Tommy Stinson of Guns N' Roses
There are many roads to take and many choices to make as a musician. Perhaps the easiest path is to choose one musical style, become proficient at it, and stay with it your whole career. Itʼs certainly the easiest way for the public to accept you; they can file you in a mental category as a pop musician, or a rock musician, or a metal musician, and so on. However, sometimes the more rewarding path is the one where you stay true to the fact that there is more than one dimension inside you as a player and composer. One great example of that philosophy is found in ESP bass player Tommy Stinson.
Getting Started: The Replacements
Tommy was just 11 years old when, in the late 1970s, he began playing bass in a little band with his brother Bob and drummer Chris Mars. Starting out doing cover songs like most young musicians, a few years later they hooked up with singer Paul Westerburg and the band coalesced with a new name: the Replacements.
By 1981, the then-teenaged band got signed to an indie label, and released their first album and an EP with a raw hardcore punk rock sound. But by the time they did their second full-length album (Hootenanny) in 1983, they had started to allow other musical influences to creep into their sound. Little did they know that their little local band from Minnesota would become a nationally-known phenomenon as a result. Critic Robert Christgau called Hootenanny “the most critically independent album of 1983”, and suddenly the Replacements were one of the most popular bands in a genre they helped create: alternative rock. Itʼs ironic that they launched their first national tour and became hugely popular with the college crowds before Tommy was even of college age.
Getting into G Nʼ R
Despite never having achieved the commercial success they deserved, the Replacements remained tremendously popular with the underground alt rock scene until 1991 when they broke up. Ironically, that was the year that popular music underwent a massive change with the alt rock sound suddenly hitting the mainstream, and many bands who subsequently became international superstars credit the Replacements as being big influences.
Over the next seven years, Tommy was involved in several bands and solo projects, but it was 1998 when Axl Rose selected him as the permanent bass player for Guns Nʼ Roses, a position he has held ever since. Tommy is the only bass player who has been a member of G Nʼ R other than original bassist Duff McKagan. Tommy has played on all Guns Nʼ Roses tours since, as well as contributing bass tracks for their long-awaited Chinese Democracy album which was finally released in 2008.
In addition to his G Nʼ R work, Tommy has released two solo albums (2004ʼs Village Gorilla Head and 2011ʼs One Man Mutiny), and is respected as an innovative songwriter and performer.
Tommy Stinson and ESP
This year, Tommy made the switch from his old bass, and is now playing an ESP Vintage-4 bass on tour and in the studio. The ESP Vintage-4 is an absolute classic, brought up to date with the high-performance components you need to play and sound your very best. Available in distressed Candy Apple Red and Three Tone Burst (with rosewood fingerboard) and distressed Vintage White or Black (with maple fingerboard), the ESP Vintage-4 offers bolt-on construction at 34” scale, a comfortable alder body, and maple neck with a thin U contour. It features chrome hardware including Gotoh tuners and a Gotoh bridge, and Seymour Duncan Basslines SJB-2 (bride) and SPB-2 (neck) pickups.
For those of you looking to get Tommyʼs sound on a tighter budget, we also offer the LTD Vintage-204. You can choose between distressed Black and Three Tone Burst finishes with a rosewood fingerboard, or distressed Black with a maple fingerboard. The LTD Vintage-204 provides ESP vintage tuners, an ESP DB-4 bridge, and ESP LDJ (bridge) and LDP (neck) pickups.