How to Get a Geddy Lee Style Sound

For many fans and other music enthusiasts, Geddy Lee's bass tone has been a favorite and will be for years to come. This article will explain how to get a good mock-up of Geddy Lee's Rickenbacker sound from the late 1970s and early 1980s. This will work for most to all basses, most notably two pickup models.


  1. 1
    Collect Materials:
    1. Get a good sounding bass amplifier, one that has at least a three band EQ and a gain knob with shape (this just helps out a LOT).
    2. It would also be good to set up a Bi-amp configuration. For this you will need a stereo splitter box or a preamp with stereo outs.
  2. 2
    1. Raise your treble pickup to about 14 inch (0.6 cm) under the strings.
    2. Lower the bass pickup to about 14 inch (0.6 cm) from being flush, this will emphasize the treble and boost it.
    3. Send your 14 inch (0.6 cm) instrument cable to the splitter box and run the stereo outs to the two amplifiers.
  3. 3
    Set up the amp configuration. Once you have everything plugged in, set the bottom (or just one of them) amplifier to a clean sounding bass tone, e.g. BASS: 6 (or boost), MID-RANGE: about 7, and the TREBLE: 3 (cut). This should give you a cleaner basic bass sound. If you have gain and shape, place the gain 1/4 turn from zero, and the shape about half from zero. On a clock this will be 9 and 12. For the top(the other amplifier) set the BASS: 4, the MID-RANGE: 6, and the TREBLE: to an exaggerated 8 or 9 (depending on your preferences). This will boost the treble significantly and give it some crunch. The volume for the bottom amp should be set a little low to have more of a bottom end feel than a big vibrating box, the top amp should be set higher (but not too high) than the bottom amp.
  4. 4
    The volume on the bass itself:
    1. For two pickup models you should have the volume for the bass pickup on full and the treble pickup set 1/4 turn counterclockwise from that, just roll off on it a little bit. The master tone or if you have two tones, set them on full.
    2. For a single pickup model, e.g, precision bass or variants, just set both the volume and tone on full, just remember to set the treble pickup (the pickup under the D and G strings) a little higher than the bass side(E and A strings). I highly recommend two pickup models for the variety of tones you can produce.
  5. 5
    Other Options you can pick up a Digitech BP50, it would help reproduce Geddy's Rickenbacker tone for all of you using fender basses. If you have one, set the amp model to "L7" or the Voodoo Labs amplifier, because of its fuzz. Have the EQ set the same as the top amp, and don't forget a noise gate of "G6" and compression of "25". If you can pick up any sort of preamp or DI box, that will help as well in defining the sound more clearly.


  • You can also just get a Rickenbacker 4001 or 4003 and run them through the Rick-O-Sound splitter and you can get it then.
  • On the same topic as practice, remember that Geddy Lee gets his sound largely from his fingers, and he plays HARD. This is often not recommended by instructors as you can over-do it and hurt yourself. But it is crucial to understand that one of the fundamental aspects of his sound is the heavy attack from the right hand. Build up to it, and as with any physical discipline stop right away if your hands start to hurt.
  • If you want to become a good bassist you have to practice and be devoted to it every day, and a great thing to boost stamina of playing is to play on a double bass or upright. It helps speed, agility, and helps understand where each note is more precisely getting better muscle memory.
  • A good thing to remember for this as well is to keep clean or new strings on your bass.
  • If there isn't enough emphasis on the treble side, then either raise your pickups a little or try playing aggressively by attacking the strings.
  • If you can't get the desired sound try messing around with the EQ or volumes a little bit until you get a similar sound.

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Categories: Music Techniques