Stylistically, I always play what the music calls for. I’ve done everything from reggae to rock, to funk, to ambient trance, to rap and country. Live, I’m very aggressive when performing rock. Bassist Matt Bissonette, who played with Joe Satriani, once said, “Chuck doesn’t play the bass, he consumes it.” For ballads I love to play my Godin fretless. It’s like butter, so smooth, and you can get so much expression out of each note. I’m a fingers only player for the most part unless requested to use a pick or the part screams out for it.
I did a Ted Nugent album and he insisted on me using a pick, which I did, but I just don’t think you can get the same warm feeling out of a bass with a pick for a lot of songs. I started playing bass in the early 70s and all of my heroes were four-string players. That’s all there was then. I do have a five-string bass but I much prefer using my Hipshot to tune my E string down to D if I really need those low notes. I did that a lot when I was touring with Alice Cooper. I also use an eight-string bass in the studio if I’m doing driving eighth notes and mix that as an overdub to my original bass track. It’s a pretty power- ful sound. I slap when it’s appropriate for the song, mostly on funk tunes, though when I toured with Love/Hate I was a slapping fool. I also do some tap bass playing. I have a bass solo on Quiet Riot’s QR III release called ‘Bass Case’, where I tap and slap on fretless and fretted bass. There are actually 12 tracks of basses on that piece, but they’re not playing all at the same time. If you go to my website there’s an MP3 of it on my home page.