I personally believe that Duff McKagan is one of the world’s most underrated bass players. Mainly because his bass lines are super iconic, yet he’s such an understated player that he blends into the rhythm of each song so well that you know he’s there without him having to shout it at you. Duff was the last member to join Guns ‘N’ Roses, and I think he was the last piece of that amazing musical puzzle that ended up being one of the biggest rock bands ever.
Part of Duff’s exceptional talent was knowing when to blast his bass all over a song, and when to just be supporting everyone else playing. And he has mastered that skill. He’s even quoted as saying “If you’re going to be a bass player, learn how not to be the front guy.”
One of the things I really love about so many of these isolated tracks from the world’s biggest songs is that you can hear that even the best musicians in the world aren’t perfect at it. There are little variances in pitch, or tempo, or flow, that’s real and raw and human. It just reminds me that you don’t have to be a perfect musician to make it in a band. You just have to believe in yourself and never give up. Unless you really suck at it, then maybe you can give up. You don’t have to be great, but it helps to at least be good.
First check out the full song and then take a listen to his isolated track.