Geddy Lee Bass Rig and Keyboards – Rush

The Geddy Lee Bass Rig has been the most requested video on the channel and I’m happy to present the most accurate list of Geddy Lee’s bass gear from 1968 to present day.

Did you watch the video?! Would you like to know when the next one is out?

Geddy the guitar player?

Geddy, like most bass players originally wanted to be a guitarist but was forced to play bass by his band at the time. Borrowing money from his mother returned to the group with a Japanese made Canora Precision copy. Canoras were common in Toronto In the 70s and they were a small Canadian import brand that sourced guitars from various manufacturers in Japan. Geddy, then fell in love with the idea of being a bass player “because nobody wanted to be a bass player.”

Geddy Lee Bass Rig

In 1968 at the age 15. Geddy Lee joined Alex Lifeson in a garage band that would eventually be the Rush we know and love (minus Neil Peart). Rush spent 5 years of steady gigging in the local circuits, parties, school dances, bars, and other small venues in and around Toronto. During this time Geddy bought a Hagstrom 4 string which he played for “quite a while”. Then shortly thereafter he traded this Hagstrom for a 1969 Fender Precision. This is the starting point of the Geddy Lee Bass rig.

The release of “Rush” (1974)

They released their first album “Rush”* independently on their own label Moon Records. This then lead to success with the song “Working man”. After the achievement of “Rush”, the band was offered a two-record deal with Polygram’s Mercury Records in 1974. Moon Records then folded as a label and transformed into a music production company. With the band now signed and another record to be made. Rush were given an advance by the record company.

Geddy buys a Rickenbacker

Upon receiving the advance money, Geddy raced out to buy a Rickenbacker 4001. And exclaimed in an interview.

“It was the sound that Chris Squire got out of it … and that’s the sound that made me want to buy one … Much to my dismay, when I plugged it in, it didn’t sound like Chris Squire.”
What a Rush – Bass Player Magazine April 2011

After nabbing the 4001, Geddy then began customising his 69 Precision and turned it into his “Space Bass”. But he sanded the body into a shape of a teardrop ,painted it in crazy reflective colours and adding a jazz pickup to the bridge for stereo outputs. When asked why the bass was trimmed down Geddy recalled;

“I wasn’t using it, and it was very beat-up from all the years that I’d used it. So I figured, “Well, I’m going to do something wild with it.”
Hi-Tech Bassist and Synthesist with Rush – Guitar Player June 1980

Recording “Fly by Night”

The 4001 was used to record “Fly By Night” exclusively. With a white 4001 appearing in the music video “Fly by night” and “Anthem” The follow up album Caress of Steel*, showed Geddy switching between the Fender Precision and the 4001. These two basses would be the backbone of the Geddy Lee bass rig all the way into 1976. With the Precision used during the encore.

The Rickenbacker guitar bass

A “Farewell To Kings” continues with the 4001 as primary bass. However, this record also introduced some new instruments. Like a Rickenbacker 4080 double-neck guitar-bass. Think Jimmy Page but with a bass on top. The double neck is a model 4001 and the guitar is a standard Rickenbacker twelve string. A Rickenbacker 3001 and the Teardrop Precision also made appearances.

Geddy Lee’s Rickenbacker stash

1978’s “Hemispheres” was more of the same but now included the second 4001, the one in white and a new Rickenbacker 4002. Geddy continued using all these Rickenbackers into “Permanent Waves“. Hinting in an interview he also used the 4001 and a new 6 string double neck in place of the 12. He also admitted he wasn’t happy with the overall 12-string part of the set and in response removed the Rickenbacker guitar pickups  for Gibson Humbuckerss*. According to Geddy it’s “because the Rickenbacker pickups were terrible.” The 3001 and 4002 were also claimed to be used in the studio. Geddy also expressed some disappointment with his current basses. stating “I really like Rickenbackers. But because of the wear and tear every Rickenbacker I’ve played has a different neck.

Geddy finds the Jazz bass

In an interview from June 1980. Geddy reveals a newly acquired Fender Jazz which he used on half of the recording.

