Geddy Lee: Tone And Technique

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.

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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 Fender Jaco Pastorius Tribute fretless (he has another fretted) 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 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. Geddy's tone has a distinctive distorted sound. You can achieve this through whatever means seems best to you. I personally use a MXR M-80 bass direct box. *The settings I give for the bass itself can only be done with a jazz style bass. If you have a precission bass, the you'll just have to mess around with the settings. 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 in this case as well. **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------ ---Flemenco/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.
G|----------------------------------|
D|----------------------------------|
A|------7777-6666-555---------------|
E|-0-0-----------------7-7-6-6-5----|
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)
G|-12-12-12-12-|
D|-14-14-14-14-|
A|-------------|
E|-------------| x15
One more to practice this on, is from the pre-chorus of "Far Cry" on the Snakes & arrows album (tab by BassGX)
G|-777777777777777772222222222222222-------------------------|
D|----------------------------------2222222222222224444--7---|
A|-----------------------------------------------------55-5--|
E|-----------------------------------------------------------|
 
G|-777775h777775h7-5-2222222222222222-----------------------------------|
D|----------------------------------------------------------------------|
A|------------------------------------2-22-0-222-5-2-5-2-22-0-222-5-2-5-|
E|----------------------------------------------------------------------|
 
G|-777777777777777772222222222222222-------------------------|
D|----------------------------------22222222222222444455557--|
A|-----------------------------------------------------------|
E|-----------------------------------------------------------|
---Double Stops A major part of Geddy's style is his frequent use of double stops. When playing a run, Geddy will play one note twice at twice the speed of the other notes in the run. A good example of this is the first bass run in "Subdivisions" off the Signals album:
G|-------4-------------------|
D|--77-5---7-5-44------------|
A|----------------7-5-4-5----|
E|---------------------------|
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.
G|--9-----9------7-----5-----7-5----|
D|----0-0---0-0----0-0---0-0--------|
A|----------------------------------|
E|----------------------------------|
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
G|--9-----9-----7-----5-----7-5----|
D|----0-0---0-0---0-0---0-0--------|
A|---------------------------------|
E|---------------------------------|
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
G|-----------------------------------------------------------|
D|-----7---5---7-----7---5---7------7---5---7--/8-8-8-7-5----|
A|-0-0---0---0---0-0---0---0----0-0---0---0----------------0-|
E|-----------------------------------------------------------|
*All tabs by me except for "Far Cry", tabbed by BassGX.

13 comments sorted by best / new / date

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    Mr.Cuddles
    I don't think the author of this lesson fully understands double stops, as they are not a rythm, a double stop is playing two notes at once...
    Jasonbts
    Mr.Cuddles wrote: I don't think the author of this lesson fully understands double stops, as they are not a rythm, a double stop is playing two notes at once...
    Your very right. My mistake. I simply called it the wrong thing. Kudos to you and thanks for catching my error.
    LordErtai
    Ged is the best out there. im still working on my chops, but one day hope to have the skills like he has. he is just so disciplined and his tastes are great. he is defently one hell of a machine on bass, he only keeps getting better with time.
    corn789
    I think more people should do lessons like these on bassist. they're the meat of most of music today and often overlooked
    Jasonbts
    corn789 wrote: I think more people should do lessons like these on bassist. they're the meat of most of music today and often overlooked
    I'd be willing to do research and work on more. Any suggestions?
    corn789
    like good bass players that use more than just the usual technique. People like Les Claypool of primus or Arif Mirabdolbaghi from protest the hero
    corn789
    people that use more than just the regular stuff people like Les Claypool from primus or Arif Mirabdolbaghi from protest the hero
    cesar.trama
    Can I use a Tech 21 SansAmp Bass Driver DI in order to have this distortion as well?