The three pedals Steve Vai would rescue in the event of a zombie apocalypse

Pedalpocalpyse Steve Vai
(Image credit: Pedalpocalpyse)

Pedalpocalypse is a new show from Guitar World, MusicRadar and Guitar Player. Produced in LA by British guitarist Robin Davey and Growvision, it's best described as “Desert-Island-Discs-but-for-pedals”. 

Inspired by the bad-old-days of lockdown, in each episode we ask guitarists: “If you could only take three pedals with you into a future lockdown and/or zombie apocalypse, which ones would they be?”

We kick off a new round of episodes with Steve Vai. Recorded at his home studio in LA, Vai talks us through three key pedals, demonstrating their various tones and how he uses them to get the Steve Vai sound. He also gives us a peak into his pedal closet – the home of his extensive collection of effects pedals.

"You ever see guys who build Harleys and personalise with all these little things? That's what we do with our sound with pedals," he says. 

Steve's choices include the Ibanez Jemini Distortion pedal, a signature pedal. "I love tube screamers and I love the DS-1 but they need a bit of tweaking to my ear. So we kinda tweaked them a bit and made two pedals," explains Vai. 

Then there's the Boss DD-7 digital delay. "A beautiful workhorse for delay, with stereo ins and outs which give you a real stereo delay." 

And finally, the Jim Dunlop Cry Baby Wah. "I like wah-whas. Delay, distortion and wah-wah. I just like it!"

One of the many tantalising pedals he produces from his pedal collection is the Mu-Tron Bi-Phase. Why? "It completely molests your notes," he says.

This episode is supported by our friends at Universal Audio and their UAFX Guitar Pedals: "Built upon powerful dual‑processor engines and UA's proven analog modeling expertise, UAFX Guitar Pedals give you sonic authenticity far beyond other stompboxes."

Some of Steve's favorite pedals are no longer available to buy new, but you will find plenty of second hand options at sites like Reverb and eBay

Previously on Pedalpocalypse:

Episode 1: Blues-country-jazzmaster and all-round tone wizard Josh Smith

Episode 2: British blues guitarist Scott McKeon

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Scott Rowley
Content Director, Music, at Future plc

Scott is the Content Director of Music at Future plc, responsible for the editorial strategy of online and print brands like Guitar World, Guitar Player, Total Guitar, Louder, Classic Rock, Metal Hammer, Prog, Guitarist and more. He was Editor in Chief of Classic Rock for 10 years and, before that, the Editor of Total Guitar and Bassist magazines. Scott regularly appears on Classic Rock’s podcast, The 20 Million Club, and was the writer/researcher on 2017’s Mick Ronson documentary Beside Bowie