Flea reveals he changed his long-serving bass amp setup for Red Hot Chili Peppers’ latest album

(Image credit: Jim Bennett/FilmMagic via Getty)

Red Hot Chili Peppers’ upcoming album Unlimited Love is, for all intents and purposes, set to be something of a soft reboot for the band. The most notable change-up is, of course, John Frusciante’s return, though bassist Flea has revealed he also seized the opportunity to experiment with his setup in the studio this time round.

According to the man himself, his bass guitar sound has come from the same source for a “long, long time” – and those familiar with his setup will no doubt quickly attribute said tone to his Fender four-strings and Gallien-Krueger bass amps.

However, for Unlimited Love, Flea revealed to Bass Player that he swapped out his tried-and-trusted Gallien-Kruegers for Ampeg SVTs.

In fact, he liked these new alternatives so much, he announced he’ll be taking them on tour with him when the Chili Peppers hit the road later this year.

When asked if he’d ever don a Modulus Bass again – the brand he once endorsed – Flea responded, “I could, but then the amp settings and stuff would all have to change.

“I’m actually switching amps on this tour for the first time in a long, long time,” he continued. “In the studio, I started playing Ampeg SVTs, and I’m switching to them live.”

It’s a fairly significant gear change for Flea, who has been a Gallien-Krueger loyalist for most of his career, having used everything from the brand’s 800RB bass amp head to the trio of 2001RBs spotted in a 2012 Rig Rundown with Premier Guitar.

He’s swapped one household bass amp name for another, though, with Ampeg’s 'Super Vacuum Tube' amp considered one of the most iconic bass amps of all time. Since the first SVT iteration went into production in 1969, the amps have been a mainstay for many big names, including Stanley Clarke, Robert Trujillo and Tony Levin.

Flea did, however, caveat his defection to the ranks of Ampeg with the observation that such specifics don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things, so long as "your heart and fingers" are the true driving forces behind your own individual sound.

“To be honest,” Flea continued, “I’ve always thought it doesn’t fucking matter. You’re bringing your heart and your fingers and that’s all that really matters, but I’ve been really enjoying [the SVTs] – they are the center and the character of the sound that I love.”

Flea will take his Ampeg SVTs on the road later this year for RHCP’s mammoth world tour, which will see them visit a number of European countries – including Spain, England and Germany – in June and July, before heading to North America in July, August and September.

For a list of dates, visit the Red Hot Chili Peppers website.

Head over to Magazines Direct to pick up the latest issue of Bass Player, which features the full interview with Flea.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.