#11 Cliff Burton – Best Live Solos (bass review with tab)

Hey, friends! One week has passed after September 27, and I finally do this Total Cliff review – Best Live Solos of Cliff Burton. You know, I had a problem – how to tab those bass solos? Guess, I solved it. Download the bass tab in the end of the article in PDF only. And here’s a couple of thoughts about Cliff Burton’s bass soloing style.

A little explanation about this video and review. I selected the best (in my opinion) bass solos of Cliff Burton besides “(Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth” live performances. Too much stuff for one video. Perhaps, I’ll do one separate cover of “Anesthesia” live improvisation, in addition to main “(Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth” review.

(By the way, I’m testing new subscription system. It allows you to get exclusive content from me. Try it here \m/. Please, report me if something’s not working)

One of the reason Cliff joined Metallica was allowance to perform bass solos. There was a few bassists, like John Entwistle and Geddy Lee, who did solo before Burton. Hence, this musical niche was barely filled then. That’s why people love Cliff’s solos – back in early 80’sб they were something unseen and unheard before. So you could imagine the impression Burton caused on James and Lars when they saw him on “Trauma” gig.

It’s been 30 years, but even now it might take courage to play bass solos with heavy distortion. I launched my Youtube channel doing that kind of stuff – play guitar solos on bass. People said things like: “It’s wrong”, “That’s not for bass”, ”Why do you play it?”. It sounds great, so just shut ya f*ck up! (I’m not appealing to you, my reader and comrade=) You can do all the guitar stuff on bass, even by fingers: harmonics, bends, trills, legatos, tremolo etc. And Cliff was aware about it: he’d broken those mind limits.

8 cliff burton bass solo star-spangled banner bass tab
“Star-Spangled Banner” of Cliff

So, let’s be closer to business. What makes Cliff Burton’s bass soloing style so distinguish? Did he have any features and secrets?

My way of bass playing was impacted mostly by Robert Trujillo: there’s much more videos with Rob, it was easier to break his style down. Nevertheless, Cliff’s and my finger-styles are pretty similar – common metal manner. Same way of using fingers: two fingers for most lines, three – for gallop, one – for accented single notes. But my little finger on right hand is not so sticking out while playing))

Most of Cliff Burton’s bass solos was kind of semi-improvisations: there’s some skeleton (scale, chords progression, riff, melody), which being differently played around. That’s not homemade, full done solo. There’s the other side of improvisation – lack of structure and melodism. But it’s completely compensated by playing for fun and head-banging – the reason of people visiting metal gigs. One guy said about Cliff’s solos in my performance: “It’s nice, but where’s the music there?”. Hope I totally explained this.

I came to some conclusions while learning ”Best Live Solos”. They apply to Cliff’s playing features.

1) Specific bends. He performed full bends with vibrato after release. I could do it in my second bend in video. Can you feel that sound color?)

cliff burton bass solo 1985 For Whom The Bell Tolls bass tab
Famous one from “Cliff ‘Em All”. Played before “For Whom The Bell Tolls” in 1985

2) Open pedal one. You can hear it there times during my “Best Live Solos” video: playing notes on G string with open D string.

3) Fast apoyando. Actually, apoyando is the crucial thing in fast finger playing. It allows to save energy of touching to increase speed. Cliff used fast two-finger apoyando in those open-string licks.

cliff burton bass solo 1983 bass tab


4) Blues scale and chromatics. Burton liked ZZ Top, Rush, Thin Lizzy and other blues-influenced bands. It’s a common thing: your own style is a mix of things from favorite musical stuff.

5) Chords. He played them, mostly power-chords. They sound very cool with distortion. Good way to end solo and emphasize some moments.

cliff burton bass solo 1983 bass tab

6) Sound effects. He used a lot of pedals: distortion, fuzz, wah-wah, delay, faser, reverb, etc. Some people states that he tried to cover his technique flaws by using different effects. I thing, it’s partly true. His technique level was enough to express what he wanted. Cliff was great composer, and every creating man is looking for new ideas.

7) Expression. Oh, I wish I could be there – on Metallica gig of 1983-1986 period. I believe, that energy was awesome! Cliff’s behavior added a lot of drive to his bass solos, maybe sharing it 50/50 with music. Just watch and listen to his performance – the sincere live rock that is!

Who knows, what would be now with Cliff alive. He didn’t know that too – just walked his way, trying to leave a mark in the World. 24 years of living, and Burton done it. So don’t waste you time, my friend!

Download bass tabs for “Best Live Solos” from here (join AVanguard to get a password to unlock the file):

Download in PDF

Mission complete 11 of 32 (going to 33). Next – “Metal Militia”. Subscribe to my Youtube and website to get notifications first. See you next time here. R.I.P, Cliff Burton \m/

Tags: Metallica, Cliff Burton, bass solo, bass tab, Anesthesia Pulling Teeth, live, bass cover, Total Cliff, Andriy Vasylenko

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