In her autobiography, Girl In A Band, Sonic Youth bassist Kim Gordon delves into the life of an underground musician, exploring her experiences as an integral member of the influential noise rock outfit. Her playing formed the backbone of the band’s near three-decade-long career, a pivotal cog in the redefining alternative rock machine. Throughout its existence she also faced the sexist undercurrents of the music industry head on, making her stand in one of music’s great underground forces all the more significant. Here’s a look at the gear behind her distinct sound.
Ovation Magnum I
In the early-mid ‘80s Gordon was wielding this sleek bass, belting out meaty, punk tones with its versatile setup: two pick-ups, rosewood fretboard, four knobs for tone control, and a three-position switch. Gordon owned two of these at the time, the first of which is now hanging in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio.
BC Rich Bass
Gordon bought this bass during the Goo era, using it throughout 1990-91. It makes appearances in the videos for ‘Kool Thing’, ‘Dissapear’, ‘Mildred Pierce’ and ‘MacBeth’. According to the band’s website it ended up being sold to a school somewhere in Australia – a lucky someone may unknowingly be the owner of said bass.
Gibson Thunderbird IV
Gordon got her hands on a ’76 model in 1988, utilising its bold drive for the recording of the band’s seventh studio album Dirty (1992), the album tour, as well as more than a decade later for the recording of Sonic Nurse (2004).
Fender Bassman AB165
The bassist once used one of these vintage beasts to capture her desired grit and growl.
Ampeg SVT 4 Pro
Another exponent of the ever-reliable Ampeg family, Gordon was using this amp in the mid-2000s as Sonic Youth toured the world, playing big ticket events such as France’s Rock En Seine Festival.
ProCo Turbo RAT
From the early ‘90s Gordon was smashing out loads of distortion, dirt and sustain with the significant output provided by this RAT upgrade. There’s no hiding its use on Dirty, and has occupied a regular spot on her board ever since.
Boss DD-3 Digital Delay
Around the time of Murray Street and in the album’s 2002 tour Gordon was using this longtime go-to delay, the pedal responsible for some of those more wistful and dreamy sequences on the record.
Electro-Harmonix Vintage Hot Tubes
This vintage Electro-Harmonix pedal has been used a lot throught Gordon's Sonic Youth career, making appearences on her pedalboard between 1998 and 2009.