This week for That Metal Gear we’re very pleased to share with you a special video and interview with one of the greatest bassists in the history or hard rock and heavy metal, the legendary Billy Sheehan. Since coming on the scene with Talas and David Lee Roth, through his hit-making years with Mr. Big, and up to the present day with The Winery Dogs, Billy has amazed fans and constantly raised the bar for all electric bass players that follow in his wake. And as impressive as his technical chops are his musicality and songwriting abilities. We caught up with Billy when he stopped by That Metal Show last week and he was kind enough to share with his gear history and tone secrets.
VH1: What was your first bass? Billy Sheehan:
Well, actually my first one was a Hagstrom. It was a funny looking thing, kind of small, 3/4 size with a plastic top force, which is one knob. It had a plastic thing around the 1/4 jack which always cracked. I glued it a bunch of times. And eventually it kind of—as I got my first real bass, my (Fender Precision) P-Bass – I took the frets off that and tried to experiment around with it and eventually, I don’t know what happened to it. But somebody actually turned me on to a fully intact version of it that I purchased so I could have a reminder of my very first bass.
So was the P-Bass your first good piece of gear?
Yeah. My grandmother lived with us and she says, “As long as I’m alive, there’ll never be an electric guitar in this house.” So bass or guitar, to her there’s no difference. So when she passed away, with the insurance money, I got my first bass. It was a good thing because then I got my bass. I mean, not a good thing that she died, but you know. But we have an RPM meter on her grave to see how fast she’s spinning now that there’s unrelenting piles of electric instruments all over the place (laughter).