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Rush - Tom Sawyer tone

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by Gord, May 12, 2011.

  1. Gord


    Jan 10, 2004
    BC, Canada
    Hi guys,
    I tried searching for this sound, but everyone just mentions the synth, not the bass. How do I get this sound?

    YouTube - Tom Sawyer (Rush) - Geddy Lee Isolated Bass

    It just sounds so incredible. I like that it has a good bit of grind, but the lows are still there. I'm sure I could get close enough with a VT Deluxe, but does anyone else have anything to offer? Is this just an overdriven SVT? I don't really mean for this to be a "What gear does Geddy use?" thread, it's more of a "how do I sound exactly like this, is there a pedal that does it?"
  2. InHarmsWay


    Apr 14, 2009
    Eden Electronics Artist
    Its all the bass, the Rickenbacker bass! I think its a 4001 in the recording, but if you can find a 4003 you can get that tone! As for the dirt, anything from an all tube bass amp or you could use Sansamp products with a SS amp. Just need to find that right EQ in your ears and you got it!

    For a better bargain, the Fender Geddy Lee or most jazz basses can get you a real heavy rock tone with the right EQ. But not quite the same as the Rick.
    XrisThaBassman likes this.
  3. Duke21


    Nov 14, 2010
    Narvik, Norway
    There are really some nice bass covers of Rush made on GK (and a 4003 Rick) which nails the Geddy studio tone on these songs.
    Check out fcbv which has great Rush covers, he plays bass pedals and keyboard as well!
    YouTube - fcbv's Channel
  4. Plunger


    May 6, 2011
    Sterling, VA
    I am 99% sure he used the Jazz bass for the recording of "Moving Pictures"
  5. I definitely get close by running a Wren & Cuff Phat Phuk B into a VT Bass and by beating the piss out of the strings when I play.
  6. Nope, very old and beaten to death topic here, a search should turn up quite a bit of info.

    General consensus is JB & Rick were used.

    Most are in agreement that Tom Sawyer was the JB, Red Barchetta the Rick. The rest, I don't recall.
  7. staindbass


    Jun 9, 2008
    the bass setup has alot to do with his sound. the grind seems to come from the neck being very very flat, ( no neck relief) , and the strings click and clack on the frets, giving a scrubby gritty edge. on a neck with normal relief, the strings dont clack on all the frets at once, and it sounds irregular. listen to the track at 4:21. you can hear the fret buzz. add a pinch of distortion, and you should be pretty close. johnny a. staind
  8. Absentia


    Feb 25, 2009
    I can get pretty close with my VM squire Jazz and the VT bass and playing really really really hard at the back pickup.

    God that tone is brilliant
  9. dougjwray


    Jul 20, 2005

    1) Brand new stainless steel roundwounds (like Rotosound Swing Bass).
    2) Playing hard... with practically no finesse!

  10. OPBASSMAN1994


    Jul 30, 2010

    Ged used the Ric 4001 on The Camera Eye and Red Barchetta. Everything else was jazz. Including Tom Sawyer.

    And my reccomendations: 70's style jazz bass (could be Squier VM, that's what I've got) w/ badass II, crank mids and treble, bass down on your amp. add some overdrive, use Roto 66's, lower your action to buzzing height, play hard as heck and you'll get at least very, very close. the only way to get the EXACT tone is to play EXACTLY like Geddy Lee, which we all know is physically impossible.
  11. YouTube - Geddy Lee Interview part 1 of 2 watch 4:15 - 4:55

    He indeed says that Tom Sawyer was the Jazz and that Red Barchetta was Ric. But he also says that he thinks (doesn't seem totally sure) that Limelight was Ric as well.
  12. Incorrect. But don't listen to me, listen to the man himself.

    Geddy Lee Guitar World August 2007 Interview

    Of course, Geddy being Geddy, he was able to get a passable tone(!) with a Ric when they played live during that era.


    Edit: bigchiefbc beat me to it.
  13. dunnodaforum


    May 12, 2011
  14. Hizzoner


    Jan 6, 2005
    Chicago area
    Look up the phrase "geddy lee smooth distortion" here for some ideas..

    For live tone he used an ashly preamp during that period and may have run a short cable with a diode attached from send to return through the fx loop..it does give a great tone and simple to do..this is mentioned in the ashly preamp manual
  15. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I grow organic carrots and they are not for sale
    Limelight was also the Rick.

    Geddy can get pretty much the same tone from the Ric and the Jazz.

    YouTube - Tom Sawyer (Rush) - Geddy Lee Isolated Bass
  16. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
  17. moles


    Jan 24, 2007
    Winnipeg, MB
    Well here's a little tidbit of info for y'all to chew on.

    Some years back, while I was in school for Audio, I was lucky enough to do a master class (which turned out to be more of a rap session) with Paul Northfield, who has been Rush's recording engineer for many many years. (including that album)

    One of the items we touched on was bass tones. In short what I got from him was that pretty much every rock record he's done was three tracks for bass - DI, a good bass amp (tube - SVT more often than not, IIRC) AND an overdriven tube guitar amp (Marshall, etc). It wasn't clear if that amp ran through a bass cab or guitar cab.

    What was surprising to me was the examples he brought out that I would have, on any other day, sworn was simply grit from the bass amp, or maybe an active pre on the bass w/ cranked treble + brand new strings, etc. Nope. We were told they all had at least a little of that guitar amp track in them. This all led to a discussion of the why (the squeeky clean SSL boards not really having the sound he wants, etc...) which probably isn't worth getting in to hear, since we all know why grit in a bass sound is GOOD :D

    So, which bass Geddy used on which song, and his live setup aside, I can confidently say that the grit on any of the tunes on that album, and subsequent recordings, is from an overdriven guitar amp.
  18. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    Of course I also thought Helter Skelter was a Ric so.... ;)
  19. moles


    Jan 24, 2007
    Winnipeg, MB
    I should be clear that I'm aware there is plenty of grit inherent in either of his setups....whether the Rick or J, but it's at least Augmented Considerably by that guitar amp sound. :)
  20. In Garageband, I sim'd it by using 2 bass amp simulations (one with bass and hi mid/treble clean, one with treble and mid* mids boosted and dirty), the graphic eq, the stock eq thing (4 band one with the wave indicators), and a bit of sharp comp. Easy as pie on computer.....not so much in real life. Geddy uses his '73 Jazz to record it (dispite using the 4001 in the vid). along with that, instead of using 2 ampegs, a 400 dollar comp, and a 300 dollar preamp, I'd use, as previously suggested, the sansamp, maybe a tube comp, and some rotosounds.

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