Conversation Piece - Q&A with Steve - January 3, 2005

Questions are in white
Answers are in purple

There have been so many submissions that we are currently taking a pause in collecting questions.

FROM: Shawn Kerber

Guild was supposed to make a "Steve Morse Model" using my old frankenstein tele/strat as a template. The made a couple of prototypes and sold them, against our agreement at the NAMM show, I think. I didn't choose to work with them any more after that, and shortly began trying again with MusicMan. That guitar sounds like one of the two prototypes I saw and played. Wasn't my actual guitar, though, since I returned it to them with a list of changes needed, and we didn't see eye to eye.

FROM: Martin Cook
I see from ads in the guitar press that Ernie Ball has licensed some budget models of the Musicman Range, how would you feel about the Steve Morse Musicman being licensed for budget production?

The whole appeal of having the guitar made by Ernie Ball is that it would be virtually handmade, and I could take one off the shelf in any music store that carried them and go play a gig with it. They all should be that good. The most I've ever had to do to any that I've looked at or signed around the World was to quickly adjust the height of the pickups with a screwdriver. I want them all to be that way!

FROM: Steve
First of all, I am a huge fan of yours. One of my favorite pieces by you is the version of Joy To the World you did on Merry Aximus. I also love Night of the Living Dregs!

I know you are left handed playing righty. I ask this question for myself and the hundreds of other leftys playing righty guitars. There seems to be this plateau that most of us LPR's hit playing sixteenth notes at around 100 - 108 bpm. Did you experience any such plateau? If so, how did you get through it.

I know you mention that you had to work extra hard on your right hand technique. I feel like I've worked extra hard on mine but have not really achieved the kind of results I would have liked. I'm playing 30+ years and teach guitar professionaly. I'm a very serious player.

Do you have any words of advice specifically for the lefty playing righty in the area of right hand picking technique?

One technique is to try to isolate the movement that is slowing you down. I would bet it's the downstroke on one string leading to the upstroke on the adjacent string, (which is in the opposite direction to the just completed picking stroke). Practice that move several minutes a day, repeating it with different combinations of difficult string changes.

Also, playing a 1/8th note followed by two 1/16th notes is a good way to improve your speed, because you're always changing resolution and it requires more concentration and precision, (the main ingredients to learning accurate speed playing). Of course, play most of the time in perfect time, and a small part of the time pushing yourself and accepting some minor mistakes in order to teach your muscles and reflexes to play faster tempos. Don't forget to end with perfectly played versions in whatever tempo it takes to nail every note.

FROM: "Dark Velizar"
Hello Steve,my favorite guitarist on the whole wide world, I want to ask you somethin'. I cannot dicide which DVD of yours can buy. I need something tha I can learn from. I only have the purples videos,a lots of them where you are, but I want to see your tricks and tips. Only what I don't have is your guitare but I even hav the pick you throw at the concert in Belgrade last year, and i must say abouth that concert that it was a kickass thing. I cought the pick in the air, and now i have it framed on the wall. I was very inspirated by that. On fortunetly I was able to buy your guitar model, i had money but they raised the price. I was so mad and furies. And now I have to seatle down with an Fender Guitar - Eric Clapton model. At the end, i wish to say that you are the sweetest person that i know in the music world.Bye!!! :) P.S. Write back please.

thanks for your letter......I actually don't know if they instructional stuff by DCI ever got put out in DVD form. So, for now, I only know of several DVDs for sale. Deep Purple, Steve Morse, (with Dregs also), Living Loud, Dixie Dregs.

FROM: "Ct"
Hello- Most songwriters tell you that they have a "bag of tricks" or "tools of the trade" that they will refer to when the song stops writing itself and the inspiration is uninspired .When your writing your instrumentals , What does your "tool box" consist of ? Examples: Hmmm...I need a new section at this point in the song ... - I'll try : .... Relative Minor - Riff Turnaround - Key Change - Half Time/Double Time - Time Signature Change - Groove Change - Drums &Bass Break - Add a Harmony to the Main Riff - Call &Answer - What Would God Do - I Haven't Eaten In 10 Hours - Try a Previously Written Unused Riff From The Vault.

interesting........and you've named a bunch to work from. In my case, I really leave it alone if I don't hear something when I close my eyes at the end of playing what I already have. I usually hear something that inspires me to go on. Now, that may result in some directions that could be analyzed after the fact to include, key changes, adding extra melodies, half time, variations on previous theme, etc. But the most typical result will generally have quite a different content than the part that I had, try to hear something deep in your mind, and come back later if you don't hear it then.

If I wrote music for a living I suppose I would have to get more business-like about it, but I haven't had that pressure.

FROM: Tom Beudeker
I am a Dutch airline pilot and heard that you were on our KLM Boeing737 flight deck during the flight from St. Petersburg to Amsterdam. Wish I was the pilot on that flight! I am yr fan since The Introduction. Two questions:

1. Why do you perform your classical acoustic work on this electronic sounding Buscarino or similar and not on a proper Ramirez or something. Same goes for the steel strings: why not on a real acoustic sounding Martin D45?

