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Steve Vai Speaks...


Steve Vai Speaks...

Here are various interviews & quotes on topics that pertain to Jemsite. The quotations have been categorized, and are presented in chronological order. The newest quotes are on the bottom of each category. All quotations are property of the respective owners/pubisher.


Steve Vai Interviews

Steve Vai Guitar Center interview February, 1999: Bad Horsie Wah. Note large JPG
Steve Vai interview - Sun Times - January 3, 1999
Steve Vai & Steve Lukather online chat - December 16, 1998: Merry Axemas2
Alternate version - Edited with only Steve's replies!

Guitar Player - September, 1998: 7-string Interview

Steve Vai interview July, 1998 by Sevenmag
Guitar World - February, 1998 - Steve Vai 7-string summit
Steve Vai Holland Radio Broadcast: 1997
Vai & Satriani - 9/16/97 Internet Chat Log
Guitar Shop - March, 1997 - Steve Vai Interview

Guitar World - 1996: Fire Garden Interview

The Guitar Magazine Vol 5 No 5, May 1995: Alien Love Secret Interview
A.G.Veneris, May 1995: Steve Vai Interview
Arsenic Hand Interview - Steve Vai on Frank Zappa


JEM Speak

"For most of the [Skyscraper] album, I used the Ibanez JEM 777, but when I did the demos, I didn't have the JEM guitars. The solos that were flown onto the master tape were done with a Tom Anderson guitar. Tom is a real fine custom guitar builder in LA, and he built me a great one. I used it a little bit on the road last year, but it was too bottom-endy - a little too much for live playing. But in the studio, it was good." (GP - 5/88)
"About half the solos on the [Skyscraper] record were flown in from the demos. In other words, I lifted them right off the demo tapes and transferred them onto the master tapes. (GP - 5/88)
"And the JEM guitars - I don't know what I did without them all these years [laughs]. The guitars that I use are exactly like the ones right off the shelf. That was the concept behind doing the deal with Ibanez. I wanted a guitar that was suited to me, that had all my little ideas and idiosyncrasies, such as having 24-frets and having it dug out so the Floyd Rose is recessed into the body. I wanted to be able to pull up on the bar, and not have it go out of tune when you rest your wrist on the tremolo. I wanted to have the volume pots in a certain place and be able to reach high up with the cutaway." (GP - 5/88)
"I asked Ibanez if they would build me one. A bunch of different companies approached me - all good companies - but nobody really delivered exactly what I wanted, and Ibanez did. Then we talked about mass-producing it, and I didn't want to put my name on it, because who wants to buy a Steve Vai guitar? What is it going to be in 20 years? It's better that the guitar actually speaks for itself. It's a very fine instrument that will transcend my popularity as a guitarist. As time goes on and other great guitar players some along, I don't think the guitar will bow out, because it's a good guitar and it should live on." (GP - 5/88)
"There were 777 green JEMs made, and I signed each one of them." (GP - 5/88)
"I love that [JEM] guitar. I'll be playing it for a long time. It's got all the nuances I wanted to see in a guitar. The company is very good. They work fast, they work good. They are quality guitars." (GFPM - 6/88)
"The green one will have 777 made and I signed them all. There are other models of that JEM series coming out in different colors that will probably be more accessible to folks." (GFPM - 6/88)
"It's got 24 frets, a Stratocaster scale length, DiMarzio pickups, Gibson G-700 XK Brite Wire strings, and a dugout Ibanez vibrato bar, so you can pull up on the strings. The tailpiece is sunk into the body. It doesn't go out of tune. It's cutaway doesn't get in your way so you can get up really high. The input is on a little bit of a different angle so you don't step on it and it comes out all the time. It's got a handle built into it so you can do stupid stuff." (GFPM - 6/88)
"Q. I've never heard you speak of any guitars other than Ibanez. Do you ever use anything else? Vai Answers: Not really. I designed the 6-string JEM and 7-string Universe model for my specific needs. People think the reason I play Ibanez guitars is that they pay me a whole lot of money. But the truth is, I wouldn't play something that I wasn't comfortable with. It's just my good fortune that it also ended up being a good business deal. They've just exploded." (GW - 4/91)
"The JEM guitars are ultra-flexible. In fact, when you go for that tubey, single-coil Strat sound, the JEM sounds more like a Strat than a Strat. Ibanez guitars allow me to access any sound that I may need, without the tuning problems associated with other guitars." (GW - 4/91)
"There is a certain romance about picking up a Strat or a Les Paul, but to be perfectly honest, I'm not really interested in collecting vintage instruments. That stuff goes right over my head. What I'm really drawn to is the music." (GW - 4/91)


