G3: Joe Satriani: 'There Is Nothing Stopping G3'

In part one of a three part G3 Ultimate-Guitar exclusive, Joe Matera speaks to Joe Satriani about the success of G3, Satch's recent album Super Colossal and his new modus operandi in recording guitars.

G3: Joe Satriani: 'There Is Nothing Stopping G3'
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Since its inception in 1996, the six-string touring fest known as G3 has proven to be a winner for its founders Joe Satriani and Steve Vai. Over the years, the G3 line-up with Satriani at its core has featured an ever rotating roster of fretboard wizards from Yngwie Malmsteen and Eric Johnson to Kenny Wayne Sheppard and John Petrucci. Recently the G3 juggernaut made its way down to Australia for a series of sold out shows. While in Melbourne, Joe Matera caught up with Joe Satriani, Steve Vai and John Petrucci. In part one of a three part G3 Ultimate-Guitar exclusive, Joe Matera speaks to Joe Satriani about the success of G3, Satch's recent album Super Colossal and his new modus operandi in recording guitars. Ultimate-Guitar: G3 celebrates 10 years this year and it's proven to be a successful venture for you, where do you see G3 heading towards in the future? Joe Satriani: There is no stopping it. I mean, it will be redefined and redefined and I think the key to it is that new life will be breathed into it with the changing participants. And I can see an acoustic one too, I can see a blues one, I can see a thrash one and a fusion one. I can see all different avenues and I can even see a blending of like we've done before. Like Steve and I went out with Robert Fripp once and we went out with an acoustic player named Adrian Legg. So we've done pretty unusual ones too. And I did one in South America a few weeks ago with John Petrucci and Eric Johnson and though it was a very unusual pairing, it was very complimentary. We played in front of audiences that were three times the size of what we're doing in Australia. So the changing nature of it is very attractive to the guitar player audience out there. I think just in concept, the whole G3 concept is something that is just getting started really.
"Just in concept, the whole G3 concept is something that is just getting started really."
Have you got a wish list of who'd you like to see in the line-up over time? I've got so many, we've got a beautiful list going and every year we reach out to the obvious people like Eddie Van Halen and Jeff Beck. We've been talking to Billy Gibbons and Brian May. We really talk to all the people that you think we really should be talking to. As well as people you haven't heard of. We are always trying to finesse some unusual threesome, you know, that will capture the imagination of the people and will be inspiring for the players too. Because the players feel they want to be part of something that is unique as well. They want to get something artistic out of it and that is something I want them to feel that they're going to get. How does doing a G3 show compare to doing your headlining show? Well our own shows are incredibly demanding just from my left arm [laughs] because I'm playing all those melodies and solos that require some much squeezing and bending. It is a very different kind of technique than if you were just like playing in a band and are playing rhythm most of the time and then doing a couple of solo breaks. And the more blues phrasing I work into it, the harder it is to keep that going for say a three hour show. It's very demanding. Like I play at the top of the song, I play the melody, I play the solo, you know, song after song after song. It's very intense but also very satisfying. At the end of the show I always feel like I've played every possible thing I can play that evening. I feel very artistically drained but happy. But it does take a lot of work. Until recently Matt Bissonette [bassist] was touring with you, why isn't he on the tour with you in Australia? The simple reason is we were leaving India at our show that we did there with him and as it happens sometimes, planes get delayed or cancelled and you're stuck in an airport and you don't have your passport or luggage. You know the usual screw up. Anyway he right there and then decided that it was the end of international touring for him. I think he just finally had enough of it. And he works constantly as a first call LA session player and tours with Ringo Starr and Rick Springfield, so because the people he plays with are A-list people, he's not really into jet setting around the world. And especially after playing Calcutta he just decided 'I've done it'. So we said 'you know we still need some one who wants to jet set around the world with us'. But it turned out to be great as John Petrucci let me steal his bass player whom I should say, lifted him from Steve Morse so we all owe Steve a debt of gratitude. And it has been great because Dave (LaRue) is a soloist as well and he kind of covers the ground that a lot of bass players that I had, used to do. He's kind of the soloist like Stu Hamm and he's a really solid rock bass player like Matt. He almost has both of their qualities. Stu never played rock or listened to rock music and Matt was never into soloing. Another third component is, he just plays with his own sense of timing and swing which I really like and which I think made the show that so much better. Having him in the band just feels better and is more exciting.
