foot stand to reach high frets (except his Anesthesia performance, when he found a compromise). In addition to middle position of bass, Burton had long hands and fingers, so he could play everything not changing a holding manner. My supposition, of course. James once said about Cliff’s hands that he’d never seen such a huge middle finger)))
How well did Robert cope with “Pulling Teeth”? This question has more than one side. Actually, the true is that it’s not so simple – to play someones stuff, especially without a peep. That’s why Kiko Louriero, an extremely skilled guitarist, can’t play correct enough Fridman’s solo from “Tornado of Souls” yet. That’s why we feel some tension and struggle during Robert Trujillo’s performing Burton’s passages. Cliff wrote solos on the basis of HIS technique, which is a UNIQUE set of licks and their sequences. But when Rob started doing his own improvisations, then he’s like fish in the water. Great job, Roberto!
Cliff liked sound effects. Robert uses those not less. Various distortions: slight cruch, warm overdrive, heavy fuzz… Plus delay, flanger, wah-wah… But we’re talking about techniques, not technologies.
Finally, bass tabs of Trujillo’s solos from Big Day Out and Rock Am Ring. Enter a password of AVanguard member, download them, and enjoy, guys 🙂 (join AVanguard to get access to it)Big Day Out + Rock Am Ring (gpt+pdf in rar-archive) Rock Am Ring (pdf) Big Day Out (pdf)
Here’s the password (only AVanguard members can see it):
Think, I’ve expressed my view. Could be more, could be less. Hope you liked this review and found my thoughts helpful. What do YOU think about all of that, my friend?
P.S. Actually, I’ve done tributes to all Metallica bass players (except Ron). Here’s one dedicated to 50th birthday of Jason Newsted. This was my very first appearance on Youtube=)