“I recently lucked out and found a ’69 or 70 Fender Jazz Bass … I used it on about half of Permanent Waves.”
Hi-Tech Bassist and Synthesist with Rush – Guitar Player June 1980

The bass was later dated to be from 1972. We’ll come back to this 1972 Fender Jazz as it plays a big part later on. These basses were used to record “Moving Pictures” in 1981 and “Signals” in ‘82 also appearing on the subsequent tours. While the classic 4001 was replaced over time. It did make a return to the bass rig in the R40 tour and played on “Passage to Bangkok”.

The shrimpy bass

It’s only when we get to “Grace Under Pressure” in 1984. We see a real change With the introduction of a Steinberger L2 which took over as Geddy’s main bass. Geddy states;

The Rickenbacker was a very heavy, unwieldy bass to play live … I thought I’d try the Steinberger … because it has no headstock, and it’s a shrimpy little thing, a lot lighter.”
Like Clockwork – Bass Guitar Player July 2012

He figured if he could get the sound he wanted out of that bass it would reduce the risk of knocking over mic stands or hitting something as he moved around. Two EMG soapbar pickups were added to the bass. “Ultimately” he says “the sound was not satisfying to me.” The Steinbergers last appearance was on the Hold Your Fire tour in 1987.Geddy Lee Steinberger L2

Introducing the Wal bass

Further changes to Geddy Lee’s bass rig arrived in 1985 recording “Power Windows” with the introduction of Wal basses. The producer, Peter Collins, had one and suggested Geddy try it out. Geddy praised its results and flexibility.  Explaining “I use a 4-string most of the time, but on “Lock And Key” it was a 5-string. ” According to the tour programs for the next 8 years, right up to 1993’s “Counterparts” . Geddy routinely used the 4 string and 5 string Wal. With a second Wal bass in red was added during 1989’s “Presto” tour.Geddy Lee Wal Bass

The return to an aggressive Rush sound

1993’s platinum selling album “Counterparts” saw the return to an aggressive Rush sound. Geddy remarked in an interview at the time.

“Our overall sound had gotten a little polite. I decided to go back to a more aggressive sound”

For this album Geddy ditched his active basses and went old school with his 1972 Fender Jazzz*. Found in a pawn shop in Kalamazoo Michigan for $200. He added heavier strings for a more substantial bottom end. The Wal by comparison was strung up with much lighter Funkmasters*. This 72 Fender Jazz would become Geddy’s main bass and follow him through his career even to present day. At every opportunity, Geddy praises this bass saying there’s just something special about it.

There’s never been a bass that sounds like that bass. I have 25 jazz basses and none of them sound exactly like that bass  … There’s a particular mojo to that instrument.
Back to the future – Guitar School Magazine – March 1994

The black 72 was just the beginning and it was around this period where a flood of Fender Jazzes made way into his rig. As Geddy stated in 2015 he has about “25 jazz basses” so it’s unclear where to draw the line on a bass used in Rush and one just in his collection. To keep things simple this post focuses on the core basses seen from 1996 to about 2015. This also covers his solo album “My Favourite Headache” released in 2000.

The core Jazz basses

Interviews with Geddy’s bass techs lists the following in the Geddy Lee Bass Rig.

  • Black Jazz 72  – This is the main bass that all the other bass guitars are compared to.
  • Sunburst Jazz  72 – Only a few hundred serial numbers away from the black 72 and 2nd bass.
  • Second Black Jazz 74 – Typically used to play “Bravado”.
  • Fender Custom Shop Jazz – Candy Apple Red finish added in 1996 and primarily used for the song “Circumstances”

Fender Geddy Lee Jazz signature bass

1998 saw the general release of the Geddy Lee Jazz Bass.  It was crafted in Japan and created as a reproduction of the number one ’72 bass. Fender also released a sunburst model which followed in 2009 and a revised USA Geddy Lee Jazz Bass in 2015. Made in America this time but with a slightly different neck finish, white pearloid block inlays and a Fender High Mass Bridge. Two stock Geddy Lee signatures, one in black and one in sunburst were used as backups to the main basses.

Fender Custom Shop

Speaking of the custom shop, the black 72 and 74 are frequent visitors. The 72 has seen around 4 new necks and the 74 at least one in 2010. Both basses have original pickups and were rewound to original specs but the 74 has said to have a little more “mojo“ in it.

