Answers #07: January 2003

Hi Steve,
I bought your last opus recorded during the live sessions and i was really happy to find ones you made with us on the 23rd of march 2000 in Bordeaux (it was not at the “Theatre Barbey” but at the “Krakatoa”). In the song “Being With You (in Paris)”, who composed the few lines in French? (really nice accent!). I hope you will have time to answer to me.
A french fan.
Charlier Fabien

Steve writes:

“Ooops, I don’t know how we put the wrong venue name but thanks for pointing it out. I will ask Mike to post it on the site. I composed the letter that was then read in French at the show. It was translated by John Pusztai who was also the one that recited it. It’s sticky sweet.”

John Pusztai (pictured here with Steve) tells the story of how it all came about:
“Here’s what happened on what was probably the most incredible day of my life so far: I’m a Vai fan. Actually that’s a bit of an understatement, but you get the picture. I also live in Paris, and after attending the local gig of the Ultra Zone Tour here on March 15th (2000), I thought there was no way I wasn’t gonna see that show again, so I went to Strasbourg. I got to the venue around 4pm that day (April 1st), and the doors were open. Talk about blind luck!

The band was doing the soundcheck. I sat down in the back, where some other people were hanging. Obviously it was amazing! At one point, they started to play that song Steve had just written, which sounded like a Parisian ballad. Then I heard Steve saying he needed a translator. I was sitting next to his tour manager, so I told him I could do it. And it worked!

So there I was up on stage! I thought Steve just wanted to talk with some french person, but actually, the song they were rehearsing was written for France: they were going to perform it that night, and record it in order to put it on a live album. Steve asked me to translate a poem he had written from English to French, and to recite it in the song. It was about a particular day he had spent in Paris with Pia, and what the feelings it had evoked in him. Too bad Phil (Bynoe) doesn’t speak French though, it would have made it sound like Barry White! (j/k ). I went to the dressing room to do the translation, and then we rehearsed it a couple times. Then the soundcheck came to an end. It was time for the band to relax before the show and to have dinner. I went to a nearby chinese restaurant with my friends but I couldn’t eat!

Eventually the show started. I spent most of it running around backstage almost shitting my pants, I was beyond nervous! Right after Voodoo Acid, it was time for me to hit the stage. Pure adrenaline! It went pretty well, although I think I was shaking a bit. It was very magical. God what a memory! Everyone in the crew was really cool to me. My deepest gratitude to you guys, especially to Steve for making this happen, for being my greatest inspiration (not only musical), and many other things!
Warm Regards – John Pusztai”

I notice on a lot of your album you mention using Eventide Harmonizers. Do you know where I can buy one and how much they cost? Also, is there any way I can buy a left-handed version of any of Ibanez’s Signature Steve Vai series guitars?
– Sherri Durham

Check out for more info on the Eventide Harmonizers.
There (was) a lefthanded version of the Jem produced: the JEM555LWH. This is still available in some music stores – or check on ebay, and

Is there going to be another Merry Axemas CD? The first two were simply too
damn stuning.
-Pedro Henrique

S – “Maybe sometime in the future but there are no plans at this time.”

Hi, I watched a program on TV the other day about one of the seven wonders of the world, which got me thinking, because they said something about an eye in a triangle/pyramid being on a note. I wasn’t really listening untill they talked about the triangle thing. I started listening because I saw the same triangle thing on Steve’s album ‘Passion and Warfare’. I didn’t realise ’til I came to find the email address – it’s also on the website. Unfortunately I didn’t catch what they said about it on the TV – but it’s something to do with ‘new order’ and alexandria. Could you tell me what this triangle symbol thing means? and why steve uses it?
thank you,
charlie .. big fan of steve

S – “If you research metaphysics you will find mystical meanings for pyramids and triangles, and the power of numerology and the number 7 being a prime focus. I had made many discoveries whilst I was seeking spiritual balance in my life. I believe there is cause and effect based in metaphysics, and the study of which can bring one closer to the roots of the human being. But l have also found that more than not they can be a big deterrent in the progress of spiritual evolution, and at times very dangerous. Numerology, mystics, fortune telling, etc., all have their place and their reality but at the core of the matter, is where the essence of it all really is, and everything else is just an obstacle in getting there. What I’m saying is, I wouldn’t worry about the pyramid and the numbers.”

Hi Steve,
On your fantastic album The 7th Song, (my lovely wife bought it for my Xmas), at the end of the 11th and final track, the track number does not change but the CD continues, and to my amazement ‘Warm Regards’ from Fire Garden starts (which is definitely not the 7th track from Fire Garden, its track 18). The track is played in full. Was this an intentional addition? Or was it a pleasant mistake? If it is a mistake, is it limited to a certain CD batch or are they all the same? Could my copy be rare? I truly hope so. Please reply – I would love to hear your response.
Thank you for the music.
Warmest Regards,
Robert Termer

S- “It was an intentionally hidden track, surprise!”

Hey Steve, I’m big fan of yours. What was your rig in Flexable? Did u use a Carvin amp like those seen in the ‘crossroads’? When did u start using the JEM’s?
– Martin Philip Bengson

S – “For Crossroads I was using a Carvin X-100B amp along with a Charvel guitar
that turned into my Green meanie guitar. I was using an MXR distortion, Cry
Baby Wha Wha and a Roland SDE 3000 for delay.”

Steve designed and began using the Jem in 1987.

Dear Steve,
If I am not mistaken you recorded with Dweezil many years ago on a cut called ‘Crunchy Water’. If I am correct, is that cut available anywhere?
Jeff Cole

S – “Crunchy water was the flip side of a track called “My Mother is a Space Cadet.” I wrote My Mother… with Dweezil but I did not play on it. That was Edward Van Halen that produced and played on it. I have no idea where you can find a copy. I don’t even have one.”

