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Steve Vai unveils new song Knappsack, which he shreds entirely with one hand

Best of 2021: As it turns out, trigger finger surgery – incurred after holding a guitar chord for too long – hasn’t slowed Steve Vai down in the slightest. The electric guitar god has continued to do what he does best, and released a new song, Knappsack, which, on first listen, is a classic Vai exercise in fretboard aerobatics.

But there’s a twist – he does it all using just one hand.

Wielding his Ibanez Onyx Black PIA guitar with just his fretting hand – his picking hand firmly fastened in a sling behind his axe owing to a shoulder injury – Vai effortlessly glides up and down the fretboard, offering up an absurd number of string-hopping slide lines, rapid-fire hammer-ons and pull-offs, and a solo that would be hard enough to play even with two fully functioning hands.

Oh, and he even throws in an expertly executed one-handed dive bomb for good measure.

The virtuoso had previously hinted at the upcoming release of a one-handed song while talking about his recovery from trigger finger and shoulder surgery.

Speaking to The Cassius Morris Show, Vai said, “Before [the trigger finger surgery] happened, my shoulder was screwed up and I couldn’t use this [picking] hand, so I was playing with one hand. So I did a little song with one hand, [and] I’m gonna work on trying to get that out.”

Safe to say, the guitar world was left picking its jaw up off the floor, with many notable axe slingers voicing their admiration for the video.

“C’mon, that ain’t fair!” commented fusion extraordinaire Martin Miller, with heavy metal maestro Kiko Loureiro saying, “Master!! So awesome!! Get well soon.”

Head over to Steve Vai's new Patreon page (opens in new tab) to hear more about his injuries and watch exclusive guitar-related content.

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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.