Steve Vai’s insane joint shifting technique: here’s how to do it

It’s been just a few days since Steve Vai wowed the electric guitar community (again) with a new song, Candle Power, that features an innovative technique he dubbed “joint shifting”.

What is joint shifting? According to Vai, it’s a technique whereby “you bend a note while fretting another, but I wanted to do this technique with a combination of double and triple stop single note bends while fretting other notes and releasing bends.”

Now, Tyler Larson of YouTube channel Music is Win is here to show you how to do it. He put in the time to master the technique – and has the calluses to prove it.

As he enthuses, “I haven’t been this excited by a guitar technique since I heard tapping. I’ve really never heard anything like this.

“It’s sort of like having a G-Bender or a B-Bender but doing that manually, with your fingers,” he says. “It requires this incredible finger independence that you have to develop and really train your fingers in a way that they’ve never moved before in order to pull it off effectively and musically.”

Larson then takes us through the process, step by grueling step, in this 10-minute lesson. As he says at the end, “Ouch!”

You can check out the joint shifting lesson above, and for more, head over to the Music Is Win YouTube channel.

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Richard Bienstock

Rich is the co-author of the best-selling Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion. He is also a recording and performing musician, and a former editor of Guitar World magazine and executive editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine. He has authored several additional books, among them Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, the companion to the documentary of the same name.