Geezer Butler Bass Rig – “Know Your Bass Player”

Geezer Butler Bass Rig

In the final episode of our first series, we look at the Geezer Butler Bass Rig. One of the most influencing musicians of all Metal genres. Geezer can be named the forefather of all things heavy in his own right, developing his own sound and accompanied writing. Drawing heavily upon his fascination with the darker side of the human condition, religion, horror, sci-fi and nuclear Armageddon. Geezer Butlers Bass Rig at present has consists of Lakland Basses and Ashdown Amplifiers but there is plenty more to his sound than that.

Geezer’s career spans over 50 years and is known primarily for his work in Black Sabbath and again with the related band Heaven & Hell.

 

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Basses in the early days of Black Sabbath

Geezer recorded the first four classic albums Black Sabbath, Paranoid, Master of Reality and Vol. 4  all with the same bass.

  • Fender Precision Bass (Pre-CBS 1969)

The paint from the bass was striped off leaving the bear wood finishing showing.

This bass was seen in the early videos of Black Sabbath such as the Beat Club videos and the Paris love show from the 1970’s.

Geezer Butler and Dan Armstrong Plexiglass bass on Vol. 4 tour

During the tour of Volume 4, Geezer is often seen with a Plexiglass bass made by Dan Armstrong at Ampeg amplifiers. He’s said in interviews that his Precision bass was “smashed to pieces with a hammer” … somewhere between Detroit and Toronto.

  • Dan Armstrong Plexiglass from Ampeg
    Clear acrylic polymer, Maple, bolt-on, 30″ scale with 24-fret, rosewood fingerboard. Pickups are interchangeable.

This event took place on a Sunday where most shops are shut and at the recommendation of the music promoter found this bass in the only shop that was open nearby. This bass was stolen at the end of the tour in 1973.

Geezer meets the Birch Bass (early 70’s)

Located in Birmingham, John Birch created guitars for both Geezer and Tony. It was Geezer who first had the crucifix custom inlays that Tony is now known for.

Geezer had three custom Birch basses made in the early 70’s. These basses have been mistaken for the Gibson SG series as the Birch workshop modifies and creates similar looking basses.

  1. John Birch (JB1 body style) In white It was later customised with a sticker in the style of a Coca Cola label but says “enjoy cocaine.”
  2. John Birch (JB1 body style) In black
  3. John Birch (JB1 body style) 8 string

These basses were modeled after the Gibson EB series, with softer horns and similar pickups that were interchangeable. In addition to this, the neck scale was shorter (30.5″ scale) than the usual Fender basses (34″ scale) at the time. This scale length was essential for drop tuning the bass down to C and C# tuning where there was less tension on the strings.

Seen in the live tour pictures for Vol.4 and the Cal Jam Festival 1974.

Geezer’s Custom Jaydee basses (mid-late 70s)

From 1975 onwards Geezer used basses created by John Birch’s co worker John Diggins. Diggins’ basses have a distinct soft V shape in the headstock and are branded Jaydee basses to separate himself from the Birch workshop.

A Jaydee Roadie 2 was created for Geezer and used to record the albums “Sabotage”, “Technical Ecstasy” and “Never Say Die”.

  • Jaydee Roadie 2 – In black and white stripes
    The body and head stock are a laminate of Maple and either Walnut or Rosewood. Pickup were custom made also and possibly known as Superflux.

You can spot a JD bass by the bridge tailpiece which is coin shaped and has slots for two strings. The Birch basses in comparison are rectangular.

Seen in the 1978 music videos “A Hard Road” and “Never Say Die”.

Black Sabbath Live at the Hammersmith Odeon 1978

During a live video performance during the “Never Say Die” tour in London.Geezer was seen playing a red Rickenbacker. This bass was used for this gig only as he forgot to bring his JD basses.

Geezer bought it as a collector’s piece, originally owned by Glenn Hughes and used in Deep Purple. The “Never Say Die” tour was the last before Ozzy Osbourne’s departure from the band in 1978.

