Toby Lee: “My amp always has the reverb on 10, and if it could go any further it would!“

With rockabilly and heavy rock as well as blues, what do you think Aquarius says about you as a player? 

“I think it’s a bit of a showcase for me. I’ve always been kind of known to play blues– that’s been the ‘thing’. Having the different styles throughout the album was to introduce my influences that have inspired me to be where I am now.“

Who inspires you the most? 

“Most of the amazing blues legends aren’t with us anymore but you’ve got people like Rory Gallagher, BB King, Gary Moore, Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan.“ 

Can you let us in on the secrets of your tone? 

“My amp always, always has the reverb on 10 and if it could go any further it would! I use metal picks for an almost ‘resonator feel’ – it brightens your sound up a bit.“ 

What about pedals? 

“My grandad, who passed away in the last couple of years, left me a little bit of money to get something that I would completely adore, so I got a Klon Centaur. There’s a huge enigma around them. I’d never played one, never seen one, never been near one. And then all of a sudden, I had one. That thing’s really changed my sound!“  

Toby Lee

(Image credit: Toby Lee)

What’s in your guitar collection?

“I am kind of a Gibson guy. There’s been an association since I was about eight, but it’s only recently that it’s changed to me being a Gibson Artist. I’ve been getting into vintage gear a lot lately. I recently sold about 12 guitars to get a ‘61 SG Special and 1959 ES-125. 

“I swapped the Special for a 1976 bicentennial Gibson Firebird, which has had quite a lot of mods. It’s been refinished, it’s got triple humbuckers – all things it wouldn’t have originally had. There was a 1976 Gibson Explorer in the deal as well and that has P-90s in it which is a bit weird!“ 

We’ve heard there’s a pretty special 335. What’s the story there? 

“It’s a 1961 Custom Shop reissue. It’s amazing! I basically had this conversation with Cesar Gueikian from Gibson. We were sat in a hotel lobby having pizza and he said: 'If you could spec your absolute dream guitar what would it be?'

“As every guitarist does, I had the specs in my head in like, a little storage box right at the back. So I just listed off a huge amount of things – from the shape of the neck to the type of wood. When we went back to do some filming at the Custom Shop, I walked in and this thing was just sat there!“

  • Aquarius is out now on Lee Records.

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Ellie Rogers

Since graduating university with a degree in English, Ellie has spent the last decade working in a variety of media, marketing and live events roles. As well as being a regular contributor to Total Guitar, MusicRadar and, she currently heads up the marketing team of a mid-scale venue in the south-west of England. She started dabbling with guitars around the age of seven and has been borderline obsessed ever since. She has a particular fascination with alternate tunings, is forever hunting for the perfect slide for the smaller-handed guitarist, and derives a sadistic pleasure from bothering her drummer mates with a preference for “f**king wonky” time signatures.