Jeff Morgan has been ripping it up on guitar since he was 14. As the blistering guitarist for for the progressive metal band Conducting From the Grave, Jeff is known as a guitarist that will rattle you to your bones with his barrage of frenetic riffs that also features stirring melodic harmonic content.
With an expected new release of Conducting From the Grave’s third album (to be released on Sumerian Records), we sat down with Jeff for a few of his thoughts.
How did you develop your speed technique? Are there any particular scales you use to develop speed?
“As often as possible I try to sit with a metronome starting at a slower tempo picking quarter notes, eighth notes, triplets and 16th notes, mixing them up in different patterns, then slowly increase the tempo on the metronome. I’ll also sometimes run through scales in all 16th notes and amp up the tempo as I get warmed up. Usually I play through natural minor or harmonic minor scales since that is what we have mostly used in writing over the years. It’s what I have preprogrammed in my brain, but recently I’ve taken to some scale and mode books in an attempt to try new things. I find that on the days when I am able to warm up by sitting with a metronome first, my playing is far better and precise when I get around to practicing songs or writing.”
Any advice for beginning guitarists?
“Use a metronome! I can’t stress enough how much it will help you. I blew off the idea for too many years and I really regret it now. Also, try to play with other musicians who are better than you as often as possible. It’s something I have always tried to do and it is the only way I’ve gotten to point I have. Playing with John (Abernathy) has had me constantly challenging myself for years.”
Why did you change out your stock pickups?
“My Dean RC-7 came stock with active EMG pickups. While active pickups are great for straight brutal heavy riffing because they are so hot, they lack the dynamics I want when playing pretty much anything else. For my RC-7 I use TB-6 in the bridge and SH-2n in the neck. I’ve also had an Ibanez RGA Prestige for years with the same pickup setup (only with 6-string versions.)”
“The SH-2 works great for leads and single-picked clean tone stuff. I get good sustain and a much more smooth and warm tone than I was able to get with an active pickup. The Duncan Distortion has a great aggressive high-output tone yet maintains the dynamic necessary for character and accents to still shine through. With my Seymour Duncan pickups I am more aware of the subtle nuances in my playing that were invisible to the ear when I played on active pickups. Seymour Duncan rocks!”
“Both the Ibanez and the ESP played in the video are equipped with Seymour Duncans and recording of the song was done with them as well!”
How would you describe your music?
“I’d say my band plays primarily melodic death metal, but we mix in a few other styles as well. We have a lot of melodic leads and I’m also a big fan of mixing in clean-toned interludes with a slightly jazzy feel. To hear the band, you can stream it from here. Some of my favorite tracks would be “Improper Burial” (one of the first songs written when I first started playing with the band where I got to showcase a good amount of material I had written), “Marching Towards Extinction” (always a fan favorite and one of the most epic songs we have), “Unholiest of Nightmares” (a very well written song in my opinion that exhibits a whole spectrum of styles we like to use.)”
“As examples of the opposite end of the spectrum of writing for us, on the not-so-metal end, I’d recommend “What Monsters We Have Become Pt. II” and the outro portion of “When Legends Become Dust.”"
To see when Conducting from the Grave will be performing check here:
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