How to JAM a Metal Bass Solo Like Geezer Butler (Black Sabbath)

You could learn N.I.B. by rote, from a tab… or stick with me, and learn to jam your own metal bass solos just like Geezer Butler.

0:00 - Josh is a Geezer Fanboy
0:27 - Geezer’s Jamming Influences
1:14 - Minor Pentatonic Magic
3:30 - Groove It
4:58 - Add the Bendies
7:07 - Geezer’s Plucking Technique
8:52 - Dial in Your Gear & Tone

If you’re doing the Beginner to Badass course, the concepts of this lesson will click okay for you pretty early on, but the playing difficulty at full speed will probably feel most doable in the Module 14 realm.

Full N.I.B. Bass Solo Tab

Here’s the Noteflight link to my full N.I.B. solo transcription, have fun!

Building Your Own Metal Bass Solo like Geezer

Here’s a quick rundown on the 5 steps I walk you through in the video -

1 - Minor Pentatonic

Here’s the 2 octave E minor pentatonic scale that Geezer uses for the N.I.B. solo -

Which gives us step 1 of building the solo, just throwing some notes in order -

2 - Groove/Rhythm

Then we need some rhythm, so it doesn’t sound like music store noodles from hell. We’ll copy Geezer and just do a bunch of simple eighths and quarters -

3 - Bendies

We need way more flavor on those vanilla notes, so we’ll add some generous bends to get it rawking harder -

4 - Plucking Technique

To get your plucking to sound Geezer-y:

  • Smack the strings downwards instead of pulling across, this makes more of that clack sound
  • Pluck over the fingerboard to get some of those weird high fret noises you hear on the Black Sabbath record

5 - Gear & Tone

Finally, the expensive part, getting the right gear. :stuck_out_tongue:

  • Play a P bass, or use the neck pickup of whatever bass you’ve got. That growl is part of the rawk.
  • For total N.I.B. purists, use some old dead strings covered in gunk… or just roll your tone knob down a hair.
  • Get a wah pedal going! Anything will do. Even an envelope filter would probably be okay, although the manual action of a wah pedal has a signature sound that’s not quite the same.

Feeling brave? If you’ve tried out these ideas and are working on your Geezer Butler impersonation (without going snowblind :snowman:), please post video/audio below! Let me know if you’d like some constructive feedback. (please tag me @JoshFossgreen so I don’t miss it)

19 Likes

Very good, @JoshFossgreen . . . :slight_smile:

Also left you a thumbs up on the Tube! :+1:

Cheers
Joe

5 Likes

Thanks Joe!

5 Likes

This is going to be very fun to try! Thanks Josh!

5 Likes

Does that mean i have to go and buy a new bass :rofl: :joy: :rofl:

5 Likes

This is the best video yet. I have been wanting a P-Bass lol. This isn’t helping.

NIB - what they used to call Geezer’s beard. True fact, it’s what the song was named for.

5 Likes

Cool new video! :metal::sunglasses:

Added a link to Module 14 on the BassBuzz YouTube Video Guide.

4 Likes

no @Wombat-metal , it was Bill’s Beard that it was named after,
Cheers Brian

3 Likes

I’ve been naturally doing this accidentally since day one. I used to think it was a problem, and then decided I thought it sounded cool and went with it. Glad to know I have precedent here :slight_smile:

5 Likes

Josh what are those rad red strings?

2 Likes

Awesome video, as always!!

2 Likes

Smacking the strings downward works a lot better for me then plucking towards me. Wish I knew of this months ago.

Also this sounds really good on the Jaguar H with the EMG pickup

3 Likes

Thank you @JoshFossgreen ! This is my second favourite video of yours after the Steve Harris one. I sense a pattern here.

Out of curiosity, in addition to technique, in order to get consistent “clank” on a P-bass, approximately how low do you have to set the action on the strings? I’m finding my “clank” inconsistent, particularly in the higher registers.

Inquiring and thankful minds want to know.

3 Likes

@JoshFossgreen - Consistently hitting it out of the park!!!
2 favorite parts:

  1. the proof of Geezerifying when you play normal technique to smacks on the fingerboard = glorious.

  2. Wah-wah-wah-wahhhh… nice wah-ing, buddy.

4 Likes

I don’t find this to be an action height thing, my action is pretty high compared to a lot of what I see (working on lowering it as I get better).
What really helped my clank is the Darkglass B7K, trebble up, bass up as well to build bottom end, drive up a little, clank for days easily. Maybe I am cheating but heck it works.

3 Likes

For the record - I don’t think this is a good technique in a lot of situations. That aggressive clack sound really doesn’t deliver the goods for a chill reggae groove, or a Motown line, or a mellow ballad.

All the pro bassists (I know of) who use this technique are either full-time rockers (Geezer, Geddy, Billy Sheehan, Steve Harris), or they use it part time when a song needs some extra RAWK.

So not to poop the clackity clackity party, but it’s my job as a teacher to supply appropriate asterisks. :slight_smile:

They’re DR Red Devils - in my limited experience the ONLY reason to use them is for the looks. They sound average, and feel really grippy on the fingers, which I don’t like.

It depends on how much RAWK POWER you can get out of your fingers. :stuck_out_tongue: If your action is super super high, it’ll probably be hard, but anywhere in the ‘medium’ range and below works fine, in my experience.

Technically, there’s nothing the Darkglass (or anything else at that point in the signal chain) could do to get that exact sound of the strings smacking on the fretboard with each pluck. EQ/preamps can help a ton by accentuating the frequencies that those clacks occur in, but if the signal isn’t there to start with, it’ll just sound bright/zingy/snarly without actually clacking. I bet the clacky plucking technique + the Darkglass sounds super brutal though!

4 Likes

Yeah for sure. For me it only seems to come out when playing fast and aggressive songs - but it’s definitely naturally happening, I don’t need to think about it, it’s just something I do.

I kind of described it a year or so back:

3 Likes

Thank you, Josh. So, of course I’m still building the RAWK power in my fingers. The reason I asked is that I’m a real SH and GB fanboi (pretty pathetic in an almost 50 year old, but there it is) and I’m turning my P-bass (P-clone, really) into an SH fanboi worship shrine. I have another bass now (a Peavey Milestone III JJ) for all other kinds of music and I will finish off B2B (27 lessons left) with it.

I have flats on the P, and I’ve ordered Seymour Duncan SH pickups for it (won’t be here till the end of August. That’s what I get for being from the world’s richest third world country :rage:). When the time comes for a string change, I’ll put Rotosound SH flats on it. That said, I want to play with string action on my current set before putting expensive strings on it :smiley:

I ordered the Tech21 Sansamp SH-1 stompbox. We’ll see how that is when it arrives. My DIY Zoom B1four Steve Harris patch didn’t do it for me.

3 Likes

To Josh’s point the clank needs to be there to begin with, but with active p’ups and boosting the signal more with EQ and some drive, its a lot easier.
I don’t get the same crazy easy clank out of the VT Bass DI, but it is not designed for it.
The B7K has this little Attack switch that lets you accentuate either bass or treble even more so as well.

2 Likes

Yes, the SH1 has a “Bite” switch, which I suspect is similar.

2 Likes