Fender Jaco Pastorious tribute bass

During the recording of Snakes and Arrows around 2006. Fender sent Geddy a Jaco Pastorius tribute fretless and fretted bass. The fretless was used live on “Malignant Narcissism”. Fretless basses never really took hold on Geddy. As he admits that playing one is “scary” and “usually it’s a failure”.

Fender custom shop pickups

The rest of Geddy’s basses are fitted with Fender Custom Shop pickups created by Tom Brantley in 2010. The black 72 would be used to record “Counterparts“, “Test for Echo“, “My Favourite Headache“, “Vapour Trails“, “Snakes and Arrows” and “Clockwork Angels“. With the other basses filling in the gaps on specific parts and appearing on the subsequent tours.

Custom engraved pickguards on Clockwork Angels

On the Clockwork Angels tour in 2012, the Jazz basses returned with custom engraved pickguards denoting alchemy symbols. The 72 was engraved with the symbol for Amalgamation. Meaning the process to to bind two entities into one. A new custom Jazz bass in Surf Green also joined the ranks at this time.

The R40 tour

In 2015 Rush embarked on the R40 Live Tour. Commemorating the 40th anniversary of drummer Neil Peart joining the band in July 1974. The basses used on this tour were a little bit different than usual and Geddy explains it best in the R40 tour book.

“Somewhere around the rehearsal phase of the Clockwork Angels Tour …I  began a two-year journey of searching for vintage basses that told a story to us. I have chosen to share the sound and glory of some of those instruments with you all on this R40 tour.

He continues;

Even though I did not play these exact instruments on the original recordings I have tried to choose ones that enhance the music in one way or another. I hope you will enjoy this parade through time, and will dig the experience of hearing these fantastic instruments as much as I will enjoy playing them!”

26 basses make appearances in this tourGeddy Lee Basses

  • 1972 Fender Jazz Bass (Blonde)
  • 1960 Fender Jazz Bass (Fiesta Red)
  • 1962 Fender Jazz Bass (Sea Foam Green)
  • 1963 Fender Jazz Bass (Black with matching headstock)
  • 1964 Fender Jazz Bass (Lake Placid Blue with matching headstock)
  • 1964 Fender Jazz Bass (Sonic Blue with matching headstock)
  • 1965 Fender Jazz Bass (White)
  • 1966 Fender Jazz Bass (Shoreline Gold with matching headstock)
  • 1966 Fender Jazz Bass (Fiesta Red with matching headstock)
  • 1957 Gibson EB-1 (Walnut)
  • 1964 Gibson Thunderbird IV (Sunburst)
  • 1964 Epiphone Embassy (Cherry)
  • 1967 Gibson Thunderbird II (Polaris White)
  • 1959 Fender Precision Bass (Olympic White) with matching headstock
  • 1965 Fender Precision Bass (Burgundy Mist)
  • 1968 Fender Telecaster Bass (Paisley)
  • 1967 Rickenbacker Model 3261 (FireGlo)
  • 1968 Rickenbacker Model 4001 (BurgundyGlo)
  • 1977 Rickenbacker Model 4001 (JetGlo)
  • 1975 Rickenbacker Model 4080/12 (JetGlo)
  • 1978 Rickenbacker Model 4080/12 (FireGlo)
  • 1961 Hofner Solid Body 2 Pickup (Cherry Red)
  • 1992 Zematis Bass (Black with engraved metal front)

Rush stand still

While R40 wasn’t planned as a farewell tour the band did have their suspicions. The tour became incredibly painful for Neil Peart who had a number of ailments exacerbated by the tour. He had been hospitalised for anemia, from bleeding ulcers and suffered breathing problems. As well as suffering from psoriatic arthritis and chronic tendinitis. With frequent administration of cortisol injections just to help him get through the tour. The 2016 documentary Rush: Time Stand Still* discusses Neil’s decline in open and frank terms and well worth a watch. Geddy stated in a 2018 interview that there are zero plans to tour again and no chance of seeing Rush on tour again as Alex Geddy and Neil.

Geddy Lee’s Big Beautiful Book of Bass

In the years following R40, Geddy has kept busy writing a book. Geddy Lee’s Big Beautiful Book of Bass. He had a simple, yet impossible, goal: to figure out why exactly his 72 Jazz sounded the way it did. Geddy explains;
Geddy Lee book of bass

“I couldn’t find a back-up for it that was equal. You ask yourself why. That’s the question that pervades the book. ‘Why do certain years turn out to be so much desirable and great-sounding than other years?”

