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Alex Lifeson Guitar Sound
Old 3rd July 2008
  #1
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Alex Lifeson Guitar Sound

Was Listening to Rush Power Windows and was floored by Alex Reverb Guitar tails on the song Middletown Dreams . It Left tears in my eyes . Any guess what was used on that song . Thanks .
Old 3rd July 2008
  #2
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Alex went through a number of setups after Moving Pictures. They're a little hard to track from interviews. I know his Sholz Rockman was used often in that period, and around that time he endorsed a line of Dean Markley amps. He also used and endorsed some type of delay product. I can't remember whether it was one of the MicMix boxes or the ADA delays - I'm pretty sure it was one of the two. He started playing Strats around the Signals period. I think I remember him playing Charvel Strats with humbuckers in the bridge.
Old 3rd July 2008
  #3
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Buddy The settings and the Reverb Trails are mouth watering . Do you think alot is on the Board Eqing or his Guitar rig ?
Old 3rd July 2008
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sorry, but I just knew you were referring to the RUSH or Fly By Night Albums. I'd like to see RUSH get back to roots and put out a CD with just the guitar/amp and bass.
Old 3rd July 2008
  #5
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Power Windows: they recorded the drums in a stone room.. so maybe the gtrs too!

He was using the tiny 100 watt Galien Kruger combo on that album, hence the really focussed midrange.

I believe those amps had built-in reverb

Those strats were custom buids with "shark" necks and Bil Lawrence humbucker in the bridge
Old 4th July 2008
  #6
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A stone room . Hum . What Blows me a way is the ending of Middletown Dreams the Reverb . Amazing . Any Reverb pro's can tell what unit was used on the guitars on that song ?
Old 5th July 2008
  #7
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Yeah would be interesting to know -

It was a common feature on Peter Collins productions - see if you can contact him!

this isn't about gtrs per se... but anyway:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Collins
My philosophy with Neil’s [Peart, Rush’s drummer] drums has changed over the years. In 1985, when I first worked with him, they wanted an ultra-high-tech sound, which was very fashionable in those days—the days of Trevor Horn, Yes and Frankie Goes to Hollywood and all those British bands. Rush specifically wanted to be in that arena. It was not a particularly organic sound.

In those days, when we did Power Windows and Hold Your Fire, the engineer James ‘Jimbo’ Barton was instrumental in achieving a unique sound, utilizing high compression on the drums and a very clever use of reverbs that were very much larger than life.

"At the time, Neil was triggering samples of African drums and all sorts of other odd things, plus he had a small kit behind him and a big kit in front there in the studio together, with all his toms and percussion stuff. He would spin around in the middle of a song and play the smaller kit and then come back to the big kit.
That is from Recording Drums, December 1998
Old 6th July 2008
  #8
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Good Stuff Thanks .
Old 6th July 2008
  #9
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Please do .
Old 6th July 2008
  #10
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Ah Baby Yes . This is the sound . Will check it out Thanks .
Old 1st November 2010
  #11
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Anaon's Avatar
Hi!

Do you know which chorus unit he used during the 70's? CE1?

Thanks
Old 1st November 2010
  #12
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Loft analog delay - I have also read he used a Boss CE-1

He also used an EH electric mistress for flange sounds although you can get a cool chorus sound from it too a la Lifeson/Andy Summers
Old 1st November 2010
  #13
Have read a lot of mentions of "Roland digital reverbs" on Alex's Power Windows guitar setup throughout the years. Never did find out exactly what model - what was new/interesting in late '84?
Old 2nd November 2010
  #14
Old 3rd November 2010
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by keiffer View Post
I'd like to see RUSH get back to roots and put out a CD with just the guitar/amp and bass.
What, you don't like the sound of Geddy's rotisseries? heh
Old 3rd November 2010
  #16
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Smile

I really like the sound that he got on Red Sector A.
Old 4th November 2010
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whitecat View Post
Have read a lot of mentions of "Roland digital reverbs" on Alex's Power Windows guitar setup throughout the years. Never did find out exactly what model - what was new/interesting in late '84?
SRV3000. His amp of choice then was a Marshall 4140 Country Club, more like a Fender than a Marshall, pretty zingy high end.
Old 5th November 2010
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by keiffer View Post
sorry, but I just knew you were referring to the RUSH or Fly By Night Albums. I'd like to see RUSH get back to roots and put out a CD with just the guitar/amp and bass.

Isn't that what Vapor Trails was?
Old 5th November 2010
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AudioWonderland View Post
Isn't that what Vapor Trails was?
IMO, Nice Try but No Cigar. The guitar tones just aren't ballsy enough. Simplistic but I'm talking a LP plugged into a SLP.
Old 5th November 2010
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sounds Great View Post
Vapor Trails had Alex playing through a guitar pod.

And it was the worst sounding, worst processed Rush album ever. I sold it, the only Rush record where I didn't like at least some of it. (I have almost all of them)

Where did I say it was any good?
Old 5th November 2010
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by keiffer View Post
IMO, Nice Try but No Cigar. The guitar tones just aren't ballsy enough. Simplistic but I'm talking a LP plugged into a SLP.

