Rush: “Limelight” Isolated Bass

Rush’s Moving Pictures was one of the first albums I ever bought – on vinyl – when it came out. I only played upright at the time (and sax), and I dreamed of one day getting an electric bass and playing like Geddy Lee.

Here’s one of the tracks I admired with so many others back in the day (and still do), with Geddy’s bass coming through loud and clear with some of the track coming through.

There seems to be a whole lot of debate about which bass Geddy used on this recording. According to Fender, he used his ’72 Jazz. Whatever he used, he got that gnarly Geddy tone. That’s what I’ve always heard, but I’m not saying anything definitive!

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Share your thoughts

  1. FJ

    Agreed. That’s the best Ric of any non-Ric recording I’ve ever heard!

    • Jeff

      It’s trebly and grungy, but being (after years and years of ineffable gear-lust) the owner of a Ric, I tell tell it’s not. There’s a certain resonance in the mid-treble here that a Ric doesn’t have, and there’s a certain sustain a Ric has that the Jazz doesn’t have. Maybe I could re-create the tone with amp and instrument settings, but I tend to play my Ric on the neck pickup (or both) with the tone turned all the way up. In any event, thanks loads to the site and author!

    • michaelfigure18

      A Rick would be clicking a lot.

  2. Damn, that groove! Thank you for uploading this dope track, Corey Brown.

  3. Guy Lannewehr

    Sounds to me it’s his Rickenbacker 4001.

    Wish they had isolated tracks when I played this song 30 years ago in a band. Now that I listen to it, I was WAY wrong.

  4. If you tried to emulate a Ric sound on a Jazz, you would be lucky to end up with this tone. I was just thinking how much sounds like the Heart of the Sunrise isolated track, but with more aggression and attack. Since this pretty much sums up the differences between the two basses, I am leaning toward it being a Jazz. That and the coolest music video EVER!

  5. Doesn’t sound like a Fender Bass. I say Rickenbacker.

  6. Miquel

    If it had to be a Fender, definitely not a jazz bass!! I liked this “just bass recording” anyway I’m not so happy to listen myself isolated after a record… XD

  7. Mark D

    That’s definetly the Jazz bass. Nothing sounds like a Ric and that’s not a Ric.

  8. I knew it was a Jazz Bass. Funny how many ran out and bought a Rick. Guess those endorsements work.

  9. G. B.

    F Yeah!

  10. LGT

    To me it actually kinda sounds like the Ric at the beginning and the jazz at the end. The beginning is a lot more mid to lower midrangey, and the end has that jazz bass high mid bump. I don’t know if that has any basis in fact, but that’s what it struck me as.

  11. just in case people forget here is the limelight video they released at the same time…sure its not the exact video of the recording but the same time period. Knowing rush they would have wanted to duplicate the recording process in the Video as much as possible hence playing the same instruments they played for the recording session…In the video he is playing a 72 Jazz https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKpn0esJ73w

  12. Scott Cotterall

    No doubt about not having this avail. when we were kids. Having to lift the needle? We had no choice tho! I heard a
    bad edit at 3:31 too. Interesting! Thx Corey!

  13. agubriz

    I believe it is the Jazz, comparing the tone of Red Barchetta(Where he did state he did use the Ric) it sounds different. Moving Pictures is the one album where i can distinct the sound, the Ric has a Low Crunch Distorted Tone, while the Jazz has the Punchiness Low/High Growl Tone. For Example: Tom Sawyer-Jazz, Red Barchetta-Ric, YYZ-Jazz and Ric, Limelight-Jazz, The Camera Eye-Ric, Witch Hunt-Ric, and Vital Signs-Jazz

  14. Tim

    A monster, isolate Geddy once a week if you ask me. So inventive and creative a bass player.

  15. Bob J

    That is freakin’ incredible!

  16. for my money the magic in his sound was always the way his d and g string sound. His style is almost a reverse pop (think slap and pop). He kind of mashes the notes and that creates this really great compressed sound. It is all in his right hand. Chris Squire on the other hand has a great E and A string sound mostly due to his pickstyle playing which still kicks my ass all these years later. I learned a lot from both

  17. also nice to hear how he wasn’t a slave to the metronome. Lots of sliding around…very human. I miss that in today’s music.

  18. That has Jazz stank all over it.

    Curious about the amp/pre/comp that gives it the disto-snarl.

  19. Matthew Loel T. Hepworth

    It’s his Jazz Bass, and I made this video to prove it:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_qA4mR_eMM

  20. Jeff

    Actually, my 72 Jazz thru a Tech 21 VT Bass module tuned just right sounds pretty much spot on to Geddy’s bass on this track. You can dial in the right amount of overdrive and tone and it sounds great. This isn’t an ad for Tech 21, like I said it does sound great, but it was fun to play along with the record like old times!

    • You’re right. I have a SansAmp RPM in my live rig. My signature tone is more of an overdrive like John Entwistle’s later tone, and the SansAmp products do a really good job of providing yummy bass buzz.

  21. Andrew Guillermo Herrera.

    That is such a great song for any bassists learning to get some chops.

  22. Jeff

    I love the Ric, but I can understand what I suspect is a desire on Geddy’s part to come out from Chris Squire’s shadow. I remember him saying in an interview that he wanted something, well, “bassier” than the Ric, and the Jazz fit the bill.

  23. A Fender? I can’t say that I agree with that. Sounds like a Ric to me. I’ve seen Geddy with a 4001. Whatever the case may be, Geddy is an amazingly talented artist. The fact he plays Bass, keys and sings at the same time just blows my mind.

  24. they shot the videoclip of this in the studio , and he was using a fender jazz, so….not sure. could be a jazz. you’d be suprised how ricky a jazz can sound sometimes, the amps and effects have a lot to do also….

    • fender forbes

      that’s a jazz only only lemmys ric doesn’t sound like one its all in the attack

  25. I thought Fender sound right away.

  26. Love the isolated tracks…thanks! Geddy tears it up! Those three guys are magic.

  27. They put out a video of them recording much of that album years ago. Would have to look at it again but I thought he used his Rickenbacker…

  28. The only person who seems unconcerned about the whole Ric/Fender debate is Geddy Lee. Then again he’s playing and writing music and not wasting his time obsessing about gear.

  29. john

    I own 2 basses 4001CS and a ’68 jazz and played in a tribute band doing yes and rush amount others. Trust me, it’s a jazz and there’s not even a remote doubt.

  30. Bill

    I played a Ric in the early and mid ’80s. I now play a Fender Jazz Bass with the ’60s custom shop pickups. I get a great growl on the Jazz!
    This sounds like a Jazz bass to me all the way.

  31. Steevo

    Definitely a Rickenjazzer, haha!