Joe Satriani – Guitar God profile

By on 09/22/2014
Joe Satriani
  • Born: July 15, 1956
  • There are few guitarists as soulful and technically proficient as Joseph “Joe” Satriani, an accomplished Grammy-nominated artist who has inspired a whole generation of musicians throughout his career.
  • He has taught the likes of Steve Vai, Larry LaLonde, Rick Hunolt, Kirk Hammett, Andy Timmons, Charlie Hunter, Kevin Cadogan, and Alex Skolnick, all of which have made a name for themselves thanks to his unparalleled tutelage.
  • Steve Vai in particular praised Satriani for his superior musicianship after Vai moved up in the musical world. Vai told the press, such as Guitar World, about the influence Satriani had on his playing.
  • When his friend and former student Steve Vai gained fame playing with David Lee Roth in 1986, Vai raved about Satriani in several interviews with guitar magazines, including Guitar World magazine.
  • He has worked with other notable artists like Alice Cooper, Spinal Tap, Blue Öyster Cult, Crowded House and the Yarbirds.
  • Heavily inspired by science fiction, Satriani’s albums, such as “Surfing with the Alien” and “Is There Love in Space?” feature instrumental work which combines accessible tunes for music lovers in general along with his unique brand of technical precision that appeal to his hardcore fans. His style has been described as warm and bluesy, making for a distinct tone that’s defined Satriani over the decades.
  • Legend has it that Satriani took up guitar immediately after learning about the passing of Guitar God Jimi Hendrix. Having jazz roots, his musical background drove him to be the technical wizard that he is today.
  • His first album was called “Not of This Earth” (released in 1986) which nearly bankrupted him due to production costs. Compared to his later work, it was a bit raw, featuring an electronic drum track.
  • Shortly after, Satriani joined Squares, a band from San Francisco. His time with the group proved to be pivotal for his career as he met sound engineer John Cuniberti who helped him produce his next release, “Surfing with the Alien.” Not only that, he was able to get out of the debt he racked up from recording his first album.
  • “Surfing with the Alien” received critical acclaim largely in part to an eclectic mix of different styles, such as shred guitar, complex tapping patterns, Nashville tuning and even Spanish fingerstyle. The end result is a treasure trove of tracks such as “Crushing Day” and “Always with Me, Always with You”, lending an extraterrestrial feel.
  • However, it was his forth album that catapulted Satriani to even greater glory. Titled as “The Extremist”, it received heavy airplay, thanks to “Summer Song” which was featured in a Walkman commercial, further pushing his work into mainstream territory. Here’s a 2006 performance of the classic:

  • The following year, Satriani was tapped by heavy metal giant Deep Purple to fill in as their guitarist when Ritchie Blackmore passed away before their anticipated tour in Japan. He was so good that the band asked him to join for good, but he had already committed to Sony for a multi-album contract.
  • Satriani created the G3 guitar tour by 1996, with him as the only constant guitarist in the three-man lineup. The tour has run for a dozen times to date, featuring notable guitarists such as Yngwie Malmsteen, John Petrucci, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Robert Fripp, Andy Timmons, Uli Jon Roth, Michael Schenker, Adrian Legg, Paul Gilbert, Steve Morse and Steve Lukather.
  • His work has been defined by his mastery of incredibly complicated techniques that few other guitarists can match. This includes legato (mainly consisting of hammer-ons and pull-offs), two-handed tapping and arpeggio tapping, volume swells, harmonics and extreme whammy bar effects. Like Petrucci, he also employs rapid alternate picking and sweep picking.
  • By 2008, Satriani already had twelve albums under his belt. During this time, he formed a new group called Chickenfoot (the name was derived from the peace symbol resembling a chicken footprint) with former Van Halen members Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony and Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith. They’ve released two albums so far and the band’s likenesses were even featured in the animated television series Aqua Teen Hunger Force.
  • Fans have praised the title track “Surfing with the Alien” as one of Satriani’s greatest solos. The Guitar God said the following about how the song came into being: “We didn’t know where that song was going until one afternoon when we went to record the melody and I plugged a wah-wah pedal and a Tubedriver into my 100-watt Marshall,” Joe Satriani says. “Then, just on a whim, I said, ‘Let’s try this harmonizer.’ It was one of those Eventide 949s. The sound that came out of the speakers blew us away so much that we recorded the melody and the solo in about a half-hour and sat back and went, ‘Whoa! This is a song, man!’”

  • Ibanez and Peavey are Satriani’s preferred guitar and amplifier brands, having endorsed and come up with high-profile axes under his name. This includes the JS Series guitars and JSX amplifier. The Ibanez JS1 in particular, took notes from the the Ibanez 540 Radius model which Satriani used previously. Some of his widely used axes include the JS1000 and JS1200, often designed with the DiMarzio PAF Pro, DiMarzio Fred, the Mo’ Joe and the Paf Joe, all of which Satriani has used during different times in his career.
  • The JS series by Ibanez are basically the Radius Ibanez series that have a custom set of pickups handpicked by Satriani himself. The line includes the JS1000, JS1200, JS2400, JSBDG, and JS20th using Ibanez’s original Edge double locking tremolo bridge. On the other hand, Ibanez’s Edge 3 tremolo bridge is featured on the JS100 and JS120.
  • “Chrome boy” was perhaps the most recognizable guitar that Satriani used. This was the JS2CH, which was the first of the Chrome Boy family. It was also called “Pearly”, thanks to the Seymour Duncan Pearly Gates pickup installed in this specific model.
  • Here’s a breakdown of Satriani’s setup back in 2000:
  • Guitars:

Ibanez JS Chrome Proto-Type (with DiMarzio pickups)
Ibanez JS Chrome Proto-Type (with Seymour Duncan pickups and Fat Finger brass clamp sustainer)
Ibanez JS-1000 – Snake Mural Guitar
Ibanez JS Chrome Proto-Type (used for practicing with Chrome DiMarzio pickups)

  • Pedals and Effects:

Dunlop 535Q Wah-Wah
Boss DS-1 Distortion
Fulltone Ultimate Octave
Digitech Whammy pedal
Boss Super Chorus
Boss DD-2 Delay (350 ms)
Chandler Digital Delay (450-550 ms)
Chandler Digital Delay (600-800 ms)

  • Amplifiers:

Marshall 60-100 Head (stock)
2 Marshall Straight Cabs loaded with 25 watt Celestions



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