Geezer’s basses BC Rich basses on Heaven and Hell and Mob Rules

Whilst not mentioned in the video, these basses have been spotted during the Dio era (1979-1992).

Geezer was endorsed by BC Rich and had;

  • Eagle  Deluxe with vintage EMG pickups
  • BC Rich Custom – Only played at Live Aid. Signed “Screaming Leaming, ’84” on the back of the body.” The BC Rich switches were on/off active/passive, plus phasing. The bridge had a tremlo arm

Geezer discussed his  bass rig during this time in an interview with Bass Player Magazine Geezer Butler: Diamond Geezer

The amplifiers for this period can be found in Geezer Butlers Amplifier Rig.

The Black Sabbath Reunion (1997-2006)

Black Sabbath reunited in 1997 and performed alongside Ozzy Osbourne at Ozzfest where his bass rig consisted of;

  • Spector NS-2 (in white)

Geezer was using Vigier basses throughout the 90’s recording his solo albums. This continued well up to the early 2000’s with the Black Sabbath reunion tours. Seen on TV appearances and the tour at the time were

  • Passion 5
  • Arpege
  • Excess

All three Vigier bases had 24 medium frets with a Phenowood fingerboard and 33.8″ scale. the pickups were Vigier made with an active 3-band EQ. Geezer has stated in an interview with Vintage Guitar Magazine (2007)

I couldn’t use them (Vigier basses) in the studio because they were active, and so powerful.

I was trying to get away from the active thing, and my Lakland’s passive. It has a pure sound, what I’d call a nice old growl.”

He also states in this interview he was introduced to Lakland basses around the year 2000, prior to Ozzfest.

Geezer Butler and Lakland basses (2000 – present)

Geezer was first seen with a Lakland bass around 2005 at the Ozzfest and Download Festival in the UK. Playing with a stock Joe Osborn Lakland and his own customised basses during the “Tortoise era.”

See our free downloadable guide for pictures (See below).

The Geezer Butler bass rig  now consisted of;

Joe Osborn 44-60 (now called a vintage Jazz)

  1. Jazz bass In Seafoam green with white pick guard and maple neck/finger board
  2. Jazz bass In Black with a tortoise pick guard (Seen with GZR sticker on horn)

The Joe Osborn signatures have a distinct Concentric Stacked Knobs making it appear button like. Normal Jazz basses do not have this option.

Bob Glaub 44-62 Precision Jazz

  1. Precision Jazz in Black with Tortoise pick guard

All three are seen on tour during 2005, see UK’s Download Festival.

Geezer in Heaven and Hell (2006-2010)

In 2006, Geezer, Tony and Dio regrouped under the name Heaven & Hell to differentiate themselves from Black Sabbath. For these shows Geezer had the same basses mentioned above but with a colour change. This era was called “The Grey era”.Geezer-Butler-Bob-Glaub-Lakland320-220

 

    1. Joe Osborn Jazz in Black with Grey pick guard and Henry sticker on the horn
    2. Joe Osborn Vintage Jazz 5 string all black and Rosewood finger board
    3. Bob Glaub Precision in Black with Grey pickguard. Also with a Virgin Mary and Henry sticker on the body and small cross on the head stock

This same equipment was used through Masters of Metal tour with Judas Priest in 2008.

After Dio’s death, Geezer was seen at the Ronnie James Dio tribute gig in 2010 with;

The Artist series BB was relaunched by Yamaha  and sought well known musicians for endorsements. Geezer, FleaDuff Mckagan, Glenn Hughes and Exodus bass player Jack Gibson were some who were seen.

Geezer’s basses in magazine photo shoot (2005/07)

In 2005 and  2007 Geezer had two photo shoots sporting two different Lakland’s. These shoots were for a bass player magazine.

