What surprised John Petrucci when he played through Joe Satriani's rig

Joe Satriani (left) and John Petrucci perform onstage on April 2, 2018 in Rome, Italy
(Image credit: Roberto Panucci/Corbis/Getty Images)

Dream Theater electric guitar master John Petrucci recently sat down with Guitar World to discuss his ongoing solo tour with Mike Portnoy.

Also up for discussion, though, were Petrucci's top tone tips, one of which is that guitarists should always keep in mind that their tone comes chiefly from their own hands.

While this idea had certainly been familiar to Petrucci since his earliest days on the instrument, a chance demo of Joe Satriani's rig – while the two were on a G3 tour together – was a stark example of just how true the maxim is. 

"The guitar is a tactile instrument," the prog-metal virtuoso told Guitar World (opens in new tab). "You’re using the flesh of your hands to interact with it, and regardless of everything else you use, the sound you make comes from you. Every guitarist sounds different, and that’s because every guitarist is different. That’s the beautiful thing about playing the instrument. 

"I remember being on a G3 tour with Joe Satriani," Petrucci went on. "I’ve always been so enamored of him – his skill and his tone. One day I asked him, 'Can I play through your rig?' And the funny thing was, once I played through his rig, I didn’t sound like Joe at all – I sounded like me. And I was hit with the realization that, because the guitar is a tactile instrument, so much of the tone came from my touch.

"That’s something very important to keep in mind. Try to understand how you affect the tone of your guitar. It’s your gift. Embrace it and use it. No matter what else goes into guitar playing, you are the most important thing that you bring to the table."

Petrucci's ongoing run of shows – in which, of course, he's using his own rig – also feature longtime Steve Morse sideman Dave LaRue on bass guitar, and are his first live performances with Mike Portnoy since the latter's departure from Dream Theater in 2010.

The trio's setlists have been comprised almost entirely (opens in new tab) of material from Petrucci's 2020 solo effort, Terminal Velocity, plus a few songs from his 2005 solo debut, Suspended Animation

They haven't, however, been afraid to have a bit of fun here and there as well, throwing a quick-fire jam on the James Bond theme into their setlist at a recent Los Angeles gig.

To read Guitar World's full recent interview with Petrucci, meanwhile – in which he discusses why he reunited with Portnoy to take Terminal Velocity on the road – pick up the latest issue of the mag via Magazines Direct (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.