I just heard a killer version of Steve doing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”…what can you tell me about it?

We often get asked about this track, as well as a few others floating around on filesharing services out there called:
Steve Vai – “Beethoven’s 5th”
Yngwie Malmsteen/Steve Vai “Duet”
Satriani/Vai – “Formula 1”

S – “I don’t ever recall playing ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’, or ‘Beethoven’s 5th.’ I don’t ever recall jamming with Yngwie, and I have never heard of a track that Joe and I properly recorded called ‘Formula 1.’ I think it’s all rumors, mistakes or misnamed things.”

VAI.COM UPDATE: Thanks to the many fans who wrote in helping clear up this confusion. We have heard that “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” is actually performed by Chris Impellitteri, and that “Beethoven’s 5th” is performed by Nuno Bettenbourt (we’ve been unable to confirm this).

The track “Formula 1” is apparently a mis-titled version of “Juice” that appeared in the video game “Formula 1”. A Satriani track also appeared in the game soundtrack – hence the confusion.

As far as Steve’s attitude toward filesharing, read his thoughts below…

I was wondering what Steve’s opinion is on all this stuff going on about [peer-to-peer filesharing], mp3’s, and free music over the internet.
– Mike Ricci

S – “I think that ripping tracks from the Internet is a blatant disregard for the intellectual property rights of the artists that create the art, most of whom live hand to mouth. Believe it or not, “file sharing” is bringing the music industry to an all time low and at the end of this we will see at least a 25% decline is sales. That will put a lot of Indies out of business, make the majors smaller and less effective in marketing, and discourage many musicians from making music as it will seem more and more hopeless to make a living in the business. So, buyer beware of what your doing when you rip from the net. I have never even once in my life downloaded a track from the net for free because I know how it effects the artists.”

Hello from Finland!
I would like to know if Steve´s hearing has suffered after so many years in loud bands? I have many friends who have hearing loss and tinnitus. Does he use anything on stage to protect his hearing?
Yours sincerely
Aki Järvelä

S – “I have always protected my ears with ear plugs or cotton whenever I play
on stage or in rehearsal. As a result they are still good. I get periodic
check ups too. The only other thing I ever stick in my ear is my elbow.”

Hi Steve I am 14 years old and have been playing the guitar for two years now. I was wondering what kind of things you were playing when you were around the age of 14?
One of your biggest fans,
Adam “axman” Wallace

S- “Hi Adam. When I was your age I played a whole lot everyday but I would break it up into different categories. Exercises, scales, chords, jamming to tapes, reading music and just sitting and improvising. All in all I would spend about 9-15 hours a day. I highly recommend playing to a drum machine or loops as this will help you get your groove together, play with as many different people you can as musical communication is tremendously important, and just love music all the time. Be supportive of other peoples musical contributions and struggles.”

Will Fire Strings ever be released on CD or video?
– Jay

S- “Eventually everything I ever recorded will be released in one way or another.”

Hi there Vai!
My name is Magnus Rubach Wendt, I’m a 17 years old guitar player from Norway… I play guitar all day long… but lately I’ve been getting a real pain in the wrist (fretting hand)… everybody tells me to rest from the guitar!!! Its horrible… I love playing… I want to play all the time!! Help me, please…
How can I play all day, without getting injurie in my wrists!!!
An answer would be more than great!

S – “Just playing is not necessarily going to make you a great musician. There are many things you can do to improve yourself while you let your hand rest. It’s difficult to rest when you want to play, I know, but you must because you can damage yourself.
Develop your ears. Get some books on solfeggio and sight singing. Learn to hear music in your head while looking at it on paper. Sit and write melodies that you hear in your head. Practice much slower, hitting only one note every 30 seconds and make it sound great and listen to it ring out.
Create tapes of chords that you can listen back to and name when you hear them, this is great ear training. Listen to inspirational music that you like. Study theory and imagine how you can apply it to the instrument. These are few things.

Answers #06:

Dear Steve, I noticed in your first 2 albums you gave a lot of credit to God. Being a Christian myself, I really admired that, but in the song “Fuck Yourself” you say “the Lord will be fucking….” Steve, I laughed so hard at that song but that line seriously offended me. At St. Andrews Hall in Detroit during “For the Love of God” you looked up said ‘thank you’, to God I presume… I just want you to know I think you’re the greatest guitarist ever to walk the earth, I just wish you would respect God a little more because He gave you the gift.
– Sirfrums

“Sorry, I did not mean to offend you. That particular line in the song is aimed at people who use religion as a means of personal and monetary gain.” The actual line reads “fuck yourself with organized religion, now that is some seriously sinnin’ business, if the Lord sees their pathetic crimes, He’ll be fuckin’ them ’til the end of time”. Fear not, however, if that doesn’t offend you there are a hundred other things in there that will. :)”

This may seem weird, but back in 1988 you came to Toronto with DLR. I saw you play a Lado guitar with lightning graphics on it. As a Toronto kid, to own a Lado was a big deal. I know it has been a decade, but do you still own that guitar? Would you want to sell it? If not, what happened to it? Thanks,
– Jeff Tidd

Steve does still have this guitar, but it’s in storage in the vault. Though we get asked about five times a week, Steve doesn’t sell any of his guitars (with the exception of the occasional auction on ebay – the proceeds of which are donated to a charity of Steve’s choice.)