  • For 2005 he had a Lakland Precision Jazz in “Shoreline gold” and White pick guard. Judas Priests’ Ian Hill joined him
  • In 2007 he was holding a Lakland Sunburst Precision Jazz with a White pick guard. A GZR sticker is on the horn

Classic Albums: Black Sabbath –  Paranoid (2010)

During the interview segments of Classic Albums:Black Sabbath – Paranoid , Geezer was holding;

  • Precision Jazz (“Shoreline Gold” with grey pick guard) Rose gold inlays. Henry sticker on the pick guard.

Geezer Butler Signature Lakland (2013)

Black Sabbath reunited in 2011 after the death of Ronnie James Dio and the dissolution of Heaven and Hell. In this period from 2011-2013 Sabbath recorded “13”. Lakland co-designed Geezer’s very first signature bass in Precision and Precision Jazz versions.

For the “13” tour, Geezer took “eight or nine” basses in all. Three main, three backups, one for the dressing room and one spare.

His main basses are all signature models which are almost identical.

  • Lakland Geezer Butler Signature #1
    Body: alder wood
    Neck: Quarter sawn maple with Rosewood fingerboard and 20 frets
    Neck width :1.5″ (Precision) or 1.75″ (Precision Jazz)Pick guard: black and grey anodized aluminum stripes with custom fret board inlays
    Custom EMG Precision pick ups (see below)
  • Signature number 2 is identical but has  plain head stock with a cross on it and rose gold dotted inlays. The “Henry” mascot is detailed in the 5th fret.
  • Signature number 3 is a Precision Jazz and has rose gold inlays and matching pick guard. All black head stock.

Geezer Butler Bass Rig

In footage from “The End” clips show Geezer Bass Rig with

  1. Grey era Precision Jazz
  2. Shoreline Gold Precision Jazz
  3. Gold Sparkle Precision with Jazz style neck
  4. Anniversary Precision 44-51M
  5. Two signatures (#2 and #3)

Geezer recording “13”

Recording the “13” album, Geezer used a mixture of the Laklands and a Bill Nash Custom

  • Bill Nash Custom Precision

Seen the 13 Documentary DVD

Geezer Butler Bass Player Live (2013)

Fans and musicians united in November 2013 for a special tribute show named “Bass Player Live” where Geezer performed playing a vintage style Lakland.

Geezer shared the stage with Zakk Wylde (Black Label Society), Charlie Benante (Anthrax) and Corey Taylor (Stone Sour, Slipknot), as well many as guest bassists to honour his career.

  • Lakland 44-51 Precision with (Vintage Single Coil pickup) Black with White pick guard as well as 3 small “Henry” stickers.
  • A second Lakland 44-51M Precision but with a Split Coil, White with Black pick guard and a GZR sticker in the bridge

This is Lakland’s tribute to Fender’s 60th anniversary 1951 Precision reissue which was also put to market at the same time (causing some controversy).

Black Sabbath in Abu Dhabi 2014

Continuing with the “13” tour, Black Sabbath played Abu Dhabi in 2014 where Geezer had;

(Formerly known as the Duck Dunn Signature)

Black Sabbaths The End 2017

The farewell tour to Black Sabbath played 41 shows throughout the world. Geezer was gifted a custom bass from his bass technician Terry Welty

  • Lakland 51 style Precision in Aston Villas colours

Seen during the show finale Paranoid

Downloadable Geezer Butler Lakland guide

As there are so many Laklands mentioned in different configurations and varieties we would like to give you FREE downloadable picture guide.


Printout and full list of Geezer’s Lakland’s
Download your free Geezer Butler Lakland Picture guide (pdf, 1.5MB)

 

More from Know Your Bass Player

This has been the final artist in our first season but don’t worry. Part two of Geezer Butlers Bass Rig is coming up with a second video soon to follow. An update to the YouTube channel will be posted shortly where more news will be revealed about season 2.

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Have you seen our previous episode? In the last Know Your Bass Player we took a look at the Jason Newsted Bass Rig during his stay in Metallica.Jason Newsted Bass Rig Rundown

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