What Guitar Does Steve Howe Use

What Guitar Does Steve Howe Use?

Steve Howe is best known as the guitarist with the Progressive rock band Yes and has been playing the guitar since he was 12 years old. His first guitar, an F-hole acoustic, was a Christmas present from his parents. One of his first residency gigs was in Pentonville prison, playing for two nights a week.

Before becoming a full time musician Steve worked in a piano factory, then a music shop which he subsequently left when he started getting regular gigs. His first professional band was a rhythm and blues band called the Syndicats. They released a single which was a version of “Maybellene” by Chuck Berry. The Syndicats were often the opening act for Chris Farlowe and the Thunderbirds and one night Steve got asked to step in for Albert Lee who had been taken ill. 

When he left the Syndicats he joined a band called The In Crowd who eventually changed their name to Tomorrow and started performing psychedelic rock. Tomorrow performed alongside Jimi Hendrix, and Pink Floyd and Steve also did some session guitar work and he and the band were also involved in a pie fight scene in a satirical film called “Smashing Time”.

After Tomorrow split he worked with numerous other bands before being invited to audition for Yes to replace their guitarist Peter Banks. He featured on the cover of their second album even though he never contributed a note to it. It was their third album, “The Yes Album” that really showcased Steve’s guitar and songwriting abilities.

What Kind Of Guitar Does Steve Howe Play?

Steve has always favoured his Gibson ES-175, even taking it to bed with him on their first American tour because their hotel was in a rough area. He has also played;

  • Gibson Super 400 CES
  • Gibson ES-345 Electric Guitar
  • Gibson EDS-1275 Double-Neck Electric Guitar
  • Coral 3S19 Electric Sitar
  • Gibson Custom ES-5 Switchmaster Electric Guitar
  • 70’s Gibson Les Paul Recording
  • Gretsch G6120TM Chet Atkins Signature Electric Guitar
  • Line 6 Variax 600 (multi-guitar sound)
  • Burns Nu-Sonic Electric Guitar
  • Gibson EMS-1235 Double-Neck Electric Guitar
  • Gibson The Les Paul – Wine Red
  • Gibson Les Paul Junior
  • Rickenbacker 360/12 12-String Electric Guitar
  • Fender Stratocaster
  • Gibson Les Paul Custom

Steve’s Acoustic Guitars include

  • Ramirez 1A Acoustic Guitar
  • Martin MC-38 Steve Howe signature
  • Portuguese 12-string acoustic tuned to E,B,E,B,E,Ab

Steve also plays a steel guitar with two necks one tuned in E major and the other tuned to E9 tuning.

Electric Guitars

Who Has Steve Howe Worked With During His Long Career?

Steve Howe has worked with many artists over the years including;

  • Jon Anderson 
  • Bill Bruford
  • Chris Squire
  • Tony Kaye
  • Rick Wakeman
  • Stone the Crows
  • Claire Hammill
  • Alan White
  • Patrick Moraz
  • Trevor Horn
  • Geoff Downes
  • John Wetton
  • Carl Palmer
  • Frankie Goes To Hollywood
  • The Dregs
  • Steve Hackett
  • Max Bacon
  • Jonathon Mover
  • Phil Spalding
  • Robert Berry
  • And many more

What Strings Does Steve Howe Use?

Steve uses Martin acoustic guitar strings on his acoustics and always has new strings on his ES-175 because he likes the bright tone new strings produce. He has often said guitar strings are like cars, nowadays there are so many great makes that he doesn’t really bother about particular strings. 

Steve uses 12,12,16,26,40,50 strings on his ES-175 which is his main guitar. Steve says if he needs to bend the top E string on a particular track, he’ll use a guitar with a 10 gauge top E. But he prefers the heavier gauge strings.

What Amps Does Steve Howe Use?

Steve uses a few different amps including;

  • LINE 6 DT 50
  • Fender Twin Reverb Blackface
  • Line 6 Vetta II Modeling Amp Combo
  • Leslie Speaker 145
Fender guitar amp

What Effects Pedals Does Steve Howe Use?

Steve and his guitar technician have programmed his LINE6 POD HD500 to sound like all of the various effects on his albums. He says this is all he uses now along with the Morley A/B pedal to swap between acoustic and electric guitars. He has also used;

  • Line 6 Helix Guitar Multi-effects Floor Processor
  • Electro-Harmonix EH-3003 “Triangle” Big Muff Pi V1
  • Line 6 POD XT Live
  • DeArmond 610 Volume/Tone

What Pickups Does Steve Howe Use?

The pick-ups used by Steve aren’t documented and after hearing him speak we surmise the feel and the sound of the guitar are the important part for him. Not so much technical issues like pick-up types.

What Chords Does Steve Howe Use?

Steve has been quoted as saying he likes playing with other guitarists because it forces him to use the chords they use. He is very knowledgeable musically, and can turn his hand to rock, psychedelic rock, jazz , prog rock, jazz fusion and is more than able to play all the associated chords.

What Pick Does Steve Howe Use?

Steve originally used homemade plectrums (not made by him, but by a guy who worked in a music shop in Shaftesbury Avenue) until he eventually settled on Fender medium heart-shaped plectrums.

What Kind Of Music Does Steve Howe Play?

Steve plays progressive rock, psychedelic rock, jazz, jazz fusion, hard rock and art rock.

How To Play Guitar Like Steve Howe

Steve is a very technical player, his style is more classical and jazz than blues or rock. With that said there’s enough bluesy feel in many of his tracks to make that last statement sound like nonsense. Instead of string bends, Steve uses slides or more slurs as jazz musicians call them.

He uses relatively heavy gauge strings that almost prevents bending on most strings. He often plays in 7/4 time as opposed to standard 4/4 time which makes for some interesting solos.

What Age Did Steve Howe Learn Guitar?

Steve was 12 years old when his parents gave him his first acoustic guitar for Christmas.

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of guitar did Steve Howe play?

The kind of guitar Steve Howe plays the most is a Gibson ES-175.

What acoustic guitar does Steve Howe play?

The acoustic guitar played by Steve Howe is a Martin MC-38

What guitar did Steve Howe play on roundabout?

On roundabout Steve Howe played a 1961 Gibson ES-5 Switchmaster except for the acoustic parts.

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