Albert Lee - Guitar Heroes A-Z

Taking nothing away from Sir Paul and Sir Elton, but if the Queen is going to give out knighthoods for musicians, Her Royal Highness should at least bestow one upon her country’s undisputed king of country picking, the very gentlemanly Albert Lee. Lee has had a long career, playing with everyone from the Everly Brothers to Eric Clapton, but he really came into his own as a session player and sideman in the ’70s with Emmylou Harris, and in his own band, Heads, Hands & Feet. Lee was known for playing Fender Telecasters early in his career, but for years now he has played a three-single-coil-equipped Music Man Albert Lee signature model.

One notable technique Lee adopted with effortless zeal is the old but never stale-sounding Nashville “echo cascade” or “timed delay” effect, whereby an echo unit supplies notes in between the picked ones in rhythm with the groove. A now-famous trick that’s been employed by everyone from Yngwie Malmsteen to Van Halen (“Cathedral”) to The Edge (“Where the Streets Have No Name”), Lee was one of the first to incorporate it into hot country soloing, and you can hear it used in his blazing leads on Emmylou’s “Luxury Liner” and Heads, Hands & Feet’s “Country Boy.”

To produce the cascade sound, set your delay to play back one repeat (feedback=0) at equal volume with your picked note. Next, because the delay-time setting is tempo-dependent, set the delay to spit back its note exactly one-and-a-half times the rhythmic value of the picked note. So, if you’re playing eighth-notes, set the delay to repeat each note exactly a dotted-eighth’s duration (one eighth plus a sixteenth) after it is played.

The easiest way to convert tempo to seconds is this little formula: 45/T=S, where 45 is the conversion factor for tempo to time in seconds, T is tempo (in bpm) and the S is the time in seconds for your delay. For example, if you plug in 120 for the tempo and divide by 45, you’ll get 0.375 seconds (or 375 ms). Of course, if your delay box has a tap tempo function that can be set to a dotted-eighth subdivision, the faster way to get the same effect is tap in the quarter-note tempo and let the delay unit do all the math for you and automatically generate the dotted-eighth cascade you seek. Apply the approach to the lick (in the style of Lee’s “Country Boy”) shown here, and stand back—notes will be ricocheting everywhere.