The reason I like the alternate picking is
to have the flexibility where I can pick
up an acoustic and, after a brief period
of adjusting, be able to play basically the
same stuff that I could on an electric.
Your tapping is really clean. Some players put hair elastics on the headstock to
keep the open strings from ringing. Is
that how you achieved that clarity?
LaRue: Sometimes I do use that trick—
and I think I did for that one, actually.
Steve, “All Falls Down” demonstrates
your unwavering allegiance to alternate
picking. Even when you play triads
super fast on nonadjacent strings, you
alternate-pick every note, as opposed to
using, say, hybrid picking. What are the
advantages of that?
Morse: Accuracy and the ability to impro-
vise. In other words, I can play pretty
much any arpeggio and I don’t have to
plan out where the pick’s going to go
or which strings I’m going to cross. The
down side is, ultimately, I’m playing with
less speed than someone who’s using a
hybrid or sweeping approach—there’s no
question about it. There’s a price you pay
in terms of sheer speed, somewhere around
20 or 30 percent. But, more importantly
to me, I can hear something or imagine
something and play it as long as it’s within
my technical capability, speed-wise. With
string skipping, depending on the way
I hold the pick, I’m just about the same
speed going across the strings as going
linearly. But that’s down a good notch or
two or more from somebody like John
Petrucci, who can play much, much faster.
It’s a different approach.
with alternate picking to get to what he
calls the “hyper-speed” level. Have you
ever considered something like that?
Morse: I’ve tried it just when I’m noodling around through an amp, and unless
I put in a lot of gain—and I mean a lot of
gain, like, with a booster or a distortion
pedal—before the amplifier, I can’t even
come close to making it sound the same.
I’m picking hard and the results sound
too obvious. It would be more successful
for me if I used a thinner pick and really
dedicated some time to it. The reason I
like the alternate picking is to have the
flexibility where I can pick up an acoustic
and, after a brief period of adjusting, be
able to play basically the same stuff that
I could on an electric. Whereas, if I were
incorporating a mixture of, say, hammering and alternate picking, it would be
super obvious on acoustic.
A few months ago, John told us he’s
started combining legato techniques
Do you keep your picking hand at a
specific angle, and if so, what are the
advantages of doing it that way?
Morse: I do spend a lot of time work-
ing on my right hand. I’m left-handed,