Universe Speak

Steve used a 7-string yellow prototype for [recording with] Whitesnake. The neck was pretty wide at first, but he eventually got one with a neck he liked. - Steve's Tech (GW 1/90)

On the entire album [Slip of the Tongue] I used a 7-string guitar, which is a new guitar I designed with Ibanez. I added a lower B. I thought about it for a year, but I'm happy I decided to do it. It's like I've grown another finger or something. And you can hear it when the low string kicks in. - Steve Vai (GW - 1/90)

I used my JEM 6-string on one song "Cheap & Nasty", but all the other rhythm parts and solos were done on the 7-string. I also used the Coral Electric Sitar, a Guild acoustic, the stereo Ripley, which I really enjoyed, and that doubleneck B.C. Rich because I needed a 12-string. - Steve Vai (GW - 1/90)

The 7-string will actually be available in stores. I don't know how people will react to it, but I think it could interest players of a lot of different styles of music. - Steve Vai (GW - 1/90)

"[In regard to the 7-string] For most of it [PAW]. It's all I use now. The 6-strings now feel puny and weak, thought I still love those JEMs. They were special. For this record I basically used my black Universe. I used the Jem for songs that I wrote a long time ago, that I couldn't duplicate on the 7-string, like "Sister." (GFPM - 7/90)


Tremolo Speak

"It had a Floyd Rose on it, but I endorse Kahler. They both have their advantages and disadvantages, but the Kahler has more potential to be my favorite. Their new stuff has a thicker bar and heavier string tension. You can rest your wrist on it and it will not go out of tune. When they lick the sustain problem with their rollers they will have one hell of a tremolo." (GFPM - 3/86)
"I use it [the wammy bar] way too much for a lot of people, but it's part of my style. If you overuse it, it won't be readily acceptable. That's when people started having doubts about it. Lately my playing has consisted of bar usage and the two-handed technique." (GFPM - 3/86)
"I'm looking for a tailpiece that doesn't have the fine tuners in the way." (GP - 10/86)
"Another problem is that when you put the Floyds in, they raise the strings very high off the body of the guitar, which screws up my picking style a little bit. I rest my wrist on the guitar's body, so in order to pick through the strings, my fingers have to be raised higher than my wrist. It's very uncomfortable, so a better way for me is to have the neck flat on the body and the tailpiece sunk into the body. All of my Floyds are recessed into the body of the guitar." (GP - 10/86)
"By resting my wrist on this tailpiece, I was having another problem with making the notes to sharp. To correct this, I came up with the idea of putting some type of a shield over the tailpiece to keep my wrist from hitting the Floyd." (GP - 10/86)
"The Floyds are closer to what I need than anything else out there. One of the great things about them is they will not go out of tune." (GP - 10/86)
"The Ibanez vibratos, which are similar to the Floyds, have a different type of whammy bar in the way that it joins in with the tailpiece. So they don't get destroyed quite as easily. I still go through them periodically, but not as much as before." (GP - 5/88)


Miscellaneous Speak

"On my records the seventh song is the guitar ballad. If you notice on Flex-able it's "Sleep", on PAW it's "For the Love of God", on S&R it's "Touching Tongues, on ALS it's "Tender Surrender" (GP - 5/95)


"Yngwie's intonation is stunning. He can slide all over the place and get the note right. And if he's vibrating a G, there's an A in there someplace. It's so wide." (GP - 5/95)


I had a great rock group in high school named Rage, and it was probably my greatest band experience. It was such a pleasure! We were young, we had no inhibitions. It was like a family. Rage was something we would fight for. We'd do whatever it would take to make the band great. We'd steal lights off people's lawns to make a light show, carve up bottle rockets in order to make flash pots. Sometimes I wonder what it would have been like to have just stuck with that band - (GW 4/91)


"There was a huge rebellion against the '80s shred thing... and you got a lot of people banging out simple chords to write songs. It will be interesting to see what the new rebellion brings. What I find amusing is how people frantically gravitate to a trend, only to abandon it when it's not him anymore." (GP 9/97)


"It's not the first time electronic music has become trendy, but synthesizers will never replace guitars. Besides, guitars can always ebb and flow with the times. Guitar can be very organic or very electronic. I just don't think electronic music is going to satiate the appetite of romantics and passionate musicians." (GP 9/97)


Upon being asked is there anything left to say with the guitar? Vai responds "I was asked that question 15 years ago, and a whole hell of a lot has certainly been said on the guitar since then." (GP 9/97)




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