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'C"A L,ES SON WIT H 5 TEVE M 0 R 5 E

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Take a tour of Steve Morse's smokin' Southern steel plant as he
churns out a dazzling series of rippin' chicken-pickin' licks, down-
home slides and bluesy bends.
BY JIMMY BROWN

STEVEMORSE, ONEof rock's most innova-


tive and well-rounded guitarists, is con-
stantly expanding his musical horizons
through diligent study, creative experic
mention and prolificoutput. After finish-
ing recording his latest solo album,
Coast To Coast (MCA),Morse sat down
and shared some of the secrets behind
his monstrous technique. This lesson
explores but a few of the many aspects
of Steve's multi-faceted guitar style and
vast technical vocabulary.
ALTERNATE PICKING
The cornerstone of Steve's technical
arsenal is his fast, clean alternate-pick-
ing technique, which enables him to
achieve his scorching rock lead attack,
fast country popping and rhythmically
complex counterpoint. Having made up
his mind to perfect his plectrum tech-
nique at the tender age of 15, Steve was
soon winning bluegrass flatpicking con- PHOTOC PHOTO D
tests and dazzling audiences throughout
the Southeast with his extraordinary
chops.
To understand the mechanics of
Morse's pickingtechnique, we must first
take a look at his unorthodox right-hand
posture. Morse holds his pick between
his thumb, index and middle fingers
(Photo A). This three-fingered grip pro-
vides him maximum.control over the pick
and enables him to quickly revertto tap-
ping or touching harmonics with the
PHOTO E PHOTO F
indexfinger without havingto re-position
his hand. Notehowhe rests his pinky on
the front of the guitar. Anchoring his I don't have to work as hard to get a problem. That helps keep me from get-
pinkythis way provideshis picking hand good sound. Thus, I tend to become lazy ting bored. I do, however, tend to fall
with greater stability anda close point of and rely on the amp, I've found that if I back on certain routine warmup exercis-
reference.Steveoften uses his pinky for practice that way all the time, I don't es, especially when I'm standing around,
volume or tone swells (Photos B and C) sound as good when I play clean. That's waiting with fTlYguitar during a sound-
and for flicking the pickup selector why I always do a certain amount of prac- check with my volume turned down."
switches on his Gustom-designedErnie ticing with either a clean sound or no SCAlES/ARPEGGIOS
Ball/Music Man Steve Morse guitar'. amplification." To keep his picking chops in top form,
Palmmutingis also an integralaspect Morse is very disciplined about prac- Morse constantly practices scales and
of Morse's right-handtechniq(je. Muting ticing, believing that good technique is arpeggios. "I definitely feel their benefi-
is what enables the DixiedemOnto pick an essential part of developing and cial effects on my overall speed and
fast, squeaky-cleanruns without annoy- expressing musical ideas. To avoid bore- ease of execution." Steve backed up his
ing string noise. Photo D shows Steve's dom and to keep his chops fresh, he words by systematically tearing through
right-handmuting posture. Note how the usually varies his practice regimen dai- the seven diatonic modes of the A major
heel of his palm coversalFsixstrings. ly. "I tend to get bored with mechanical scale (Fig. 1). Beginning each mode with
"Practicingthrough a loud, distorted practice, so I change my practice rou- the index finger on the 6th string, he
.0
1;
~
<)
amp helps remind me of the necessity
of muting," Steve says. "I've noticed,
tine all the time. One thing I'll often do
is focus on a particular weakness and
ascended and descended two octaves
across all six strings in a single posi-
~

~ however,that when I play with distortion, compose an exercise that will attack the tion, using strict alternate picking. ".1nor-
<)

MAY 1992/GUITAR WORLD 37

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2421421421421 2'41241341342412

Beginning
onringfinger'

3123124124131343 1314214213213

FIGURE3 F MAJOR SCALE:ASCENDING SEXTUPLET SEQUENCE

shi~
n
.' J
n 3
shift
n 3 3
shi~
n 3 3
shift
n
/'

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412412 124134124124 1241241341341241241

FIGURE 5 D MAJOR~ENTATONIC "BOX" PATTERNS

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12 MAY 1992jGUITAR WORLD


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- Ig6~e ~1.-is arippil1'plueslickcSteve --.