"The guitars are massive and they take up all the real estate."
Your most recent album Super Colossal diverts from your previous recordings in the way that it is very rhythm guitar track heavy, you tended to have utilized more guitar tracks this time around? Yeah I wanted to get away from the thing where I would have like two rhythm guitar tracks, left and right and pretty much playing the same thing. I often found that when you do that, one of the first things that goes, unless you do it like Jimmy Page where you thin the guitars out, is that the thumping rhythm guitars take away from the drums and the bass. The ultimate extreme would be Metallica a couple records ago, around the Ride The Lightning album. Where it has almost no bass guitar and there is no room for it and the kick drum is really high. But the guitars are massive and they take up all the real estate. But if you listen to any Led Zeppelin record you hear the antithesis of that. Jimmy Page will make his guitars thinner and give them the mid-range area which then all of sudden makes John Bonham sound huge! And John Paul Jones sounds big and lovely too. So there is only so much real estate you can fit into a recording. Some tracks feature anywhere up to 10 guitars? On Ten Words there are at least ten or twelve rhythm guitar tracks. A lot of them are very dirty and then there four clean style ones as well as a couple that are going through a Line 6 Leslie pedal and an old MXR Phase 100. There is also an acoustic guitar on there, my old '48 Martin that was recorded direct. What were the main guitars you used on Super Colossal? There were definitely fewer than before. I think I had made a point where I had looked around in my studio and looked at my guitar rack and said 'you know what? That six space rack is going to be it'. So I think I probably had my main two guitars, a JS1000 and a JS1200. I also had two older Fender basses; a '64 P-Bass and a '72 P-Bass that had a strange maple jazz bass neck on it. There was also a 1966 Fender electric 12-string, and that old Martin I mentioned before which all together makes up the six. But I have to add that the other unusual thing too is that on two or three of the songs, I used another JS1000 that had .11s on them. I usually play .09s strings but this one I had different gauge of strings on. I used that for Crowd Chant and a couple of the solos that were done right at the end of the recording period in Vancouver. What led you to the decision to change the string gauge? I was just experimenting with the way the vibrato arm seemed to be reacting with heavier strings on. When I went to do Crowd Chant, it was such a mystery to how we were going to record it. So I thought I've got to start with something. I had been doing things like it on tour for the past five or six years. So I set up this kick drum and I just started improvising and thought since it's going to be nothing but guitar I might as well make the guitar sound a little hefty. I thought the heavier strings might do the trick. It was a bit of a struggle as I don't really have the chops for a set of .11s but it did seem to add a bit of drama to the solos.
"What is coming up ahead is a lot of travelling!"
You used a prototype of a mini-amp you're working on too? Yeah on Movin' On I played through this small prototype mini-colossal amp that we're developing and that is coming out this January with Peavey. It is just five watts, class A with a really simple head with a little 8 inch speaker thing. I just used the JS1200 and I had the amp cranked but I took the volume control, popped up the high bypass filter and then turned down the volume down to two. So it almost sounds like a Telecaster-Stratocaster or something like going into a Deluxe Reverb. That is how I did the rhythm tracks for the song. It's very rock and roll, Stones like sounding but they're chimey. You recently played on John 5's upcoming new solo disc, The Devil Knows My Name? Yeah it was fun. John is a crazy guitar player. He had just sent me an email asking if I wanted to play and I said 'oh absolutely, just send me the stuff'. So I got to record it all in the comfort of my home studio as he was out with Rob Zombie so I was left to my own devices. I played some really crazy sounding stuff. It's very umlets just say, it fits in with the crazy music. So what other stuff has Joe Satriani got coming up? This is an interesting period for me. In this year, we just released the Super Colossal album and we've just released the Satriani LIVE! DVD. And we're now into like the G3 phase of the touring thing. We've also toured the U.S and Europe as a solo act doing long two and a half hour shows and then we started this G3 kind of thing. We have hopefully about three more G3 tours that will take us to the very end of this year and then obviously I'll be probably in the studio by the end of the year working on another record for release next year. So what is coming up ahead is a lot of travelling! 2006 Joe Matera
Listen to Joe Satriani (photo) greeting Ultimate-Guitar.com at this location.

