Back in December last year, Steve Vai announced Inviolate – his 10th solo studio album and first since 2016’s Modern Primitive.
Then, a mere day after he shared the album’s tracklisting and release date, the shred legend dropped the effort’s first single, Little Pretty. In that very same announcement, though, there was something far more eye-catching that immediately captured guitarists’ attention.
We’re talking, of course, about Vai’s bonkers triple-neck Hydra electric guitar. Built by Ibanez, the intimidating beast features 7- and 12-string guitars, a 4-string, 3/4-length bass guitar and 13 harp strings, as well as a range of electrical components, including humbuckers, sustainers, single-coils and a piezo.
A video, which will be auctioned off as an NFT, was subsequently released and gave us a better look at the guitar, but until recently little was known about the axe’s origins.
Now, a dedicated Twitter account – aptly named TheHydraGuitar – has been established, treating fans to behind-the-scenes pictures of the monstrous model’s development and exploring its journey from prototype to the final product.
Here is a pic of an early rendering of the Hydra prototype! Things changed as we went along. We will be updating https://t.co/PMxaD45kGL with new content on a regular basis, so make sure to stay tuned! pic.twitter.com/imsbGNIlCPFebruary 8, 2022
The first tweet from the account – bar a few retweets from Ibanez and Vai’s Twitter – offered an early digital rendering of the Hydra prototype, which highlighted the daunting, nigh-on impossible task that Ibanez had at hand.
Follow-up tweets then provide glimpses at the Hydra headstock and tremolo designs, as well as a picture of an unfinished, pickup-less prototype. The insane electrical wiring received some attention, too, thanks to a shot that sees “an amazing wizard at Hoshino working on the wiring for the first prototype”.
An amazing wizard at Hoshino working on the wiring for the first prototype. pic.twitter.com/jDqpLWG69cFebruary 13, 2022
“The Hydra, as Mr. Vai has appropriately dubbed it, started off as a concept that Steve approached Ibanez with several years ago,” said Ibanez Artist Relations manager Mike Orrigo on the account. “While it was understood then that the task to turn Steve’s vision into reality would be a tremendous undertaking, we were undeterred by the challenge.
“Fueled by Steve’s inspiration," he continued, "our team of designers, engineers, and luthiers worked tirelessly together in order to create a truly one-of-a-kind instrument, remaining as true to the initial vision as possible.”
Wondering how Vai manages to move the Hydra between locations? Don’t fret: there’s a handful of pictures that document the case-making process, as well as a look at the absurdly large hardcase that it rests in.
Now THAT is a big guitar case! pic.twitter.com/Hd0jQMmlApFebruary 17, 2022
That brings us to the latest update from The Hydra Guitar, which arrived yesterday (February 22) to show us a close-up shot of the Steampunk-tagged 7-string Ibanez headstock used on the final design.
For more behind-the-scenes snaps and to keep up to date with Hydra’s story, head over to The Hydra Guitar Twitter account.
7-string headstock on the second Hydra prototype! pic.twitter.com/tU3B6Pvur6February 22, 2022