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Joe Satriani: Young Instagram guitarists "play so much better than I could ever play in terms of speed, dexterity and complexity"

Joe Satriani performs onstage during the Experience Hendrix Tour at ACL Live on October 21, 2019 in Austin, Texas
(Image credit: Rick Kern/WireImage)

During an appearance on The Mitch Lafon and Jeremy White Show earlier this week (February 14), Joe Satriani was asked to share a warm-up exercise, and a repetitive, finger strength-building lick, that he'd recommend to students looking to build up their speed. 

Though certainly not averse to sharing his six-string wisdom in the past, on this occasion, Satch demurred, and for a somewhat surprising reason.

“I think after watching a lot of young players on Instagram today that I am completely unqualified to answer that question," Satriani said. "First of all, because they play so much better than I could ever play in terms of speed, dexterity [and] complexity.

“It’s really, really exciting [that] for the first time in the history of the world, there are guitar players that can do that on six strings, seven strings, eight strings, ten strings... it’s really great," he continued. "I wish their albums were in the top 10 instead of them having to do that every day on Instagram. But there you go. But you know, bravo to them."

Satriani went on to contrast his own warm-up approach with his younger guitar-playing peers, saying, "I'm still doing chromatic exercises that I learned back in 1970, because I think all you really want to do [in this instance] is warm up. I think it's more important to know where every note is on the guitar, and to know how every scale sounds and where it is in every key.

"I know that's like the Mount Everest set of things to accomplish when you're a beginner," he acknowledged, "but the speed thing just comes. It'll just come when you start playing with people."

Satch took that point as an opportunity to caution young guitarists against focusing too much on social media visibility, in lieu of finding other musicians to play with, and/or live audiences to play for.

“Young people have to understand they should spend more time playing music for people and with people because that’s our job as musicians," he said. [The point is] not to get better in our bedroom looking at the mirror. That’s not actually a viable way to live.”

Satriani appeared on Lafon and White's show to discuss his forthcoming album, The Elephants of Mars. Set for an April 8 release via earMUSIC, the album features the recently-released single, Sahara, which brilliantly mixes sub-Saharan styles with huge rock rhythms and gorgeous, David Gilmour-esque lead tones.

To pre-order your copy of The Elephants of Mars, head to Satriani’s official store (opens in new tab).

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Jackson is an Associate Editor at GuitarWorld.com. 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 (opens in new tab). Elsewhere, his album reviews and essays have appeared in Louder (opens in new tab) and Unrecorded (opens in new tab). 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.