What Bass Guitar Does Thundercat Play: The Bass Guitar You Need to Know About

Are you a fan of Thundercat’s groovy bass lines and ever wondered what gear he uses to create that distinct sound? In this blog, we’ll take an in-depth look at the virtuoso bassist’s signature instrument and explore his unique music style.

From his choice of bass guitar models to effects pedals and amplifiers, we reveal all the secrets behind Thundercat’s extraordinary playing. So sit back, relax, and join us as we dive into the world of one of today’s most captivating musicians – whom some consider a modern-day bass legend.

Who Is Thundercat And His Music Style

Thundercat, also known as Stephen Bruner, is an immensely gifted bassist and vocalist from Los Angeles. He honed his musical skills at a young age, quickly gaining recognition for his exceptional prowess on the bass guitar. As a Grammy award-winning musician, Thundercat has collaborated with various iconic artists such as Kendrick Lamar, Erykah Badu, Kamasi Washington, and Flying Lotus. His music style seamlessly blends elements of jazz, funk, soul, R&B, hip-hop, and fusion, resulting in a unique sound that has entranced audiences globally.

Thundercat’s bass playing style is characterized by intricate fingerwork techniques, frequently involving tapping and rapid slapping. He often incorporates complex chord progressions and melodic counterpoints to produce richly textured arrangements that defy genre categorization.

One notable example of Thundercat’s signature sound can be found in his celebrated 2017 album “Drunk,” where he displays innovative musicianship across numerous tracks featuring collaborations with other renowned artists like Pharrell Williams and Wiz Khalifa. Thundercat used the software “Logic Pro X” extensively to produce the album, allowing him to experiment with various sounds and textures. Armed with his unmistakable hollow body electric bass and boundless creativity, Thundercat continues to make indelible marks in the music industry.

Thundercat’s Bass Guitar And Gear

Thundercat’s bass guitar and gear are essential in achieving his unique sound. From the make and model of his bass guitars to his choice of amplifier, speaker cabinet, and effects pedals, every detail is carefully selected to give him the perfect tone. Keep reading to learn more about Thundercat’s gear rundown!

Make And Model Of His Bass Guitars

Thundercat’s bass guitar collection is as varied and impressive as his music. He often plays a Fender Precision Bass, pairing it with his signature pedalboard setup for a full sonic range. Thundercat has also been seen playing a custom Ibanez six-string hollow body bass, made to his specifications by the brand’s Custom Shop. Recently, he has been using an Artcore AFB model in red finish for live performances.

Another noteworthy bass of Thundercat’s is the Music Man Bongo model. It features a humbucking pickup configuration and an active preamp system, making it perfect for playing in funk and R&B styles. Whether he’s using one of these models or experimenting with something new on stage, Thundercat knows how to get the most out of any instrument he plays.

SWR 750X Amplifier And Goliath II 4×10 Speaker Cabinet

Thundercat’s gear setup isn’t complete without mentioning his trusty SWR 750X amplifier and Goliath II 4×10 speaker cabinet. These two pieces of equipment work hand in hand to deliver Thundercat’s signature sound.

The SWR 750X amplifier is known for its clear, crisp tone and delivers an impressive 750 watts of power. It has a simple interface with built-in EQ controls that allow Thundercat to fine-tune his sound on the fly.

Meanwhile, the Goliath II 4×10 speaker cabinet boasts four custom-designed neodymium speakers that deliver exceptional clarity and punch. This combination allows for powerful bass tones that cut through any mix with ease.

Together, these two pieces of gear make up a powerful duo that helps define Thundercat’s one-of-a-kind sound.

Pigtronix Bass Envelope Phaser

One of Thundercat’s go-to effects pedals is the Pigtronix Bass Envelope Phaser. This pedal allows for some funky and unique sounds to come from his bass guitar. It has controls for both the envelope filters and phaser, which can create a variety of tones depending on how they are adjusted. Additionally, the pedal is incredibly responsive to playing dynamics, making it perfect for adding subtle nuances to a bassline.

If you’re interested in experimenting with this effect yourself, try adjusting the sensitivity knob to your liking and experiment with different settings on the phaser control until you find something that catches your ear. The Pigtronix Bass Envelope Phaser can add depth and texture to any style of music, so don’t be afraid to get creative with it!

Thundercat’s Endorsement With Ibanez

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Thundercat has an extensive range of instruments, including custom shop models, with Ibanez as his endorsing artist. Read on to find out more about his gear and tips for playing bass guitar like Thundercat.

Extensive Range Of Instruments

As a highly sought-after bassist, Thundercat has certainly played his fair share of instruments. His endorsement with Ibanez means he has access to an extensive range of different models, from the six-string Artcore hollow body to the four-string Precision and signature electric basses. The AFB model is one that stands out amongst his collection due to its unique design – it’s a hollow body bass with a red finish complete with a maple neck.

Ibanez also offers custom shop model basses for artists like Thundercat who want something truly unique. With this service, he can tailor the instrument precisely to his preferences in terms of tone settings and finish options. It’s not just about style either; at the core of these custom-made instruments is superior craftsmanship that ensures top-notch playing performance.

