Duff Mckagan Bass Rig – Know Your Bass Player (part 1/3)

In this rig review of Know Your Bass Player we’re talking the pancreas exploding bassist of Guns N’ Roses. Duff Mckagan has been rocking the world since the late 80’s and given the world a brilliant driving tone to enjoy. without further ado, this is the Duff Mckagan bass rig review.


Did you watch the video?! Would you like to know when the next one is out?

Joining Guns N’ Roses (~1985)

Duff moved to LA in  the early 80s and originally bought a guitar and a bass with him. The guitar was confiscated by the police after being pawned and registered as stolen.

  • Yamaha BB400

This bass was seen in pictures prior to Guns N’ Roses and had a reverse humbucker. After joining Guns N’ Roses, the same bass later had a maple neck, possibly repaired after damage. Yamaha never made BB basses with maple necks (with thanks to Hilmar at https://yamahabass.wordpress.com/).

New models of affordable BB basses are on the market. Whilst the reverse humbucker is long gone, you can try the new Yamaha BB343* model.

Appetite for Destruction (1987)

At this time, signing with Geffen in March 1986, Duff was given $7500 ($16,762 today) and bought a Made In Japan 1986 Fender Jazz Bass Special.

  • Fender Jazz Bass Special (PJ-555  made 1986)
    • Alder body with maple neck
    • Rosewood fingerboard
    • Scale 34″ and 20 frets
    • Electronics: 2x vol, TBX tone switch and pickups selector.
    • Nut width 1.6″ (40mm) by mistake (originally supposed to be 1.5″/36mm)

Comparatively, the bridge pickup was changed to a Seymour Duncan STKJ2B Hot Stack and the neck remained stock. A Duff skull n cross bones logo was added to this bass soon after.

Seen in “Welcome to the Jungle”, “Paradise City”,“Don’t Cry” and “Live and Let Die”.

Appetite for Destruction tour (1987-1988)

Duff needed a second Jazz Bass Special (JBS) as a back up when touring. His original, the one above. Had a manufacturing defect in this production run. The neck was wider, asymmetrical and egg shaped.

A Fender Custom shop version was made as a result. This bass is the backup and rarely seen in videos, it features a skeletal woman with a skull n’ cross bone on the bottom. The horn reads “G n’ Fn’ R (Guns N’ Fuckin’ Roses)

Other basses on during this period were;

  • Kramer forum III (3) seen on Sweet Child O’ Mine video
  • Spector NS-2 – seen on the 1988  MTV show “Live at the Ritz”

Use Your Illusion recording and tour (1990-1993)

The Duff Mckagan bass rig had two new additions at this point in time. Custom JBS but in black with the same specifications.

  • JBS Black #1 With No Fear decal in the neck
  • JBS Black #2 With Social Distortion decal in the neck
  • Gibson LPB-3

The JBS are seen in “You Could Be Mine”, “November Rain,” “Yesterday” and “Garden of Eden”.

The No Fear bass was used for most of recorded live show in Tokyo 1992.  As well as the LPB-3 which was also seen in the footage and later GNR compilation videos.

Spaghetti incident (1993)

  • The original white Jazz Bass Special was used to record on this album.

The breakup, Velvet Revolver and associated acts (1997-2016)

Guns N’ Roses broke up in 1997 in which Duff went his own way and helped several other music projects during this time.

The biggest band was Velvet Revolver as well as contributions to Slash’s Snake Pit, Izzy Stradlin’s second solo album, Neurotic outsiders, 10 minute warning and Loaded.

We discuss all of these bands and the basses Duff used for them in part 3 of the series. Head over to the Duff Mckagan Velvet revolver bass rig if you can’t wait.

Guns N’ Roses reunion (1997-2016)

The band reformed again in April 2016 playing at the Coachella festival.

Duff now uses the “Duff Mckagan Precision Bass Signature” in  white. It has the same specs as his original JBS but the neck pickup is a vintage Alnico humbucker.

  • Duff Mckagan Precision Bass signature*
    • Alder Body and Maple Neck
    • Rosewood fingerboard
    • Neck Shape Modern “C”
    • Scale Length 34″ (864 mm)
    • 20 Medium Jumbo Frets
    • Nut Width 1.625″ (41.3 mm) with Synthetic Bone
    • Bridge Pickup Seymour Duncan STKJ2B Jazz Bass
    • Middle Pickup Vintage-Style Alnico Split Single-Coil
    • Electronics: 2x vol, TBX tone switch and 3 switch pickup selector.

Duff McKagan Precision Signature Bass

Signature JBS #1 in white has the love symbol from the Artist formally known as Price and a blonde pinup girl in the neck.

Basses for the future (2017+)

Duff has hinted on his twitter that he and Fender are working on new prototype models. Shown on his Twitter feed so far, there are 4 new JBS, each with their own specific features.

JBS prototype  #1 and #2 both have

  • Rosewood fingerboards
  • Precision style neck width (1.6″/40mm)

Prototype JBS #1

  • Has a pickguard
  • 3 way selector switch

Prototype JBS #2

  • Pickup blend knob
  • TBX installed
  • Decal of LA band Body Count

JBS #3 and JBS #4

Both have standard Jazz Bass neck width (1.5″/38mm)

Prototype JBS #3

  • With pickguard
  • Maple neck
  • Maple finger board with pearloid block inlay
  • Unsure if blend knob or improved TBX

Prototype JBS #4

  • 3 way pick up,
  • TBX installed.
  • Decal of  the band Social Distortion.

Duff Mckagans amplifiers rig, strings and effects in part 2

Many will know him for the use of Gallien Krueger but later in his career he made a change to a new manufacturer … Which we reveal in the second part of the series

We also discus is how he gets his bright shimming tone through the use of effects pedals.

Find out more about the Duff Mckagan bass rig

Duff has been in the business for over 30 years. For simplicity, the series has been split into three parts.

More from Know Your Bass Player

After the Duff series we have another bassist lined up and soon to be released. It’s not too long before we reach the end of this first series and if there’s a bassist you want to see, then get in touch!

Tweet me and subscribe on YouTube


Watch more from Know Your Bass Player

Continue watching some of our most recent videos.

Steve Harris Bass Rig Rundown Flea's Bass Amplifier rigDuff Mckagan Amplifier Rig Velvet Revolver Bass Rig





Have you enjoyed your time here? Want to know when the next video is out?


*Some of the links above are affiliate links, which means that if you choose to make a purchase from that site, we will earn a commission. As a result this commission comes at no additional cost to you and helps support our site and video series.