I wasn't trying anything. WTH are you talking about? I think that album blows but they did lose the keyboards
Old 6th November 2010
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AudioWonderland View Post
I wasn't trying anything. WTH are you talking about? I think that album blows but they did lose the keyboards
Sorry... my post was confusing. I was referring to RUSH.
Old 8th November 2010
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by keiffer View Post
Sorry... my post was confusing. I was referring to RUSH.
No worries. Its all good
Old 15th November 2010
  #24
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I have read in an interview with him somewhere that he loved multi tracking guitar parts and using different reverbs and delays to each parts to get that big reverb sound.

Maybe he use two or three direct signals with the wet only signals of many more guitars?
Old 15th March 2016
  #25
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Old thread but just wanted to say, awesome question! That's my all-time favourite Rush song and was just searching around for how to get that tone

From an '86 interview with Lee:

Quote:
"Alex likes to have everything but the kitchen sink on his line. On this record, recording the guitars the engineer and producer were very insistent on him not using his effects in line. A lot of the good guitar parts were just straight guitar plugged into an amplifier. They didn't even like him using controls after a while. Every engineer has his own philosophy but the bottom line is if a guy can get a good sound we're happy. So I think a lot of Alex ' guitar sound is improving on this record, and I think it has to do with eliminating a lot of the effects on the line.
Old 15th March 2016
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Real MC View Post
Updated link:

Alex Lifeson equipment - Rush Wiki - Wikia

Quote:
Power WindowsEdit

Amplifiers

Gallien Krueger 250 ML
Dean Markley CD-120
Marshall JCM 800 (2)
Dean Markley CD-212
TSR Rockman
Marshall 2x12 Combo

Effects & Electronics

Roland Reverb
Loft 450 Digital Delay
Ibanez HD-1000 Harmonizer
Boss Super Distortion Pedal
Boss Octaver
Delta Lab ADM-2048 Digital Delay
TC Electronics TC-2290 Effects Unit (2)
TC Electronics 1210 Spatial Expander
Roland DEP-5 Multi Effects Processor
Wow - so interesting listening to this album again. Loads more bottom end than I remember.

And the drums sound softer than I remember... Not so transient and snappy. Quite far back in the mix.
Old 16th March 2016
  #27
Gear Maniac
 

Yeah this was defo a GK 250ml album! haha, it has the similar "Iron Maiden - Somewhere in time" washy reverb drenched chorus sound. Love it! Unique very of the era. I think people moved onto the ADA Mp-1 in the later half of the 80s
Old 16th March 2016
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ghosty999 View Post
Yeah this was defo a GK 250ml album! haha, it has the similar "Iron Maiden - Somewhere in time" washy reverb drenched chorus sound. Love it! Unique very of the era. I think people moved onto the ADA Mp-1 in the later half of the 80s
I had a GK guitar head back then too. Not the 250ML, but a stereo 75+75w head with chorus, compression, and reverb.

I also had the 2 x 12 bottom from GK.

I paid $1750 for that rig new, and was their top of the line set-up at the time (IIRC 89-90).

For the funk rock band I was in at the time, it was a killer rig. Had a midi effect switching, balanced out's and in's...among other hooha.

Only problem was it was really futzy to set-up at gigs. I rarely had time to ever dial in what I wanted tonewise. I eventually ditched it in favor of a tube Fender amp...which was NEVER futzy. Just plugged in, and sounded great.

I wish I still had the GK though. After I sold have never seen another one...I may well have been the only person who ever bought it...lol
Old 16th March 2016
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ghosty999 View Post
Yeah this was defo a GK 250ml album! haha, it has the similar "Iron Maiden - Somewhere in time" washy reverb drenched chorus sound. Love it! Unique very of the era. I think people moved onto the ADA Mp-1 in the later half of the 80s
I tried going to the MP-1, but it didn't work for me. It sounded fine, but if you wanted to reach back and tweak something, you had to scroll through menus and such, and that bugged the crap out of me. So I went back to my Pearce, and had my t.c. electronic G-Major switch the channels for me. It works great, and gave me one-button switching with simple amp control.

Alex never went to the programmable preamps, though.
Old 17th March 2016
  #30
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikhael View Post
I tried going to the MP-1, but it didn't work for me. It sounded fine, but if you wanted to reach back and tweak something, you had to scroll through menus and such, and that bugged the crap out of me. So I went back to my Pearce, and had my t.c. electronic G-Major switch the channels for me. It works great, and gave me one-button switching with simple amp control.

Alex never went to the programmable preamps, though.
Yeah they are a nightmare to program, those squishy buttons are useless and the worst thing is how some of the parameters go up in 2s?!?!?! very odd design choice. I guess they didn't want to be futuristic and use a totally digital interface.

The GK 250ML screams if you run it into 2 4x12s. Its bloody loud for it's size. Very solid state sounding, especially the over compressed cleans. You can pop the top off and use the trim pots to dial back some of the parameters, so your not just stuck with one setting when you press the buttons.
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