Pedal Talk with Will Lee

Will Lee loves pedals. That’s his own words, and he was kind to give us a moment to talk about his favorite pedals…

Chances are that you already know Will Lee or at least you have seen him on the Letterman Show at some point where he served as the bass player in the house band almost every night for 33 years (!), but that is only a very tiny part of the Will Lee story.

In fact, I think there is a good chance that he may be the one bass player that most people have heard – without knowing it! Either from the Letterman Show or on countless records spanning a wide array of musical genres.

I was lucky to get a hold of Will and throw him 10 questions about life on bass – and in particular on bass and pedals!



BP: Being on the Letterman show pretty much every night backing new artists across a lot of different musical genres must require some versatility when it comes to tonal variation. Do you have a particular pedal board for that show?

WL: I found that the best solution for me was the Boss GT-10B. It has endless sounds ready to go and it is very programmable.




BP:What is your overall favorite effect pedal type?

WL: I love a good envelope pedal. I had great success with Seamoon’s “Funk Machine” years ago and I find myself looking to get that super-funky sound from other pedals.




BP: One thing is a favorite type, but which type of effect do you actually use the most?

WL: I use the EBS Octabass pedal and Boss OC-2 Octave quite a bit.




BP: Do you have one or more pedals that are dedicated for – or particularly useful for – when you play fretless?

WL: The whole idea behind fretless (sorry Stanley Sheldon-you’re in a category all your own!) is to get that vibrato-y, “Brrroooowww”, singing quality, which I used to add chorusing and compression for (usually Boss CEB-3 and CS-2). These days, I look for basses that have a natural singing quality, so the pedals don’t have to compensate as much to get you there.




BP: The “Mid” toggle switch on the Will Lee Sadowsky signature bass makes a great preamp design even more powerful. Have you convinced Roger to build a V2 of the pedal with your take on the mid bump?

WL: I’m working on him. I think it’d be genius to have that out there to plug other basses into!


BP: You are probably one of the bass players in the world that most people have heard – but don’t know they have heard. Being the perfect sideman and having recorded and toured with the best for decades while at the same time having the ‘freedom of being unknown’ must be amazing. So, how come you felt the urge to release solo albums?

WL: I was writing a bunch of stuff & I really wanted to just get it out there, for fear of exploding! (Well, we surely wouldn’t want that to happen!, ed.)



BP: Any other thoughts on the use of pedals and effects for bass that you’d like to share?

WL: Yes. For bass, since the bass needs to hold down the bottom, try to shop for pedals that have the option of dialing in some low end when you kick in the effect. Unless you’re just using them for soloing, it’s good to keep the rest of the band happy by not having the bottom end drop out!


BP: What would you recommend for a first-time pedal buyer to look for?

WL: Pedals that you can understand! Seriously, sometimes it’s good to see what a pedal can do by starting the settings at a “12 o’clock” place and then easing in the effect, rather than setting it on “stun” right away. This way you can see what each of the dials do by adding in a little bit at a time.









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