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Steve Harris technique

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by msiner, Apr 29, 2009.

  1. msiner


    Sep 2, 2008
    Tucson, AZ
    It's not my favorite style of music, but my band is learning "Wasted Years" by Iron Maiden. I am having trouble replicating the right sound. When I am using my fingers, the attack seems too muted, but the attack of a pick is too harsh. I looked up a couple videos of Iron Maiden and it looks like Steve Harris uses his fingers, but, in the music video at least, it didn't look like he was using his index. I am probably wrong there, but it looked strange. Anyway, does anybody have any advice on how to replicate his sound? I would like to think it can be done with the right technique, but chime in if you think it just needs the right EQ. By the way, I am using a P/J with the J turned off. Thanks for any help.
  2. bhass


    Oct 21, 2008
    England, UK
    He uses flatwounds, but his attack is very harsh (with his fingers). Lot's of fret noise.
  3. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Yep. It's probably the flats that are throwing you off. As far as technique, that's a whole different ball game. I'll bet he can crush bricks with his right hand! I tried (years ago when I was into that kind of stuff) to play lightly while learning Aces High. It didn't work. I just had to pound it out. Hurt like hell but sounded great!
  4. msiner


    Sep 2, 2008
    Tucson, AZ
    Right now I am using stainless rounds, so I have a bit of a mismatch there. I guess I will try dialing back the tone knob a bit and attacking the strings hard with little regard for fret noise. Thanks for all of the help so far. Knowing that he is using flats was definitely an eye-opener.
  5. backline112

    backline112 Guest

    Jun 3, 2008
    Please note that by fret noise, I think they mean the "clacking" of the strings against the last frets of the fingerboard.
  6. msiner


    Sep 2, 2008
    Tucson, AZ
    Yeah, that's what I assumed. What else would "fret noise" refer to?
  7. sevenyearsdown

    sevenyearsdown Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sanborn, NY
    flats, triplets, lots of practice
  8. sjw1971


    Feb 25, 2008
    +1 to above.

    His sound is mostly in his fingers and attack - you really need to master three fingered triplets to nail his sound. It helps if you use flats and a P-bass too...
  9. According to Bass Player interviews I've read, Steve Harris uses only 2 fingers (index & middle)
    ... though the only way I can get that "galloping" thing going on is by using 3 fingers! Sounds like 3, he claims it's 2

  10. sevenyearsdown

    sevenyearsdown Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sanborn, NY
    You will likely find debate on this point.

    I think he plays with two fingers.
  11. msiner


    Sep 2, 2008
    Tucson, AZ
    Wikipedia had this to say:

  12. bggeezer

    bggeezer Guest

    May 25, 2001
    why would he lie? i have seen youtube interview where he states clearly he uses only two fingers. But I can only do the gallop with three!
  13. Krt Krtt

    Krt Krtt

    May 1, 2009
    I can do the gallop with two, but with three its slightly easier. I've read somewhere that Steve used oil on his fingers and never warms up before a show.
  14. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player

    Some interesting stuff here at the 1:54 mark. BTW, the typical Iron Maiden's gallop pattern is NOT a triplet, but an eighth note followed by two sixteenths, as stated on the above Wikipedia quote. If you are looking for triplet feel on Iron Maiden music (although those aren't real triplets but groups of three eighths per beat in 12/8 time - sound like triplets, anyway) check the second section of "The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner" ("There calls the mariner, there comes a ship over the line...) and "Losfer Words (Big 'Orra)", for example.
  15. Yeah, Harris definitely does it with two fingers. People get confused on that point because if you watch him on video, when he hits the string with his middle finger, the third and fourth fingers move along with the middle. (I watched some video recently in frame-by-frame slow motion, so I'm pretty certain of this.) And he's got such a fast right hand that it's just hard to believe. There's no way I can play those fast gallops with two fingers myself -- I'd have to use three or break out a pick.
  16. machine gewehr

    machine gewehr

    Sep 17, 2005
    If finger style feels muted and if pick sounds too harsh one solution is to play closer to bridge with fingers.You will get an agressive sound that's neither muted nor too harsh.

    Messing with pickup balance and mids are adviced also.;)
  17. 2 fingers,right hand placement and unfortunately,you may have to boost your treble a bit.That clack-y noise was from the use aggressive digging in.A light touch here is not going to get you that sound. Dig in,saddle up and run to the hills. Steve Harris was one of the first bassists to inspire me and even though I'm older,nothing beats putting on a maiden disk every once in awhile and feeling young again:bassist:
  18. BeerBeer


    Apr 11, 2009
    I actually learned today that he plays his galloping style with index, index, middle
  19. Greevus


    Apr 15, 2009
    Harris's right hand is pretty unique. He sort of holds his fingers really straight and sort of punches the strings. That fret clack is essential too. I use a pick but Steve's my hero, so I can replicate it pretty well. I will use my fingers to get that spongy sound though. The early Maiden is like a bass player's wet dream. He is fast with that two finger gallop also.
  20. machine gewehr

    machine gewehr

    Sep 17, 2005
    I still get wet after all those years when I listen to early Maiden.:bassist:

    His index index middle galloping is crazy,in his Bass Secrets vid. Billy Sheehan says how he's amazed by his playing and there's no way he could do that with 2 fingers.

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