The idea behind this site goes back a number of years. The old Gene fansite Radioactive had a nice section on his basses in the late 90's but I thought it was low on both pics and info so I tried my hand at making my own. It was a Geocities site called The Guitar of KISS and it had sections on Gene, Paul and Ace. It more or less sucked. It was mercifully removed from public view in 2004 or so when Geocities changed their format. Since then the idea of an expanded version of that site has been in the back of my mind and this is part one, Gene Simmons.
You may wonder why I've "randomly" chosen to stay within the confines of 1973-1992. To my eyes this is the period of searching for Gene. He knows there is a working bass out there that does what he wants/needs and no more. Although the Punisher as we know it isn't fully formed until 1995, seen in the natural finish Punisher that shows up for the recording of Carnival of Souls, and then realised in 1996 when Gene goes into production for himself, the introduction of the B.C. Rich version of it in 1992 is the end of the quest. The fact that Gene has played the same instrument for almost 20 years is evidence enough of that. So the journey that leads to the Punisher is the interesting one and it begins the day Gene finds the LoBue.
Alas, writing about the instruments of Mr. Moneybags is a bit of a problem. For one thing he is rather reluctant to talk specifics about his gear. "To me, technical jargon is crap." (Guitar School, July 1992) "I'm clearly convinced the reason I never get into any guitar magazines of any kind and the reason they never talk to Gene Simmons is that I don't have any fucking clue what I use." (Guitar for the Practicing Musician, August 1993) "Oh, I don't really mind talking about gear too much, I'd just prefer to avoid the issue; it all depends on personal choice." (Bassist, March 1997)
Another problem is that he has a tendency to alter his stories depending on, one could guess, mood, grade of delusion, and, perhaps most important of all, agreement with the current KISS canon. Most of the quotes that show a slightly more ascerbic attitude towards anything technical comes form the back-to-basics Revenge era. On recording Revenge he noted: "I also used a piece-of-shit red Yamaha bass that probably didn't cost more than $200, but sounded great." (Guitar School, July 1992)
On other occasions he displays a quite detailed knowledge of various parts of his setup. "If you're playing in a big hall you need a big amp, Okay? It's the RMS power, not the peak power you need to look at. So if something is listed as 400 watts peak, don't believe it. It means that it's probably closer to 200 RMS power which is plenty. " (Guitar Center, 1999)
In the end I've chosen to base my conclusions more on picture and video evidence (where available) and use quotes sparingly as sources of facts.