The Musikk Praksis interview - Followup to the Acoustic JEM
This is just a part of the whole interview. I only cared to translate the parts where he is taking about guitars. The rest of the interview is about his time with Zappa, Alcatrazz and Lee Roth. There is also some bits about his carvin amps, a lot about Favored Nations and some about different songs.
The interview was done in Steve's home 21. January 2001 by Per Sviggum of Musikk Praksis, Norway. I am possibly violating the copyright law by translating this, but I'll take my chances. It is too interesting to keep in a
language spoken by only 4 million people globally :biggrin:.
Sorry about all the typos and bad English. Notepad doesn't even have a spell checker...
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We can't avoid talking about the Universe guitar that Ibanez released at the same time as PAW came out. PAW contains a lot of 7 string guitar.
I made the 7 string, in cooperation with Ibanez, available for people. There was guitar builders who had done this before us, but in a smaller scale. Many guitar players ahd 7 string guitars: George Van Eps, Lenny Breau and many jazz players found the 7 string interesting, when thinking about what chords and bass lines that you can do with an extra string. I heard that Uli Jon Roth had a 7 string, but to me this was not a revolutionizing new discovery.
The conversation with Ibanez lasted around 5 minutes when I asked them if they could make a 7 string version of the JEM guitar.
- OK, lets do it. Where would you like the extra string??? We need a new Edge tremolo and some new pickups that fits.
-Ok, tell me when it's done!
When the guitar was finished I found that the Universe was a cool guitar so we decided to make it available.I was sure that others than me would get a kick of a guitar like this. I used the Universe almost solely on PAW and Slip of the Tongue.
You used a stratocaster with Zappa and during the years with Performance and Charvel (Green Meanie) this developed into Ibanez JEM. please tell!
Yes, I started with a Fender Stratocaster, but it wasn't the guitar for me. I discovered that after a while. I was
introduced to Grover Jackson(The man behind charvel and Jackson), and he made a beutiful sunburst Charvel guitar based on a Stratocaster - but with Floyd Rose, two humbuckers with a single coil in between. I painted it flourecent green - a proof of my bad taste. (laughter) I used that guitar for many years. I finally outgrew it
because it wasn't capable of doing different things. The solution for me was to get out the tools and modify Green Meanie a bit. I removed some wood underneath the tremolo so that I could pull the arm up. That was the first time you could do that on a guitar. i changed the pickups several times. I used a lot of DiMarzio pickups and I routed a deeper cutaway. I also had some custom guitars made by Performance based on the modifications that I made on Green Meanie. When I had gotten a name in the market I received offers from almost every guitar manufacturer about building guitars for me. I sent them all a drawing, and some of them I actually sent a Performance guitar. I told them that I'll work with whoever builds the best guitar from my specifications in shortest time. There wasn't a competion at all. Ibanez came back with the absolute best guitars of all and they delivered me 3 guitars after two weeks. And they even put a monkey grip in it...
Was that Ibanez idea????
No, that was of course my idea. Who else would have thought of that?
-Mr. Vai, would you care for a handle in the body? (speaking in Japanese-English)
But the JEM guitar have also had a development since the first models came out over 10 years ago
Every year Ibanez makes new models with kinds different of variations. New finishes and small details, but the biggest changes came with the white JEM. We used basswood in the first guitars, while the VWH have an alder body and I had some new DiMarzio pickups (Evolution) made that suited better to alder than basswood. Right now we're working on a acoustic model that I hope will become a Steve Vai signature guitar. I've always wanted to work with this, but I haven't had time before now.
You are undoubtly interested in new equipment and knows what's on the market. What's the latest?
I'm getting in a Roland VG-8 these days but it's not exactly new. I'm going to play around with it and maybe I'll do a demo for Roland. I had it in the studio for a short while and I was impressed about what you can do with it.Roland will also send me the new guitar synth, GR-33, so I'l be checking that out. It is supposedly trigging even better than their old models.
Other things that I'm using is the Fernandes sustainer system. I'm totally hooked on it and got it built into my own guitars. I'm using it on 50% of the live show. I have completely fallen for the possibilities that you have with this system.
Is this something Ibanez will offer on future JEM guitars? (Steve thinks for a while... wondering whether he's going to reveal a little secret)
I'm working with ibanez on a Ultra guitar at the time. The guitar will have every thinkable feature built into it and among that a sustainer - a tour the force guitar...
Will this be a new signature guitar in the market?
With time it will be in the stores but in a very limited number - and it will be expensive!!! We're still working on the prototype. We don't know when it will be finsished and in production.
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