At a recent Jason Becker’s Not Dead Yet Fest in San Francisco, I met a young guitarist who had traveled all the way from Massachusetts to meet his hero. He told me his name was Tyler Morris, and I gave him a business card and told him to keep in touch. A few months later, I got a CD in the mail titled And So It Begins… and on it, Morris reveals rhythm and lead chops well beyond his 16 years, and a songwriting sense that fans of VH-style arena rock will surely appreciate.
What made you want to start playing guitar?
When I was a little kid, my dad would tune a guitar to an open D chord and let me strum along with his band. Eventually, when I was ten, I asked my dad if he could teach me how to really play the guitar.
Who are your main influences?
My four main influences are Jason Becker, Eddie Van Halen, Yngwie Malmsteen, and Freddie King. In my opinion, Jason Becker is one of the greatest guitarists of all time. His dedication, commitment, and mastery of the instrument inspire me to keep reaching new heights in my playing. Eddie Van Halen’s phrasing and melodic sense in his solos is truly unique. Every time I hear one of his solos, no matter how many times I have heard it, I hear something new. Yngwie Malmsteen inspired me to play instrumental guitar music. Yngwie has incredible phrasing and insane technique that separate him from other players. It was because of Yngwie that I discovered many other great guitarists such as Jason, Joe Stump, Gary Moore, and Rob Marcello. Lastly, the simplicity in Freddie King’s playing helps me in all of the genres that I play. Freddie’s vocal-influenced guitar style has inspired me to learn vocal melodies and parts of songs other than guitar.
What are some of your favorite tones on your record and how did you create them?
My favorite rhythm tone is on “Can’t Turn Back Time.” That was my two-humbucker Grover Jackson GJ2 into a Klon KTR pedal and EVH amp. My favorite clean tone is the intro to “Neon Suns,” and for that I played my GJ2 Glendora plugged into a Strymon Timeline Delay and a Hughes & Kettner Replex into a Roland Jazz Chorus.
What’s your practice routine like? What do you do to keep getting better?
For technique, I practice with a Korg PXD drum machine. For phrasing and improving my melodic sense, I learn solos and songs by ear. I am currently working on “San Ho Zay” by Freddie King, the solo to Van Halen’s “Mean Street,” Ritchie Blackmore’s solo on “Wolf to the Moon,” and five Yngwie songs.
What are the most important things you learned as a guitarist and musician making this record?
Most importantly, I have learned that writing is what makes a musician special. Whether it’s improvising a solo or composing a concerto, no two people will sound the same. Your own voice on the instrument is what makes you unique.