Joe Satriani used one plugin for all the guitar tones on his new album – and it wasn't his signature AmpliTube collection

Joe Satriani
(Image credit: Rick Kern/WireImage via Getty)

Along with his Ibanez guitars, Joe Satriani’s modern-day sound is most often associated with his Marshall stacks – a guitar amp that has become the bedrock of both his studio and onstage tones.

For his latest studio effort, however, the shred legend flipped the script, and instead took the opportunity to use a piece of gear he claimed “goes against everything I’ve spent my whole career developing”.

Speaking in the latest issue of Guitarist, Satch revealed he didn’t use a single guitar amp on The Elephants of Mars, and that all his six-string sounds were conjured up via a SansAmp plugin.

When quizzed about some of the “crazy ideas” he tried on the album – which arrives April 8 – Satch said, “Well, the craziest idea was something that goes against everything I’ve spent my whole career developing. 

“Every guitar sound you hear was recorded direct and we used a SansAmp plugin,” he continued. “That’s insane. If you could see this room I’m in, it’s filled with great amplifiers – and I didn’t use any of them.”

However, despite the prevalence of plugins on The Elephants of Mars, Satch went on to admit he didn’t use his signature IK Multimedia AmpliTube – which came out in December 2020 – and instead relied solely on SansAmp alternatives.

And that’s not to say he didn’t trial the Marshalls while recording the LP – but when placed head-to-head with its digital counterpart, “the SansAmp version won”.

“I mean, we tried,” Satch reflected. “But every time we put one against the other, the SansAmp version won. Luckily, I don’t have a deal with Marshall anymore, but I had to call my friends over at IK Multimedia and say, ‘I’m really sorry, but that’s just how it turned out...’”

The experience doesn’t signify the end of his relationship with regular amps, though, with Satch asserting they will remain the pillar of his stadium-filling stage sound.

“I’ve got a whole bunch of [amps] and as I do every day, I’m gonna turn ’em up and practice for the tour that’s hopefully coming,” he continued. “I love dealing with amps. But playing live with an amp has nothing to do with recording an album.”

Head over to Magazines Direct to pick up the latest copy of Guitarist, which features the full interview with Satriani, as well as an in-depth conversation with Billy Bragg and an exploration of the best new gear for 2022, including guitars, amps and effects pedals.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.