Steve Vai: The maverick rock legend

The name is Vai, Steve Vai.

Steve Vai can totally pull off The-Bond-Introduction among his groupies. He just can. This guy sizzles on the stage with an infectious spirit, is your daddy on the guitar and has to his name a discography that is quite enough to seal his reputation as THE rock legend. He can.

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A virtuoso at his instrument, Vai collaborated with Ibanez in the late 80s to design a series of signature guitars. It seems only fitting that we pay our tribute to the legend. The obvious question: What sets Steve Vai signature guitars apart? Well, it is everything. From sound to pick-up to shape, everything has been put together the way Vai wants. In his own words, while designing the guitar, Vai followed the Chinese menu approach: chose the features from a variety of guitars, made a list of things and finally, clubbed them in one. The result was an aggressively styled guitar in terms of specifications. Also, it allows the player to extract a nice heavy sound that was Vai’s signature.

Let’s wind back in time a little and take a look at the beginnings. Vai started learning guitar at the age of 13 and took lessons from Joe Satriani the following year. After attending the prestigious Berkeley College of Music, Vai joined Frank Zappa as a music transcriber and later toured with the band for a couple of years. By the time he was 23 he had recorded the first solo album in what was going to becomea long list during the course of his glorious career. We can simply explain everything that took place afterwards by way of superlatives.

Steve Vai

Unprecedented fame visited him in 1985 with Van Helen Supergroup, in which he continued until ’89. This was followed by a brief stint of 2 years with Whitesnake. Meanwhile, he kept recording solo albums that won him plaudits all over the globe. Later, he wrote for rocker OzzyOsbourne, collaborated with his friend and early mentor, Joe Satriani and bagged three Grammies while remaining as prolific as always. Enough said.

It will be a little hard to pin down the style and techniques that characterize Vai’s playing but nonetheless, we shall put our own two cents. Vai’s mastery of the instrument is unparalleled and it allows him to do things that will take a modest guitarist the term of his natural life to accomplish. His playing is full of strange rhythmic cycles, and his inventive, spontaneous use of floating vibrato, where he adds odd sounding melodic lines, is as surprising to the listener as it is virtuosic. Another defining feature is the singability of his compositions, lyrical as if sung by a human voice.

What keeps him busy nowadays? Well, he hangs out and travels around with Joe Satriani on his G3 concert tour that features some of the best names in the business. John Petrucci, Eric Johnson, Paul Gilbert…you name it. It is as good as it gets: half a dozen virtuosos jamming live in their signature style on the stage. You won’t want to miss the sight. We have something like this in mind:

 

Also Related: Getting Started With A Guitar 

You can say so much about Steve Vai but words will fail you. He’s a great artist and performer, someone who stretched every limit to discover his music, his sound. Much like his old LPs, his signature guitar is a collectible item. You can check it out at Buxsa and keep his legacy at home.

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