I know you worked with Ozzy on the “Ozzmosis” album. Did you record anything with him, and if so, is it possible that any of the tracks will be released someday?
– (Vai_boy)

Some tracks were recorded but only one of the songs Steve wrote with Ozzy, “My Little Man”, appeared on the record and all of the guitars were redone by Zakk Wylde. Tapes of Steve & Ozzy don’t exist outside the studio, and there are no plans to release any of it.

Hi Steve, I read in your answer to a Malaysian fan that you would like to return there on your upcoming tour. Australia is quite close to Malaysia (well, compared to say, Brooklyn, anyway), so is there any chance that Australia could be included on this tour? I know we don’t have a huge population but I’m sure you have a lot of fans over here. Incidentally, a friend of mine swears you were out here in ’98 on a publicity tour. Is he pulling my leg?
– Mark Rogers
(Sent in 1999)

A tour for “The Ultra Zone” will start internationally in January 2000 (an American tour begins in October ’99), and we will be doing that whole general Australasian region as thoroughly as we can then. Tour dates, when available, can be found here. (To answer your other question, Steve did not do a promo tour or anything else down there in ’98, but we’ll be back soon.)

Are the bees at the start of “Bangkok” from Steve’s hive?

Nope, that’s a sample. Steve started getting into bees, to the degree of actually having them around, after the “Fire Garden” tour was finished.

How did Steve feel about playing with Chick Corea? How does he feel about this musicial genius in general?
– Ralf

Many of the records listed in Steve’s Discography have Steve’s memoirs as well, and it just so happens that there are notes about this performance (“Rumble”, from “The Songs of West Side Story”). You can check out either the main Discography or the specific inner page (with only the notes) for “The Songs of West Side Story”. You can order a copy from

I really like “Fire Garden” and I’m wondering how to get the transcription of the album? Is any really published out there? I live in Indonesia and things happen kinda slow down here. And one more thing, why doesn’t Vai opens a site that gives lessons for people that really want to play guitar like him?
Thanx, bye

You’re another easy question with happy answers! Yay! The transcription book for “Fire Garden”, as well as many more Steve Vai transcription books, can be ordered from our Merchandise section (if you don’t want to order online, the mailing address is provided there as well.)

I just started collecting guitar picks and I’m wondering how many Steve Vai guitar picks there are?
Ben Karas

A bunch. All of them, or at least the vast majority of them, can be found on the guitar picks page.

Hello!!! I want to know if G3 Songbook will be made? Thanks …

Made and available right now! Click here.

In some photos of Steve there’s a white cat. Is it Steve’s cat?
Tim Kane

The cat you speak of actually belongs to photographer extraordinaire Neil Zlozower.

Answers #05:

Why won’t you release a live video? You got us sobbing and blowing our noses here! I’ve read in GKS and in a letter to Mike Keneally that you are reluctant to release live material because you think that you make “too many mistakes” when you play live. Steve, from the heart, even if you drop your guitar on your little toe every five minutes, I’ll still buy your live video. In fact I’ll buy three. Your performance on the G3 video was so much fun, that I feel really sad that there are so little opportunities for me to see a live show. Please Steve, it would mean so much to all of us. Don’t leave us high-and-vai… May God be with you and your family,
– Mohammed Al-Haddadin

“Oh alright, I’ll do a live video…”

Hi, I was wondering if you could tell me if Steve is of Italian descent? If so, has shortened his last name cuz Vai isn’t an Italian last name. Please reply as soon as possible.
(no name given)

“Both of my parents are of Italian descent but were born in America.Vai is actually an Italian word. It’s the verb “to go”. Sometimes in South America or Italy people say to each other “Vai Vai Vai” & I end up syaing “What what what”?

Hey Steve, I am Joni Visuri from Finland and I heard that you have a Jackson Soloist. I have a Soloist too and it is THE BEST GUITAR ever. Now I don’t understand why you are playing with Jems — I am not saying that it sucks but really, an all-access neck is not really a match for neck-thru or lo-pro Edge for original Floyd Rose.
(no name given)

“Well, I don’t know, Joni. I had three Soloists and the neck broke on every one. They just don’t feel half as nice to me as my Jem does. Understand that I played the Soloist when Ibanez was but a gleam in my eye. I bulit the Jem around my playing style so it fits very well. I’m sure the Jackson is still a nice guitar, it’s just a matter of preference.”

P.S If God had a song it would be Juice.

“That’s funny, I thought it was only good for snowboarders, what do I know.”

P.S P.S if you answer me i will buy all your records.

“Off you go now…
$teve Vai”

Dear Steve, I just purchased “Flex-Able Leftovers,” and I love it. In terms of the “new” old material, I’m curious what was done when. Clearly, the vocals for “#$%^ Yourself” were recorded recently. Are any of the tracks in that song from the original recording? What’s the breakdown of new vs. old in the other unreleased tracks?
– J.D. (your #14,378 fan)

“The extra songs on Leftovers were done at various times. “Fuck Yourself” was written in 1980 but the recording was so poor that I re-recorded it and changed a few of the lines to make more sense with present-day Earth. “Massacre” was recorded recently too. It was an experiment with a piece of gear that I was trying out. “Natural Born Boy” was written some time ago and the track was recorded about 5 years ago but the guitar was done about a year ago. “San Sebastian”was written while I was in San Sebastian, Spain and recorded about 13 years ago “The X-Equilibrium Dance” was written and recorded at about the same time as the Leftovers stuff around 1982.”

