The early 2000s was a renaissance of talent in the world of pop-punk. Blink 182 would release their first #1 album, Take Off Your Pants and Jacket, in 2001. Pop-punk veterans Green Day released the iconic American Idiot in 2004, an album that caused young fans to question politics, religion, and what it means to be American.
But perhaps no band burst onto the scene as quickly and with as much hype as Fall Out Boy. Their first two albums, Take This to Your Grave and From Under the Cork Tree, catapulted the band into the mainstream and jumpstarted a band that is still performing and writing new music to this day. One secret to their success is their bassist and lyricist, Pete Wentz.
Wentz’s bass playing is the driving force behind many of Fall Out Boy’s hits and in this guide, I’ll be taking a look at the gear he uses to achieve his crisp, aggressive sound.
Bottom Line Up Front
- Pete Wentz is the bass guitar player and lyricist of Fall Out Boy, a pop-punk band from Wilmette, Illinois.
- Fall Out Boy was one of the most popular bands among teens in the 2000s.
- The band reunited in 2013 after a nearly 4-year hiatus with the release of Save Rock and Roll.
- Wentz is most often seen playing Precision basses and has a unique signature bass, the Squier Pete Wentz Signature P Bass.
- As for amplifiers, heads, and preamps, Went uses a range of Fender, Ampeg, and products from other well-known brands.
Pete Wentz: Career Overview
Beginnings and Fall Out Boy (2001-2009)
Fallout Boy wasn’t Pete Wentz’s first band. He cut his musical teeth as a member of several bands in the Chicago hardcore punk scene. He performed in several groups, including First Born, Racetraitor, Birthright, Extinction, and Arma Angelus, a band that found him focusing on vocals and not the bass guitar.
In 2001, Wentz, Joe Trohman, Patrick Stump, and Andy Hurley formed a new side project from Arma Angelus that they called Fall Out Boy, though Hurley was only a part-time drummer at first. This lineup eventually settled in 2003 as the band began to try to get noticed by a label. They eventually joined Fueled By Ramen, a label founded in Gainesville, FL that is now the home of some big names like Paramore and Meet Me @ the Altar.
Fall Out Boy’s debut album, Take This to Your Grave, was released in May 2003 and fueled live tours and an appearance at the South by Southwest music festival. This was followed up by the acoustic EP/DVD My Heart Will Always Be the B-Side to My Tongue, which became the band’s first release to chart on the Billboard 200.
The creation of their second album, From Under the Cork Tree, saw Wentz take on a larger role in the band as the sole lyricist in addition to his duties on bass. It was also a period of difficulty for Wentz as he began to withdraw from the band. His emotional distress eventually led to a suicide attempt in February 2005. Thankfully, he made it through that time and moved in with his family before the release of Fall Out Boy’s next album.
From Under the Cork Tree was a massive success and included two of the band’s biggest hits: “Sugar, We’re Goin’ Down” and “Dance, Dance.” The band also made great use of MySpace to distribute and market their music to a younger, tech-savvy generation that was already riding high on the early days of social media. The album topped out at #8 on the Billboard Top 100 and went on to sell over 2 million copies.
Fall Out Boy’s third studio album, Infinity on High, found the band continuing to experiment with their sound as they continued to shift more towards the “pop” end of the pop-punk spectrum. This album proved as successful as From Under the Cork Tree as it debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200.
The most successful single from the album was “This Ain’t a Scene, It’s An Arms Race,” which hit #2 on the Billboard charts in both the US and the UK. The album itself went platinum and sold over 2 million copies, just like its predecessor.
The band’s next album, Folie à Deux, wasn’t as well-received by fans as the band’s previous efforts, but it did manage to crack the top 10 of the Billboard 200. It came at a low point in the history of Fall Out Boy as Stump and Wentz clashed creatively while Trohman and Hurley felt their roles in the band were shrinking. The show that took place at Madison Square Garden on October 4, 2009, also marked the beginning of a hiatus for the band.
Black Cards (2010-2012)
Black Cards was the project Pete Wentz turned to after the announcement of Fall Out Boy’s hiatus. Along with Bebe Rexha, Nate Patterson, and Spencer Peterson, Wentz wanted to experiment with a new kind of sound that would mix multiple genres, from reggae and ska to 80s British rock.
While the band had plans to release a full LP, this never came to fruition, and Black Cards was put on Wentz’s backburner when Fall Out Boy began to discuss getting back together in 2012.
