Peter Steele Bass Rig – Type O Negative

Peter Steele Bass Rig

Peter Steele, The green man, the incredible sulk and playgirl pinup has serenaded women and men alike. Many have wondered for years, what the Peter Steele bass rig looks like. In this episode we  cover the history of Fallout, Carnivore and Type O Negative.

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Peter Steele’s musical history

Peter took acoustic guitar lessons together before to the electric guitar. He also dabbled on an upright bass in school before moving onto the bass guitar when he was 13. His influences are cited as Geezer Butler, Paul McCartney and Roger Glover. The main reason he picked the bass was after learning he would be kicked out of his current band once the group found a bass player.

I was in a band with Josh. I was a temporary rhythm guitarist.
They were looking for a bass player, and as soon as they found one,
they were going to kick me out. So I ran to the store.
I was playing left-handed at the time and traded my guitar for a bass.
The asshole at the store would not trade me for the left-handed bass because it was more expensive than the right. He said, ‘Take the right-handed bass and you’ll learn to play it.
I did, but that’s the only thing I do right-handed.

Peter Steele’s first bass

It’s not been said specifically what the first bass Peter bought was. However in one of his earliest performances he’s using a steel neck Kramer DMZ4000.

Creation of Carnivore

Pete would continue to play with Josh Silver, who now played keyboards. Author Jeff Wagner describes Peter as having a “creative restlessness”. With his bands taking on many different names over the years. Such as Aggression, Hot Ice and Northern Lights before resting on the name Fallout.

The band became very popular in the local neighbourhood. Cutting their teeth playing any and every local gig that arose and recording a couple of tracks. After a few years creative differences emerged within the band and Fallout fellout into two camps. John Campos and Josh Silver went onto form Original Sin whilst Peter and Paul Beato created Carnivore.

Carnivore’s first appearancePeter Steele Alembic Spoiler

Carnivores 1st public appearance was on 6 June 1983. With footage from this period showing Peter using an Alembic Spoiler. This bass was used throughout the two Carnivore albums and Into a new band named Repulsion.

Origins of Type O Negative

In an act of dedication, the whole band tattooed a circle with a minus sign on their upper arms. Inspired by their demo tape named “None More Negative.”

It turns out there was another band named Repulsion who recently released a record. So Pete then changed the name to Subzero. But again, another group was already using this name too.

Finally, Pete settled on Type O Negative. It was on 3 May 1991 where Type O Negative made their first public performance. Following the whole naming debarkal Peter recalled;

“After getting this stupid thing tattooed on ourselves
it was up to me to think of a name to compensate for the logo.
I don’t normally listen to the radio, but there was a request for
type O negative blood by the Red Cross,
and I was like, ‘Well, that’s it. Type O Negative.’
‘O Negative’ matched the tattoo, and it sounded like no one else could possibly have rights to it.”

Peter Steele Bass Rig in Type O Negative

Peter would perform the recording duties with his Alembic Spoiler up until the summer of 1995. Recording Slow Deep and Hard, Origin of Feces and Bloody Kisses.

During the tours however, a Thunderbird 3 bass surfaces in 1991 and a natural finish Fender Jazz in 1994 alongside a brief regrouping of Carnivore.

A fretless BC Rich Warlock with a reversed headstock also made an appearance at this time.

Basses used in Type O Negative videos

The bands’ first music video Black No.1 premiered in 1993 and shows clips of Peter using an upright bass. Of course, he played the damn thing horizontally.

Following this came the video for Christian Woman. There are two versions of this video, the full length version and a radio edit tailored for MTV. It features less provocative lyrics and essentially a reshoot.

In both versions however Peter plays the Thunderbird seen in 1991. But this time it’s been absolutely plundered with the bottom horn sheared clean off and a gaping hole in the body.

Producer Richard Termini goes on to claim Peter enjoyed designing and modifying his basses.

“I remember him cutting big holes in his bass and painting it himself.
He added chains and such. He was always playing around with his gear like that.”

Peter Steele and the ESH Stinger 1

By 1995, the band were still touring Bloody Kisses and live videos from this era now show Peter using an ESH Stinger 1. Painted all black, with green fret inlays and hardware. The pickup fitted was a single coil in the bridge position. As well as a piezo pickup under each string in the bridge.

Piezo pickups are an interesting choice. Instead of picking up the fluctuating magnetic fields like your regular pickups. Piezos instead pick up on the actual resonance from the bass and vibration from the strings. turning that into an electrical signal.

The end result can be mildly compared to the sound of an electro acoustic guitar. On a bass however their application adds a bit more airy clarity and string articulation.

In Peter’s case, his tone was pumped through a bunch of effects pedals which highly pronounced the top end of his sound.

Back up ESH Stinger 1

In a video from a French TV show you can just make out a natural finish stinger in the background.

Release of October Rust 1996

After the release of October Rust in 1996. The Alembic Spoiler made a brief return on tour with a new lick of paint and missing it’s neck pickup. Notably seen in the music videos for Love you to death, My Girlfriends Girlfriend and Cinnamon Girl.