Did Steve use a Charvel or a Fender to record “Flex-Able”?
– Jason


My buddy and I noticed that on all of Steve’s discs the seventh track is always among that disc’s best performed, intricate, and amazing songs. These tracks are “Tender Surrender”, “Touching Tounges”, “Hand On Heart”, “Call It Sleep” and “For The Love of God”. On “Merry Axemas”, Steve’s track is # 7, is this a coincidence or does Steve have some reason for associating the #7 with such beautiful music?
– Debbie McElhinney

Uh oh, I think they’re on to us…

I’m interested in the “Alien Love Secrets” video but could you explain the differences between the two formats? Respectfully,
– Troy Johnson

Basically, there are two main video formats in the world of home video, NTSC and PAL. People living in North America and Japan use NTSC, while people in Europe, South America, Australia and some other countries use PAL. Unless your player can play both formats (many newer PAL VCRs will play NTSC, but not the other way around), you’ll want to make sure you order the right format. Just to be safe, call a local video store and ask them what format is standard in your region. Visit Merchandise to get a copy.

Can you tell me if the composition that Steve plays at the end of the “Alien Love Secrets” video has a name? I would be very interested in knowing what it is called. Thanks!
– Jason Allman

We actually get this question a lot, especially since the ALS DVD was released. Truth is, Steve doesn’t remember what he named it — it’s a single take improvised over the credits.

Hello, I’m a big fan of Steve and I’m interested to purchase the Angelica Project CD. Unfortunately, here in Brazil it’s impossible to find it. I’ve looked for the web sites like Amazon and CDNow but nothing… Please, do you know where (on the web) can I buy this CD? Thank you very much.
Alexandre Couto

It’s actually a Various Artists release called “Angelica”, produced by Clif Magness, and Steve plays on one track (Eric Johnson and Dweezil also appear on this disc, among many other incredible musicians). It is available from

I am a big fan of SV, I am an Egyptian guitarist and I would like to send mail to Steve, is it possible?
– Ihab Radwan

You can send e-mail to Steve at . All mail is read, though we cannot guarantee that Steve will have time to answer your letter. You can send regular mail to Steve at:
PO Box 691862
West Hollywood CA 90069

How can I get all of your live videos, because it is difficult to find here in Malaysia.
– Jeffry Moses

The only truly “live” video Steve has released yet is the “G3 Live In Concert” video, also featuring Joe Satriani and Eric Johnson. Steve has also released “Alien Love Secrets”, which is a collection of 7 performances shot on video and covering the entire record of the same name. Both can be ordered right here from’s Merchandise section.

Hi Steve!! Some pictures on your website tell me that you were really enjoying the stage with Mr. Les Paul. Then did you play any Les Paul guitars? I am really interested in this live show, do you have any plan to release CD or video related to this live show ?
– Eiji Kawauchi

Steve does own one Les Paul, a black Standard pictured here. It was used briefly on the Whitesnake record and recently re-entered the studio again, so it might pop up on new recordings too. There is no official recording of the Les Paul show at House of Blues (unofficial video sightings have been reported).

Answers #04:

Was there ever a Vai Album released under the title “Light Without Heat”? Thanks,
Donna Webbon

“Light Without Heat” was the original name for the VAI band (1993) and the “Sex & Religion” record. Both were originally going to be called “Light Without Heat”, but Steve has a couple of companies by that name already (Light Without Heat Merchandising and an equipment rental company) so it would have been a headache for accounting, file keeping, etc etc. The VAI name added the recognition factor to the band’s name so that made sense, and as the record progressed, a theme started to emerge and the “Sex & Religion” title became the right one for the project. Collectors take note: advertisements for “Light Without Heat”, the band and the record, did actually run in a few music magazines in early 1993 before things were changed.

Since I’ve seen the section of this site with all of Steve’s guitars, I figured I’d ask my question here. What is the best position in which to keep your guitar when it’s not being used? I have six guitars and regularly play two of them. It seems that the others are always out of tune. I keep them in their cases. Music stores hang them from the headstock. Is that the best way to keep the neck from bending? Thanks,
p.s. Who was the opening guitarist at the G3 show in NYC, Mike Kin…..?

Hanging the guitar by the headstock will not hurt the guitar and is a good way to store it, but not necessarily better than any other way. Provided that there is no undue pressure on any part of the guitar and the humidity/temperature is okay, you should be fine. Steve keeps some guitars hanging, and some in cases stored either horizontally, vertically, sideways, inside out…. The humidity is probably the factor you want to worry about most, because that can play havoc with your neck especially, and that means tuning problems, intonation problems, and possibly even warping and serious damage. If the room is normal room temperature and not too humid, you should be okay. Avoid leaving guitars near windows where they’re exposed to direct sunlight, because that can warm up the guitar, and it will cool down at night — you want to keep the temperatures pretty stable. Heat or cold is usually okay but going back and forth between the two is bad. This might be part of the problem you’re having with keeping your other 4 guitars in tune. You should get it checked by someone who knows these things, in case you have some warpage. Maybe you just need it set up again or a simple adjustment. Take them to a professional and neglect them no longer! (The guitarist you speak of is none other Mike Keneally, whose band Beer For Dolphins opened the US shows in Nov-Dec 1996, and who also played in Steve’s band each night. For info on our boy wonder, check out his magnificently magnificent website at

Hey Steve, did you know that there is a tribe in West Africa with the name Vai? Also, I was interviewing David Ocker over the internet for a research paper on Zappa’s instrumental music, and he mentioned that you had written some orchestral music but nothing ever came of it. I’d love to know if you’ve written any classical music, and I’d also be very grateful if you’d “verify my suspicions.”
– Justin

Steve responds;

“That’s funny, there’s a tribe of wild Vais in my living room right now. Their names are Julian and Fire”

. Regarding the orchestral music, Steve has written orchestral scores of several pieces both familiar and unheard, including “For The Love Of God”, “Call It Sleep”, “Little Green Men”, “Lotus Feet”, “Memories Of A Silent Rose” and others. Steve, backed by 2/3 of his Fire Garden touring band and a 65-piece orchestra led by Joel Thome, performed these arrangements for a live audience in Rochester, New York in September of 1996. The show was dubbed Soundcurrent, but was not recorded for release. Steve would very much like to do a tour like this, using different orchestras in each city, but that’s a HUGE undertaking and it takes a LOT of time, and Steve is simply too busy juggling everything else at this point. It’s something close to his heart though, so cross your fingers.

