View Full Version : Morse Questions

05-24-2002, 04:04 AM
"The main problem with alternate picking comes when you are picking a note in the opposite direction of the next string that youīre going to. For instance, if your last note was a downstroke on the G string, and your next note is an upstroke on the D string, then your pick has to travel a more complicated path than if you are picking up on G and down on D. What to do?"

Since you are the resident expert on Morse, I would like you to give me some clarification here.

In my mind the picking path is less complicated when playing inside two adjacent strings ( which is how I interpret the above "downstroke on the G string, and your next note is an upstroke on the D"). To me this is really not cross picking, it is alternating picking but of the 'easy variety'.

I think the path is more complicated when you are picking a downstroke on the g string and an upstroke on the b string, this is true cross picking and to me this is more difficult to play.

In general when I am into alternating picking masochism, I play these type of exercises both from the inside (easy) and from the outside (hard).

Is this article just worded incorrectly or am I missing somthing?

05-24-2002, 10:06 AM
Hi James.

That is a good question. I might call that explanation in this article ( the part you quoted ) a matter of opinion, or a matter of experience. Or "complicated" might be the wrong word, or a confusing one in this context.

The thing is, in my experience most people tend to use "outside picking". I did so myself when I started working on this, especially when doing the usual three-note-per-string exercises, like this one:

Most people tend to start this with a downstroke ( like in the first bar ). Of course, there are many players who do the "right thing" and practise by starting with a downstroke one time and an upstroke the next time, like you said. I eventually started to practise it that way, too.
But by doing these kind of exercises, one gets used to handling two notes on adjacent strings with outside picking. Once you ask them to play it with inside picking ( like in bar 2 ), they usually do have difficulties with that, simply because theyīre not used to it.
It most likely would be "easier" ( cuz there would be less movement of the right hand involved ) to start this lick ( which is a common example of a picking exercise ) with an upstroke. So its a difficult thing for them ( I know, cause it was for me ) to switch to the inside picking.

Steve is someone who has about 6 million exercises focussing on little things like this, making things easier by changing one little thing. And often, he works on things that most players donīt ever pay attention to.
I agree to you: outside picking is a bit more difficult when playing notes on two adjacent strings, but to most players, it seems to be more difficult to use inside picking simply because theyīre not used to it.

Hope this cleared it up
Warm regards

05-24-2002, 10:42 AM
a litte off topic

That tumini lick is very nice. I tried to play it.... i just noticed i cant play that kinda arpeggios with alternate picking.

05-24-2002, 11:31 AM
i just noticed i cant play that kinda arpeggios with alternate picking.
Hi TaikaJim,

If I do recognise that I have a problem like this I split up the exercise into smaller units.

If the problem is your picking hand just practice the picking pattern without fretting the notes (mute the strings with your left hand). The main pattern of the tumeni lick looks like this:

down - up on hight e string
down on b string
up on g string
down on b string
up on e string

Focus on this picking pattern until you get used to it. Examine what you are doing with your picking hand - try it very slow at first - then increase the tempo (it really doesn't have to be 208 ;) - finally add say just the Am arpeggio to the exercise and focus on the coordination of left and right hand. Then gradually work through the entire example.

Hope this helps,


05-24-2002, 11:39 AM
Thanks for the help Guni.

Alternate picking is really something i need to work on. *sigh* Thats what you get when you play funk with triads all day long.:)

05-24-2002, 12:39 PM
Hi Guni,

Great reply ! Thereīs nothing I could add. I agree that it is good to focus on ONE thing at a time, like i.e. first getting the picking movement down, than to add the notes. ( Especially since the arps in the "Tumeni"-intro are not exactly easy ).
I tend to use three fingers ( Thumb, index, middle ) to hold the pick when playing stuff like that ( as opposed to using just thumb and index ), cuz I feel I have more control that way...
And one of the best exercises to practise that alternate picking on adjacent strings, to me, was the B-Part of "Tumeni Notes", those clean arpeggios on the low strings... that really helped me to improve...
I usually make my students focus on alternate picking, so right from the beginning, theyīre using alternate picking on adjacent strings. I feel that this is a good fundament to build on. So if they wanna get into things like economy- or sweep-picking, itīs not that much of a change, or rather easier to get used to because theyīve used strict alternate picking all the time. I had to learn how to do that after I had been playing for a while already, so it was more difficult...
Gee, I sm SO getting long-winded again, huh ? ;)
Warm regards

05-24-2002, 01:45 PM
With my students I focus on alternate picking too. I mean first you have to walk before you run. Furthermore, I always try to get the message accross that sweeping is an extension to a good alternate picking technique. Well, for sure this leaves room for discussion ....... I just find it odd when a solo is played based on a technique and on the way fingerings work best on the guitar ....