Having access to such an expansive selection of musical accessories and sound equipment is essential in enabling Thundercat to create music across different genres from R&B, funk, jazz, fusion hip hop among others.

Custom Shop Models

Thundercat’s endorsement with Ibanez also includes custom shop models of bass guitars. These are unique instruments built to his specific preferences and specifications, providing him with a truly personalized playing experience. One example is the six-string Artcore hollow body bass that he used on his album “Drunk.” This custom model features a red finish, maple neck, and an AFB hollow body design.

In addition to this, Thundercat also has a new model in development with Ibanez that promises to be just as impressive as his previous signature electric basses. As an endorsing artist for the brand, he has access to their full range of instruments and can collaborate with their team of luthiers to create one-of-a-kind instruments tailored to his needs.

For aspiring bass guitar players looking to emulate Thundercat’s sound and style, exploring custom shop models from top brands like Ibanez can be an inspiring starting point. While these may carry a higher price tag than standard production models, they offer unique features and designs not found anywhere else in the market.

Tips For Playing Bass Guitar Like Thundercat

To play bass guitar like Thundercat, focus on developing your technique and precision while experimenting with tone and effects, playing with other musicians to enhance your skills.

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Focus On Technique And Precision

To play bass guitar like Thundercat, focus on mastering your technique and precision. Whether you’re plucking with your fingers or using a pick, consistent and controlled playing will go a long way in achieving his smooth grooves. Take the time to practice scales, arpeggios, and other exercises that help strengthen your finger dexterity.

Precision is also key in achieving the right tone for each note. Pay close attention to where you are placing your fingers on the frets and how much pressure you are applying to get just the right sound. Thundercat’s use of harmonics adds texture and interest to his playing style, so don’t be afraid to experiment with those as well.

Ultimately, practicing regularly will help refine these skills over time. Playing with a metronome can also improve timing and consistency which are crucial elements of any good bass player’s performance. Remember that it takes discipline, patience, and persistence but focusing on technique and precision is worth it for achieving great results like Thundercat’s signature electric bass sound!

Experiment With Tone And Effects

One of the key elements in Thundercat’s playing style is his unique tone and use of effects. To replicate this, try experimenting with different tones and effects on your bass guitar during practice sessions. Start by exploring the various settings on your amplifier and pedals until you find a sound that suits your taste.

To truly master Thundercat’s sound, consider investing in some high-quality bass effects pedals like the Pigtronix Bass Envelope Phaser. This pedal can help you achieve the funky envelope filter effect that Thundercat often uses in his music. It’s also essential to note that while it may be tempting to rely heavily on effects, these should always complement your technique and not overshadow it.

Finally, don’t forget about other essential factors like fretting techniques and finger placement when playing bass guitar. Experiment with alternate tunings or fingerpicking styles to change up your feel as well. By putting together all these components, you can develop a nuanced style similar to Thundercat’s signature sound!

Play With Other Musicians To Develop Your Skills

Playing with other musicians is one of the best ways to improve your skills as a bass guitar player. You can learn from their experiences, techniques and style. By playing in a band or collaborating with other musicians, you get exposed to different genres and musical styles which helps broaden your knowledge about music theory.

You also get to develop new approaches towards improvisation by learning how to complement other instruments within the group setting. It’s a great way to build confidence and stamina while performing on stage. Through collaboration and sharing ideas with others, you will pick up valuable insights that can help elevate your playing performance.

For instance, Thundercat regularly collaborates with some of the most talented musicians like Kendrick Lamar, Flying Lotus, and Terrace Martin which helped shape his unique sound across various genres such as jazz, funk, soul/R&B and hiphop fusion. Playing alongside these artists has allowed him to experiment with new effects pedals like Pigtronix Bass Envelope Phaser while perfecting his signature tone settings on Precision Maple Neck basses through sophisticated gear setups like SWR 750X Amplifiers and Goliath II 4×10 speaker cabinets.


In conclusion, Thundercat’s bass guitar and gear are a crucial component in his unique sound that blends jazz, funk, soul, R&B, hiphop, and fusion. He endorses Ibanez and has an extensive range of instruments including custom shop models.

To play like Thundercat, honing your technique and precision is key while experimenting with tone and effects can elevate your playing. Collaborating with other musicians will help you develop even further. With the right combination of gear and skills, you too can create music that resonates deeply with audiences in any genre.


1. What brand of bass guitar does Thundercat play?

Thundercat plays a variety of different bass guitars, but his preferred brands are Fender and Ibanez.

2. What specific model of Fender bass guitar does Thundercat use?

Thundercat primarily uses the Fender Jazz Bass, but also occasionally uses the Precision Bass.

3. Does Thundercat have any custom modifications to his bass guitar?

Yes, Thundercat often adds personal modifications such as additional pickups or unusual string choices to create unique sounds and playing experiences on stage.

4. How has Thundercat’s choice of bass guitar influenced his music style?

Thundercat’s use of a wider range of instruments and sounds in addition to his jazz-influenced background give him a distinctive musical voice that sets him apart in the industry. His choice of instrument reflects this constant evolution in sound exploration through experimentation with both classic and unconventional approaches to composition and performance.

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