“I remember my first lesson with Joe. I had a guitar and a set of strings. I’d never really played. I didn’t know how to tune or string it”: Steve Vai and Joe Satriani discuss the evolution of guitar playing, and what they taught each other

Joe Satriani (left) and Steve Vai perform onstage at the Limelight in Chicago, Illinois on June 27, 1987
(Image credit: Paul Natkin/Getty Images)

This interview with Joe Satriani and Steve Vai originally appeared in the April 1990 issue of Guitar World.

Before Steve Vai and Joe Satriani burst onto the scene, Carle Place, Long Island, qualified as the land that time – and everyone else – forgot. But as the boyhood home of the two monsters of “intelligent chops,” the suburban town stands at the center of the earth for countless guitarists.

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Alan di Perna

In a career that spans five decades, Alan di Perna has written for pretty much every magazine in the world with the word “guitar” in its title, as well as other prestigious outlets such as Rolling Stone, Billboard, Creem, Player, Classic Rock, Musician, Future Music, Keyboard, grammy.com and reverb.com. He is author of Guitar Masters: Intimate Portraits, Green Day: The Ultimate Unauthorized History and co-author of Play It Loud: An Epic History of the Sound Style and Revolution of the Electric Guitar. The latter became the inspiration for the Metropolitan Museum of Art/Rock and Roll Hall of Fame exhibition “Play It Loud: Instruments of Rock and Roll.” As a professional guitarist/keyboardist/multi-instrumentalist, Alan has worked with recording artists Brianna Lea Pruett, Fawn Wood, Brenda McMorrow, Sat Kartar and Shox Lumania.