the fingerstyle stuff I do, I usually play a
Music Man Bongo.
What other basses do you use?
LaRue: All I play is Music Man basses. I
think on this record I played the Bongo 4,
the Bongo 5, and the Sterling. I love the
slap sound of the Sterling, and used it on
“Forever in a Daze.” I also used a Bongo
fretless on one of the ballads.
Steve, you’re also a big Music Man
advocate. Which of your signature
models—the original or the newer
SM-Y2D—are you using nowadays?
Morse: The Y2D is the one I use most for
Deep Purple. For some reason, it sounds
more like a rock ’n’ roll guitar—a little
bit more Les Paul-like. My original four-
pickup signature model is my most versa-
tile guitar and has more of a live sound.
It may be because it’s got a bigger [pick-
guard] cavity and the pickups are hang-
ing from the pickguard. That’s the one
I could play country stuff, a jazz thing,
rock, or Dixie Dregs stuff on. That’s my
main axe when I do solo things, Steve
Morse Band things.
Steve, when you play lower on the neck
you use the bridge pickup, but when
you play higher up, you switch to the
neck pickup. Why?
Morse: It’s part of finding the sweet
spot. Basically, I just use the pickup with
the most harmonics for low notes, and
as I cross over somewhere around the
10th fret or so, then I switch to the neck
humbucker or sometimes both. As I get
a little bit higher, then I go to the neck
position only. I don’t like shrill sounds,
so doing that fattens up the sound and
relieves some of that ear piercing that
can happen. When you distort the signal by turning up the input gain, it’s
basically chopping the wave, and those
chopped edges make a very sharp harmonic. Those are perceived as high end
by our ears. It’s nicer sounding to me to
take away that edge.
Do you change between pickups in the
middle of a solo instinctively?
Morse: Yeah. A lot of times the producer
will say, “It sounds like you did an overdub
there.” Well, I just changed the pickups.
What amps are you guys using?
LaRue: I use Ampeg SVT4-PRO heads
and SVT cabinets. In the studio, I use
[the IK Multimedia Ampli Tube 3 Custom
Shop plug-in] Ampeg SVX. When I sort
of virtually hook up my rig, it sounds
just like my real rig. Any amp track on
the record is the Ampeg SVX software,
although we did mix in some amp on
Morse: I’m using my signature ENGL
E656 amp, which has three channels.
Channel 1 is beautiful and clean—yet so
smooth sounding. I even plug my electric classical guitar into it. There’s also
a boost that will get it distorted on the
clean sound if you want to get that ’60s
sound. The clean and distorted channels
are set up so that if you put all the dials at
about 1 o’clock and plug any guitar in, I
guarantee it will sound great. Channel 3
is the thing I like best. It’s just a do-it-all,
great distortion sound that’ll clean up as
you turn down the guitar. It will still have
clarity. And when you play with distortion, it has a certain transparency in the
high end that, to me, is less irritating. It