Back to the Tumeni exercise.

Another thing I'd like to mention is that in my opinion the most important aspect is that you think about adapting the idea to your own playing - to your own style. Eric, you mention this in the article but I just want to point that out again.

some thoughts:

- try a pull off from the first note on the hight e-string.
- the picking pattern in Tumeni is applied to two Am positions (8th and 5th position). There's another inversion of Am we can apply this to.

Here it is:


Or let's apply the basic picking pattern to some other chord progressions: example II-V-I in C:


There's a hell lot more you can get out of such an exercise.


05-24-2002, 02:57 PM
Hey Guni,

great exercises and a perfect addition to my article.
I did "implant" that technique into my style, and it really helped me a lot ( in "99 Ways To Pick" I mention that too, and I put an MP3-example from "Atlanta Dawn" in there, where I play an EMinor Arp on the high E-, B- and G-string with alternate picking ).
Somy of my students were wondering why I would play it that way when I just could use economy- or sweep-picking...
I usually demonstrate the sound difference, because it does sound different. Also, as I mentioned before, I believe that the alternate-picking version is more easily to play in time... as Morse said, sweeping is a cool technique, but sometimes, especially live or when it gets to high speed, it tends to lack a bit of timing. He compared that to Jerry Lee Lewis sliding his hands up and down the keys of his piano.
Steve can sweep-pick ( a few years ago he said he never really tried, these days he sometimes uses it ), but he more often plays things like the examples above or in the article with alternate picking.
And, adding to your comment of including it into your own style, it works best if you combine it with other things. Itīs ok to focus on the alternate-picking for a while to learn and practise it, but eventually you should combine it with other techniques / approaches... thatīs how you add variety and "make it breathe".
Vinnie Moore, Steve, Steve Vai, Tony MacAlpine, Frank Gambale ( and Iīm only listing some shredders, there are others from other styles too ) all combine sweeping, alternate picking and legato-playing and switch from one to the other, thereby getting many different sounds...
Warm regards

NP: Michael Hedges- Aerial Boundaries

05-24-2002, 03:00 PM
Eric, I agree 100%

(I just read through this entire thread again - pretty funny how it evolved .....)

05-24-2002, 03:01 PM
I guess I started with the easy way first. When I first started playing (in 1970 or 1971) I didn't have a teacher or any direction so I taught myself. There was no one to tell me that picking all down strokes was incorrect. After reading Guitar Player articles I became aware that alternating picking was the correct method.
This made it much easier to cop those elusive Blackmore riffs (1973 era).
So I began making up exercises using inside picking because it was easier. It wasn't until later that I realized that I should try both, so for me it was much harder to play outside picking than inside.
I guess since guys like you and Morse had teachers from the beginning you started with outside alternating picking.


05-24-2002, 03:22 PM

thanks for telling us about your beginnings... after all, many people today take all those magazines, videos, instructional- and TAB books and sites for granted, while in the 70s and early 80īs, there was hardly anything like that around.

Well, neither me nor Morse had teachers in the beginning. I started teaching myself for a while, based on watching other players, reading interviews etc. Then someone said to me something like "Eddie Van Halen does a whole lot of stuff with legato... he does way more with the left hand than he does with the right"...
So there I went, practising pretty much nothing else than legato, playing hammer onīs and pull offīs all day long. Donīt get me wrong, it had itīs benefits and to this day, I benefit from that, since I use it quite a bit and can do a lot of things with that technique ( thanks to Brett Garsed, who helped me take it up another notch )...
But when it came to alternate-picking, I had NO abilities whatsoever, simply because I never worked on it. Then I got into players like Paul Gilbert ( who was in Racer X back then, it was before his time with Mr. Big ), and I wanted to get into that style of playing a bit more.
One day I found this little add by the Musicianīs Institute, which featured a picking exercise by Paul. It was one of his standard licks / exercises, similar to the one I posted above, starting with a downstroke.
So I practised that for a gazillion hours or so, and also used a bunch of three-note-per string-licks. That way, I kinda focussed on outside picking. Later, at the MI I was introduced to a LOT of inside-picking exercises and worked on that, too, which was very difficult in the beginning ( just to get used to it... )
And I know that a lot of players from my generation went that way, too. So I guess thatīs why I consider outside picking to be easier... just because it has become a common thing to use for a while...
Warm regards

05-24-2002, 03:38 PM
Sorry if I mis-characterized you or Steve, you guys seem to have such a good handle on the AP thing that I assumed that you were both schooled from the beginning. I have alway felt like my students have had a much better beginning that I did since they had the benefit of learning from my mistakes. I also felt a little jealous of those who could afford a Guitar teacher from the time they were young. Enough of that...

