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Watch Steve Vai hand his guitar to a teenage fan mid-show, who then brings the house down with his insane playing

Steve Vai
(Image credit: Steve Vai/Instagram)

The European leg of Steve Vai’s Inviolate World Tour saw a glorious finale in Barcelona on July 19, when the virtuoso stepped into the crowd and gave his electric guitar to a teenage boy to play the set’s encore track, Fire Garden Suite IV – Taurus Bulba.

Vai had played 17 tracks at the Teatro Tivoli – including Tender Surrender, Bad Horsie, Little Pretty and For the Love of God – before taking a break prior to the show’s encore. Upon his return, and as he began playing Fire Garden Suite IV – Taurus Bulba, he noticed the boy in the audience, whose father had shown him a clip of him playing guitar on the cab ride to the venue.

“On the last show of the European Inviolate Tour, on my way to the venue in Barcelona, there was an excited cab driver that wanted me to get into his car to take me to the venue,” Vai recalls in a new Instagram post.

“During the drive, he was very excited to show me a video clip of his son playing For the Love of God, and I was actually pretty impressed with the way this boy played. During the concert that night, I saw the boy with his dad sitting in the audience, so I decided to make his day… and he certainly kicked some ass! It was a splendid way to cap off an outstanding tour.”

Needless to say, the boy proves his skills within seconds of equipping Vai’s guitar, and even heads to the stage to bask in what’s surely one of his life’s highlights so far.

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Last month, Steve Vai offered a tour of his live rig – with his techs taking viewers through his impressive collection of “career guitars” – and the man himself showing the complex signal processing needed for his absurd triple-neck Ibanez Hydra.

Highlights of Vai’s six-string collection shown by his guitar tech, Doug, included his Ibanez Universe – used during his tenure with Whitesnake – his John Scofield signature guitar and his long-trusted JEM7VWH, dubbed “Evo”.

Vai’s radical triple-neck Hydra – which packs in a seven-string guitar, a half-fretless 12-string, a 4-string three-quarter-scale length bass guitar and even 13 harp strings – hasn’t made an appearance on Vai’s tour at the time of writing.

“I asked my engineer to weigh it but we never got to weighing it,” the guitarist told Thomann last month. “Everybody asks me, ‘How much does it weigh?’ 1,000 lbs, that’s what it feels like!”

Bringing it to the stage would also present some logistical challenges – challenges Vai is more than capable of handling, mind.

“The Hydra has an ethernet cable, and the output of the ethernet cable has all of the outputs for the different necks,” he explained, adding that the signal from the instrument is routed through a purpose-built rack unit, before heading into his Fractal Axe-Fx III amp modeler.

The North America leg of Steve Vai’s Inviolate World Tour is set to kick off on September 28 at The Magnolia in El Cajon, California, and will comprise a whopping 52 dates running until December 3. For a full list of dates, head to Vai’s website (opens in new tab).

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Sam is a Staff Writer at Guitar World, also creating content for Total Guitar, Guitarist and Guitar Player. He has well over 15 years of guitar playing under his belt, as well as a degree in Music Technology (Mixing and Mastering). He's a metalhead through and through, but has a thorough appreciation for all genres of music. In his spare time, Sam creates point-of-view guitar lesson videos on YouTube under the name Sightline Guitar (opens in new tab).