Steve Stevens has led a long and storied career playing in the studio and on tour for Billy Idol, along with other music greats like Michael Jackson, Vince Neil, and collaborated with virtuosos Tony Levin and Terry Bozzio. You might not know that he also played on the iconic Top Gun Theme.

He invited us into his home studio to wax poetic and talk about his personal relationship with the guitar on an episode of Ernie Ball: String Theory. Here are the top six things we learned during the episode, along with a timestamp for each segment so you can follow along.

#1 – Have the right intentions when you play guitar. (0:26)

“Guitar is a way to convey emotion, and not a way to impress other guitar players.”

#2 – He never played an electric for the first six years of his guitar journey. (0:50)

“From 7 and a half to 13 I only played acoustic guitar. That whole formative time was all playing folk music.”

#3 – His first guitar heroes were classic British prog players. (1:32)

“As I got better it coincided perfectly with the time of the early English progressive rock guitar players. So, I really gravitated towards the guys like Steve Howe, Robert Fripp, Steve Hackett, just because they incorporated EVERY style of the guitar.”

#4 – He got his first pack of Super Slinky strings in a head shop. (2:14)

“We had head shops back then, they sold incense and pipes to smoke grass, and they sold Ernie Ball strings. They kind of fit in with the times, and they certainly fit in with the head shop ‘cuz it kind of looks psychedelic.

#5 – When playing guitar, do your best to play melodically and avoid going overboard. (4:24)

“I try and find solos that at least have melodies to them that are memorable, and then if you want to give ’em a couple bars of some flash or something that’s great. But, I try and play stuff that is memorable.”

#6 – Keep working to get better every day. (4:45)

“I always want to play better. I wake up in the morning, have a cup of coffee, pick up the guitar and go “Ah, I wish I knew how to do so-and-so.” I can always challenge myself because the guitar is just one of those instruments that’s endless, and there’s always more you can do with it.”

String Theory

Watch every episode of Ernie Ball: String Theory at our website, featuring such players as Kirk Hammett, Steve Vai, Don Felder and more. You can also enjoy some of Steve’s most popular songs in this Spotify playlist.

Guitar Strings

Steve Stevens plays Ernie Ball M-Steel guitar strings. Do you? Try a set.

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