Hi there, my name is Shahriman Aziz, an I’m a Vai fan from Malaysia. I have a few questions I’d like to ask… Is Steve Vai going to visit Malaysia again sometime in the future? I read in the official homepage that “Sex and Religion” is banned in my country. Why? (Anyway, I have the CD…)
– Shahriman Aziz

We played in Malaysia in January 1997 and LOVED it there. It’s a beautiful country and we can’t wait to play there again. Steve is expected to tour again this summer, and Malaysia is one of many places we hope to visit again. There are no tour dates or anything yet though, but when we have some they will be posted on this site. Regarding S&R being banned there, it’s news to us, but some countries have strict guidelines about objectionable content, and perhaps some of the references to human sexuality and also to religion might have been censored by officials there. It’s obviously not something we’re happy about, but those are the things you deal with when you live on a planet as diverse as ours.

I had a vinyl record from an issue of Guitar Player that had Steve doing “Amazing Grace” on it. I don’t remember what year or issue, but I think it would have been in the mid 80’s. I love the song and sing it at church quite often, but the rendition Steve does on that record is really awsome. Is there some way to get a copy of it, or is it on one of Steve’s other records? I would be grateful for any help you could give me in locating that recording. Thanks,
– Brett Menke

This recording appeared on the original motion picture soundtrack “Dudes”, and an edit is heard in the movie, which stars Jon Cryer and is worth getting. The soundtrack has long been out of print, but Steve has included this track on the recently released “The Elusive Light and Sound, Vol. 1” CD.

I have got to be Steve’s biggest fan. Is it remotely possible that an unknown guitarist such as myself would ever have the “dream come true” chance to jam with Steve?
D. Ace McCloud

Yes. Steve’s Make A Noise Foundation, a nonprofit charity organization founded by Steve Vai & Rich Pike, hopes to do a jam show (no details yet, we’ll post them when we have them, but it will be a while) during which fans who donate musical instruments or other donations to the MANF can get a chance to jam with Steve onstage. There would be other celebrity guests at these jams as well. We hope to do one in Los Angeles to start, and who knows, maybe even a small tour of similar shows in other major cities. Nothing has been carved in stone yet though, so keep checking the Make A Noise Foundation section of for info. If you’d like to send a donation (monetary or otherwise) to the MANF, please send it to:

PO Box 360528
Los Angeles CA
90036-1092 USA.

I really want to buy a copy of the “Bad Squad” CD but I’m not looking to spend 100 bucks on a wah pedal just to get it! Is there any other way I can get it? Maybe it’s available through GKS which I am working on making some bucks to subscribe to (being a poor 17-year old guitarist / Vai-idolizer is hard!).
– Matt Barrus

The “Bad Squad” CD is not a proper Steve Vai release, as many fans appear to believe. It is a promo CD for Morley, who in alliance with Guitar Center, are having a huge promotion for Morley’s Bad Horsie wah wah pedal. If you buy the pedal at a Guitar Center store or at their website, you should be eligible for the CD while supplies last (contact them for more info while placing your order). The CD features the track “Bad Squad” and a second track which is the naked tracks of the first, so you can jam along. Greasy Kid’s Stuff has been graciously given 5 of these discs to give away to subscribers in GKS’s Bad Horsie writing contest, but otherwise it is available only through Guitar Centers when you buy the pedal.

Why can we not hear you playing in the jam at the end of the “G3 Live In Concert” video (last three songs)? We want G3, not G2! Johnson and Satch are perfectly clear but we can’t make out a note of Vai. What the hell is going on here? Please oh please let there be a sane answer.
– Jimmy and Steve, Dublin

You’re listening to it in mono. Joe is in the center, and Eric & Steve are panned hard left and hard right. If you’re not listening in stereo, it means you’ll hear either the left channel or the right channel but not both. Some people complain that they can’t hear Steve, others can’t hear Eric. You need to adjust your VCR & TV settings from mono to stereo, or upgrade to a stereo TV or VCR instead of mono. You’ll be surprised how much you’ve been missing.

Don’t you think that a few jars of Steve’s Light Without Heat Honey would make a great giveaway prize for a future GKS contest or random member drawing type thing? Yours truly,
– Greg Rodgers, Loyal GKS member & Vai fan

Steve has just harvested some honey which he is bottling now, and though most of this batch will go to friends & family, he will continue harvesting more honey (he has several full hives happening now, it’s getting scary up there) that we will be calling Fire Garden Honey. We’re not sure what we’re doing with it yet, but we’re pretty sure we’re going to auction it off at this site and the proceeds will go to the Make A Noise Foundation to help provide musical instruments and music education to kids who can’t afford those things, and GKS will surely snag a few bottles to give away in a Greasy Kid’s Stuff fan club contest of some kind. As long as you continue to be a “Loyal GKS member”(we like you!), you’ll get your chance. 🙂

Hello, I am Michael Pflügl from Germany, a great fan of Steve Vai. Where can I get the picture discs and the other stuff in Germany? The solo LPs and CDs I already have, but the picture discs and so on. Yours faithfully
– Michael Pflügl

The picture discs (12″ vinyl records with artwork printed on the actual vinyl) are “Passion And Warfare”, “Down Deep Into The Pain” and “In My Dreams With You”. They can be tough to find these days, but check the better music collector magazines and do internet searches. There is an internet auction site called and I sometimes see them listed there (but be wary of spending too much!). Also, if you’re in Greasy Kid’s Stuff and get the newsletter, you can advertise for free in the Passing Notes section and will very likely locate them that way.


