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Rush: “YYZ” – Geddy Lee’s Isolated Bass (Isolated Bass Week)

Rush’s “YYZ” is one of the greatest bass lines of all time. Recorded in late 1980 and released on Moving Pictures, this tune has been a favorite among bassists for years, and one Rush consistently performs in concert.

And now, the isolated bass of Geddy Lee… You can clearly hear where the lines where punched in, especially during Geddy’s three solo spots.

There have been some debates on this track… a few saying it isn’t Geddy, while others insisting Geddy played his Rickenbacker, while the consensus is that he recorded it with his Fender Jazz.

By the way, where were these isolated bass tracks when I was a kid struggling to transcribe from vinyl?!

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      Alex

      Alex

      I would take Fender over Ibanez any day of the week.

        Basscatk

        Truth. Fenders are as great as any bass guitars ever. They are probably used on far more classic records than any other basses. That being said, the other night I was watching a very cool band play a gig and the bassists tone was phenomenal. When I went in close to see what he was using, it was a Squier Mexican P-bass with a Behringer half stack. Not considered
        Pro gear in any way. A total of maybe $800 worth of gear. I’ve been playing bass professionally for 30 years so I’ve seen/ heard a lot of tones and this guys’ tone killed! Pro as hell. So player mattrs far more than gear. For real

          MikeyOnBass

          MikeyOnBass

          Through the years I’ve owned an American, Mexican, & Indonesian made Fender Jazz basses… and IMHO the Indo sounded just as good… So, I totally agree with your comment. Kind of frustrated me though, cause the Squier was WAY cheaper.

      Ben Galinsky

      Meh……Y’know there’s a thing with Fenders….I’ve been playing for about twenty years and think a Fender P or J get the greatest bass sound in a studio hands down, but for performing and general use I’ve come very close to buying a Fender several times but ended up taking home something different. I’m playing an Ibanez fretless at the moment and it sounds awesome. There are some advances in guitar design that nowadays puts some instruments above a Fender in the same price range, and those Ibanez’s are sounding prettyyyyyyy good. OK Fenders look cooler. Will get a J one day….maybe…anyway, yeah, Geddy rocks!

        MikeyOnBass

        MikeyOnBass

        Totally agree man. There are so many basses out there just as good. I’m using Lakland now. (& I’ve used Spector, Fender, Yamaha, Kramer, Squire, & Line6 through the years) ; but I believe if your engineer is any good (& you’re paying the dude) he ‘should’ be able to get you good tone from ANY bass. With active electronics I’d usually turn all boosts to flat & volume @ around 75% & have walked away with good tone. Everybody was happy!!!

      Jake

      Jake

      I couldn’t disagree with you more. Your bass playing must be robotic. Funny how when Rush fans heard the original, nobody complained about timing, because they heard Neil’s kick. It’s true he packs a lot of notes in, and that one fast run has two basses playing way off. So why did they use it? It sounded good in the full mix. The bassists you mention are great indeed.

      Give them a Geddy bass line and they’ll play it correctly, but it won’t sound right for the song. Just like when Randy Jackson played bass on one Journey album. Arguably he is “better”, but totally missed that hard plucked finger style Ross Valory had, most noticeably on the “Escape” album. Listen to the title track, NOBODY could make that bass line sound like Ross did.

      The folks you mention and Randy are house painters who won’t spill a drop. Geddy and Ross are Picasso and Dali in comparison. Just like the drummer on that album was a metronome who could play along with a sequencer well (the whole reason why Steve Perry fired Steve Smith and Ross Valory, they wouldn’t “comply” and quantize their playing). You might point that out.

      But he lacked the kind of groove and big pocket Steve (and Ansley Dunbar) had. He was a lifeless, forgettable drummer who along with Randy made a bland vanilla rhythm section on an otherwise good album. I’ve heard so many play “Free Will” correctly, even better timing than Geddy, but they just didn’t get it right. It’s the stuff before and after the beat that’s his magic.

      Your “this guy is better” stuff. You think you have the talent to judge one of the best rock bassists ever. You’re not saying his playing is worse than usual, you’re saying in general he’s not that great. As a keyboardist, I may not always be crazy about every note Herbie Hancock plays. But I’d be pathetic to point that out about easily one of the best keyboardists alive today.

