As the bassist and resident weirdo in the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Flea has forged a successful career by mixing hard slap-bass styles with melodic and, at times, simple bass lines.
The Chili Peppers recently released their 11th studio album, The Getaway, and Flea and lead singer Anthony Kiedis are the only people who have appeared in every one, dating way back to 1984. He has also enjoyed stints with Janes Addiction, Fear and more recently with supergroup Atoms For Peace. Flea’s rig has stayed pretty constant over the years, especially in regards to his amps, where Gallien-Krueger reign supreme, but we’ll be focusing mainly on the last 5 years, through the I’m With You years and through his time with Atoms For Peace.
Modulus Flea Bass 2-Tone Sunburst
For years this has been Flea’s go-to bass, and he uses it on “pretty much 99% of all songs,” according to his tech Tracy Robar. It features a Lane Poor pickup and an Aguilar preamp, and he tapes the knobs in place so they don’t move during the set; you can tell he’s very particular about the sound. Whilst he might be pretty particular about the sound, he’s not so concerned with looks, and this guitar is fairly beaten up as you would expect from years of use.
Modulus Aboriginal Bass
It’s widely known that Flea was born in Australia, and even though he moved to the US when he was just five years old, he clearly has a lot of respect for the Indigenous people. The bass is finished with an Aboriginal pattern and is mainly used in Drop D when playing ‘By The Way’. Flea also has another bass that is modelled on the Aboriginal flag, but it doesn’t see as much usage as this one does, even in its limited capacity.
1961 Shell Pink Fender Jazz Bass
Flea used this bass when performing with Atoms for Peace in 2013, and before that it was his main guitar for a long time, especially during the Stadium Arcadium period. The guitar is seriously rare, and has discoloured to a kind of yellow colour from its original pink.
Gallien-Krueger 2001RB Head
In his setup on the I’m With You tour, he had five of these on stage: one main one that feeds into two slave heads, one that guitarist Josh Klinghoffer used when he played through Flea’s rig and one backup. He has been using these heads for years, and likes them for the power, although he isn’t super fussy about them it seems. “I have a Gallien-Krueger amp head. I think it's the most powerful one. I'm not sure what the model number is or anything, but I like it,” he said in an interview.
Gallien-Krueger 410RBH 4x10 Cab & Gallien-Krueger 115RBH 1x15 Cab
These are the cabinets that Flea used on the tour (mentioned above) with the 2001RB. On the whole rig, tech Tracy Robar said to Premier Guitar, “They’re all running. It’s pretty loud, it’s a pretty punchy rig. But once the PA gets going you’d be surprised how much back gets drowned out by the PA. It’s loud, but not as loud as it is in the house.”
Malekko B:Assmaster Distortion Pedal
Although he normally keeps his signal pretty clean, he fuzzes up his sound songs like ‘Around The World’ and ‘Throw Away Your Television’ when he plays live, and his stompbox of choice for this on the tour was this Malekko Distortion Pedal. Inspired by the original Maestro Bass Brassmaster octave fuzz pedal, this newer version is hand-built and true bypass.
MXR Micro Amp Pedal
Flea uses this pedal for when he needs a clean boost, either when slapping, soloing or playing a lead part.
Electro-Harmonix Original Q-Tron
The Q-Tron is one of a couple of Electro-Harmonix pedals that have made their way through Flea’s pedalboard in recent years, and he seems to have a preference for them in modulating his sound. He uses this pedal for the classic ‘Sir Psycho Sexy’ bassline, and at a few other points during live shows.
Electro-Harmonix Bassballs Nano
One of the few pedals used on the 2013 Atoms for Peace tour, this twin dynamic envelope filter was the only EHX pedal that Flea took with him, even though he was using several in the rehearsal stages.
Moog MF-103 Moogerfooger 12-Stage Phaser
This Moog pedal is another modulation pedal, and it, the Q-Tron and the B:Assmaster were the only pedals that Flea used on both the I’m With You tour and on the Atoms for Peace tour, showing its enduring quality.