Geddy Lee: Tone And Technique. Version 2

author: Jasonbts date: 01/04/2011 category: guitar techniques
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After reading comments and learning more about Geddy's sound and style, I decided to revisit this lesson and update and correct it with better tabs and more accurate and descriptive information. Enjoy! --- No one can sound or play exactly like Geddy Lee. Every player has their own sound and style. This guide is simply to show you (to the best of my ability) how Geddy does what he does so that you can learn, study, and adapt part of his style to your own, if you so wish. ------The Geddy Lee tone------ ---Geddy's rig (as of Snakes and Arrows): ---Basses Fender Geddy Lee Jazz 1978 Rickenbacker 4001 (Not used in the last few tours) Fender Jaco Pastorius Tribute fretless (Used for Malignant Narcissism.)(He has another fretted, used only as a backup. ) 1996 Fender Custom Shop Jazz (Red, used for alternate tunings on songs like 2112) ---Strings Rotosound Swing Bass 66 Stainless Steel round-wound ---Amps/Pre-amps Avalon U5 Tube Direct Boxes Tech 21 SansAmp R.P.M. Bass preamps (Rackmount) Palmer PDI 05 Speaker Simulators Trace Elliot Quatra-VR power amps Sampson UR-5D Wireless Geddy splits his signal and has one side come out low and distorted, while the other side (the more prominent) has very little bass and has a (very) slight distortion with a lot of punch. *On the last several tours, Geddy has not used any personal cabnets, but he has instead used preamps that run straight into the house speakers (PA). **On the 2010 "Time Machine Tour", Geddy used 2 Orange AD200 bass heads with 2 OBC410 4x10 bass cabinets. Now I would imagine that most of you don't have money to go spend on all of that gear, so here is what you can do in the meantime. Begin with your amp. Make sure you have a lot of treble and only a little bass. If you have a midrange, set it to around 5-7. Next adjust the bass itself. You want a lot of punch and growl, so you need to rely heavily on the bridge pickup. Boost that to almost full, and turn your neck pickups down, to around a 3 or 4. Putting your volume knob on full will help add to the grit of the tone. If your still not getting enough punch from the bass itself, try adjusting the pickups themselves. Loosen the screws on the bridge pickup to raise it, making it more sensitive, then tighten the screws on the neck pickup to make it less sensitive. Geddy's tone has a distinctive distorted sound. You can achieve this through whatever means seems best to you. I personally use a Tech 21 SansAmp Bass Driver DI which is a pedal form of what Geddy uses on his own rig. *The settings I give for the bass itself can only be done with a jazz style bass. If you have a precision bass, the you'll want to turn your tone knob up to get out of the low end, but be careful because too high can make the sound too punchy and obnoxious. You can also raise the pickup under the G and D strings up higher than the pickup under your A and E strings. Set your volume to max (or close to it) in this case as well. **On a jazz, if you still aren't getting enough punch from your bass, try raising your bridge pickup by loosening the screws, or lowering your neck pickup but tightening those screws. ------The Geddy Lee technique------ ---Flamenco/Flick A major part of Geddy's technique that allows him to play with such punch in his tone, his what I call his "flick" technique. How Geddy does this is he uses his middle finger as a "pic". To understand the motion, make a loose fist, the simply open your hand, and finish with your fingers fully extended. Now, when using this technique on the bass, use your middle finger as your main striking finger. This will take practice to get the angle and motion right, but it will eventually become very natural. Note that Geddy alternates between floating his hand and keeping his thumb mounted on the pickups or strings. If he is playing a long series on the same note or chord, he will most likely keep his thumb on the low E string or on the pickup. There is a riff at the beginning of "Caravan"(off the Clockwork Angels album) the can be played without this technique, but is very good to practice this on.
In this riff towards the end of "Caravan", Geddy plays a chord at such a speed, that it would be almost impossible to play without this technique (excluding the use of a pic)
E|-------------| x15
One more to practice this on, is from the pre-chorus of "Far Cry" on the Snakes & arrows album (tab by BassGX)


---"Diddles" A major part of Geddy's style is his frequent use of what I call "diddles". Now, a diddle is generally spoken about with drums, but for lack of a better term, that's what I will refer to this as here. When playing a run, Geddy will play one note twice at twice the speed of the other notes in the run. So for example, if the run consists of primarily 8th notes, he will play one tone twice with 16th notes. A good example of this is the first bass run in "Subdivisions" off the Signals album:
Another way major Geddy uses double stops, is when playing using pedal tones. An good example would be this quick riff from "Show Don't Tell" off the Presto album.
Learning this riff will help with other Geddy riffs. To play it, use your first finger to play the first note, then play through to the open D string, following with your second finger to play the second open D note. With the left hand fingerings added, it would be like this.
    1 1 2 1 1 2 1 1 2 1 1 2 1 2
A more advanced example of this is the opening riff of "Malignant Narcissism" off the Snakes & Arrows album.
   1 2 1 1 2 2 1 1 2 1 1 2 2 1  1 2 1 1 2 2 1   1 2 1 2 1  1
---Double Stops Geddy uses double stops to play some pretty impressive lines. A double stop is when two notes are played at the same time, like a chord (But not a chord, because officially, a "chord" consists of three notes.)They have become less common in Geddy's writing in recent years, but they are still a key part of his playing. There are two ways to approach the double stops found in Rush songs, and I will give examples for both, but keep in mind that you can do whichever you personally prefer. Example 1 is from the song "Turn The Page" (Unknown Tabber). The best way to approach this is by using your first and middle finger to play the double stops on the G and D strings, while using your thumb to play the 14 on the A. It can be tricky at first, but should begin to feel natural after practice. If you have trouble figuring out how to place your left hand, put your first finger across G, D, and A strings on the 14th fret.
    e  e  e  e  e  e  e  e  e  e  e  e  
Example 2 comes from a song off of the Test for Echo album "Driven" (Tabbed by Steve Gorenberg and Sean Jones). This is a rather tricky passage, but it can be done with lots of practice. The notes on the G and A strings can be played easily in the same manner as the first example using the first and middle fingers, but then playing the notes on the D strings is a challenge because it requires moving the first and middle fingers very quickly to keep up, and if you manage that, it's easy to play very sloppy. The easiest thing to do is to use the flamenco technique described earlier and use the left hand to control the muting of the strings. This will take LOTS of practice, but once again, this implementation of flamenco is vital to mastering Geddy's technique.
           s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s s      s s s s s s s s 

    s s s s s s   
*All tabs by me except: ---"Far Cry", tabbed and submitted by BassGX. ---"Turn the Page"; unknown tabber; Submitted by Unregistered. ---"Driven", Tabbed by Steve Gorenberg and Sean Jones; Submitted by Unregistered. **Thanks to Mr.Cuddles for catching my error in version 1.
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