Fall Out Boy Returns (2013-Present)
Seemingly out of nowhere, Fall Out Boy burst back onto the music scene with a new approach to creating music that involved all 4 members of the band. Wentz was still in charge of writing lyrics and playing bass. Their first new album since their hiatus, Save Rock and Roll, was released in April 2013, the first of a string of three albums that would all debut at #1 on the Billboard 200: Save Rock and Roll, American Beauty/American Psycho, and Mania.
Pete Wentz, as of the writing of this guide, will soon be touring with Fall Out Boy in Europe for the Hella Mega Tour starting on June 19, 2022, in Vienna, Austria.
Pete Wentz: Bass Guitars
Pete is most often seen playing Precision basses, or P basses for short, made by Fender or its budget-friendly brand, Squier. He plays P basses because of the crisp, driven qualities they give his sound, as he explained in an interview posted to Fender’s YouTube channel in 2011:
Because of playing P Basses, I was definitely interested in having a more almost metallic or driven kind of bass sound, like…I always wanted it to be less round and less obtuse, and that [the Precision Bass] was clearly the easiest bass for me to do it with.
– Pete Wentz, speaking to Fender about why he plays Precision bass guitars
Pete is known to use a wide range of guitars in the studio, in music videos, and live, usually of the Precision, JP, or PJ varieties. These include:
- Squier Pete Wentz Signature Precision Bass
- Squier Pete Wentz Signature Precision Bass (Purple)
- Fender Custom Shop Pete Wentz PJ Precision Bass Colored
- Fender JP-90
- Fender Precision PJ Bass
- Fender Custom Shop Pete Wentz PJ Precision Bass Black & Silver
- Fender Precision Bass
- Fender American Vintage ’57 Precision Bass
- Fender American Vintage ’58 Precision Bass
- Squier Vintage Modified Jazz Bass 70s
Let’s take a closer look at some of the most notable bass guitars Pete has used throughout his career.
The Fender JP-90 is the bass that Pete Wentz used to record Fall Out Boy’s first album, Take This to Your Grave. It’s also the bass that helped to cement Wentz’s early sound and the sound of Fall Out Boy.
The design of the Fender JP-90 is interesting because it combines elements of Fender’s two most famous basses: the Jazz bass, and the Precision bass. The “JP” portion of the instrument’s name is derived from this fact. It features a body and maple neck, similar to a Jazz bass. However, the horns that form the cutaway are more pointed than either the Jazz or Precision bass, giving it an edgier rock/metal feel.
In another nod to its Precision and Jazz parents, the JP-90 features two sets of pickups: one set is offset, like the P bass, while the bridge pickup is straight like a J bass. The instrument also features a toggle to switch between pickups, plus two knobs for volume and tone.
Squier Pete Wentz Signature Precision Bass
Pete Wentz is such a fan of P basses that he eventually got a signature model made by Squier. I’d argue that this is his most well-known bass as he has been pictured numerous times playing it live after the release of Fall Out Boy’s second album.
The most notable feature of this bass is its eye-catching color scheme. It features a 3-ply red pickguard on top of a jet-black body. The body includes Pete’s own red bat and black heart logo near the bottom of the bass.
This bass has a single offset Seymour Duncan-designed PB-105 pickup. Wentz has also toured with a purple and black version of this bass and a Fender Custom Shop model.
Fender Custom Shop Pete Wentz PJ Precision Bass Colored
This bass is very similar to the Squier signature model detailed above.
The main differences here are the body artwork (multicolored intertwining lines), a clear pickguard, and a string-through-body and bridge.
It features the same style of pickups (one offset and one straight) as other PJ and JP bass guitar models.
Squier Affinity Series Precision Bass PJ
This is the bass that Pete is seen playing in the music video for “Thnks fr th Mmrs.” In the video, he plays the black version of this instrument.
Pete could have used this bass to record some tracks on Infinity on High in addition to his iconic black-and-red signature P Bass.
Fender Precision Bass
Ah, the classic P bass. There’s not much to say about this legendary instrument that hasn’t already been written, but it’s obvious why Pete is drawn to the iconic rock sound of this bass. Pete has been seen playing the black model of the P bass.
This bass is known for its powerful sound. Most models are equipped with a single-coil humbucker pickup. Pete plays it and all of his other P basses with a pick to get the grittiest sound possible.
Pete Wentz: Amplifiers
It is one of the most popular bass amps ever produced and was originally designed by Jess Oliver. Now a vintage item, a similar experience can be had with Ampeg’s modern Portaflex Series.
