It seemed like in the 1980’s, a thousand different guitar companies introduced a million different guitars for rock guitarists.
But I had an idea for a guitar that I kinda put together; I had a prototype I was using on tour, three of them actually, that were put together by myself, my guitar tech Elwood, and a friend of mine named Joe Despagni – he owns a company called Jem Guitars that makes custom guitars.
What I needed was a supply of these guitars at any time, because live, when you start using a lot of different guitars, when you switch the guitars inevitably sound different or feel different or don’t react to the amp in the same way.
I’m always breaking guitars too, it must be my sedate and laid-back style (laughs). ” “So when Ibanez approached me I gave them the chance I gave every other company; I handed them my prototype and said ‘Here’s the guitar I want – make me one exactly like it.’ And I got a guitar back in three weeks that was just great.
I thought that it would have potential in the marketplace, and they were interested in marketing it.
I wasn’t going to make it a Steve Vai guitar, because who’d be interested in buying a Steve Vai guitar unless I actually played it?
So I told them that if they made me these guitars and supplied me with them, then they could make them for other people as well.
And when I walk into any music store and pick up one of these guitars and play it, it feels great.
Suddenly thrust into arenas and the spotlight, his equipment needs changed, and it was time to design a new guitar, of which he could have several made to take on tour.
Numerous guitar manufacturers were already clamoring for Vai’s endorsement, and Steve sent spec sheets to many of these companies to see who could best suit his needs.