Lemmy has used Rickenbacker 4001 and 4003 bass guitars almost exclusively since his Hawkwind days, although some of these instruments were modified with the installation of Gibson Thunderbird pickups in the neck position.
Lemmy's 'Rickenbastard' bass (replicated on this site), was gifted to him by Phil Campbell. Especially for Lemmy, Phil had a replica 'Rickenbacker' headstock plate made to read 'Rickenbastard,' hence, the guitar's name. In September 2006, the 'Rickenbastard' bass was featured in the Bang Your Head exhibition at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio. That guitar is reproduced here with
- New nitro-cellulous finish
- A quilted maple fretboard with star inlays
- New frets professionally installed, leveled and crowned
- The "Rickenbastard" truss rod cover with brushed aluminum over black pickguard material
- A brand new Gibson Thunderbird bass pickup at the neck
- A brand new Rickenbacker 4003 bridge pickup
- A brand new reproduction bridge complete with mute
- Brand new Hipshot tuners
- A new 'Tusq' nut
- I've even replaced the electronics, knobs and switch with original reproductions for another 35 years of trouble free playing.
**I didn't bother to make the guitar woods look new for obvious reasons.
Rickenbacker produced a 50-bass run of Lemmy Kilmister signature basses, the 4004LK, which is fitted with three pickups, gold hardware, and elaborate wood carving in the shape of oak leaves. I tracked one down at http://www.pmblues.com for $11,900.
He uses hot-rodded Marshall JMP Superbass II amplifiers from the later 1960s/early 1970s. Each amp, with a nominal output of 100 watts, is used with a 4x12 speaker cab and a custom-made 4x15 cab. He uses two such stacks, one on each side of the drum riser. For many years the amps were nicknamed "No Remorse", "Killer" (left side amp) or "Murder One" (right side amp) with appropriate nameplates. "No Remorse" was subsequently replaced by a new amp nicknamed "Marsha" when, as Kilmister said in an October 2004 interview, it "blew up". "Killer" and "Murder One" were believed to have been destroyed in Argentina when all the other equipment was stolen but this was later proved to be untrue. In 2006 Marshall Amplification designed new, prototype versions of "Murder One" which were then put into production, whilst the original amplifier was retired. A limited number of these bass heads have been released by Marshall in 2008 as the "1992LEM", a signature series copy of Lemmy's 1992 100 Watt Super Bass Head, "Murder One".
The phrase "everything louder than everyone else" sums up Lemmy's sonic approach, as he plays at the loudest possible levels. He uses the bridge pickup exclusively (giving his bass sound more definition) and turns all the tone and volume knobs on the bass up full. On the amplifiers, he turns the bass and treble off, and the midrange up all the way, with the volume and presence up to the 3:00 position. The result is a biting midrange sound which is somewhat distorted but not "fuzzed out" or "blurry", a formula well-suited to his use of open-string drones and power chords. In the 1990s after a Motörhead show at Hultsfred, Sweden a radio reporter asked Lemmy "If you were to play here again in ten years, how do you think you would sound?" Lemmy replied "Same, but louder..."
Lemmy has occasionally played electric or acoustic guitar, notably on the acoustic song "Ain't No Nice Guy" from Motörhead's March Ör Die album, the title track on 1996's Overnight Sensation, "Limb from Limb" on Overkill, "Boogeyman" on Rock 'n' Roll, and a mouth harp on "Whorehouse Blues" from the Inferno album.