      There are hundreds of forgettable musicians playing perfectly what they call Jazz (“Smooth Jazz” Fuzak). The biggest insult to Fusion ever, because they had perfected the life out of it. In time you’ll mature enough to learn music is about a vibe, it’s not a talent contest. Geddy could play it perfect if he wanted, that’s not the goal. If I have to explain this, you’ve got a ways to go.

    Jake

    Jake

    Wow, lets hear you play one measure of that correctly. When I first heard it up there, it does sound off. Then I remember how it didn’t sound off in the original, because he’s following the huge tom roll Neil does. If he played it with “perfect timing” he would have been off. Go listen to the original, and suddenly you’ll see that run, like every solo note, and general bass line that he played on that song is actually perfect, perfect for what Neil is doing, not perfect timing if played back in isolation (which no single element of a song was ever meant to be done with).

    Val

    Val

    “Punched In” is a term used to describe when a clip of a recording is inserted into a pre-existing take.
    Geddy (or whatever other musician) sits there waiting to record the solo and at the right time, the engineer engages the RECORD which then “punches in” the solo just played.
    Another way is to physically add the solo into the recording. This was serious editing. You actually record these solos separately, then they are clipped, then physically added to the song.

    It’s easier to push record at the right time and insert (“punch in”) the solos vs. cutting/inserting tape.

bsmechanic

No controversy here. That is Geddy Lee, playing ferociously while invoking a signature Rickenbacher sound.

Jerry

Jerry

Didn’t he use a Steinberger around this time too?

John

John

Why would anyone NOT think Geddy played it? I can easily see the debate about which bass was used but now whom played it.

Luke Evans

This is just the pinnacle of rock bass playing. If I could have just a teaspoon of his talent I’d be happy.

Ed Ardzinski

Ed Ardzinski

Having owned a J bass and still an owner of a Rick 4001, that is clearly a J bass to my ears.

Damian Uribe

Damian Uribe

Definitely the bark of a rick with overdrive and flanger with fingers digging in deep! The bassline of a generation of bass players!

Jeff Margavage

Geddy is amazing. Thank you for this isolation. While I personally can’t tell if it’s a Rick or a Fender, I can with all certainty say it is DEFINITELY Geddy playing. Does ANYTHING really matter after that?

    Mike Matthews

    Mike Matthews

    I think that it’s Geddy, and that makes it pretty awesome in my book. Jazz or Rick… Almost sounds like a Ricky through the core, and the Jazz for the overdubs… not sure though. Love these isolated tracks man.

Jared

Happy Birthday, Geddy! Moving Pictures is one of my all time favorite records ever. I still play it weekly to this day. Saw Rush live in Atlanta a few years back and it blew my mind. They played so tight it sounded just like a polished record.

tbone

Great bass playing by any means. I really enjoyed this isolated track which allowed me to appreciate Geddy’s musicianship on a different level, but to be honest, Geddy’s bass sounds like many different tones of a fart, whatever brand of bass he may be playing. You can be a great musician, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into having an ear for a great tone, as this track, in my humble opinion, illustrates.

Todd Cervantes

Todd Cervantes

I have a Bass Guitar magazine from Guitar World from like 2005-6ish? There is an interview with Geddy in it and he talks about his #1 (the ’72 Jazz). One of the things he mentions, is that he believes there is something wrong with the pickups in it. He says that his #1 has a lot more treble than the normal American made Jazz. When he let Fender do the measurements for the 1st version of his Signature Bass, he wouldn’t let them take apart the pickups because he didn’t want them messing up the tone. So when you get a Geddy Sig bass, it is as close as you’ll get to the real #1, but it will never be exact. Actually, now that I think of it, he said he thinks the pole pieces in the pickups were put in wrong, (something like that). He could have very well used the Jazz on this track. He also says on the Fender video that you can find on YouTube where he talks about his American Made Signature bass, (the video is about 7 minutes long), that he was amazed at how his Jazz sounded like his Ric, but he could control the bottom end better. I have an American Deluxe Jazz with the same Rotosounds that Ged uses on it, and I can’t get my Jazz to have so much treble. I know he uses a lot of the neck pickup on his. Hey ….. it could be the Jazz once you consider everything about his #1.