Geddy and his curiosity – decided that he was going to buy a Jazz Bass from every year from 1960 right up to ’72 and compare them from the inside out. The 408 page tome Big Beautiful Book of Bass was released in December 2018.

Geddy Lee Bass Rig Amplifiers

Geddy’s first real amplifier was a Traynor 2×15. Prior to joining Rush. Alex would routinely call Geddy to borrow his amplifier. Taking influence from John Entwistle, Geddy then bought a Sunn 2000S tube head and two matching 2×15 cabinets in 1972. Changing the stock speakers for Electro voice SRO’s. When Geddy bought his 4001 he had visions of using it in stereo. This model features a stereo “Rick-O-Sound” output socket allowing each pickup to be routed to different amplifiers or effect chains. He then bought a second wave of amplifiers.

Ampeg and Sunn join Rush

An Ampeg SVT and 2×15” V-4B cabinets were used as an output to the bass pickup. Furthermore the Sunn rig was used for the treble pickup. The Ampegs were sent to front of house using a DI and the Sunn amps were miked on stage. The Ampeg V4B speakers were changed during their residency, from stock to JBL K140s. This general set up recorded the albums and played the tours between 1974 and 78.

More power for Geddy

For the recording on 78’s “Hemispheres” a few new items join the line up.

  • BGW 750-B amplifier
  • Ashley pre-amps

Again, taking advantage of the stereo Ric O Sound and using one stack for the bass output and one for the treble. The bottom end still went to the Ampeg V-4B’s and the top end to two new 15” Theile line cabinets fitted with EV speakers. These small cabinets are designed with a bass reflex port. Allowing the player to better shape their bottom end.

Guitar amplifiers in Geddy’s Bass Rig

The double neck Rickenbackers also used different amplifiers. With the 6 and 12 string played through a Fender Twin Reverb. This was then upgraded to a Yamaha solid state amp by 1981. The Rickenbacker 4080’s only had one output for both bass and guitar. A custom switcher used to route the guitar to the correct amp.

Amplifier upgrades

Continuing with 1981, a Furman PQ-3 and an API 5500 EQ replaced the Ashly preamps. This then continued into a custom switching box, routing to the BGW power amps.. In the tour program for Grace Under Pressure. The BGW was then replaced with a newer 750-C The following new custom cabinets also joined the line up. Geddy mysterious described them in the “Grace Under Pressure” tour book.

A “Special Brother Russell mystery speaker cabinet (built by monks somewhere in Arizona) with two 15″ speakers in each.”.

These cabs were also present on the “Power Windows” tour and said to be used up to the “Roll The Bones” tour in 1991. During the recording of “Roll The Bones” Geddy commented that “Most of the sound is DI” and that he used a “Gallien-Krueger amp, miked. Some have suggested Geddy used a GK 800RB which was making the rounds at that time but there’s no legitimate evidence. However, Alex was endorsed by Gallien Krueger so it’s possible other equipment was provided.

Trace Elliot amplifier era

One interview speaks of Geddy returning to the Ampeg SVT and using a Trace Elliot 4×10 cab to record “Counterparts” Trace Elliot gear then became a core part of his back line between 1993 and 2007. Using a a Quatra power amp with GP12 preamps. Earlier versions of this rig also had a Tech 21 Landmark 600 power amp. This was paired with standard two 1×18″ and two 4×10″ speaker cabs. The cabinets changed from your typical Trace cabs in 1996 to a Trace Elliot V types. Trace cabs typically have a solid black grill , note the change in logo and the grey dust cloth.

Geddy’s Bass Rig turns Orange

Joining the rig around 2007 and used on the Snakes and Arrows Tour. Geddy used an Orange AD200 bass head with two 4×10″ bass cabinets. This setup was also used to record the first two songs on Clockwork Angels.The producer Nick Raskulinecz suggested he use them.

“it just added this crazy, wild distortion that I liked a lot. It seemed so successful that I called them up and asked if they could send me a couple to use live.

And they did. Setting him up an endorsement too. And the Orange heads has been with him ever since right up to present day.