Where can I get more of Bret Garsed's music, I saw him with Nelson and he knocked me down. I have heard some stuff he did ith Shawn Lane (MVP? I actually liked his playing more than I liked Shawns, Shawn sounds like a video game it is just so ridiculously fast), and seen some of his video ( I would like that too). He has a style derived from Holdsworth without being so completely 'outside' (tonality wise).
I also heard of a band he had called "Quid Pro Quo".
Do you have any Ideas where I can find some of this stuff?

05-26-2002, 12:45 AM

no problem, no mis-characterizing done neither. The biography on my site is not really mentioning much about my beginnings and whether I was taking lessons or anything.
And it took me quite a while to figure out the AP-thing :D

About Brett Garsed:

First of all, check out this site at MP3.com:

Brett @ MP3 (http://artists.mp3s.com/artists/138/brett_garsed.html)
There you can download several instrumental demos by Brett ( plus one vocal-tune ), which sound great and showcase his playing and melodic sense.
There once were about 10 tracks available for free download, I dunno why those arenīt there anymore.
You can download the same tracks plus 2 or 3 more HERE (http://www.mp3.com.au/artist.asp?id=1848)
( Thatīs the australian version of MP3.com, so itīs legal, too )

With fellow MI-instructor TJ Helmerich ( another master of 8 finger tapping ), he did several albums under the band name Garsed / Helmerich...
The first one is called "Quid pro Quo", which is my favorite Garsed / Helmerich album, since it merges many different styles and showcases those guys unique talents. ( By the way, in his video, Brett jammed on a few of the songs from "Quid Pro Quo"... the song he improvises on right in the beginning is called "A Musical Oasis Awaits Us" )I think the album may be mailordered from his official site, which is HERE (http://www.brettgarsed.com)
You could email Brett or his webmaster to ask how to purchase "Quid Pro Quo".

Their second album was really good too, I lost my CD though, itīs hard to find these days. Their third album was a bit .. well... weirder, more experimental. Itīs called "Under The Lash Of Gravity". You can get that at Guitar9.com or at MP3.com ( Links are at the Discography of Brettīs site ). Audio files from that album are to be found HERE (http://artists.mp3s.com/artists/77/garsed__helmerich.html)

At that official site, you can also download Brettīs early instrumental demos, an unaccompanied solo from the Nelson-tour plus two recent live tracks at his site, just click
HERE (http://www.brettgarsed.com/audio.html)

I really recommend both "Quid pro Quo" and those demos at MP3.com. I also just got "Uncle Moeīs Space Ranch", which is Brettīs new album, recorded with TJ Helmerich, Scott Kinse, Dennis Chambers and Gary Willis. Havenīt had a chance to sit down and listen to it yet, but the drummer of my band definitely recommends it if you like fusion and GREAT playing.

I did like the "Centrifugal Funk" ( with Gambale & Lane ) album, and I did too enjoy Brettīs leads the most. His leads on "So What" are mind-boggling.
Before I forget, of course Brett also was the guitarist of John Farnhamīs band for a long time ( he can be heard in Johnīs biggest hit "Youīre The Voice", and can also be seen in the video ). I believe that it might not be too hard to get some of Johnīs albums in the States... you can look up which one Brett played on at Brettīs site ( Discography )

OK, lots of stuff for you to check out, I hope youīll find something youīll like...
Warm regards

05-29-2002, 04:47 PM
First of all, I'm new here (I guess we all are;) ). This seems like a cool place to exchange ideas. Also I was impressed by Eric V's articles on Steve Morse's style; such an overview has been long overdue! Good job!

Now my contribution to this topic. Here is a little tip that has helped me when I'm practicing a picking lick and my right hand feels sluggish at a certain point. Play the phrase at a slow tempo using nothing but upstrokes for a minuite or two, without stopping. Obviously, you'll want to pick an appropriate tempo that will allow this. I've heard this called "handicapping". After a brief rest, resume playing the phrase with alternate picking at the speed where you noticed the "sluggishness" and you should see some progress.

Give it a shot.:)

05-29-2002, 05:50 PM
Hi !
First of all, thanks a lot for your comments regarding the Morse-trilogy. Part III should be available soon.

Now regarding your picking-idea...
Well, itīs a huge co-incidence since this is something that Steve uses and suggests himself sometimes. He once said that, when working on picking and lacking accuracy, you should for a while play scale patterns with all upstrokes.
This might feel awkward, but it can be a big help....