Tech 21 Sansamp RBI Rackmount Bass Tube Amp Emulator
The compact Tech 21 Sansamp RBI Rackmount Bass Tube Amp Emulator is an elegant solution for those looking for the same sound possibilities as the Bass Driver DI (also from Tech 21) but in a singular rack form.
This device adds a few notable features, including a dedicated mid control to shape the mids of your bass tone, an effects loop, and two XLR outputs.
Fender TB-1200 Bass Amp Head
Pete can be seen using the Fender TB-1200 Bass Amp Head in the music video for “I Don’t Care.” 1200 watts of power combined with the hybrid tube and solid-state design make this head pretty versatile.
It’s a great head for live performances and recording in the studio, so I think it’s safe to assume Pete used it in both situations to maintain consistency in his sound.
The Overdrive portion of the TB-1200 allows the user to adjust their tone with the appropriate amount of grit for different styles of music.
Fender Rumble 810 Bass Cab
This is the cabinet that Pete uses in combination with the TB-1200 head in the “I Don’t Care” music video. The Rumble 810 proved difficult to track down on any resell site, which leads me to believe that the cab is both out of production and that any current owners still love using it.
For players looking to get close to the sound and power of this cab, the Rumble 410 seems to be easier to find.
Ampeg SVT-810E 8×10 Bass Cabinet
This is the bass cabinet Pete is seen using in the music video for “Sugar, We’re Goin Down.” The SVT-810E is an American-built cab that includes 8 10″ Eminence driver speakers encased in 15mm thick poplar plywood. The size and power of this cab help deliver Pete’s driven tone.
Pete Wentz: Effects Pedals
Boss OC-3 Super Octave
The Boss OC-3 Super Octave pedal makes it easy to add octave effects to your bass sound with a simple stomp. This pedal has a cool polyphonic octave nob that allows the user to create some interesting sound effects. It also has a “Drive” mode to add distortion to your sound, a feature I’m sure Pete Wentz utilizes regularly.
Pete Wentz: Other Gear
Hipshot Bass Xtender
Pete sometimes utilizes the Bass Xtender made by Hipshot as mentioned in this video overview of his gear from Premier Guitar.
This accessory allows him to quickly drop the tuning of his E string as low as a 4th just by flipping a switch, but it’s most likely used to quickly switch from standard tuning to drop-D.
DiMarzio ClipLock Strap
Also mentioned as a part of the gear rundown from Premiere Guitar, Pete uses DiMarzio ClipLock straps on his basses. These straps are comfortable and durable, but most importantly, allow the wearer to quickly change guitars by simply pressing on the clip to unbuckle it, similar to straps on a backpack.
Ernie Ball Hybrid Slinky Strings
In a 2017 blog post on Ernie Ball’s website, it’s confirmed that Pete Wentz is an Ernie Ball string user. He uses Hybrid Slinky bass strings on his instruments. The gauges of these strings run from .45 to .105 and are round wound with a nickel-plated steel wrap.
Question: Where is Pete Wentz from?
Answer: Pete Wentz was born in Wilmette, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. He spent his later teen years playing bass in Chicago’s hardcore punk scene. He attended DuPaul University before dropping out to focus on Fall Out Boy.
Question: Did Pete Wentz leave Fall Out Boy?
Answer: No, he didn’t. The band paused touring and writing new content from 2009 to 2013, a time during which each member focused on different side projects. During the hiatus, Pete was most notably involved with Black Cards, a band that briefly included Bebe Rexha as a member.
Question: Is Pete Wentz the frontman of Fall Out Boy?
Answer: Usually we think of the main vocalist as being the frontman of a band because they are the most visible. In Fall Out Boy’s case, I’d argue that Patrick Stump and Pete Wentz share frontman duties. While Patrick Stump is the lead singer, Pete was very visible in the public eye during the band’s first run and wrote the lyrics to most of their songs. He is also featured prominently in some of the band’s music videos, like “Dance, Dance.”
Pete Wentz’s lyrical abilities in addition to his bass playing make him a fairly versatile musician. While his bass lines aren’t the most complicated in the rock world, the grit of his sound and the way the bass guitar is featured in some of Fall Out Boy’s catchiest tunes make listening to him enjoyable. I also appreciate that his signature models are made by Squier and are more accessible to the average buyer.
Regardless of how you feel about Pete Wentz and his bass skills, it’s hard to deny the success he’s had as a musician with Fall Out Boy and the effect he’s had on a generation of bass players. After they wrap up the Hella Mega Tour, I’m excited to see what comes next from Wentz and the band when they finally enter the studio again.