Robert Trujillo & Cliff Burton: bass playing style comparison

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)))

Cliff Burton middle finger fuck you photo

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.

In addition, here’s like Robert plays “Orion” and “For Whom The Bell Tolls” intros (how Cliff played them, check out here and here):

orion for whom the bell tolls intros robert trujillo bass tab

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):

[newsletter_lock] av14 [/newsletter_lock]

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=)

Tags: Metallica, Robert Trujillo, Cliff Burton, bass players, bassist, bass solo, bass tab
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10 thoughts on “Robert Trujillo & Cliff Burton: bass playing style comparison”

  1. Hi Bro ! First thing first : excelent article, you show me the point on how their finger style differenciate their playing, it shows me on what to work on in my practicing (Cliff style for me, even if my fingers are too shorts). I got a problem to get the tabs, I subscribed to AVanguard but I don’t know how to get them and I want so bad to try some of those solos (I said “try”) and in the near future “Metal Militia”. I other subject, you didn’t respond to my offer so I’ll send you some stuff and you’ll do what you want to with. I have so much to say but my comment is already too long so I just thank you again for the work you’ve done, keep goin’, please, you’re helpfull. Cheers \m/ Oo \m/

    1. Thank you, friend! \m/ Sorry for late reply. I’m always trying to do my best and be frank. I very appreciate that you can get it. AVanguard system works with cookies: you have to see tabs after subscription instead message “This stuff is kept…” I could send you those via email, but it’d be handier to cope with subscription problem. Anyway I’ll send you last tabs.
      About your help. Will see) I had not the intention to use any of infographic stuff in my first book. We will discuss it after its release=) You are the first man who proposed to help me out. Thanks a lot! \m/

      1. Hi Bro ! No worries about your late replying, you’re surly a busy guy. I solved the cookies problem and could have the tabs. I’ll send you stuffs for the cover of your book, do what you want with it (if you don’t use it, it’s fair anyway). I can’t wait to see your next videos, “Metal Militia” and “Kthulu” will be challenging.
        Keep mastering the YouTube cover world. Cheers \m/ Oo \m/

        1. It’d be great, thank you! \m/ I would love to make more videos, but it turns out that I’m doing only one per 3-4 weeks. Slow but sure, trials and errors, 1000 subscribers finally got)) Thanks again, I appreciate your help and attention \m/

  2. Hi again, it seems there´s alot more much stuff from you about Metallica´s bassist..anad I so Love to see some Rob stuff, more isolated so his bassplaying can be more appreciated..Love that he has worked out his own style, as Jason has, too
    Very to the point info..Thanks a lot!!
    By the way..I still love Cliff a bit more..=)
    Trujillo is a great bassist..and….I was astonished by the fact he was the one who produced the most-including economic issues-on Jaco ´s film..

    1. Hey! Actually, exactly Rob inspired me in the very beginning, so I started to learn bass looking him playing. And now I’m learning picking, so now it’s Jason’s time to teach me)

  3. Excellent article! I was wondering though, do you have a tab for “jungle essence”?

  4. Hey dude! First off, amazing article on bass playing! Ok, so I saw that if I subscribed, I could get a password to get the bass tabs for the solo (I wanna learn the Big Day Out solo really bad! xD). So I gladly subscribed, however, I don’t know how to get the password for the tabs. If you or anyone else could help that would be awesome! thanks again and I hope to see more videos of your playing man!

    1. Hi David. The password should have come in a ‘Welcome Aboard’ message after you confirmed subscription. Check you e-mail inbox or spam

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