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Steve Harris question

Discussion in 'Ask Mike Watt [Archived]' started by ironmaidenisgod, May 21, 2004.

  1. ironmaidenisgod


    May 20, 2004
    Hi Mike and others,

    Steve Harris of Iron Maiden was the main reason I picked up the four string.Just one question about his technique.He creates this whole slap/pop sound even when he is plucking with his fingers.How is that possible?

    Also since he uses the diminished scales a lot,is it the best for metal?
  2. ironmaidenisgod


    May 20, 2004
    Thanks for the advice and the welcome.

    Mike,what scales do you use most?
  3. ironmaidenisgod


    May 20, 2004
    Like in 'against the 70s?' or 'piss bottle man'.The latter has one of my favourite basslines
  4. scientist_rock


    Mar 15, 2004
    I don't know for sure how he gets that sound either, but I've seen it done before by many a bassist.

    For me most notably John Entwhistle's bassline for 'won't get fooled again' by the Who. He doesn't use any slapping or anything, he just uses his usual three fingered speedy finger-picking, and it creates the most awesome sound.
    Maybe it's the bass he uses, maybe some effect. If anyone has any info then I'd be really grateful to hear about his methods.

    If you're a big entwhsitle/Who fan then you should definitely check out the new DVD out, the Ox himself gets to paly the bassline for 'won't get fooled againm' amongst others with the rest of the abnds instruments turned right down. it really is great to see him play so I reccomen it to any bassist not already clued up about the Ox.
  5. invisiman


    Feb 22, 2004
    Well, hopefully this will answer your question, even though Smash took a stab at it. Technique-wise, he uses his middle and ring finger, and loads of triplets. For the clack sound you hear, it is said that he grows his nails extra long in the studio, which gives it that sound. Although I'm sure you'd be able to emulate that sounds just by playing really hard, and bouncing that strings of the frets.

    Hope that answers your questions(s)!!
  6. ironmaidenisgod


    May 20, 2004
    How does using the middle and ring fingers help?I know you get a thrust and more power cuz the first finger supports the rest.But how does this help in the distinctive sound?
  7. scientist_rock


    Mar 15, 2004

    Yeah sorry, I failed to notice that for some reason.

    I don't suppose there's anyway I might be able to replicate this sound at home without the rotosounds is there?

    Does anyone have any more details on Steve's 'typewriter' method and how it's done?
  8. Matt Till

    Matt Till

    Jun 1, 2002
    Edinboro, PA
    It's strange that you asked Mike Watt about Steve Harris.

  9. hey all, I recently picked upa set of steve harris's signature strings , havent put em on yet, but I'm hoping theyll be as awesome as they sound. And yes, to get his sound, you must punnish your strings. I use the same technique, but I have active pickups and the GHS boomers that came on it are horribly bright and zingy.
  10. ironmaidenisgod


    May 20, 2004
    Takes a genius to know one. :bassist:
  11. +1
  12. Matt Till

    Matt Till

    Jun 1, 2002
    Edinboro, PA

    Not about Steve Harris, I just got into him a year ago or so, but +1 about the +1... the fact that exsists.
  13. permagrin


    May 1, 2003
    San Pedro, CA
    FWIW, I'm pretty sure Steve Harris uses three fingers on his right hand, goes well with how he plays lotsa triplets but not essential to nail his tone. The "clack" can be found by raising the neck pickups so that the strings hit them. Hit the strings more downward rather than plucking laterally.
  14. bogart


    Dec 11, 2003
    big bear, ca

    I too raise an eyebrow to that :eyebrow:
  15. slinkp


    Aug 29, 2003
    brooklyn, NY, USA
    I haven't closely studied Steve Harris' technique, but I've got the Entwistle fingerstyle down pretty well. I figured this out 20 years ago by gluing myself to MTV as a kid waiting for "Eminence Front" to come on again :p
    Recently I got the "Kids are Alright" DVD and spent some time watching the solo-John camera / audio feed of Won't Get Fooled Again, which is a much easier way to learn it ;-)

    The most important part is the finger technique:

    Place your plucking hand near the end of the fingerboard. (You can use the edge of the neck as a thumb rest if you like.)

    Here's the crucial part. The finger movement is sort of a fast swipe that flicks past the string. You want to stay very relaxed and keep the movement fast and light. You don't want to pull on the string hardly at all; you just want to give it a fast glancing blow that makes it bounce into the frets and give a slap-like attack. Just keep thinking "fast, but not hard" and you'll eventually get the hang of it.

    DO NOT PLAY HARD. It is a myth that Entwistle bashed the strings. Do a bit of Googling and you'll find various witnesses confirming that he had a very light touch.

    You definitely want to use bright strings, i.e. roundwounds.
    Entwistle used Rotosound Swing Bass sets for most of his career.

    Also, try using very low action... Entwistle used to say he liked them "on the other side of the neck" .... too low for my taste but if I spent more time emulating him that's what I'd do. Keep the light touch, it helps you avoid excessive buzz with the low action.

    Then there's the amp setup. Entwistle's rig evolved over the years but he generally had a pseudo-biamp setup; no crossover as far as I know, but he had different amps and cabs emphasizing lows and highs and he put more distortion into the highs than the lows. I've never been able to duplicate that sound.

    As for translating all this to Steve Harris, I can get something kinda like his sound if I use the same technique but move my right hand more to the middle, using the mid pickup as a thumb rest. This changes the sound of the attack and gives it more "clank". I suspect he digs in harder than Entwistle too, not sure.
    But it's harder to play fast in that position, the strings resist you more.
  16. ironmaidenisgod


    May 20, 2004
    I've found bashing does give me a Steve Harris type sound.
  17. My uncle explained Harris' tecnhigue (I cant spell!!)
    and I kinda forgot though.

    I think my uncle said he doesnt bend his right fingers, he keeps'em staright as can be, and that gives the click/clack sound. I said some things before and after that, but I just cant rememer :(

    BTW, Harris is the main reason why i got a 4!! Harris... you the man

  18. I heard that.

    I'm prolly just ganna get me a P-Bass, and get the same Pickup and bridge he uses. alot cheaper that way.
  19. Thurisarz


    Aug 20, 2004
    I got a MIM P-bass and i got a SD QP pickup just like Harris and a black pickguard! :p

    I'm waiting for my Pressurewound strings to come but i still get his sound, even before i changed the pickup, so just get a P-bass and learn the technique and you be like Harris in notime! :D