Answers #03:

In the beginning of the guitar duel in the movie “Crossroads”, Steve plays something that any Vai fan can’t miss! He plays the beginning of ‘Bad Horsie’. I know I’m not mistaken that the song is ‘Bad Horsie’, but I was wondering if it was ‘Bad Horsie’ then. “Crossroads” came out in 1986, and Alien Love Secrets came out in 1995. Did Steve write ‘Bad Horsie’ in ’86, or did the piece in the movie inspire him to write it in ’95?
– Dane Runyon

Steve replies:

“The song ‘Bad Horsie’ was actually writen around the riff from ‘Crossroads’. The script called for a guitar riff that sounded like a locomotive going by. I remember the director Walter Hll walked in and heard the riff and said, ‘Wow, how can anyone beat that, the duel is over before it began’ :).”

I bought a Boss DS-1 distortion pedal because I love the way your distortion sounds on the G3 live album. I don’t think I’m doing it right though. I plugged my guitar into the ‘input’ of the pedal and then another cable from the ‘output’ of the pedal into the ‘input’ of my Hughes and Kettner Tube/50 head. But it sounds buzzy no matter where I position the knobs on the pedal or the head for that matter. Am I doing something wrong? Is there some piece of equipment that I need but am not aware of? I also have a Bad Horsie wah that I want to use. I’ll appreciate any help you can give me. Sincerely,
– Jake Terry

Steve replies: “Jake, it sounds like your plugging everything in right. Check the battery in the distortion. With my set-up, when the distortion pedal is turned off the amp is a little dirty sounding. Kind of a chunky rhythm tone that I use as a basic sound for all the songs. If I back off the volume on the guitar the sound clears up enough to use it for cleaner songs. When I crank the volume on the guitar and hit the pedal it’s usually pretty distorted but smooth. The way I set the knobs on the DS-1 are tone control to about 9 o’clock, level at about 11 o’clock and the distortion to about 11 o’clock. If your amp is set very clean then crank the distortion on the pedal all the way up but smooth it out by bringing the tone way down, maybe to 7 or 8 o’clock. The basic sound is in the tone but most improtant is the way you hit the notes. The real tone is always in your head and fingers.” Other things you might want to check, if this doesn’t clear it up for you, are your cable and positioning. A bad cable could be the culprit for buzz, or try changing where you put your amp in case nearby power lines etc. are causing noise.

I know you’re never gonna answer this question, but I have to ask never the less. I know Joe Satriani uses pitch axis theory. my question to you is: does Steve use ordinary modulation (things you’re taught in school), pitch axis theory or has he made up his own set of rules? It seems most likely to be number three.
– Jacob, Denmark

Steve replies:

“I learned all the rules, then applied them in both conventional ways and unique ways. The pitch axis theory is common and simple to apply on the guitar if you have a basic sense of music theory. Conventional rock guitar players do not usually attempt to apply these thories to their music but with people like myself and Joe it’s very common. I like to use upper structure triads and hybrid chord structures in my composition. If I was to demonstrate you would hear it in most of my music.”

What (if any) kind of tremsetter do you use on the seven string guitars? Thanks
– Blooddoll

Steve doesn’t use tremsetters on the 7-strings.

What advice does Steve have for a struggling guitar player who just has a dream and a lot of guts?
– Dan Thomas, Manitoba, Canada

Steve replies:

“Have confidence in yourself. Practice all the time, research and study the music you love. Play with as many people as you can. Get a good understanding of the music biz so you can get an idea of what your sweat is worth so you don’t get ripped off. Never pose in a picture, say anything into a microphone or write anything on paper that you don’t believe in. Always be supportive and compassionate to your fellow musician, they have dreams too. There isn’t a value that you can put on the loyalty of a supportive fan. Listen to what other people have to say before you dismiss them, but always act on your own instinct. Ask yourself if what your doing is spiritualy healthy or not. Never lie or cheat anyone in this biz because it really sucks and you will bring that stuff right back on yourself. Think of the time in the future when you may be 80 years old and ask yourself if you feel as though you created a body of work that you’re proud of and has some kind of social redeeming value because if all you do is surround yourself with negativity in your life and music, then you will become a self fullfilling prophecy and a miserable parasite on civilization. Love music, use suncreen and wear a condom. Father Oblivion has spoken.”

Could you tell me a little about the Buzz Feiten Tuning system? Is this a mod that a mere mortal can perform on his/her own guitar? Thanks
– Kelly Schrock

Steve replies:

“Buzz Feiten is not a mere mortal so I wouldn’t suggest you try to do it on your guitar. He has spent 3 years perfecting his system. It really works too. I believe it works from the principal that the guitar is a screwed up instrument when it comes to the way the frets were traditionaly spaced in conjunction with the way it’s tuned. A crude, and I mean crude, explanation would be that he changes the scale length slightly and by re-intonating the guitar, not perfectly mind you, but by some formula he has determined works, the guitar is then tuned with a special tuner that is slightly unconventional in its readings. All this allows you to play around the neck while having the notes vibrate with each other in more of a “tuned” way. You should really ask him though. He wrote the secret sauce. I’m just a mere mortal… I think.”

