Answers 50

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.”

Answers 49

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.”

Answers 48

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.”

Answers 47

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.

Answers 46

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


“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 theories 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.”

Answers 45

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 important 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.

Answers 44


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’ :).”