my pickup height, adjust the
action, and dress my frets.
Basically, I’m able to fine-tune
my bass to where it’s most
comfortable to me. Opening
up the bass and learning what’s
going on inside really helps me
know my instrument. The more
command you have over your
instrument—inside and out—
the more confident you’ll be as
a player. And confidence is an
Ibanez PGMFRM1 Fireman,
Ibanez PGM401 Paul Gilbert signature
model, 1979 Ibanez Artist 2630
semi-hollowbody, Ibanez PM100 Pat
Metheny signature hollowbody, Ibanez
custom shop PGM 12-string
and bassist]—who’s a supreme
master at his craft—admitted to
me that before a tour he has to
work on being able to sing and
play. The answer is always that
you have to spend time on it to
be able to hit it hard.
Do you ever suffer playing-related injuries, and if so, how
do you deal with them?
I had wrist problems for years.
It didn’t affect my playing very
much. I could barely move my
wrists, but I went on a low-carb
diet and it’s completely cured.
I’ve advised many musicians
over the years to try this, and
pretty much all of them are
cured. High carbs, high glucose, and joints do not work
together well. Everyone is different, and one cure won’t work
for everyone, but the anecdotal
evidence seems really strong.
Another issue from playing
hard is that the fingernails
on my picking hand start to
separate out from my fingers.
Man—is that painful. I actually
superglue them back on.
Marshall 2266c Vintage Modern 50-watt
2x12 combo, THD Hot Plate
Strings and Picks
Ernie Ball RPS- 11 Slinkys
(for Mr. Big songs tuned down to Eb),
Ernie Ball RPS- 10 Slinkys (for standard
tuning), Tortex . 60 mm picks
Majik Box Fuzz Universe, Ibanez Paul
Gilbert Signature AF2 Airplane Flanger,
HomeBrew Detox EQ, MXR Phase 90,
Fulltone ChoralFlange, ADA Flanger,
HomeBrew CPR compressor
You’ve had success in a num-
ber of different playing situ-
ations. As a musician, what
makes Mr. big different than
It’s the most all-around, regular
rock band that I’ve been in.
Talas was cool, but it had its
limitations. I really enjoyed
playing with David Lee Roth,
he’s a great frontman, but it
was his band. But with Mr.
Big, we’re all singing and play-
ing. All of my favorite bands—
like Grand Funk Railroad,
Humble Pie, Spooky Tooth,
and Free—are all about sing-
ing and playing. There’s song
structure. And that’s how we
modeled Mr. Big in the begin-
ning. We even took our name
from a Free song. The real
attraction of Mr. Big, to me, is
that it’s a regular old rock band
where we can sing and play. I
got caught up in a lot of pro-
gressive and instrumental stuff,
which I really like, but I always
gravitate toward sitting around
with friends, opening a bottle
of wine, and singing songs.
Singing while playing bass
is much more difficult than
You have such a powerful and
distinctive sound. besides your
fingers, what do you need to
sound like billy Sheehan?