NAMM 2022: Guitar World gets up close and personal with Steve Vai's ridiculous triple-neck Ibanez Hydra guitar

NAMM 2022: Sure, Steve Vai already shared a video detailing his insane, triple-neck Ibanez Hydra electric guitar back in January, but if you got a chance to behold this marvel of luthiery in person, wouldn't you take advantage of it?

Naturally then, when GW spotted the Hydra on exhibition on the NAMM show floor today (June 3), we had to get a closer look. You can see what we found for yourself in the video above and the gallery below.

For those unacquainted, the Hydra is a combination 7- and 12-string guitar, 4-string, 3/4 scale length bass guitar, and 13-string harp that features single-coil, humbucking, piezo, MIDI and sustainer pickups, floating and hardtail tremolo bridges, phase splitters, half-fretless necks, and more loony specs than we have time to discuss here.

Bonus points to Ibanez, too, for exhibiting the preamp the company created for the Hydra, which features inputs for each of the monster's pickup systems.

Vai used the guitar for Teeth of the Hydra, a track from his new studio album, Inviolate.

“The idea for this guitar and track came to me roughly seven years ago," Vai explained in a statement earlier this year. "I envisioned composing and performing a piece of music on a multi-neck instrument where all of the sound emanated from that one creation with the exception of some keyboards and drums. 

"I sent my ideas to Ibanez, and their builders delivered this astonishing wooden creature. I was stunned. It was awesome. When I first laid eyes on it, I named it the Hydra, and instantly knew the name of the song would be Teeth of the Hydra." 

“When I finally sat with the Hydra and started to contemplate writing this piece and how I was to navigate the instrument in a seamless way, for a moment it seemed impossible," he added. "I just started slowly, and it all began to unfold very naturally. Things that can seem impossible don’t seem so impossible once you just start doing them."

To follow along with all of GW's NAMM adventures, check out our always-updating live blog from the show floor.

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Jackson Maxwell

Jackson is an Associate Editor at He’s been writing and editing stories about new gear, technique and guitar-driven music both old and new since 2014, and has also written extensively on the same topics for Guitar Player. Elsewhere, his album reviews and essays have appeared in Louder and Unrecorded. Though open to music of all kinds, his greatest love has always been indie, and everything that falls under its massive umbrella. To that end, you can find him on Twitter crowing about whatever great new guitar band you need to drop everything to hear right now.