The ESH stinger was also filmed at this time on an MTV UK special. Returning as Peter’s main bass throughout 1997 tour videos. ESH rereleased this model in 2009 in Peters colours and fitted it with a music man pickup.

Release of World Coming Down 1999

World Coming Down debuted in September 1999 which was promoted by the music video for Everything Dies, and a tour soon followed.

The Peter Steele Bass

We now see Pete using a Frankenstein bass which was dubbed by some as “the steele bass”. Wielding the body and bridge plate of a Rickenbacker With a headstock, sustainer system and accompanying controls from Fernandes basses. The pickups on this bass had two soap bars installed. At first glance it looks like your typical EMG35 and a thunderbird pickup in the neck. Taking a closer look at the neck pickup however, it’s strangely wider than the bridge. Since the bass has the Fernandes toggle switches on the body. The neck pickup is quite likely a Fernandes bass sustainer.

Peter’s custom Fernandes sustainerPeter Steele Bass Rig Sustainer

Third Hand information from Type O message boards speculate that the bass had a prototype sustainer unit which was not available to the general public. A user from one of these boards claimed to have written Fernandes who stated it has now been discontinued.

Fernandes sustainers are famously known to sit in the neck pickup cavity on guitars and help sustain a note indefinitely. These sustainers work like a pickup but in reverse. Powered by a battery they emit a magnetic field which causes the strings to vibrate.

As there’s nothing like this remotely similar for the bass in the old Fernandes catalogs at this time. It’s likely this pickup contains a custom Fernandes sustainer. You’ll find this bass used throughout the tour in 1999 and famously seen in the in the Symphony for the devil dvd.

Type O Negative in the 2000’s

The band made an appearance on the Howard Stern show in 2000. In this performance Pete uses a green Fernandes Tremor which returns in 2003. Just like his Steele bass, it too has a sustainer fitted to the neck pickup. It would look like Pete was endorsed by Fernandes at this point, as he appears in their catalogs between 2000 and 2002

Life Is Killing Me 2003

Released in June 2003. Life is killing me was accompanied with the music video “I don’t want to be me”. The Alembic returns for a third time, again with the neck pickup removed and taped over. There’s also a picture which probably dates prior to this video, showing the bass with the pickup removed and a pack of rotosound taped to the body.

Peter’s Washburn M10 bass

Joining the ranks on the life is killing me tour was a brand new Washburn M10 bass. There isn’t a whole lot of information about the origins of this bass. After contacting Washburn, they reponsed that they were made in very limited numbers between 2001 and 2003. They unfortunately didn’t have any more information to share than that. Peters was fitted with just one music man pickup and no sustainer this time. It has a kill switch and one volume control. Peter used this bass exclusively from this period, right up until his final performances in 2010. A red version was seen with Carnivore in 2006 and on occasion in Type O shows.

Peter Steele’s RickenbackerPeter Steele Bass Rig

In one of the final interviews with Peter in 2010, he nurses a gutted Rickenbacker 4003.

Peter and the Alembic Epic?!

This photo is believed to be a picture from the Hard Rock cafe in New York and displays an Alembic Epic. Considering this bass is actually left handed and Peter has never used an Alembic Epic. It is highly unlikely this bass belongs to him. With that said, it does look like one of Peters M10 basses is on display in Duff’s Bar in Brooklyn. Pete was a regular to the bar and they hold yearly tributes in his name.

Peter Steele Bass Rig and Amplifiers

Pictures from the days of Fallout shows Peter using a 100 watt Acoustic 126 combo with a 15 inch speaker. First documented in 1986 Peter would primarily use between 2 or 4 behemoth Peavey 3620’s. Fitted with two 18 inch JBL speakers and two 10 inch speakers. These cabinets would be his core equipment and he always went back to them. A lot of experimenting took place in these early years whilst Peter was on the hunt for his sound. During this period Pete would also use early Peavey 8x10s. These would also be powered by different Peavey heads. Early performances would feature the Peavey Mark 4 and the Max Bass head.

Peter Steele’s Amplifiers in Type O Negative

By the debut of Type O Negative, the amps were now settled with Peavey 3620’s and Mark 4 bass heads. These cabs would almost certainly be used in US domestic shows right up until 2000. Eventually each cab was then fitted with a pair of piezo speaker horns. To similar effect of his ESH bass explained earlier and Pete explains the reason behind this;

I added some Piezos in there because I use distortion and chorus and
delay and I like that sizzle sound, like when you suck all the mids out and it’s all bottom and all sizzle on top.

Amplifiers used in the Carnivore reunion

Something also of note occurred during the 1994 Carnivore reunion. Where it appears Peter is using just one Mark 4 head being sent to front of house. There are no bass cabs on stage, everything here is a guitar cab.

