Robin Morris Jeffrey's Bay
By Robin Morris
(An excerpt from the Guitarist website: www.guitarz-for-ever.com)
I grew up in the late sixties in South Africa and started playing guitar in hard rock bands right into the seventies, initially groomed on a heavy dose of Clapton and then literally blown away by Hendrix followed by monster injections of Sabbath(Toni Immoni); Deep Purple (Blackmore), Zepplin (Page) and so it went on until the super heavies like Malmsteen, Rhodes, Gilbert, Eddie Van Halen (the master finger tapper) Satch (still my favourite) and Via and many others, all of whom just seemed to kind of arrive and literally explode in the eighties.
They all continued to re-invent and shred until I wanted to give up playing because it was hard enough trying to emulate Hendrix back in the sixties let alone cope with a speed shredder like Malmsteen going apeshit up and down the fretboard without missing a note. It all just got way too difficult...or so I thought back then.
To make things worse, I went solo, destined to 'make it' as a super guitarist. I tried in vain to follow all the big name styles, bought their sheet music, copied the licks but somehow never really felt comfortable pulling off their complex solo's. I knew my Pentatonics backwards, was nicely into the modes favouring the 'Dorian' mode (like Santana - another big hero for me) but normally ended up mixing a few modes with pentatonics to create a sound that I was comfortable with - which was not like my hero's.
It was only in the late nineties that the whole thing actually came to me. I suddenly realised one day that I was chasing a dream, someone else's dream. Why not chase my own dream, create my own sound, master my own destiny. I decided there and then that I would stop trying to emulate everyone else and create a unique sound and technique of my own, one that I felt comfortable with - Dorian mode mixed with pentatonics??? What next....?
I realised that the reason I could never really master my hero's sound was because they created the music, not me and when you're in creative mode that's exactly what happens. You let rip and improvise and let the flow take you wherever it wants to. Without realising it, your fingers do the walk but it's the creativity from within that is ripping. You can't dial into someone else's creative pysche and just tune in...
Once I'd come to this conclusion it was like a breath of fresh air. My playing upped a whole standard as I searched for my own unique sound. I recorded a few CD's in the process as I ploughed through several styles and finally came to where I am now.
I use a Fender Strat (was always a Les Paul fanatic) with the switch in the neck (bass) position and I drive this through a Digitech multisound pedal and I use a sustain pedal and an equalizer pedal. On the Digitech settings I opt for a clean sound with a slight chorus and I use the pedal for delay. The sound is insane - similar to Stevie Ray Vaughan I suppose and I've gone full circle back to my roots playing blues but with a bit of a twist. It gets into you and you feel it eventually...
Living in Jeffreys Bay, which is an alltime surfing destination, got me play listed on several surfing videos so I just went with that whole sound and evolved with it.
Still playing...still learning everyday...
My message to all aspiring guitarists out there is simple - if you can understand what I experienced then you need to try breaking away from the real world and for once let your creativity take you to places you've never been before on your instrument. It'll blow your mind and change your perspective on music and your particular sound and technique forever.
I urge every aspiring guitarist to learn his/her Pentatonics until you can play them in any key, in any one of the five positions and only then start looking at the modes and learning how the entire jigsaw fits together. Once the basic skills are in place, let the creativity take over. Don't try and master the greats. They are so far ahead it will only demoralise you rather than motivate you.
I wasn't born blessed with a good ear or a great talent as so many young gifted people are. It took years of hard work, sitting in front of the TV after work at night, the guitar unplugged (you don't bug anyone this way) and just doing scales over and over and over again until my fingers followed the patterns without having to think about it. Then you need to play with a lot of different people to understand other styles and see where you fit in.
It's a lot of work but it's eventually enjoyable. I love going into a new music shop and picking up a guitar when the eager salesmen quickly approaches and says, "Careful with that sir. Do you know how to play?" To which I reply, "just a little..." and then proceed to run a lightning lick with sweep arpeggios, from the bottom of the fret board all the way up and then hand him back the guitar and smile when he curses, throws his arms in the air, his eyes the size of saucers and stutters, "F*#k me....do that again!!!" Now that’s the kind of compliment that keeps me playing...