ays in,the keyof F, simllarto one heard:
UCutto The Chase" (Souiherr, Steel).~'
lis example sh9wcasessey~ralof his, -
Idemark soloing maneuvers: Note the',
,e ofchromaticpass' . - &ars':2.
Id3):wideinter',<allic - - Ip a(3) , rein- ,
3(2) 4-
. 'forced :b~ndirig-T--r !1) and a wicked'
vibrato (bar4). , . ,d "" ,'- ,
:IGURE 10
N,C. , $teve conclud .:, esson"withan'
(A) _xample ina completely different vein-
:-neoclassicalrock.Figure ,1.2 depicts a
.'rapid-fire arpeggio exercise he' performs
full in the key of A minor:' Steve ,used' a sim-
T 3 t f\IVV\/V\. lull
Ilar exercise as the basis forthe melody
I
8
,h,ling,:
.'
1
,,- ,OJ
1 3 (2)
' . , ~ '. 7

1 3 2 2
, 7 93 6
6--5
to "Tumeni Notes"(High'Tension Wires).
The example further illustrates Morse's
harmonic and rhythmic sophistication
and broad stylistic range~ .I've included
IGURE 11
Fast Shuffle Feel
picking strokes above the' tablature to
guide you. Practice this exercise slowly

~
with a metronome until you can play
every note cleanly and with convinction.
These are but a few of the many play-
ing techniques in Steve's arsenal. For
full ,-"c, 3 ':', 3'::"", ':,'j: ."',,, more information about his multi-faceted
f f /V\JVV\. 1S . IV\I\/V\. guitar style and compositional approach,
I\: check out his three instructional videos:
17 15 1113141S
B
, ling,:
I~
4 (3,2,1)
(1B) I
1
16131413:71613141131413
432J43214
'IJ~' Power Lines (REH),Steve Morse With
1S
The Steve Morse Band (DCI)and The
123'31..23A2,,3
131413 -11 (1
,
,

EssentialSteve Morse(DCI).. .
IGURE 12 ARPEGGIO EXERCISE

picking: t'"I V t'"I V ele,

81 8 11 12 8 B 18 7 .'

..
T 18 . 18 18 9
I , ., 9
.
B 11 ,".

th, fing,: 3 123 4 1 4 3 4

(Am)

414342414142

GUITAR WORLD/MAY 1992

'. -'--"'._._~-
'-'-' , ~-- .a

. Igure.l1 is arippin'blueslick"Steve_,
-plays in,the keyof F,sfmilar toone'heard ,;,'
in UCutTo The Chase"(Souihern SteeO.~
his example shpwcases.severalof pis
rademark soloing mane' -'-.-,' -- ethe'
Iseofchror:natic passi ar.~r,2"
3(2) 4
Ind3);wideinte' '---" ar, ,'rein-':
f6rced;b~ndirigc;( and a wicked -
vibrato (bar 4). , ' . ,,-..,
FIGURE 10
N,C. ,teve conclude esson, with
(A) xample ina completely different vein-
eoclassical rock. :Figure ,12 depicts a
3pid-fire arpeggio exercise he peiforms
full n the key of A minor:'Ste\(eused' a sim-
IVVV\/V\.
ilar exercise as the basis foithe melody
to "Tumeni Notes" (High Tension Wires).
The example further illustrates Morse's
IA flng.: 1 1 3 (2) 1 3
harmonic and rhythmic sophistication
FIGURE11
,and broad stylistic range~ I've included
Fast Shuffle Feel
-picking strokes above the tablature to
guide you. Practice this exercise slowly
with a metronome until you can play
every note cleanly and with convinction.
These are but a few of the many play-
3
ing techniques in Steve's arsenal. For
full
more information about his multi-faceted
NV\JV\.
guitar style and compositional approach,
check out his three instructional videos:
, Power Lines (REH), Steve Morse With
Lh,fing.: 4 (3.2,1) The Steve Morse Band (DCI) and The
FIGURE12 ARPEGGIO EXERCISE
~ential Steve Morse (D~I): .

N.C. (Am)

picking:

I.h, fing.:

(Am)

414342414142

4 0
GUITAR WORLD/MAY 1992

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