Did you always believe in your musical abilities when you were younger?
– Kevin Bradwick, Wales

Steve replies:

“I always felt as though I had interesting ideas. I am very confident in my heart. I was just extremely insecure about bringing those ideas to the ears of other people. When I locked the door and recorded ‘Passion and Warfare’ I was extremely thrilled with what I was doing, I just thought the rest of the world would never get it. I believe that most all of us have great moments of inspiration at times. It just takes a lot of courage and dedication to make some of those ideas a reality sometimes, especially when it means you have to figure out how to record them and make a record. Sure would be easier to be a poet or something. Oh well, maybe in my next life.”

I’m building a studio. Can you tell me the name of the author of “The Audio Cyclopedia”? Thanks a lot.
– Arturo

The full title is actually “Handbook For Sound Engineers: The New Audio Encyclopedia” by Glen M. Ballou. It ‘s available from for $115.

I want to order the ‘Alien Love Secrets’ video and a subscription to Greasy Kid’s Stuff, but I don’t want to order online. Can I have a mailing address I can use? Thank you very much.
Brenda Schemmel

All merchandise orders from this site are secure and in fact safer than a credit card transaction done in a department store. Many people don’t realize that every time they swipe their card at a gas station or a store, the info is sent via modem to another terminal which processes the transaction anyway. Ordering via this site, basically the same thing happens, but there’s no paper trail that can get into the wrong hands and it’s quicker. However, our mailing addresses are:

For merchandise:

Light Without Heat Merchandise
PO Box 251725
Los Angeles, CA 90025

For Greasy Kid’s Stuff (the newsletter):

Greasy Kid’s Stuff
PO Box 360965
Los Angeles, CA 90036-1465

Please remember to include any applicable shipping & handling charges, and 8.25% sales tax if you live in California, for merch orders. Any questions, e-mail or and we’ll reply as quickly as we can. If you’re writing about an order you’ve placed, please provide the order number and your full address in your e-mail, thanks!

Answers #02:

For which movie did Steve record the song “Amazing Grace”? Any other singles on soundtracks? As a proud student of Vaiology, I thank you for the years of inspiration and beg you for more!
– Cj

“Amazing Grace” appears on the “DUDES” original motion picture soundtrack, which was released on MCA Records in the mid 80’s and is now out of print. The song also appears in the movie, albeit a very edited version. Other songs that appeared only on soundtracks include “The Reaper” and “The Reaper Rap” (Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey), “Get The Hell Out Of Here” (Encino Man), and “Now We Run” (PCU). Steve has compiled all his sondtrack music together in one release: The Elusive Light and Sound, Vol. 1. This release was previously only available in the Secret Jewel Box from Light Without Heat, but is now available in Stores on the Favored Nations label.

Will Steve be coming to Australia on the third G3 tour?
– Mann Family

As far as we know, there are no plans yet for an Australian G3 tour. The most recent G3 Tour (2001) featured Steve, Jon Petrucci and Joe Satriani. You can check out photos here.

I need to know if Steve won the Grammy Award for his performance of “For The Love Of God” on the G3 CD….and the answer has got to be yes, because any other is unacceptable to this die-hard fan of the master…peace,
– Jan

The award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance was given to The Chemical Brothers. Other nominees included Joe Satriani, Eric Johnson and Robben Ford. Steve won the Best Rock Instrumental Performance in 1994 for “Sofa”, from Zappa’s Universe. In Steve’s words, “Oh well. Better luck next life”.

I would like more information about the Make A Noise Foundation. I play guitar and wanted to go to MIT [school] but can’t afford to move, much less go to school. I’m teaching myself without much progress.
– Steven Stanford

Information about the Make A Noise Foundation can be found HERE. The nonprofit charitable organization was started by Steve Vai & Richard Pike, and while still in the very early developmental stages, should be up and running very soon. Our goal is to help underprivileged young people who want to play music, and to keep music programs in schools where budget cuts threaten any kind of music education or there are not enough instruments, etc. Our direction is very focused however, and we want to help those who need the help most desperately. Many of the people we will help will be located through schools, etc.

I know this is old news, but whatever happened to the novel that Steve planned to write in conjunction with “Passion and Warfare”?
– Jason Middleton

Steve got about halfway done with it while on tour with Whitesnake in 1990, but we all know how insanely busy Steve keeps himself, so the book eventually was put on the shelf while he toured with Whitesnake, produced Bad4Good, and wrote & recorded ‘Sex & Religion’. Much of the P&W novel actually went on to become the basis for much of the Fire Coma script, which was the inspiration for ‘Fire Garden’. Also, Steve has written several stories based on songs from ‘Fire Garden’, click here if you’d like to check them out!

Does Steve ever pop into the chat room on his site?
– Jon Warden

Yes, both Steve & Rich visit the chat room on from time to time. (Steve uses the name SSV, Rich usually uses rpike)

Does anyone know how I can get the “Shankar/Caroline – The Epidemics” in the USA? I have been looking for this CD for five years and would appreciate any help in locating a copy.
– Surge

The record has been out of print for several years now. Copies can sometimes be found in better rare records shops or collector magazines such as Discoveries, and of course, there’s always Ebay!

I heard that Steve used to give guitar lessons. Is that true? If it is, does he still do so?
Ben J.

Steve did indeed give guitar lessons to students years ago. Steve gave lessons while living in Long Island, in Boston, and after he moved to Los Angeles. Soon after moving to Los Angeles, however, his career really started taking off and he no longer had the time to dedicate to teaching. He no longer gives guitar lessons.

