Tessa Jeffers chatted with the man of many bands, Deep Purple guitarist Steve Morse, just before the band performed at Nashville’s legendary Ryman Auditorium. Morse sticks with the signature gear he designed: Ernie Ball Music Man axes and Engl amps.
Morse has a boat full of signature axes, but it all started with the Ernie Ball Music Man that he’s been playing since he designed it in 1986—this guitar remains his No. 1 favorite guitar of all time. Morse modeled it after a Frankenstein Telecaster that he made from both Fender and Gibson parts early in his career. The Ernie Ball Music Man Steve Morse has a unique HSSH configuration with signature DiMarzio pickups and a complex switching system.
Morse designed his second wave signature model 20 years after the first, hence the name Ernie Ball Music Man SM-Y2D. It has a flame-maple top, and he favors this Y2D with a red and purple tinted finish and Floyd Rose while playing with Deep Purple on tunes like “Smoke on the Water.” The Y2D has one less single-coil than the first generation Steve Morse signature model, making for an HSH configuration with a multi-pull switch for an option to use the humbuckers together. Morse strings his standard-tuned axes up with Ernie Ball Super Slinkys (.009–.042) and uses .011s on guitars tuned to dropped-D.