2. Have you and the Dixie Dregs ever listened to a Dutch group called Focus? Their famous song Hocus Pocus would be great to cover on a live show, especially with the violin taking care of the jodel parts. Their guitarist Jan Akkerman was voted the best guitarist in the world by Melody Maker back in the '70's.

thanks for your letter. We always enjoy flying on your airline, by the way. I am quite familiar with that song by Focus, and I used to play it as a cover quite a bit. It's a fun tune, and Jan Akkerman caught my attention with all the cool stuff he came up with.

I studied with some of the best guitarists in the World, and when it comes to classical guitar, after playing with Manuel Barrueco, I can't really imagine trying to play a Ramirez in the same league as guys like him, so I use a hybrid guitar to bridge the gap between a serious electric guitar player and a real classical guitar player like Manuel. Same with steel string I suppose............

FROM: Alessandra St. John
I've been following your music for a number of years, and play guitar myself (you signed one of mine years ago in an Irving Texas guitar clinic). While I am fascinated by your skill and the incredible tones you can pull out of 6 strings, I also know that you are a pilot.

I just received my private license this summer, and I'm currently working on my instrument and commercial rating, and heading toward my CFI certificate.

I was wondering if you still find time to fly general aviation for pleasure? I know that you flew for the airlines awhile. Even with your busy schedule, can you still get some cockpit time in something other than commercial or whatever you fly to the gigs in? What's your favorite plane to fly?

Stay out of the trees and TFR's!

Congrats on your ticket, and good luck with your additional ratings. At my home I fly almost every day. I fly aerobatics, C-180, C-310, and a self launching sailplane. Lately I like the sailplane the most, even though it is the most trouble to get set up and started, ( inverted 2 stroke tucked into the rear fuselage is prone to flooding and fouling plugs). It's always been a pleasure to get up in the air and find peace and beauty.......or thunderstorms and turbulence........either way, it's better than opening up bills on the ground.

FROM: "Kentucky fan"
Steve you are a farmer, so what kind of truck do you drive? Cummins or Powerstroke? I drive 99 F-250 4x4 powerstroke diesel 6 speed. What does your farming consist of?

Before divorce 1.0, I had a great F-350 diesel dually, which never gave me a problem except one glowplug relay, i think. Now I have 5 kids from 3 families, work on the road all the time, and have someone else cut my hay. I still have a couple of tractors for mostly maintenance, and my hayman does round and square bales. I used to have New Holland square baler, rake, tedder, and haybine.

Your truck sounds perfect for my remote land out West, though..... Oh yeah...I have a 99 F-150 ex. cab. for the moment.

FROM: Matty
I've only heard/seen you play once, with Deep Purple in Vancouver. Why do you have your cabinets stacked on their sides?

To disperse the sound more across the stage. As you know, when you get off axis with guitar cabinets, the apparent volume changes quite a bit, so I like to have the cabs facing as many directions as possible.

FROM: Cesar Mari
I'm writing to you to comment a little of your piece "Clear Memories". I like it very much; it has a feeling that really makes me think of good moments, beautiful details of life. Could you tell how you got inspired to compose this piece? What things do you think of when playing Clear Memories?

Thank you, and good luck in your career...

I was friends with Claire Ponty, an amazing pianist, and heard that she was doing a sort of new age album/ So the first version of that was originally for a demo to her producer. After I found out that the album would be totally different, I kept it in the back of my head. Later, I pulled it out of the computer and started reworking it for my solo album. I always loved the feel of it, since it is so relaxed and melodic. The title is a play on her name.

FROM: Steve Horvath
I guess with the way things are going presently with 3 Hurricanes in one month, and more on the way, my question is regarding Steve's family, property, and planes - not to diminish any damage that has happened to other Floridians and the surrounding states. Does he still consider Florida a good move?

The stuff on my property that was built according to code suffered no major damage, the new house not even a shingle missing. The old guest house, another story with a tree through it........ I have spent most of every day trying to rebuild my barn/hangar which is old and not of great design. That got damaged with no coverage by the insurance company for hurricane.

The move was deliberately to this area to avoid the brunt of any hurricanes. Yes, I think it was a good move, still. Besides, my kids are all based here and I have no choice!

FROM: John Kelley
Just caught you with Deep Purple in Boston and I was very pleasantly surprised, maybe even a little shocked, at how great the band sounded. Wow. Fantastic show.

What are you plans for your next recordings? Just a suggestion: how about doing an album of "duets" with other cool guitarists? I can imagine a Celtic acoustic tune with Martin Barre, a Kansas City blues boogie with Major Brown, a metal prog rocker with John Petrucci. Maybe you could tell me who you'd like to play with.

Very interesting idea, actually. John Petrucci and I did start work on a project some time ago, and ever since then, we've both been on long tour schedules and raising kids the rest of the time...........


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