I have a guitar question for anyone who can answer it. Is there such thing as a seven string Ibanez Jem on the market? I’ve been wanting to buy a new guitar and I’ve been looking for one like this for a long time. Thanx for your time!

Ibanez makes and sells the Ibanez Universe series of guitars, which are 7-string electrics designed by Steve and based on the idea of a 7-string Jem (the Jem guitars were also Vai-designed). Go to the Ibanez web site for more info, or check our list of Fan Sites for several sites devoted to the Universe guitars!

Why is it so hard to find American-made Jems, particularly the burnt stained blue finish or the natural wood finish?
Andy, Sherman Oaks CA

The 7BSB, which is the stained blue Jem you mention, is available from any authorized Ibanez dealer and is a regularly available Jem. There is no Jem with a natural wood finish, but you’re probably thinking of Steve’s ‘Bad Horsie’ guitar, which is a custom guitar built specially for Steve. (If you’d like to check out the Ibanez site, click here).

My husband is looking for the tablature of the song Steve played in the movie ‘Crossroads’. Any idea where I could find it?
Gloria Martinez

The only magazine we know of that featured the complete transcription is the April ‘89 issue of ‘Guitar School’. It’s been out of print almost since publication, but back issues can sometimes be found at various online auctions like ebay, or try posting on our message board!

I really want to get the pickups Steve uses, but buying the whole guitar is over my budget, so I’m wondering where I can find and order the DiMarzio Evolution pickups to customize my own guitar. Can you order them separately, and from where? Also, how much would they cost me?
Frank Pennington

Steve uses the Evolution pickups in some guitars (including Evo), DiMarzio’s new BREED pickups in other guitars, and DiMarzio PAF Pros in some older Jems (on which the PAF Pros came stock). For info on these and all other DiMarzio pickups, go to their site at

What is Devin Townsend doing currently? Has he been releasing anything lately? What is his band called? I’ve searched the whole web but didn’t find anything.
Frank Plein

Devin may be among the most prolific and most talented human beings stomping around on our planet today. A website with info about his various bands including Strapping Young Lad and Ocean Machine is located at

Answers #01:

For our first online issue of Answers, we will reprint some questions and answers from past issues of Steve’s official fan club magazine, Greasy Kid’s Stuff.

Is Steve ever going to be in a movie again? (Angie M., Jonesboro ME)

“Well, if the right movie comes along, sign me up”

. Steve has actually received several offers to appear in other movies since “Crossroads”, but

“most of the time people send me scripts for the part of the demonic, nasty, mean apparition. I wonder what ever gave them the idea that I’d be good in a role like that?”

Does Steve still keep in touch with Devin Townsend? (Kelly C., Alberta Canada)

“Yes, I talk to Devin occassionally. He always sends me his latest projects, and believe me, they’re devastato. He’s really a brilliant dude and his music is so intense. He’s the most unpredictable person I’ve ever met. And I’m a pure instigator, so when we both get together it’s quite the extravaganza”.

(Visit Devin @

What happened to Steve’s big heart-shaped guitars, as seen in the Just Like Paradise video? (Steve B., England)

There were originally two of those guitars, one was seen in the video and an extra was built as a spare. During the Fire Garden album release party/performance in Universal City, CA on Sept 17, 1996, Steve donated the original guitar to the Hard Rock Cafe where the release party was held. (He also donated his outfit from the Guitar Legends festival). The spare guitar was later taken on the Ultra Zone tour, where Steve used it to perform “Fever Dream.” At the conclusion of the Ultra Zone tour, it was raffled by Steve’s nonprofit charity The Make A Noise Foundation, and the lucky winner was Eddie Andersson from Sweden!

Steve actually has a third heart-shaped guitar that is actually painted a metallic purple. It will be available for your viewing pleasure shortly in the Guitar Gallery.

Are the “Little Alligator” lyrics a slap against transsexuals in general? As the “finest transsexual metal singer” according to BAM Magazine, should I be offended? (Christine B., San Francisco CA)

Steve replies:

“The song was written about one transsexual in particular whom my wife & I were entertained by in a club in Miami. I never meant it to be disrespectful, I don’t do that with my music. Only you know what will offend you. I’m terribly sorry if anyone was offended by these lyrics. Trust me, I don’t judge people by their sexual orientation.”

Is Steve’s wife Pia the female singer on “Flex-Able” named Pia Maiocco? (Patrick W., Austria)

Yep. It’s Pia who says “Just go for it!” in the middle of ‘Viv Woman’ – and at the beginning and middle of ‘Jibboom’ too! A Tae Kwon Do black-belt, she also played bass in Vixen in the mid 80’s, and had a few smaller roles in movies including “Hardbodies”.

What books have you been reading lately? (Yoshiko Y., Japan)

“I just read ‘Quest For Light’ by Maharaj Charan Singh Ji. It’s a beautiful book of letters written by a guru to his disciples.”

(Look at

Has the Steve Vai interactive CD-ROM been released? (Dawn B., Australia)

(Revised answer) The CD-ROM project evolved into the DVD for “Alien Love Secrets”. There were plans to work on an interactive guitar instructional DVD and a second DVD for “Alien Love Secrets”, but these things take a lot of time and work and in the midst of records and tours, the instructional DVD just didn’t happen. The idea has not been abandoned, but it has been shelved for now. Don’t fret, however — check out our new Little Black Dots section with interactive guitar lessons online right here at! (If you’d like to get the “Alien Love Secrets” DVD, you can order one online from our Merchandise section,, or find them at just about any music store!