Joe Satriani and Steve Vai!? Playing together!? At the Count Basie Center for the Arts (opens in new tab) in Red Bank, New Jersey!? When such guitar legends are this close to our back yard, you know AMS is going to be on the case.

It’s not every day that Vai and Satch actually put down their guitars to talk. But Ibanez pulled some strings, and AMS’s Russ and Ryan got to sit down with the ultimate shredders to talk about their five decades of playing music together, take a stroll down memory lane, and of course, ask them all about gear. Check out the interview now!

Satch and Vai – still shredding after 50+ years

After more than 50 years, a combined 90+ signature guitar models, 25 million album sales, multiple platinum and gold records, and a long-lasting friendship, how did two kids from Long Island grow up to become some of the greatest guitarists in history?

Russ and Ryan took Steve Vai and Joe Satriani down memory lane with some pictures from yesteryear to get a little more context from their historied careers. And after all the records and amazing accomplishments, the duo maintains that “The most important thing is the next notes we play.”

Satch and Vai grew up in the same area, and Joe Satriani was actually Steve Vai’s guitar teacher for a time! Coming from the hometown area gave them both a similar background to base their music on, it’s no wonder why they’re such a great match on and off the stage.

And even after all this time together, they’re still able to surprise each other on stage. It’s a relief to know that they don’t actually understand what the other is doing, either; it’s not just us watching who are amazed!

The gear that drives Steve Vai and Joe Satriani

It’s no secret that both Steve Vai and Joe Satriani love Ibanez. They’ve been Ibanez artists forever with tons and tons of Ibanez signature guitars between the two of them. But although they sometimes sound like their playing is from another planet, it’s all in the fingers. Their actual rigs are quite simple.

Before hitting it big, Joe Satriani admitted that his main goal for building a rig is to keep it as simple and straightforward as possible. It’s not easy driving and flying around with dozens of stacks, and if specialized equipment breaks down, well… that’s the end of the show!

So in the end, all Satch needed to sound amazing on stage were three things:

  1. An Ibanez guitar
  2. Marshall amp with good clean channel
  3. Boss DS-1 distortion pedal

And, of course, a few black t-shirts…

Vai is also a big fan of the Boss DS-1 to create his tone — and obviously Ibanez guitars.

However, they both admit that most of a guitar’s tone comes from the player. In the interview, Satriani said that a player has to meditate on their tone. They have to understand the fact of it. It’s all in the fingers, and the fingers are attached to the head. Your tone is based on how you hear yourself and how you want to hear yourself, and that’s translated to the fingers and through the guitar.

Several times throughout their careers, Vai and Satch would switch rigs with other players like Nuno Bettencourt, Brian May, and each other. And no matter what gear they use, they still sound like themselves!

The new guard of shredding

Guitar virtuosity is not dead. There are so many amazing players climbing the ranks of the guitar world, and we were curious to hear with Vai and Satriani thought about the “new guard” of guitar. And they love them!

We talked about three players in particular:

Vai and Satch are blown away by how these guys play. Each one is focusing on a specific style and genre of guitar, and it’s refreshing to see (or hear, rather) all the new innovations.

However, there is one caveat: You HAVE to see them live! Both Vai and Satch say that there’s an energy and beauty that comes with watching these guys play. It’s infectious, and you can’t really experience it in all its glory through a screen. You have to see it for real. So go see a show!

What’s next for Satch and Vai?

These two never slow down! There’s so much on the horizon for Steve Vai and Joe Satriani. Of course, they’re still on their duo tour, and they’re currently working on their latest collaboration album, The Sea of Emotion, Pt. 2 (and maybe a part 3…?).

Independently, they’re each working on solo projects as well. Satch is going to head out on the Best of All Worlds tour with Sammy Hagar in the summer, and Steve is going to hit the road in the Fall for the Beat tour (opens in new tab).

Keep an eye on their websites, (opens in new tab) and (opens in new tab), for all upcoming tour dates and new releases. You definitely won’t want to miss what they’re cookin’ up!

A huge thanks Joe Satriani and Steve Vai for taking time out of their very busy schedules to have a chat — and Ibanez for setting it all up. We’re still in awe of what you can do with just six strings and make it look like it’s not even a big deal! Keep on shredding, and we hope to catch up with you again later.