What do Will Lee, Leland Sklar, and Bunny Brunel all have in common? Besides being bassists, they all use Hipshot Bass Extender keys, a nifty device that drops the E to a D with precision, and dare I say it, gusto (hey, what do John the Divine, Vlad the Impaler, and William the Conqueror all have in common? The same middle name!).
Besides producing cool devices like the extender, Hipshot, is also is the source for the Will Ray Stealth Slide Ring, B-Bender Device, and the two videos that demonstrate them. Using the ever-popular slogan “Get Bent with Will!”, this niche-market company is selling Stealth Slide Technique, a video that demonstrates Will’s Earth-rattling technique using his own, patented, mini-slide ring (one is included with the video).
“This video can really help your slide technique in general,” Will relates. “[It shows] some basics, as well as advanced slide techniques, and it shows how to incorporate a mini-slide into your regular playing,” (the master demonstrates with a nasty faux-pedal steel intro off the five chord, interpolating with great delicacy a few slide glissandos using his own ring, which never goes far from the left hand).
Hipshot is also using Will’s improved version of their own B-Bender, which attaches to any guitar with a minimum of modification and no routing (unlike my beloved Parsons-White, which requires a whole wood shop just to get onto your axe). The Will Ray model additionally features B or E bending, no drop D on the bass E string, and the option of a special detent with a setting at the half-step (one half note, that is, if the entire bend is a whole note), enabling the player to not only achieve a smooth pedal steel effect over chords, but a more dynamic voicing by exaggerating the half and whole-steps. Pretty nifty, and Will showed me how the precision machining makes this baby work, with real fine adjustments that can be done right on stage. “This just makes the whole concept of bending a lot easier,” smiles Mr. Ray. “And Hipshot has been great about helping get the project out into the real world.” The video B-Bender Mania features Will in a variety of situations using the bender (any bender will indeed be useful in this instance) to create swells, lush bends up to a country third and neat intro and outro licks, perfect for country or blues. Very impressive, and available through dealers, or Hipshot, at (607) 532-9404 or (800)262-5630; you can also write to Hipshot Products, 8248 State Route 96, Interlaken, NY 14847.
Will Ray with the LeopardCaster replete with his namesake B-Bender from Hipshot and Fender Custom shop. Photo: Stephen Patt.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Jan. ’97 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.