Utilizing Sweeping and Legato Techniques

I'm thrilled to announce SHRAPNEL recording artist Stephen Ross as guest columnist at Chops from Hell. For more info on Stephen and his outstanding playing visit

the following bio material from

Stephen Ross who sometimes goes by the name Stephen Rogouski, depending on what kind of mood he is in, has been told that he has a knack for plucking, picking, twisting, and breaking guitar strings. Beginning his quest for musicianship at age 5, his parents soon realized that Stephen had some talent for this kind of thing. Using his five dollar no frills axe, Stephen began exploring what this strange object that was given the name "guitar" was capable of doing. By age 9, Stephen and his friend Chris Harding were recording original compositions on a cheap tape recorder pretending they were the beatles.

By age thirteen Stephen began formal training with jazz virtuoso, the late Harry Leahey. Because Stephen had such a ravenous appetite for knowledge Harry would push Stephen to the limit. After his first year, Stephen had a firm handle on the modal concept of improvisation, chord sets, and reading music. Harry would comment quite frequently on Stephen's finger dexterity and speed. "That boy is going to get a speeding ticket if he keeps playing like that," he once said to Stephen's mom after one of their many jams.

By the age of 16 the shy Stephen Ross was starting to gain acceptance by the so called "cool kids" of his high school due to his guitar skills. It was at this age he started playing with other musicians. A year later he joined his first professional band, "Gems Edge," with vocalist Robert Mason, who later went on to join and record with the band "Lynch Mob."

Torn between a career in Computer Science, or Music, Stephen chose music and dedicated up to 10 hours a day refining his musical skills. I think it was the Cobol class that finalized his decision. By the time Stephen reached his twenties, he was part owner and playing five nights a week in the band "Flashback." Flashback was known to be one of the hottest bands in New Jersey, and played before the Beach Boys, Chuck Berry, and numerous others.

During his time with Flashback, Stephen began listening to guitar masters such as Eddie Van Halen, Rhandy Rhoads, Steve Morse, Allan Holdsworth, Alex Lifeson and Di Meola. He was quickly becoming known as one of the most technically proficient guitarists in the area and was getting offers from numerous bands. After listening to Mike Varney's "US Metal" albums Stephen felt he should send Varney a tape of his music.

In about two weeks, he got a phone call from Varney. Mike said that he really liked the material he sent him and would like to hear more. Mike than went on to say that he knew this other kid, with major guitar chops, from Pennslyvania named "Richie Kotzen" who he would like me to get together and write with. Although Stephen and Richie wrote some really impressive stuff together, the joint effort never made it to CD.

It was at this time Stephen became obsessed with recording an album for SHRAPNEL and would spend hours and hours in is parents basement recording new material for Varney. About 30 songs later, Varney said, "let's do it." By the age of twenty three, the now married, Stephen Ross released his solo debut recording, "Midnight Drive." The album received favorable reviews from many major publications and helped Stephen land a Carvin and an ADA endorsement.

About two years later, Stephen realized he didn't have the business skills to handle his career properly so he decided to go back to school and earn his college degree. While pursuing his education Stephen was involved in a number of reputable projects, including Epic Recording Artist "Adrian Dodz", Dannny Vaughn (Vocalist formally with Tyketto), Polygram recording artist "Motorbaby," and Tangent Recording Artist "Look."

So after five years from the release of "Midnight Drive" Stephen says he is ready to put out his most inspired work to date, "The Inner Voice." "This recording," he says "is for me and because I am doing it for myself, others will like it."