The Story Behind Evo’s Broken Neck
“My name is Chris “Chrispy” Conrads, I was Stu Hamm’s Bass tech 1994-1998 Oct 10 1996, Concord pavilion, San Francisco Ca. full production rehearsal day for the first G3 tour. We were setting up and getting everything together for the tour, Steve Vai’s equipment had arrived from Australia, where during a show there Steve had thrown his guitar to his tech while standing on the cable. Needless to say the guitar stopped in mid air and nose dived, thus one of history’s great guitars was damaged. Ibanez had provided a few new necks for Steve to try. All the guitar techs were set up in a corner in the back of the venue (they were still setting up staging, sound and lighting) and I watched as Nick removed the broken neck, stripped the hardware off it and tossed it into a trash can. I was shocked to think that the neck that had been Vai’s “baby” for 4 albums and countless shows wasn’t going to to be attempted to be repaired. I snatched the neck up and said to Steve ” you want me to attempt a repair on this?” He said, “No, once the wood is broken It won’t ring the same as a solid piece of wood” I said “are you sure?” he said “Yea, one of these new ones will be fine” I said, “This is a piece of guitar history, it can’t just go in the trash” He laughed and said “Enjoy!” The next night was the first show of the tour, it was also the night I realised That Steve broke a guitar every night on that tour, I was hanging out at my station on the side of the stage when Steve started smashing the guitar at the end of his set, a pickup rolled across the floor and stopped when it hit my foot, I looked down and smiled as the light bulb went off in my head thinking to myself “If i can get a piece every day, I can build a broken guitar around the broken neck!” I scooped up the pickup and tossed it in my toolbox! And so the tour went on, a trem here, a pick-guard there, a headstock with machines and locknut, all played and broken by Vai! At the end of the tour I had everything but a body. Steve was playing a solo show at the House of Blues in Los Angeles. I went down and helped with set up (H.O.B. L.A. is not a great venue for the crew, rough load in and not much room on the stage) near the end of the show I went into the audience, and worked my way to the front of the stage, and when Steve broke the guitar, the body broke into three pieces I grabbed two of them as they came off, the third I watched slide under the drum riser where I went and retrieved it. After the show I got Steve to sign it but it was still sweaty and oily and the pen didn’t write clearly, Steve said “Here, I will go over it again” reaching for the guitar, I said “Nah, that’s perfect, the autograph was altered by your DNA” he laughed and thanked me for helping out with the show. i glued the body back together (the date of that show is written in the neck pocket) and put all the parts on it and tossed it in a case where it has been for the last decade. Notice how discolored the back of the neck is, Steve’s blood, sweat and tears have been squeezed into the wood grain, it contains more of Steve’s DNA than a dozen DNA models!”
The prototype for the tool-less tremolo system that Steve developed.