Steve Vai recently offered up a guided tour of the 'Harmony Hut', where he keeps some of the more unusual electric guitars in his extensive collection.
And let it be known, there are a lot of ‘em. As he tells Reverb.com, who put the video together, “I seem to resonate more with guitars that have unique functions and totally unique sounds.”
Among the many bizarro builds he shows off include an '80s-era Guild 30-fret, as well as an Ibanez 'Xavier' with a 16-fret fingerboard that he says will “drive your harmony teacher crazy.
“To play chords and to solo on it, your ear is pulled in a completely different direction. It’s another world.”
The finish on the Xavier, meanwhile, is an unusual none-more-black.
“This color, it’s so dark that it almost looks likes its invisible,” Vai says. “Like a hole.”
From there, Vai displays a guitar with a whammy bar built into the body, as well as an Ibanez JEM with two whammy bars.
“You can do some interesting things with this,” he says.
He also pulls out another JEM, this one modified with “a pickup that is processed, and you can immediately have different tunings,” Vai says. “It’s digitized, so to speak.”
Other models? A Sterling Ball-built seven-string sitar guitar that Vai used on the song Upanishads, from his Modern Primitive album; a heavily-modified ’76 Strat, his “first real guitar”; and an Ibanez JS that his good friend Joe Satriani took a blowtorch to and gifted to Vai for his birthday.
“It’s one of my most cherished guitars because it came from the man who taught me how to play,” Vai says.
Additionally, he shows off a scalloped-fretboard Strat that came from Yngwie Malmsteen (“It’s nice for doing melodic minor scales,” he jokes); a one-off Ultra Zone creation; and his trusty EVO and FLO III Jems, as well as his brand new Ibanez PIA.
And of course, he also spotlights the famous triple-neck heart guitar from the David Lee Roth days.
“It’s got a 12-string and two six-strings,” Vai says. “And what I would do is tune the 12-string and the lefty six-string to a particular chord. Because I’m not ambidextrous.”
For an in-depth look at some of the other instruments in Vai's collection, head over to Guitar World's photographic tour.