Geddy Lee and his DI’s

DI’s, direct inputs, direct injections or direct box depending on your colloquial name start appearing around 1993. While Geddy did have some miking of the cabinets over the last tours. He always fed a direct input to the front of house and had the engineer combine the feeds. 1993 or there about’s is the earliest record of Geddy experimenting with several DI’s and ending up with a trifecta of DI’d sounds. He stated

“I’ve been experimenting the last few years, using three different types of speaker simulators. Out of a need to develop something that I could use at home rather easily”.

Palmer speaker simulation

It all started with a Palmer speaker simulator and in most interviews. “Palmer speaker simulator ” has been used interchangeably between the PDI 03 and PDI 05. Either way, interviews show evidence of him using both.

The PDI-03 saw use in his home studio while the PDI-05 is used on the road. The Palmer gives Geddy a “bizarre speaker air movement” and “a really controllable distortion.”

Geddy Lee and SansAmp

Equally there’s a Tech 21 Sansamp. Again, he doesn’t always specify which “Sansamp” specifically. However, we do know he used a Sansamp Bass Driver and a PSA-1 around 2001. A Sansamp RBI was also reported in 2001 before switching to the newer Sansamp RPM model after auditioning it in his home studio. Geddy’s bass tech states “The RPM’s sound has a little more detail than the RBI, and the distortion is a little more controllable,”.

The clean Geddy sound

Lastly in this trifecta is the Avalon U5. Giving Geddy a really deep and clear DI-sounding bass and lots of flexibility when it comes to mix. As Geddy says, he did a lot of experimenting, A Martech and a Demeter Tube DI were used early on but ultimately didn’t make the cut.

The Geddy Lee bass rig signal chain

From the bass, the signal goes into a wireless receiver usually Shure or Samson.Geddy Lee Bass Rig

  • Then a Kitty Hawk midi looper. This switcher acts as a mute while changing between basses.
  • The signal goes into a Axess Electronics splitter and a feed inserted into the SansAmp RPM.
  • A split is sent to the PDI-05 and the second channel is routed to an Orange AD200.
  • The AD200 is connected to a RockCrusher attenuator which provides the load for the heads.
  • Lastly a 4th feed is sent to the Avalon DI

But one bass tech cites that the output of the AD200 is reversed. With the signal being sent back to a second PDI-05 instead. The 4 outputs are then sent to front of house and are combined into the distorted, gritty and clean bass sound. The doubles of these units are spares or backups.

In ear monitors

As a result of using DI’s the idea of an amplifier rig per say wasn’t really necessary anymore.As early as 1992 Geddy describes the wonders of using in ear monitors in place of relying on stage volume.

“I’m wearing in-ear monitors now. I have absolutely no need for speakers onstage; everything is coming through the PA, so it’s not like the crowd is going to benefit from speakers onstage.

The only caveat to this is that the stage has some light 15” subs. Monitor engineer Brent Carpenter goes into more detail.

One of the things I always do, I like to do with my bands, I always put subs on the stage. I cross them over really, really low, so it’s just the really lowest notes. And I only low end energy in them, the bass drum, maybe a floor tom, the bass guitar. If there is a Taurus pedal or really low keyboard note … Doing that attaches the musician to the stage.

The last of the amplifier cabinets

Furthermore in 2002, Geddy dispensed with traditional bass amplifiers in favor of the already mentioned DI units and in ear monitors. Faced with the dilemma of what to do with the empty space left behind by amplifier cabinets, Geddy chose to decorate his side of the stage with unusual items.

  • Starting off with a fridge
  • A workable vending machine
  • Maytag spin dryers – which would rotate during the show.The band would empty the dryers and throw t-shirts into the crowd.
  • Then Henhouse brand Chicken Rotisseries which was miked up for comic effect.

Lastly the Time machine tour in 2010 saw the introduction of the the “Geddison”. A steampunk-inspired Time Machine and Sausage Maker combo A second iteration of the Geddison returned in 2012 on the Clockwork Angels tour and this time made popcorn on stage.

