Nevermind! (Guitar & Bass)

AUP230 Week 2

After deciding on doing Nevermind for this Song Exploder project, I tried to spend the week creating a demo for later sessions. As our group planned to do drums on week 3, I thought it would be a good idea for me to start nailing down the tones for guitars and bass before I move on.

Similar to most rock albums in the era, the whole album is tracked through a Neve console which the dark, fat tone of the desk is very prominent throughout the album (Vozick-Levinson, 2011). In terms of Kurt Cobain’s signature grungy guitar tone in the album, multiple articles report that he has used Fender Jaguars and a Stratocaster with humbucker pickups as his main guitar to go with a Fender Bassman amp although Mesa-Boogies and Vox AC30 are also part of his arsenal (Orkin, 2014). Between the guitar and the cab, common guitar pedals like OD-1, DS-1, and the Small Clone is used frequently in the album (Orkin, 2014). In terms of mic choices, the producer Butch Vig claimed that his usual gears are SM57, U87 and C414 (Simms, 2017). He generally uses SM57 on axis and the two condensers off-axis when capturing guitar cabs (Simms, 2017). Although I do not think I can source any of his gears of choice, to achieve the grungy tone, I will try to source a guitar with humbucker pickups to go with a mesa-sounding amps, and I may layer some Strat tones on top to do the trick.

On the other hand, Krist Novoselic aggressive bass tone comes from his Thunderbird bass with the use of the Ampeg SVT bass amp (Orkin, 2014). Andy Wallace, the mixing engineer also has to do with that memorable bass tone as he is known for adding a stereo chorus effect on bass. What made the bass tone cuts through so much in the mix is just a bit of that “Symphonic” chorus presets on Yamaha SPX90 or SPX990 which would a unconventional choice for mixing bass (Vozick-Levinson, 2011). Again, Thunderbird bass and an SVT would be great but I do not think I will be able to source any of them. My plan is to go with my Spector LX5 bass which sounds similar to a Thunderbird with the UAD Ampeg SVT amp sim plug-in. Luckily though, there is a Yamaha SPX990 sitting in the large Audient studio so I will make sure to get that effect from it.


Orkin, D. (2014). Reverb Interview: Nirvana Guitar Tech Earnie Bailey. [online] Available at: [Accessed 3 Oct. 2018].

Simms, S. (2017). Nirvana's Gear in the Nevermind Era. [online] Available at: [Accessed 3 Oct. 2018].

Vozick-Levinson, S. (2011). Nirvana members reminisce the making of ‘Nevermind’ on its 20th anniversary – Rolling Stone. [online] Available at: [Accessed 3 Oct. 2018].


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