Thanks for bringing that up !
Warm regards

05-30-2002, 11:20 PM
OK, so now I need to add inside, outside all up, all down ?
Screw it, maybe I should just toss the pick and use my fingers and start playing flamenco style like Steidel!

05-30-2002, 11:23 PM
Originally posted by szulc
OK, so now I need to add inside, outside all up, all down ?
Screw it, maybe I should just toss the pick and use my fingers and start playing flamenco style like Steidel!

Uhmmm... did I mention economy-picking, sweep-picking and pick/legato-combinations yet ? :D

I guess it shows what I drilled myself with at MI... ;)

By the way, havenīt had a chnce to listen to Steidl yet...

Warm regards

05-31-2002, 01:34 AM
Hehe...I believe Steidl uses a pick for most of his stuff too.;)

05-31-2002, 02:07 AM
I have a difficult time believing some of the stuff on "psycho acoustic overature " is not flamenco style.
If not, this guy is one of the fastest humans on earth with a pick, amazing especially considering this is done on a nylon string!

It is like the olympics!
You can only listen to so much of this kind of thing.

At some point most people are going to prefer Paul Desmond (Alto Sax with Brubek) or Carlos Santana or David Gilmour.

If you are ever getting cocky with your prowess at speed listen to this Steidl or Shawn Lane (Gilbert, Morse, Moore), then you will realize that your genetics probably don't put you in this category, so learn how to play a pretty melody with emotion. Most people will relate better to this, and you are much less likely to get tendonitus.

Being in pursuit of YOUR art, is a lifetime task, a goal that will NEVER be reached. You must revel in the STRUGGLE. Most important, BE YOUR SELF, let your music speak for itself.

Practice playing smarter and with great phrasing, and speed if you want to.

Remember why you started this quest in the first place?
[it is supposed to be fun]

Then forget all that &^%$ and PLAY ! (A La Charlie Parker)

Another Long Winded one

05-31-2002, 02:25 AM
You could very well be right about Steidl being a finger player. However, somewhere in my library of guitar mags (hundreds!), I have a short article on Bernd where I believe he mentions that he uses a pick for the majority of lead stuff. I'll have to track it down and get back to you about that. This is just what I remember.

05-31-2002, 02:46 AM
It is sad, these things we have with great info and technique.
No one today cares about this stuff anymore.
I would have killed for something like Guitar for the PM in the late 70's, now I couldn't give these things away!

05-31-2002, 02:57 AM
Agreed bro! It became "Guitar For The No-Longer-Practicing Musician"!:mad: :rolleyes:

We still have the memories...and back issues.

06-03-2002, 08:44 PM
Originally posted by szulc
If not, this guy is one of the fastest humans on earth with a pick, amazing especially considering this is done on a nylon string!
It is like the olympics!
You can only listen to so much of this kind of thing.

I agree. Reminds me of a tune Paul Gilbert once did for a guitar mag sampler ( "Guitars That Rule The World" )
That tune had a kinda cheesy, but extremely memorable hook-line, and some absolutely insanely fast lead soloing on both nylon string- and electric guitar.
He actually altered the speed of those tracks, recording them slow and then speeding them up. At first I didnīt really notice ( I have seen / heard that dude play a bunch of times, and he is amazingly fast ).
But in the end, he makes it clear by speeding up a solo-lick more and more, so you HAVE to notice ( and I know that that was his intention ).
Guess what ? He said no one really got it. It was meant to be a joke.

Today, while doing other stuff, I was only listening to two players.
The first was Eric Johnson. I canīt even begin to describe how I felt when I heard the "Ah Via Musicom" record for the first time years ago... the intro and melody of "Cliffs Of Dover", the beautiful "Trademark"... I love what that guy does, his arrangement, his sounds and tones, the chord voicings, his runs...
Thereīs lots more than just speed here...
I also listened to this precious little tune he did with Chet Atkins years ago, on the "Read My Licks" Album...

The other player is Andy Timmons, another influence ever since I heard the stuff he did with Danger Danger and on his "Ear-X-Tacy"-record.
He is one of the players who merges AWESOME technique and speed with great melodies and feel. I watched his workshop at the German "Musikmesse" ( tradeshow ) in March, and he was GLOWING... I mean, I have played workshops at those trade-shows and it really can burn you out after a few days.
But he managed to inject so much life and emotion into his soloing... I loved it...
Am I getting long-winded or what ?

Warm regards

NP: Chet Atkins- Read My Licks