The US bass legend shows off his EBS Signature Drive and explains why hard rock still means something in the present day.

From his early band Talas, to stints with Steve Vai, David Lee Roth and Niacin, to several years on top of the world with Mr Big, and now a triumphant return with The Winery Dogs, Billy Sheehan and his bass have been places most of us would never dare dream of. His effortless command of a Yamaha Attitude bass have enabled him to sweep-pick like a guitarist and tap out long extended lines with both hands. All of which would be for nothing if his basslines weren’t solid and in the pocket, which of course they always are.

Sheehan’s in-your-face bass style has been forged over a lifetime spent redefining heavy rock. And the secret of good rock bass? “A lot of bass players get hung up on their technique,” says Billy. “I’ve spent a lot of time playing challenging basslines, but I always remind people that not everyone needs to play with three fingers to create amazing music.” Onstage, Billy takes full responsibility for his live sound, which he delivers via a Hartke backline and his stock of Yamaha basses. Billy also endorses Rotosound strings. “I’ve used Rotosound for more than thirty years and no one has shown me anything better; in fact, they’ve really become a big part of my playing.”


Hey Man
Mr Big


Hot Streak
The Winery Dogs





Over the past few decades Swedish amp experts EBS have enjoyed continued success with their impressive amp range, which has expanded to include a series of effects pedals, including the Billy Sheehan Signature Drive and the Micro Bass II outboard preamp. With or without Mr Sheehan’s moniker emblazoned upon it, this is an outstanding overdrive. There are controls for Drive, Tone, Level and Clean, and a built-in compressor with three different modes: High, Mid and Off. Unlimited pre-post mix tone shaping is also on tap via a clean loop and a drive loop. “It’s a distillate of several important principles in the signal chain for bass,” says Billy Sheehan ‘Compression, distortion, tone-shaping and blending all together.”


Having undergone a revision, the Billy Sheehan Drive Deluxe has the potential for a wide variety of classic drive tones, along with some fresh functionality thanks to a phase inverter switch and 8-pin op-amp. “You can basically make it your own signature drive by swapping the main drive chip with another of your choice,” Billy told us. “There’s a phase reverse switch for the drive channel and a boost switch to kick the drive into a much higher gain. It really screams!”

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