Vid: ‘The Spirit of Radio Lesson’ from Alex
Even though I played in bands that copped multiple tunes off Rush’s Moving Pictures album, my favorite Rush album is Permanent Waves. The band was just on fire for that recording. Lots of energy, great parts, great arrangements that are complex yet understandable.
Did I say great?
Naturally, I got curious about Alex Lifeson’s gear on that album. I remember watching the Loving Pictures-era studio and live videos on MTV, but not Permanent Waves-era stuff – which apparently doesn’t exist, according to what’s on the almighty YouTube.
So failing a visual of what Alex used, here’s what some Internet sleuthing dug up. Several websites hav copied and pasted the same info among each other, so the following is some of that plus a little anecdotal info dug up here and there. Lifeson fans please check me on this stuff.
Alex’s Permanent Waves Gear
> Black ’77 Fender Stratocaster with an original (no fine tuners) Floyd Rose tremolo, no locking nut – Alex used powdered graphite in the string slots – and a Gibson humbucker. Used on “The Spirit of Radio” and the lead on “Different Strings.”
> A sunburst Gibson Howard Roberts Fusion was also used on “Different Strings.”
> Trusty white Gibson 355, stock, used on the rest of the album with the exception of the leads on “Jacob’s Ladder,” which was:
> Custom-built Pyramid solid-body [could not find a pic of this guitar either].
> Acoustics were a Gibson J-55 and a Dove in Nashville tuning.
> Amps were said to be a combination of Hiwatts, Marshalls and Mesa/Boogies into Marshall 4×12 bottoms. Live, Alex was clearly favoring Hiwatts at this time.
> He also used a Leslie cab [song?].
> “Various” wahs, fuzzes and phasers, according to the websites, along with “Loft analog delays and Maestro parametric EQs.”
> The flanger in “The Spirit of Radio” is presumed to be an Electro-Harmonix Electric Mistress or an Eventide Harmonizer, with most thinking the former.
> After my experiments with the new Eventide PitchFactor pedal, I’d say that Alex was also using an Eventide Harmonizer, at least for some parts if not for whole songs. The Harmonizer was (and still is) used a lot by guit-slingers in the studio, and was seldom talked about.
Alex on the ‘The Spirit of Radio’ Opening Riff