Geddy Lee’s effects pedals

When it comes to effects pedals and stomp boxes specifically Geddy is very modest about the whole thing.He doesn’t tend to give them much consideration as part of his sound. As a result there isn’t much by way of information. Some photos show Geddy using various Midi switcher pedals as well as a Morley Volume pedal. Yet none have been stated in interviews. For this reason it would seem these minor audio flourishes are at the hands of the front of house engineers. In 2017, Tech 21 released a Geddy Lee signature SansAmp named the GED 2112*. It saw use in the Rock N’ Roll Hall of fame performance with YES with Geddy stating “he just took that “ to play the performance. For those of us who don’t have racks, the SansAmp Geddy Lee YYZ is a fantastic alternative.

Interview with Tech 21’s Andrew Barta

Tech 21’s president Andrew Barta. Joined Alfie Williams for a chat about the GED 2112 and the release of the YYZ. You can watch the interview on the Know Your Bass Player Channel. Andrew Barta Tech 21 on GED-2112 and YYZ release.

Geddy Lee Strings and bridges

Originally when Geddy started playing bass he was using Labella flatwounds (.45, .65, .85, .105)* A big turning point came for in 1974 recording “Rush”. This time Geddy used a Rotosound Swing Bass set (.45, .65, .80, .105)* and was amazed at a the discovery of high end in the tone. With the introduction of the Wal bass back in 1985 Geddy changed to Superwound Funkmasters (.30, .50, .70, .90)*. Stating that;

“They’re much lighter than I was used to. they gave me more definition, especially in the upper ranges.

The Funkmasters fell out of favour by 1990, with a return to the Rotosound Swing bass sets. He’s been using them ever since.

Bad Ass Bridge

Geddy also used Leo Quan Bad-ass 2 bridge. Which have been fit on more or less every bass Geddy owns at some point or another. These bridges are used to add sustain and give a a longer intonation adjustment. In addition to this they also lock down the saddles which can be a problem on some early Fender bridges. On most of the Fender Geddy Lee Jazzes they have created their own high mass bridges which more or less perform the same way.

Geddy Lee and his Keyboards

Firstly, Keyboards and Synthesizers started showing up in Rush around 1977 on the recording of “Farewell to Kings”. Providing a major stylistic and substantive rejuvenation within the band. In an interview with Neil Peart, he described the era as a “musical dilemma”. With Rush considering hiring a new member and new gear to progress forward. Geddy’s role expanded from a lead singer bassist to occasional rhythm guitarist and multi-keyboardist. Several intricate bass and synthesizer lines are accomplished by foot, while his hands are busy elsewhere.

Moog and Moog Pedals

Starting small, Geddy used Moog Taurus pedals and a Minimoog Originally Geddy got the Taurus because he wanted to play double-neck guitar, and keep the bass going. The Taurus was used with four preset bass sounds and one variable high-end synthesizer sound, allowing Geddy to essentially continue a bass line up to another octave. Speaking in 1981 Geddy said.

“We added the pieces slowly over the last three or four years, I started out with simple bass pedals, till it became the monster it is today.“

Rumor has it, the low E of a Mini Moog even caused a woman to go into labor. The Mini Moog then became a tool primarily to write lead and melodies.Such as the intro to “Farewell To Kings”. Both the Mini Moog and Taurus pedals were core components of his keyboard rig between 1978 and 1984. After that, some interviews do mention the Taurus and Minimoog but it was no longer the focal point of the keys. The Taurus pedals were replaced with a Korg MPK-130 during the 80’s.

Oberheim synthesizers

Polyphonic 8 voice

The additions came through at a natural pace piece by piece. With Geddy taking his time getting to know each instrument before starting something else. A Roland Space Echo and Oberheim eight-voice polyphonic was intended to be used on 1978’s Hemispheres. Unfortunately the 8 voice suffered technical issues on it’s flight from the US over to Rockfield Studios in Wales. It did however take part on the following tour. The main draw of the 8 voice was it’s memory bank, allowing 16 presets to be stored. This was then controlled by keyboard and Taurus pedals. It derives its polyphony from having eight mono-synth modules hard-wired together. It was used primarily to produce string and horn sounds, as well as some “natural types of things.”

Oberhiem keyboards

Moreover, an OB-1 keyboard with an Oberheim digital sequencer DSP1, followed in ‘79 and was used “strictly for weird sounds and sequencing parts”.