Amplifiers used on Bloody Kisses tour

1995 was a busy year for the band with many tour dates across Europe. During this period you’ll see many variations in his amplifiers which can only be attributed as loaner gear. At festivals in the Netherlands and Germany, you will find 3 Ampeg 8x10s and on a French TV show appears four Hartke 4x10s This picture here is believed to be taken on the Danzig tour of 1995. Through pretty much every show, his rack equipment would sit directly to his right. voice over In this Peter Steele Bass Rig, you can see;

  • Furman power supply
  • Two Peavey Bassist preamps
  • Four Mosvalve 800’s

The gear on the right belongs to Kenny ss he mentions in an interview he used the ADA preamp. The Mosvalves were replaced by 1996 with the addition of three mighty Peavey CS 1200 watt power amps. Voice over A possible reason for this comes from an interview with the magazine Livewire in 1996. Pete says In addition to this Pete mentions he used a volume pedal brand unknown around 1996. In a 1996 interview with livewire, a couple of months before the release of October rust. He mentions he was using the 3620s as well as four 4×12 tops to bring in mid-range feedback frequencies. I’ve seen no evidence of this on tour and can only presume this in the studio.

Type O Negative amplifiers in the 2000’s

From the year 2000 onwards things change nearly every year. Firstly, those classic 3620’s were updated with three Peavey 8×10 TVX’s. With the speaker frame being painted Peters trade mark green (Pantone 369). It’s worth noting cabs come with one tweeter horn as stock.

Mesa Boogie 8x10s were seen In 2003 and again likely a loaner.

In 2006 Peter played with Carnivore at Wacken open air festival. He appears with 4 Ampeg 8×10 classics and two 4x10PRs While there were some appearances with Type O using the Ampegs, that wouldn’t last long.

Peter’s new Peavey amplifiers

The final incarnations of Pete’s rig appeared in 2007 in promotion of the Dead Again album with an array of Peavey equipment. Pete played through three Peavey 8x10s each fitted an additional 2 piezo horns. In his rack were up to three Peavey max tour heads and up to five Peavey DPC 1400X’s.

Type O Negative European tour 2007

By the summer the band were in Europe and it’s here you’ll find equipment that are most likely loaners. The usual three Ampeg 8x10s returned, alongside the Peavey 8x10s.

Peavey Tour 700 heads were also seen that summer powering some new Peavey VB8’s. It’s also worth noting that Peter was listed as a Peavey artist in 2007.

Although, they list the gear he uses as TVX 4x10s and 1x15s. Neither of which have have been seen on tour. One of the last performances hints a change to his power amps. You can just make out the blue light coming from his rig which could be a Peavey IPR.

Peter Steele bass rig and effects pedals

Peter Steele is well known for having a sparkly droney type of sound. As Pete says in his own words

“ It’s not a complicated set-up because I’m a simpleton … I just need simple stuff. Plug in, let’s go.”

The earliest evidence for which effects Peter was using was in 1994. With Peter playing an Aria APE 2, it has Distortion, Chorus, and delay it’s his dream pedal all in one unit. His effects were replaced by BOSS pedals in 1995.

“I use Boss boxes, which are made out of sheet metal.
Even when some drunken 600-pound slob charges me onstage,
all he’s gonna do is turn the pedal off. I tried using those other pedals and stuff,
but I’m six-foot-six and I wear size-15 boots.
And with the fog machine onstage I can’t see what the hell I’m doing.”

The Boss pedals stayed with him right up until his final performances.

Speculations on Peter’s gear

Some forums and message boards have suggested  that Peter used an ABY splitter box. Supposedly separating a clean feed with a tremolo alongside the effects feed and then recombining them. This is only third hand information and could not be verified for this video. There is evidence to support that Peter could have used an AB rig instead. This would be easier to accomplish than splitting feeds. Considering he usually had three 8x10s, you could speculate he had a dry cab, effects cab and a mixed cab.

Strings Peter Steele used

Peter discloses in an interview the way in which he tunes his bass.

“It was a result of listening to (Black Sabbath’s) “Master of Reality”
That was the first album that you could obviously hear that something was going on with the tuning.
After hearing that, when we formed Carnivore, we tuned down a minor third,
and when I formed Type O Negative we took it one whole step further, so now I tune my bass B-E-A-D.
It plays havoc on the instruments. nothing to do with my vocal range.
It has more to do with sounding heavier and more drone-like.”

Other forums have shared this information for years, apparently originating from Peter’s bass tech back in 2000. The post mentions Peter using Dean Markley strings. However, this has not been verified. One set we can say for sure was Rotosound strings, which were strangely taped to his bass at one point. Finally in 2007 he moved on to DR black beauties, which could be seen in performances at this time.

Peter’s Badass 2 bridge

Badass 2 bridges were fitted to the M10 . All the other basses were stock, apart from the Steele bass with the Rickenbacker plate.

In the next episode of Know Your Bass Player

Coming up in the next episode, I need your help. Can you guys give me some suggestions to who you want to see? I’m thinking of Rex Brown but I’d love to hear what you guys want to see. Leave me a comment or give me a tweet.

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