Nail Geddy Lee’s bass tones with his new YYZ Shape-shifter Signature SansAmp from Tech 21

Tech 21 Geddy Lee YYZ Shape-shifter Signature SansAmp
(Image credit: Tech 21 NYC)

Tech 21 has good news for bassists with designs on Geddy Lee or Rush’s bass guitar tone with the launch of the YYZ Shape-shifter Signature SansAmp.

Finished with black text and an illustration of the man himself on a shade of spearmint toothpaste green, the YYZ Shape-shifter matches Lee’s signature rack-mounted and floor units from Tech 21, but this appearance belies the fact that the all-analogue device is in fact the return of the MP40.

Launched to celebrate 40 years of Rush’s classic Moving Pictures – complete with Hugh Syme-inspired artwork – the MP40 was a strictly limited edition unit that sold out in no time, never to return. Until now. 

But this is a return that makes everyone happy. Those with the limited edition MP40 have a bona-fide collectible. Those who grab this will have the exact same circuit at their disposal – and it offers a wealth of tone-shaping power and uses, and a manual that compiles an array of Geddy Lee signature sounds.

The YYZ Shape-shifter has a dual-footswitch build, one for bypassing/engaging the unit, the other for a selectable boost function, which can apply 12dB of oomph to your presence for a more distorted high-end sound. And, giving the unit its name, there is a Shape-shifter button that adds an extra 6dB of what Lee likes to call “Schmegilka”, a technical term for an “an indefinable thing of awesomeness”.

There is also a Tight button to enhance definition and, indeed, tighten your distorted tones. As for controls, it is as you were with Lee’s signature SansAmp, the GED-2112. There’s a Master volume, a Mix control that takes you from Deep (“high-end studio clean”) to Drive (“dirty bass tube amp tones”), an active three-band EQ, and a Drive control.

You can hear all this in action below.

This new signature SansAmp continues Lee’s long-standing relationship with the analogue tech. Famously, he was an early adopter, and would have washing machines – and on occasion, rotisserie chickens – onstage lest Rush’s backline look too empty.

You can use the unit to go direct into the mixing desk for playing live, into the desk for recording, for fixing up previously recorded parts, or it can be used with the bass amp you already know and love. 

The Geddy Lee YYZ Shape-shifter is available now, priced $249 street. See Tech 21 (opens in new tab) for more details. And if you're still looking for an MP40 Limited Edition SansAmp, there are still some kicking around; Andertons (opens in new tab) presently has one, priced £369.

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.