Following suit came an OB-X, and OB-8  both interfaced with a second set of Taurus pedals .

The signals tour in 1982 introduced the newer OB-Xa which is said to be a little more “forward” or “aggressive” sounding compared to the OB-X.

This was paired with a Oberheim DSX Sequencer, which again interfaced with the Taurus Pedals.

Also introduced was a Roland Jupiter Synth and TR808 drum machine. Working in conjunction a Mini-Moog and Yamaha Delay. Oberheim equipment left the rig around 1985.

Keyboards in the late 1980’s

As a result, A PPG Wave 2.2 was added on 1984’s Grace Under Pressure tour. With Geddy giving it gold star praise and citing it’s compatibility to utilise digital and analog synthesis. It’s crystal clarity and user friendliness. For Power Windows in 1985, The now classic Yamaha DX-7 and two KX 76’s were used to trigger a QX-1 sequencer and Five Emulator II Computerized Synthesizers. Akai S900 samplers came in around 1987 and were supported by two Prophet VS synths, As well as a PPG 2.3 now with a Roland D- 550 synth. Controlled with additional Korg Midi pedals. 

Bring on the Rolands

A similar Roland D-50 keyboard and S770 sampler followed in 1991. With Geddy mentioning in interviews that he was highly dependent on them for the upcoming tour. This was carried in tow with a Korg Wavestation and Yamaha PF-80 synth. The Test For Echo tour saw a more traditional synth-type system with;

  •  D50 Roland as the master controller
  • JD800 Roland
  • JV1080 Roland expandable synth module.
  • Prophet VS’s keys

Geddy used the D50’s controller to call up the various programs needed for different songs in the show. The system is routed by a MIDI switching matrix and two JL Cooper 1620’s

Playback systems

In total there were six controllers for playback system. With Geddy using 4 directly,

  • Yamaha DX-7
  • Prophet VS synthesizer
  • Korg MPK pedals x2

One set resides at the keyboard position and one at his center mic position.

Rush keyboards in the 2000’s

Mixing it up in 2002. A Roland XV-5080 Sampler was used on Vapor Trails as well as a brief encounter with a Mellotron. Between 2007’s Snakes and Arrows tour and 2012’s Clockwork Angels tour. A more refined set up appeared on stage.

  • Roland XV5080.
  • Fantom-X7*
  • Moog Little Fatty digital synthesizers.

The Roland produces the odd sound, its primary function is to control the bank of Roland XV-5080s that reside offstage . These samplers are also triggered by two sets of Korg MPK-130 pedals.

Miscelanious gear Midi gear

This equipment has seen use but never stayed permanent.

  • Roland JUNO DI
  • Three MacBook Pros with SSDs, (x2)
  • Anatek Studio Merge,
  • Midi Solutions M8
  • Roland MKS 900 MIDI displays (x4)
  • MOTU 828s  (x2)
  • Radial SW8 Audio Switcher.
  •  Ableton Live for sample playback.
  • Yamaha MFC1 MIDI foot controller

Sample Midi Rig from 1988

Geddy has two racks, with the first containing

  • Furman PL8+ Power Conditioner with a lighting source
  • The J.L. Cooper is a MIDI patch matrix. On that is 13 masters, and 17 slaves. The J.L. Cooper box will patch any combination of synths and samplers need for a particular song. The high-tech box is a master input for all the MIDI.
  • Akai S900 samplers (Numbers 1-3)
  •  A/B mapper backup box
  • Roland D550 digital synthesizer.

The second rack consists of another a second Furman PL8+ on top,

  • Custom designed JS broadcast-quality mixers (x2)
  • Akai S900 samplers (Numbers 4-7)  Sampler #7 is primarily used as the backup sampler. At
  • At the bottom of thisrack is another back up Roland D550 synthesizer,

The full Midi rig set up can be viewed in the article “Rush’s Live Midi Secrets Revealed”  EQ Magazine July 1997 by Jack Secret  

On the next Know Your Bass Player

I’ll be returning to the results of your votes laid out earlier this year.  If you’re new here take a look at the voting video and cast your vote. Just don’t vote for Geddy, it’s a wasted vote my friend. Right this second it looks like Tim Commerford is in the lead but if you’re not a fan you can change that so get voting.

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