Musicman Steve Morse Y2D -
Steve Morse isn't just one of the world's most respected
guitarists, he isn't only our cover artist for this issue,
he's also the brains behind one of Musicman's most interesting
guitars. Danny Gill gives his impartial video verdict on the Morse
Y2D, while we asked Musicman insider, Jamie Humphries, to give us a
user's eye appreciation.
Steve Morse has had a very long association with the Ernie Ball
Musicman company, and has been playing their guitars exclusively
for more than 20 years. I myself have been a Musicman artist for
the past 15 years, and work also as a demonstrator for Musicman, so
I have a real in-depth knowledge of their products. My love for
Musicman guitars actually started when I first saw a Musicman
advert with Steve Morse in it, and I loved the look of his original
blue Steve Morse model, and the cool four and two headstock
Having got that out of the way, it's obvious that I'm not
claiming to be 100 per cent impartial on the subject of Musicman -
but I do know a lot about them! Danny Gill, who filmed our review,
is not a Musicman player, though, so if you like, take him as the
impartial view and mine as the honest view of a user!
The Steve Morse guitar was originally based on Steve's
customised Fender Telecaster that he modified himself and called
the "Frankenstein Telecaster". The guitar had a Tele body, a Strat
neck and a Gibson Tune-o-matic bridge. The guitar also included
humbucking pickups in the neck and bridge, with a single coil
fitted directly next to the bridge pickup and a slanted single coil
between the neck humbucker and the single coil next to the bridge
humbucker. Steve started to work with Musicman in 1986 and produced
the first Steve Morse signature model. Although based on his
original Frankenstein Tele, the guitar featured a double cutaway
body, although still with a slab Tele-style body. The first 50 were
all hand signed on the headstock by Steve, with him keeping number
1 of 50, and you can see that very guitar in our exclusive video
interview in this issue. Steve has used that original guitar on
every tour and album since it was first built for him! The guitar
tells so many stories, with Steve even having taken a grinder to
the neck joint and plate to enable him to still play it on one
occasion, when his arm was set in plaster after he broke it!
The original Morse model was and still is a great guitar, but
some people found the switching slightly complex; although it's
pretty logical once you get your head round Steve's way of
thinking. The SMY2D guitar came about as a slightly stripped down
version that suited Steve's roll in Deep Purple. The guitar still
has the same original double cutaway body, but the new model
features a quilted maple top which comes in either a stunning "Deep
Purple" or "Blue Burst". The guitar also features a clear
plexiglass scratch plate, protecting the top but still allowing you
to see it. The guitar includes the classic four and two head stock
that serves two different purposes. The first and most important is
it provides a totally straight string pull, meaning minimal
friction resulting in more stable tuning. Also this design of
headstock means that it is slightly smaller, and makes the guitars
easier to fit in the overhead compartments of aeroplanes; that is a
The guitar has a birds eye maple neck, with a rosewood board,
and 22 high profile wide frets. The neck profile is also based on
Steve's original Strat neck off of his old Tele.
Now onto the pickups and controls and as I have mentioned the
Y2D is slightly stripped down and features three pickups instead of
four found on the standard Steve Morse guitar. These comprise two
custom wound DiMarzio Steve Morse pickups, delivering lower output
but with slightly boosted mids. There is also a single coil pickup
mounted directly next to the bridge pickup, and Steve uses this to
produce cleaner tones by just flicking the five-way switch. The
pickup selection is based on Steve's favourite settings from his
original guitar, which features a two-way toggle, a three-way
toggle and a three-way lever switch. Be sure to check out Danny's
demo of the guitar to hear the different settings, which are
basically bridge, bridge and single coil, single coil, neck and
bridge and finally neck, so you can see you can get a wide variety
of tones from the guitar, which you can also hear in my Steve Morse
Tech Session, where I use my very own Y2D guitar.
The tone of this guitar is slightly brighter than the original
Morse model, due to the maple top, but the guitar still produces a
very tight bottom end, that Steve favours for Deep Purple, and it
also has slightly those boosted mids for soloing. You can also
produce shimmering cleans with the bridge humbucker split with the
single coil, or the single coil on its own. The 250k pot enables
you to clean up very crunchy tones, and is the perfect combination
with the lower output signature pickups. The tone and volume and
five-way lever are in easy reach of the picking hand for switching,
and if you are familiar with Steve's playing you will know he is
constantly manipulating his tone with the controls!
A signature guitar is never going to be everyone's choice of
guitar, as let's face it, it's built for someone else! Steve is a
very unique guitarist and is very particular about what he wants
and likes, so this guitar will very much appeal to the Steve Morse
fans. But saying that, this is a thoroughbred Rock guitar, capable
of producing a myriad tones. The build quality is flawless; with a
huge attention to detail where the finish of the instrument is
concerned. And as with all Musicman guitars, the neck is to die
Am I biased? You could say I am as I play the instruments, and
this was always going to be an issue with me writing this overview.
But then ask yourself this; I'm a professional guitarist who has
been playing Musicman guitars exclusively for the past 15 years, on
every CD, tour, DVD and TV show I have ever performed on. I think
that says enough. If you are in the market for a beautifully built,
versatile and stunning instrument, then the Steve Morse Y2D should
be at the top of your "must try" list.
Musicman Steve Morse Y2D Review featured in issue 9 of
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