“There isn’t much guitar at all for the first three tracks. Nobody gave me the memo about what a record should sound like”: How Steve Vai revolutionized guitar with his debut album, Flex-Able

Steve Vai live onstage in 1986
(Image credit: Clayton Call/Redferns)

The appearance of Flex-Able, the self-financed debut album by Steve Vai, tore up the rulebook for what could be achieved by an electric guitar wielded with deadly intent. 

Unleashed in 1984, it heralded the arrival of the most important new figure in rock guitar since Eddie Van Halen. The record served as a calling card for the mind-blowing array of Vai’s unearthly gifts.

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Mark McStea

Mark is a freelance writer with particular expertise in the fields of ‘70s glam, punk, rockabilly and classic ‘50s rock and roll. He sings and plays guitar in his own musical project, Star Studded Sham, which has been described as sounding like the hits of T. Rex and Slade as played by Johnny Thunders. He had several indie hits with his band, Private Sector and has worked with a host of UK punk luminaries. Mark also presents themed radio shows for Generating Steam Heat. He has just completed his first novel, The Bulletproof Truth, and is currently working on the sequel.