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LiveNIRVANA EQUIPMENT GUIDE:
Krist Novoselic

NIRVANA guitar technician, Earnest Bailey, talks to Alex Roberts—Exclusive!

Krist's Gibson Ripper, photo by Earnest Bailey

Broken headstock from Krist's Gibson Victory, photo by Earnest Bailey

Krist's Ampeg AEB-1 'Horizontal' Bass, photo by Earnest Bailey

Krist's Gibson Thunderbird IV, photo by Earnest Bailey

Krist's Fender BXR bass amp, photo by Earnest Bailey

Krist's Mesa/Boogie Road Ready speaker cabs, photo by Earnest Bailey

STRINGS

Rotosound Bass Strings
Krist used Rotosound strings, RS66 Long Scale, Standard Gauge.

GUITARS

Ibanez Roadster
Shown in that very early photo of Krist with his tongue out.
Ibanez Black Eagle 2609B
Krist had 3–4 these, one of which I modified to have a rosewood neck. These basses were frequently toured throughout the band's career. One can be seen in the Sliver video and parts of the footage used for the Sub Pop In Bloom video. Krist's original Black Eagle is on exhibition at the Experience Music Project.
'62 Fender Precision
Played at the Kennel Club; Krist borrowed this bass from Kurt Danielson of TAD.
Fender Precision
Played and then smashed at the Kennel Club.
Unknown P/J bass
Played at Lee's Palace in Toronto; this bass was lent to Krist by Bruce Gordon of Rocktopus.
Gibson Ripper
Krist had at least two of each in Ebony and Natural finishes. One of Krist's Natural finish Rippers can be seen in the Come As You Are video; An Ebony model can be seen in some of the footage used for the Sub Pop In Bloom video (you may also have seen one smacking Krist in the face at the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards!).
Gibson RD Artist, in Ebony
Krist had two RD Artists that he toured heavily.
Gibson Victory, in Silver
This one's a bit of a mystery, I'm not sure when it toured, I haven't seen any photos of it anywhere, I just have the broken headstock!
'60s Japanese Zen-On
Can been seen in the Smells Like Teen Spirit video. I'm not sure how he got it but probably bought the day of the shoot in L.A. at a pawnshop. Zen-Ons were sold in the US and Europe, like many '60s Japanese made guitars, under many different names depending on the importer. Krist's could have likely bore the Silvertone label, but it's hardly worth getting too wrapped up in as it may have been bought an hour before it was destroyed!
Warwick Dolphin
Played in Holland at the 2 Meter Sessie; the band used instruments supplied by the studio, as their own gear was being set up for a concert later that evening.
Ampeg AEB-1
The In Bloom video was to look as if it were filmed in the mid '60s and to have that kind of British invasion quality to it. Krist phoned to ask if I had any cool '60s basses for the shoot and I remembered still having the Ampeg that I played back in the early '80s.
Gibson Thunderbird IV
Krist had two T-Birds, one in Vintage Sunburst and the other in Ebony. I converted the Ebony bass from black to chrome hardware, and Krist eventually gave it to Matt Lukin of Mudhoney in 1994.
Gibson RD Standard, in Ebony
I gave this to Krist as a Kristmas present, he used it at the festival shows in Brazil.
Gibson EB-2
Krist also had a 1960s Pelham blue Gibson EB-2 bass on the In Utero tour, I've seen photos of him with it in a songbook somewhere….
Guild B30E semi-acoustic bass
Used at the MTV Unplugged session. This bass was rented from S.I.R. in New York, Krist didn't have an "unplugged" bass of his own.
Gibson Hummingbird acoustic guitar, in Cherry Sunburst
Another from the MTV Unplugged session, Krist used this on the Meat Puppets numbers.

EFFECTS

ProCo Rat Distortion
Krist's distortion pedal of choice.
Boss DS-1
On occasion in late 1992 Krist would use Kurt's old DS-1's (after Kurt made the switch to the Boss DS-2); For later tours he requested the return of the Rat.

AMPLIFICATION

Laney Pro Bass amp
Used throughout the Bleach era.
Fender BXR Dual Bass 400
This is the amp Krist used before he acquired the SVT 400T. I'm not 100% sure of when he came by it, but I think it was around the time of Sliver or possibly earlier. It became a back-up amp that lived in his rack for later tours but saw little use.
Ampeg SVT 400T
The SVT 400T appeared in early 1991, I believe. It saw a lot of road and I'm pretty sure he used this for recording Nevermind. It was stock, if anything was changed it would have been the input jacks to something heavier. The SVT was used until replaced by the complex HiWatt rig.
HiWatt Custom 100 watt
Here is the somewhat complex HiWatt saga: I found Krist his first one at a Seattle pawnshop for $300, and it had been previously drilled for a preamp output on the back. Andy Marshall at THD Electronics upgraded the preamp line out and modded the amp for KT-90 tubes (see below for more info). We bought a Groove Tubes speaker emulator to run the entire amp through the power amps and into the array of Boogie & Marshall cabs. The line out direct from the preamp sounded best, so we typically ran the HiWatt not utilizing the KT-90 output section at all, with the exception of the Crocodile Cafe show where I believe we used the HiWatts with 2 Marshall 4×12 cabs, and the recording of In Utero. For In Utero the HiWatts were sent out as was a 100 watt 1968 Marshall plexi Super Lead converted to 6550 tubes.
Andy: Krist came to me asking me to help him get the sound that Kurt Danielson from the group TAD had. From what Krist said, Kurt had the best bass sound he had ever heard. So, I helped him duplicate the amplifier I had set up for Kurt. It was a 1970s (I think) HiWatt DR103 100 watt guitar head. I then rebuilt the bias supply to allow the amp to properly bias the Yugoslavian EI brand KT90 power tubes that are rather important to the sound. They have a different bias requirement than the stock EL34 tubes. To add a bit more attack and tighten-up the bottom end, I doubled the capacitance in the first stage of the power supply. Also, I changed the driver-tube coupling capacitors to WIMA-brand 0.1 microfarad, 630 volt metalized polyester film capacitors, which, from my experience, gave the amps a more musical bottom end. I guess Krist liked it, because he seemed to use it a lot.
Gallien Krueger 800RB
Used on the In Utero tour.
Crest 4801 Power Amp
Borrowed from Kurt's rig.
Marshall Plexi 100 with 6550s
Used for the In Utero demo sessions at Reciprocal and the '94 session at Robert Lang Studios.
Speaker cabs
Peavey 2×15 (Bleach era)
4 Marshall 4×12s, 2 Mesa/Boogie Road Ready 4×10s and 2 Mesa/Boogie Road Ready 2×15s (Nevermind era)
Numerous Ampeg SVT enclosures (In Utero era)

OTHER

Dobren accordion
Used for the band's MTV Unplugged performance, this instrument belonged to Kurt.
© 2003–Present: Alex Roberts. No part of this article may be reproduced without the prior written permission of the author.