Cheap Trick

Compiling a complete list of Cheap Trick recordings that include a 12-string bass is a challenge. Only rarely are details included in the liner notes about the instruments that were played. Even though Tom Petersson may be listed as playing the 12-string bass, that doesn't necessarily mean that the 12 was used in the studio on that particular album. The band frequently layers guitar parts in unison with the bass, they have included synthesizers on some songs and make liberal use of various effects, all of which can make it difficult to pick out the sound of the 12. The studio version of songs were often recorded using different basses than those used on the live versions, and some videos include a 12-string bass although the songs themselves do not.

This list has been compiled in part from published interviews, but interviews create additional problems in that the information given is not always consistent from one interview to the next. The band is known for their storytelling, such as Tom Petersson's tongue-in-cheek claim to be the inventor of Pop Tarts. Where there is a discrepancy in the interview information, the earliest interview is assumed to be the most correct. Public statements of the band members, our private personal communications with them and others in the Cheap Trick organization have also helped to complete these listings.

Tom Petersson and a Waterstone 12-string bass from the ‘Rockford’ album. No 12 was used on the album.

As a general rule, most live recordings include a 12-string bass. As to studio recordings, a few include a 12, a handful of songs were recorded with an Alembic 8-string bass but the vast majority of studio recordings were done with 4-string basses, typically Gibson Thunderbirds or Fender Precisions. Tom Petersson stated, "The 12-string doesn't fit on everything. If you don't have the right amount of space, it ends up blending into the mix like another guitar. If I had to use just one instrument all the way through the recording of an album, it would have to be an old Fender Precision."

No 12-string bass was included on the band's debut eponymous Cheap Trick album, nor was it used on In Color. Both of these albums predate the building of the first 12-string bass by Hamer in 1978.

During Jon Brant's years with the band no 12-string bass was included on any album. Although the videos for the songs "If You Want My Love", "She's Tight" and "Tonight It's You" show Jon playing a 12, all of the songs on the albums One On One, Next Position Please, Standing On The Edge and The Doctor were actually recorded with 4-string basses. Jon told us that he played an Alembic 8-string bass on the song "Twisted Heart" that was dropped from the Next Position Please album. That song was later included on the Sex, America album.

The Busted album does not include any 12-string, nor was it used on the 1994 album Woke Up With A Monster. (While four notes in the intro to the song "My Gang" on Monster sound as though they might have been played on a 12, Tom Petersson stated in a 1994 interview that he only used 4-string basses on that album.)

In our opinion, the At Budokan album is the only Cheap Trick album you need - all of the band’s later live albums include pretty much the same exact songs, plus Tom has been playing the exact same bass lines pretty much exactly the same way for four decades now.

At Budokan

  • Artist

  • Location

  • Title

  • Released

  • Genre

  • UPC barcode

  • Bassist

  • 12-string bass

  • Songs including the 12

  • Cheap Trick

  • Rockford, Illinois, USA

  • At Budokan

  • 1978

  • Pop Rock

  • 07464357952

  • Tom Petersson

  • Hamer Quad Bass

  • All

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Tom Petersson on stage with his Hamer Quad 12-string bass.

This is the live album that, practically speaking, introduced the 12-string bass to the world. It was recorded in 1978 at Budokan, Japan. What is little known is the fact that the 12-string bass was barely audible on the live recordings. Tom had to re-record all of the bass parts later in the studio. It has been rumored that additional 4-string bass tracks were also added to strengthen the bottom end.


Heaven Tonight

  • Artist

  • Location

  • Title

  • Released

  • Genre

  • UPC barcode

  • Bassist

  • 12-string bass

  • Songs including the 12

  • Cheap Trick

  • Rockford, Illinois, USA

  • Heaven Tonight

  • 1978

  • Rock

  • 07464353122

  • Tom Petersson

  • Hamer Quad Bass

  • Auf Wiedersehen

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This is the first Cheap Trick album to be released that included a 12-string bass. While it's the official album "introduction" for the instrument, predating the At Budokan album release date by six months, due to its vastly greater popularity and airplay most people first heard the 12-string bass on the At Budokan album.

The songs ‘California Man’ and ‘Heaven Tonight’ have been incorrectly reported as having been recorded with a 12-string bass; a 4-string bass was doubled with guitar in each case.


Other Albums that include or show a 12-string bass