l a y s
, T
t r in g s
, T
A M P .
. . ”
at it, and of course the first thing you notice is the Novax
Fanned Fret system. I asked him to explain it to me and it
made perfect sense. Open a piano and the low strings are
longer than the high strings. It felt great ergonomically
and I became a fan. A great deal of my work has been
replacing synth bass parts, and because they're always
played in the lower registers, I was always looking for a
five-string that read in that register, and the Dingwall
read beautifully. I made the Warwick connection at
Bass Player Live, also in LA, when I tried out a fretless
Starbass II. Steve Bailey is a dear friend and was with
Warwick. I was on tour with Lyle Lovett, and Steve came
to a show with that fretless bass and said that Hans-
Peter Wilfer from Warwick wanted me to have it, which
blew me away. Then at the following NAMM show in
LA, we connected as though we had known each other
for years. I use it almost every day and love it.”
Does Lee have any advice on how to get that elusive
studio tone that so many of us strive for? “Every
player is individual and there are too many options
for a definitive answer,” he says. “Every style of music
demands something unique; the kind of bass one plays,
the strings, the amp, the playing style - thumb and slap,
or pick or fingers. Each is a totally different sound.
I've always been a finger player, I go for a full, rich
bass sound, whereas other guys I know use a far more
brittle sound. I like a high action, which is great for
sustain. I always try, if possible, to have my amp and
DI both recorded. I almost never use any outboard gear
or pedals, because I feel the bass should be as pure as
possible so that everything else tonally can be built
from there. Once in a while, I'll record with an effect
if I feel it's absolutely the right thing for the song - but
that's the exception.”
With such a hectic schedule, Lee remains philosophical
and upbeat: he appears grateful to be working as busily as
ever. Does he find downtime to chill out and relax away
from music? “I get little downtime,” he chuckles. “I love to
work in the garden and work on cars, but I'm never at a
loss for something to do. I feel so blessed every day that I
get to do what I do. A job that would have been my hobby,
something positive in people's lives, the friendships with
other players.
.. it's such a magical thing. I always felt that
by this time in my career, I'd be put out to pasture, but I'm
as busy as I've ever been - so I'll keep ploughing the fields
as long as I get calls.”
As he says: “We'll see what the future holds, but at
19 years old, when this all really got going, it was hard
to imagine still doing it at 68. I've really been blessed to
work with so many wonderful people, and I have always
been a fan of so many that I came to know and work
with. I wish everyone all the best in this adventure we
call the music business. It's a gift beyond description,
and I cherish every second of it. How the hell did I get so
lucky? Where the hell did the time go? I usually ask that
of the drummer. but that's another paragraph!”
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