Steve Lukather

caught up with the leg­endary stu­dio ace and Toto gui­tar hero for an exclusive two-part tu­to­rial – play­ing ‘out­side’ the blues box.

Guitar Techniques - - PLAY -

Steve ‘Luke’ lukather has one of the most im­pres­sive CVs in the busi­ness. He has done it all, from be­ing a hired gun on a zil­lion stu­dio ses­sions, com­ing up with mem­o­rable riffs and so­los and writ­ing killer songs, to be­ing Toto’s front­man and a suc­cess­ful solo artist. He is still go­ing strong both live and in the stu­dio.

Some peo­ple take um­brage at the suc­cess of ses­sion mu­si­cians. But the abil­ity to walk into a stu­dio, per­haps with a megas­tar in front of you de­mand­ing that you cre­ate some­thing to lift their track and make it a hit, is not only an amaz­ing feat in it­self, but shows mu­si­cal­ity of the high­est or­der. And in the face of all this suc­cess Luke re­mains one of the hum­blest and most gen­er­ous of mu­si­cians we’ve ever met.

“I’m a se­ri­ous mu­si­cian, as se­ri­ous as I can be,” he says. “There’s a mil­lion guys bet­ter than me and in this day and age you look on the in­ter­net and you’re con­stantly bar­raged with the new vir­tu­oso, who’s the fastest gun in the west. To me that’s a young man’s game and it’s great but I’m not in com­pe­ti­tion any more. I’m kind of past that; I mean I can play, and when I play live, I play live and ev­ery gui­tar player shows off a cer­tain amount. But give me Jeff Beck play­ing a melody or Dave Gil­mour play­ing some­thing any time. I re­ally like all the bril­liant guys like Petrucci, but it’s kind of daunt­ing when you’re sit­ting in front of a cam­era like this and go, ‘Okay, im­press me!’, be­cause ev­ery­body is sit­ting out there like judge, jury and ex­e­cu­tioner.

“You put any­one un­der the mi­cro­scope and you’ll find warts. You see these young kids on YouTube that have these amaz­ing chops but if you stick them in a sit­u­a­tion where they have to play with a drum­mer or they have to play in a record­ing stu­dio with a click track or any­thing, they fold up like a house of cards.”

“You look at a guy like Keith Richards, who never played a solo in his life be­sides Chuck Berry kind of stuff but he’s writ­ten some of the great­est riffs of all time. And for me that’s much more mem­o­rable than some­one who can play 64th notes at 220 bpm.”

“I once met Jimmy Page and he was re­ally sweet. He took me aside and he goes, ‘Lis­ten, man, you should be proud of be­ing a ses­sion mu­si­cian be­cause I used to be a ses­sion mu­si­cian as well.’ I al­most had a tear in my eyes hear­ing that from Jimmy Page, one of my heroes. He said ‘Don’t take any shit for that be­cause peo­ple don’t un­der­stand what that is’. That re­ally touched me.”

In the three tabbed ex­am­ples Luke played for us in Part 1 of this two-part com­pi­la­tion, he demon­strates var­i­ous ways in which you can play ‘out­side the box’ of the usual blues based ap­proaches by mix­ing things up a bit. You’ll note that he doesn’t only use the notes in the key of E, but also su­per­im­poses notes from other modes to cre­ate melodic in­ter­est. He also plays across the en­tire neck to utilise the full range of the gui­tar. Also, pay at­ten­tion to the way he mixes var­i­ous rhythms to­gether to cre­ate even more in­ter­est. NEXT MONTH We have five new and orig­i­nal blues licks from the leg­endary Robin Trower

Steve Lukather shares his price­less ex­pe­ri­ence and mu­si­cal abil­ity with GT

Steve’s six-string weapon of choice is his Ernie Ball Mu­sic Man ‘Luke’ sig­na­ture gui­tar. Over the years he has used high-gain amps like Mesa Boo­gie or Mar­shall on stage, but has set­tled with Bog­nor in re­cent times. Go for a smooth, sat­u­rated lead tone us­ing ei­ther bridge or neck pickup to em­u­late the tones . Add re­verb or a long de­lay to taste.

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