digging deeper

Toto’s legendary guitarist can move from ear-twisting triplet licks to soaring bends at the flick of a pick.

Chops: Intermediate
Theory: Intermediate
Lesson Overview:
• Learn how to add chromatic passing notes to your phrases. 

• Decode Lukather’s unique bending technique.

• Develop funky rhythm parts over static harmony.

Click here to download a printable PDF of this lesson's notation.

Released back in 1982, Toto’s IV album yielded two chart-topping hits, “Africa” and “Rosanna.” This remarkable band and album featured a dream lineup centered around guitar legend Steve Lukather. For this lesson, I had the pleasure of breaking down some key aspects of his rhythm and lead playing on IV and then working them into my own example, which I’ve nicknamed “Joanna.”

Get the Tones
I’ve divided the example track into three main guitar sections: a solo, dirty rhythm, and some clean overdubs. I attempted to get as close to the original sounds on the album as possible using Positive Grid’s Bias FX plug-in. For the overdriven sounds, I used an amp based on a Mesa/Boogie Mark IV with a very light slapback delay and a room reverb. All the dirty rhythm examples are double-tracked and panned hard left and right to create a wider stereo sound. For the lead tone, I put an Ibanez TS808 in front of the amp with the drive turned down, but the level slightly boosted to increase sustain. I also added a fairly large hall reverb and a tape-style delay to create ambience. Combined with some chorus, these really expand the lead tone in a classic ’80s way. For the clean overdub sounds, I used a basic Twin-style combo with an MXR Dyna Comp in front of the amp, plus a little slapback delay after the amp to create space around the part. For the ambient clean sound, I added a large hall reverb and tape echo delay at the end of the signal chain, and then placed a studio-style compressor on the output to let these ambient effects really bloom.

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  • Develop a better sense of subdivisions.
  • Understand how to play "over the bar line."
  • Learn to target chord tones in a 12-bar blues.
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