Five Finger Death Punch's Matt Snell—a former audio engineer and auto mechanic—is one of today’s top authorities of extreme bass guitar. Catch him on the tour supporting his band’s latest, War Is the Answer.
What’s your general approach to getting good tone in the studio?
I try to stay away from effects and plug-ins and focus more on the sound that comes from the instrument and amplifier. That way you don’t need to dress it up and edit it later. Playing with consistency is really important— especially for playing fingerstyle. I tend to record with multiple amplifiers and basses and focus on getting the raw sound I want during the actual tracking. I also fatten songs up by layering octaves on bass. My arms and hands are pretty strong, which helps me get a good sound out of my bass.
How do you write new music?
We spend a lot of time recording ourselves, collaborating online and in the studio. Everyone compiles material in their home studios, so when we get together into the studio, we have a lot to work with. We also take a Pro Tools rig with us on our tour bus.
What do you look for in terms of gear?
I own dozens of basses and amplifiers and will use any combination of them to get the sound I’m looking for. For touring, I take my Kustom Groove rig because it sounds great and is sturdy. I’m also a fan of late-’80s SWR amplifiers.
What tips can you offer bassists looking to become more professional?
You have to do all the things professional musicians do: practice, rehearse, and master your craft. Pay attention to your instrument— you’ve got to take it very seriously. This is more than just art; it’s a profession that requires detailed work and effort. When recording, do what’s best for the song and try not to overplay for the sake of playing. Also, take risks—try new things and don’t stagnate. —Rob Shimonski
HEAR HIM ON
Five Finger Death Punch, War Is the Answer [Five Finger Death Punch, 2009]
Bass Ibanez SR prestige 5-string; Rotosound Swing Bass 66 Strings (.040–.110)
Rig Kustom Groove 1300, Kustom 2x15 and 4x10 cabs