Robert Trujillo Helps Pastorius Family Reclaim Jaco’s “Bass of Doom”

Jaco Pastorius with Bass of Doom

After a long and frustrating legal battle, Jaco Pastorius’ family have finally regained ownership of his legendary “Bass of Doom”, thanks to Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo. The news comes via a statement on

The bass, which was stolen from a Manhattan park bench in 1986, resurfaced in early 2006 in a New York guitar shop. The owner reportedly refused to return it to the Pastorius family and the issue was taken to court where it has been unresolved until now.

Trujillo recently stepped in to assist the family in recovering the legendary bass.

The “Bass of Doom” is Jaco’s 1962 Fender Jazz Bass that he used to record and perform up until the day it was stolen. It has a special place in the history of the bass guitar, not to mention music in general. The Bass of Doom is the same bass that Jaco famously ripped the frets out of with a butter knife, filled the gaps with Plastic Wood, and refinished the neck to convert it to a fretless. It is also the same bass that Jaco reportedly smashed after an argument in the mid ‘80s and was glued back together from over 15 pieces by his luthier, Kevin Kaufman.

Trujillo has always named Jaco as one of his greatest bass heroes, and when asked about the situation, he stated, “I felt a strong sense that it was the right thing to do for Jaco, and the family, whatever it took.”

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  1. Tg

    …what exactly did trujillo do

    • Rob paid to get the matter resolved, a guy who had the bass refused to give it back to the family, the matter got to court, got settled after 2 years only because Rob had the means to do it (and decided he could afford to). The family has the bass now, not Rob (who is the legal owner, since he paid for it, but didn’t keep it for himself, which was never the point).

  2. Michael

    Hats off to Robert Trujillo, truly a CLASSY, SELFLESS act.

  3. jeff

    The butter knife story is a fake. He bought it that way. He also recorded a lot with another bass – including his most famous “portrait of tracy” and “birdland.”. He used the BOD in concert though. In the 80s he was famous for showing up without ANY bass.

  4. Marc

    Awesome Robert!

  5. Mark DeMeritt

    Payed the shop owner whatever he was asking.Probably quite a bit. Great thing to do by a very nice person.

  6. Carlos G

    I met Jaco back in 1985, right about the time he recorded the now (in)famous bass instructional tape. I thought he was a funny, caring musician ..he left a lasting impression on me.

    Like many of my peers, I was broken hearted to hear of his passing and the violent way that it came about.

    I can only say, THANK YOU Robert for going well and beyond what needed to be done to set things right…

  7. An iconic instrument that is finally ‘home’ … now only if ‘The Funk Machine’ could be found … if she doesn’t wind up with the Jamerson family she deserves to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum if not the Smithsonian! :)

  8. Michael O'Boyce

    I have followed this story for as long as i can remember. So glad the bass is finally back with Jaco’s family. Robert,You are a man in a million.Thanks

  9. Without a doubt this “Bass Of Doom” is very encouraging! There are people out there who will do the right thing. I agree with the post that is still hopeful for the recovery of “The Funk Machine” to a point. It should be returned to the Jamerson family just as the “Bass Of Doom” was, and then the Jamersons should have say on what happens to it. The Funk Machine would fetch the highest price ever for a 1962 Precision at auction and maybe they would like the money. If it goes into a museum, maybe the Motown Museum at the old Hitsville Studios in Detroit would be the right spot for it.

  10. Jim

    “Although Trujillo currently owns the instrument, the Metallica bassist agreed in writing to relinquish the instrument to the family at any time for the same purchase price.”

    How did he rescue or rather buy a bass in litigation????
    This millionaire benevolent bass player will agree to sell it back to the Pastorius family for the same price????
    Why did he buy it and why wouldn’t he GIVE it to them???
    I must be missing something, the bass belonged to the Pastorius family for zero dollars….Jim

  11. Steve

    A guitar store owner buys stolen property and then is able to go to court to keep property belonging to another. New York must have some messed up laws.

  12. Jim

    Yes Steve, that we do and it is baffling. But look at all of these articles saying Trujillo is a hero and “rescued” the bass. He bought the bass and will agree to sell it to the Pastorius for the same, exorbitant price, that they clearly cannot afford, or they simply would have bought it direct. Trujillo has the bass because he has money. Why are these articles teamed with altruistic nonsense.

  13. Joe

    He has plenty of money. Why not give it to the family as a gift in good faith. He has other plans as for keeping the bass for his self or he wouldn’t have got mixed up in this. He hasn’t done anything good as of yet.

    • Ed

      You’re an idiot for making assumptions you know nothing about. Had Robert not gotten involved at all, this legendary bass may not have ever been found or recovered.

  14. Lu Cifer

    It belongs in a Museum. Plain & Simple!

  15. What a craptastic article written of misinformation.

    • Trujillo is no hero…he bought this STOLEN bass because he has money, A LOT OF MONEY… played it on stage at Metallica concerts and wanted to SELL it back to the rightful owners (Jaco’s family) for some insane amount of money which was impossible for them to afford. The only reason the family has it now is because they fought over it in court…WHY would you need a lawyer for something that is the common sense thing to do? this sickens me!

  16. I’m now boycotting all things METALLICA.

  17. Sorry, Jaco’s ‘tale’ was that it was stolen off a park bench was a lie. He actually traded it to Jeff Andrews (google him, he’s a bass player) for dope. Andrews later tried to sell it to Manny’s Music in NYC – this was like in 1988-89. Jaco was strung out and living in Refrigerator Boxes in and around Greenwich Village before heading down to Florida where his fate was sealed by that ass hole that killed him.

  18. It belongs to me , me thinks, lol.

  19. Probably the most legendary bass of all time. His or Bill Blacks upright.

  20. I would add Charlie Hadens bass to the list of legendary basses. One of only I think 3 existing in the world today, made by a french craftsman I think a couple hundred years ago. That and Mr. Haden’s enormous contribution to jazz bass pretty much make his axe a living legend.

  21. I was in the room with Jaco when he took his frets out the infamous day. Although you are correct about most of how he took his frets out he did not take them out with a butter knife but needle nose pliers. Here is a radio interview where I tell the “TRUE” story of that day…..

  22. […] ties to Jaco have been growing over the last four years, starting with obtaining Jaco’s famed Bass of Doom back in 2010. Stolen in 1986 resurfaced in 2006. A long and frustrating legal battle ensued before […]

  23. Rob gave money to get the bass back, is now the legal owner, but lets the family have it. It went to court, a guy who had it refused to give it back to the family, it was settled (paid for) after two years because Rob stepped in and gave money away. He did it privately at first, then some people thought he took the bass for himself, but he did pay so that the family could hold it. He did a nice thing.

  24. Patton303

    The Pastorius kids are a bunch of drunken fuck ups and Trujillo feels it’s in safer hands with him. And that way it won’t end up in a pawn shop or e-bay.

  25. […] of Doom” He took the frets out of it, and filled in the gaps with putty and epoxy. In 1986 it was stolen from a bench in Manhattan Park. 20 years later it was found and recovered and is currently being […]