7 Reasons Cliff Burton F***ing ROCKS (+Bass Lesson Tips)

How did Cliff Burton become a metal bass hero? Here’s my take on Metallica’s legendary former bassist, plus tips to level up your own playing.

If you’re doing the Beginner to Badass course, a lot of the riffs in this video will be too advanced for you right now, but you can still pull lots of good musicianship and mindset ideas from this lesson.

Cliff Burton Riffs

Here’s the Noteflight link for all the Cliff riffs I played in this video:

Don’t try to play both lines of the Orion solo at the same time unless you want your brain to explode. :exploding_head:

Bass Lesson Takeaways

Here are my favorite lesson tips from this video, which you can experiment with even if you’re a beginner:

  • Wanna sound less like a bass player when you solo? Try not starting on the root note, and using bends, hammer-ons, and pull-offs
  • Wanna sound cool and baroque-y like Bach without years of music college? Do what Cliff did - learn your scales and arpeggios, and listen to baroque a lot to get a feel for melody and ornamentation (“fancy wiggles”)
  • Sometimes playing bass in the background is the right move, but sometimes a quirkier bass line can transform a song - don’t be afraid to experiment at the right moments
  • Listen to your bass tone in the context of the style of music you’re playing, see how it fits in the mix, and keep trying to improve over time
  • It’s okay to simplify your bass rhythms on fast riffs like Cliff did, as long as you’re locked in and hit the important notes
  • Cliff is awesome :slight_smile:

Cliff Burton fans, make yourself known below! This can be a general Cliff love thread, doesn’t have to be directly related to the video. :metal:


Sick, Gonna check it out and get back in a bit.


I am a huge Cliff Burton fan! He was a great bassist. He definitely had a unique style and sound playing intricate riffs using finger style on songs like Battery. I would have to say that Robert Trujillo is the next best thing to Cliff in Metallica but he doesn’t replace Cliff.


Both GREATS, can’t compare the two tho, they are two different bassists completely


I still don’t think of Trujillo in terms of Metallica. Suicidal Tendencies all the way.

I should probably let go of that though, I mean, 17 years is a pretty solid Metallica stint :slight_smile:


And his dad was really cool, too. He passed in January of this year.

He was so supportive of Cliff and what he was doing.

He took the royalties and donated them for music scholarships for kids.

Cliff’s Dad


You arer KILLING ME @JoshFossgreen.
I have never wanted a P bass until today. I must have that. Orange with Black pick guard. Is that an off the shelf color?

Oh, and you killed another video, awesome work

Edit: Actually they call it RACE RED. it looks orange. Can you verify if it looks red or orange in person? If it looks orange like the video I still want it.
and a STEAL at $229


It’s red in person! It’s okay… I wouldn’t say I recommend it. There’s zero shielding in the body cavity, so the pickups are super noisy. One of the lowest quality Squier electronics setups I’ve encountered. I dunno if this is generally an issue with their Affinity models, or just this specific model.

Looks sexy though!


@JoshFossgreen I have the Affinity j bass and it has no shielding either the hum can be a bear to deal with at times.


Two more tips @JoshFossgreen: don’t forget to add the wispy 'stache and denim on denim look for maximum badassery! :love_you_gesture:


Hi Lester & Toby,
@LesterH , @T_dub
Jason Newstead was good with Metallica as well, I wouldn’t have minded the 1 million Mr Trujillo got for signing on :sunglasses:
Cheers Brian


Thank you for this amazing video @JoshFossgreen. It’s the pick up I needed after this week.


Yeah, I figured it might be, BUMMER, it looked sexier when I thought it was Orange. Orange with that big black pick guard would be great. That Racer Red also looks pretty cool with the black, but not the color for me.
And If I were to get a squire P or J, I think I would go up to the Vintage Modified series, I think you are right about the Afinity series.
Thanks for the info.
I was online looking for them as soon as I ended the video. I might have been hesitant to order even if it said Orange, due to being Affinity.
I am glad they were on back order, or I might be trying to cancel the order right now. :rofl:


I am actually NOT a Metallica fan, but if I were to listen to ANY Metallica, it would be the old albums that Cliff was on. Jason is not only good, he was great, and he came from that other band with Marty Feldman (or Freedman, I can’t remember OTTOMH) from Megadeath IIRC, Flotsam and Jetsam. But I have not really been into that style of Hair Metal music since back when I was playing guitar.
It is like Auto Racing, Indy Car and Nascar and anything else. i have absolutely ZERO interest in it at all. i would never spend ANY time watching any type of auto racing for pleasure, BUT, when I worked for a team back in 1998-2000, I would watch the races we were in and enjoy it.
So when I played guitar, the music I listened to and appreciated more at the time was heavy lead guitar bands like that.

And I do love Robert Trujillo, but I still don’t listen to Metallica, I listen to him in ST and Infectious Grooves more than anything.


Added to the BassBuzz YouTube Video Guide.

Hell Yeah, Cliff Burton!


My starter bass is an Affinity as well, cheapest version PJ, and it only has some shielding on the pickguard.


@JoshFossgreen You’re vids are simply the best! I won’t mention Scott Devine’s name here (sic), but you do more than post good bass players on your channel say, “Wow, that’s cool!” You do a detailed analysis as to why they are good…and you didn’t forget Steve Harris!

I really appreciate your talent to not only reach out to the beginner, but also to provide the material for the bad asses to digest as well. You’ve got something for everyone. I’m glad that when I made the choice, I chose your course. There’s lots of room for growth!

“Best Bass analysis online. Period.”


@Krescht You can go to Stewmac online and order rolls of shielding tape/material and install it very easily to completely shield your bass’ electronics. I have just ordered some but I will not set it up until I buy some new pick ups and change the strings again.


I got a roll of copper shielding from Amazon for $11. I don’t know if it’s as good as what Stewmac is selling, but the copper foil separated easily:

I cut it into strips and different shapes; used a drill bit (a tooth pick will work too) on the back side to lower the adhesive foil into the control and pickup cavities. Once down in the cavity, I used a finger on my other hand to press the foil into place while with drawing the bit:

I was surprised by how easy it was to do once I got the hang of it.


+1 on that :heavy_check_mark: