Metallica’s Robert Trujillo Discusses the Legendary ‘Bass of Doom’
Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo recently sat down with Fender to discuss his love of the company’s instruments, the impact that they’ve had on the music that he loves, and he offered an update on the current status of the “Bass of Doom,” originally owned by his idol, Jaco Pastorius.
“If it was a surfboard, it would’ve ridden every wave in the world from day one, until now,” says Trujillo of Fender’s far-reaching influence in music. He continues, saying, “Fender means everything to me. It’s consistent. It’s classic. The magic in that instrument is something that you can trust.” Trujillo is also quick to point out how Fender guitars and basses aren’t only limited to rock and roll, and explains the revolutionary effect that they’ve had on all genres of music.
As one of the metal world’s premier bassists, Trujillo has amassed quite a collection of instruments throughout the years, each of which he says has a unique personality that lends itself better to particular styles. “You know what you have in your quiver,” says Trujillo, as he describes how Fender basses have a tone and personality all of their own.
Trujillo also discusses the current state of the “Bass of Doom,” which is the famous fretless 1962 Fender Jazz Bass that belonged to his hero, bass phenom Jaco Pastorius. The instrument was stolen from a park bench in New York City’s Greenwich Village in 1986, and remained lost until it showed up in 2007 at a little music store in Manhattan’s East Side. The store owner had purchased it used from an anonymous seller for a measly sum, and refused to return it to Pastorius’ family upon discovering who it originally belonged to. After an intense legal battle between the owner and the family — along with Trujillo’s help, who had become a family friend years prior — the case was settled and the bass was returned to its rightful owners. To thank him for his help, the bass was handed over to Trujillo with the agreement with the family that if they wanted it back for any reason, he would return it. For Trujillo, it was as much of an honor as it was an ecstatic experience.
“Last September, I played it for the first time at Yankee Stadium. It was the first time in many, many years that it had been played in front of a New York audience,” Trujillo explains. The Pastorius family was in attendance, and Trujillo chose to pay tribute to Jaco and Cliff Burton — two of his biggest heroes — by playing ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’ with the legendary bass. Trujillo explains the feeling, stating, “That was a very special moment in my life. It was also special to the family, and it was special to the instrument.”