What Strings Do You Use? STEVE MORSE

We ask a fa­mous gui­tarist all those lit­tle ques­tions you re­ally do want the an­swers to. This month, Dixie Dregs and cur­rent Deep Pur­ple ax­e­man, the multi-tal­ented Steve Morse.

Guitar Techniques - - Intro - Steve Morse’s band Fly­ing Col­ors, fea­tur­ing Neal Morse (key­boards), Mike Port­noy (drums), David LaRue (bass) and Casey McPher­son (lead vo­cals, gui­tar), record on Mas­cot La­bel Group/ Mu­sic The­o­ries Record­ings. Visit www.fly­ing­col­orsmu­sic.com. Steve will be

GT: Do you have a type of pick that you can’t live with­out?

sM: Yes, i use ernie Ball medium picks. i don’t have my mi­crom­e­ter with me, it’s in my shop at home, but they are roughly the same as Fen­der medi­ums. i used to use very heavy Fend­ers, then ny­lon Dun­lops turned side­ways to get the lit­tle grip sur­face to strike the strings. Ba­si­cally, what­ever you’re used to play­ing be­comes the style you can’t live with­out!

GT: If you had to give up all your ped­als but three, what would they be, and why?

sM: i pretty much did do that. right now it’s two tc elec­tronic Flash­back de­lays (with my ‘toneprint’ pre­set loaded in), and a Kee­ley com­pres­sor. the first de­lay is a long slap de­lay, which is con­trolled by an ernie Ball vol­ume pedal into the ‘wet only’ amp. the dry amp is al­ways on. When i want a lit­tle or a lot of de­lay, i just push down the pedal, the de­lay is al­ways go­ing, but only heard when i push the vol­ume pedal down. the other de­lay is at the short­est set­ting and func­tions more as a cho­rus, so the slightly de­layed or mod­u­lated sound is also only go­ing through the ‘wet’ amp. the com­pres­sor pedal is the only one that is be­tween the gui­tar and the amp, used for the coun­try/blue­grass stuff on the clean amp set­ting.

GT: Do you play another in­stru­ment well enough to be in a band? If so what, and have you ever done it?

sM: i’ve played bass in a mu­si­cal pro­duc­tion while i was in col­lege, and also was a sub­sti­tute in a hard-work­ing cover band while my friend (the orig­i­nal bass player) tommy was sick and in the hos­pi­tal. it is a very good idea for gui­tarists to learn to play sim­ply and re­li­ably, and bass is a great start for that, un­less you’re play­ing Dave Larue’s parts (Dixie Dregs, Joe sa­tri­ani, John Petrucci, Fly­ing col­ors, etc).

GT: If a mu­sic chart were put in front of you, could you read it?

sM: Yes, i did go to a mu­sic univer­sity. But, i wouldn’t be a fast enough sight reader to make it on a tV live band, or a Broad­way pro­duc­tion with­out look­ing at all the hard parts first. Back in the day, i could read, be­cause i had to, and prac­ticed it. You use it or lose it to some ex­tent!

GT: Do gui­tar ca­bles re­ally make a dif­fer­ence? What make are yours?

sM: i have tested a num­ber of them, and yes, they do make a dif­fer­ence. Par­tic­u­larly the low ca­pac­i­tance ca­bles, of­fered as a high-end prod­uct. i per­son­ally like the old ernie Ball ca­bles that they don’t make any more with the plug at one end that mutes the cord un­til you plug it in. i have some re­place­ments that are very high-tech, made in Ger­many, that we use with Pur­ple. i al­ways pre­fer what i’m used to, which are the old, typ­i­cal co-ax ca­bles, be­cause the gui­tar amps were voiced for that sound. to my ears, many of the low-ca­pac­i­tance ca­bles sound too bright, and there’s the loss of some fat­ness down low.

GT: Is there any­one’s play­ing (past or present) that you’re slightly jeal­ous of, and why?

sM: Where do i start? a while back i was on­stage with Joe Bonamassa, Paul Gil­bert, steve Vai, al­bert Lee, Blues sara­ceno and that’s a great start! se­ri­ously, look in almost any di­rec­tion, and we’ll see amaz­ing peo­ple, each with their own way of play­ing. For in­stance, yes, i’m slightly jeal­ous of how eas­ily John Petrucci can play some of the lines that he and Jor­dan rudess write to­gether; or i’m slightly jeal­ous of how eas­ily Pat Metheny can im­pro­vise over any­thing and make sound heav­enly; or... Bot­tom line: Jeal­ousy is no good for our lives, but do ap­pre­ci­ate the fact that ev­ery player has a unique niche that they can do like no other.

GT: Your house/stu­dio is burn­ing down: which gui­tar do you sal­vage, and why?

sM: My Musicman sig­na­ture model, se­rial num­ber 1. it has al­ways been with me at ev­ery gig since the 80s and has that spe­cial ‘mojo’. it has lots of miles on it and has been re­fret­ted nine or 10 times since i saw it be­ing built.

GT: What’s your favourite amp and how do you set it?

sM: it’s an enGL sig­na­ture amp be­cause they made it like i wanted it. the first two chan­nels are the ‘meat and pota­toes’ of the sound, and if you put ev­ery dial on about 6, it will sound great with any gui­tar. chan­nel 3 is much more com­pli­cated, and i use that for get­ting a solo to stand out with­out get­ting louder, by em­pha­sis­ing dif­fer­ent midrange com­po­nents.

GT: What kind of ac­tion do you have on your guitars - any par­tic­u­lar quirks etc?

sM: We keep my elec­tric guitars pretty easy to play, ac­tion wise. so, if i play slide i have to keep a light touch to keep it from fret­ting out.

GT: What strings do you use – make, gauge and why?

sM: i use an ernie Ball cus­tom set: 10,13,16,26,32,42 in stan­dard tun­ing. i love the company and its prod­ucts be­cause they are con­sis­tent and re­li­able.

Steve Morse with sig­na­ture Mu­sic Man gui­tar

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