166 comments sorted by best / new / date

comments policy
    MonsterOfRock
    One thing though, say "Voodoo Chile [Slight Return]" is the standard G3 Jam [as mindblowing as it is], though I would love to see a G3 Jam of the coolest solo IMO, the "Freebird" solo. Freebird is originally a guitar duel between Allen Collins and Ed King [Lynyrd Skynyrd] and I think it will be a great addition to the G3 Jam. PS: I really think the G3 Jam of "Rocking in the Free World" is a little lame.
    guitarcontrol
    anybody heard of jerry c...mr canon rock./...itd be fukn awesome if hed be invited to do a g3 with satch, vai..the dude can kick ass..i wish dimebag was alive....and they did a g3 heavy metal...z wylde, dime,alexi laiho/mustaine/malmsteen...oh how bout...randy rhoads,wylde,and dime..or like ... mustaine,dime.hammett.....id love to see vai, gilbert and andy timmons.....or maybe..buckethead, tom morello and some other crazy guitarist whos good with effex..who else could join the 2?. hahha wicked ...classic g3 with jimmy page, eddy van halen and jeff beck...thatd be so sweet....or neoclassical g3....jason becker,malmsteen,vinnie moore/michael angelo batio.....but my dream g3 would be...hendrix,page,stevie ray vaughn ...too bad jimi's gone
    Horvat
    Saw the G3 guys play just recently in the Melbourne tour. Was pretty awesome. Would definitely see it again.
    MarkMurray420
    Guitar_Poet wrote: malmsteen already did G3 for a long time...
    Yes that is that article at the top. Maybe I should have said "again".
    MonsterOfRock
    No Shredders PLEASE!!! I mean Yngwie Malmsteen killed the G33 with his stupid shredding. Get someone with some feel PLEASE!!! Like Carlos Santana, Eric Clapton, David Gilmour or Jimmy Page. Someone who got a slow but emotion-filled style should provide the much needed contrast from the Godly-Likes of Vai n' Satch
    korn56
    MonsterOfRock wrote: No Shredders PLEASE!!! I mean Yngwie Malmsteen killed the G33 with his stupid shredding. Get someone with some feel PLEASE!!! Like Carlos Santana, Eric Clapton, David Gilmour or Jimmy Page. Someone who got a slow but emotion-filled style should provide the much needed contrast from the Godly-Likes of Vai n' Satch
    exactly, the G3 is for guitar players with that feeling with the guitar, not just play as fast as you can. so wylde, malmsteen are out, some others mentioned before like hammett arent very good for a G3 (i've never heard some kirk's stuff) paul gilbert fits perfect for the G3!!!
    Satch_Boogie
    Holy shit Santana would be awesome :O Between Buckethead and Santana then. Buckethead can do the crazy style speed passages as well as his melodic stuff and mix em both up with songs like Binge & Grab and Nottingham Lace. Comeon Satch, get the Bucket onboard!
    Guitar_Poet
    The next G3 should be (as always), Satch, Vai, and Dave Martone. that guy rocks!! [JP is better though =) IMO]
    \m/(--_--)\m/
    About the Synyster Gates comment near the middle, I soiled my pants laughing. Almost blew my appendix I was laughing so hard.
    metal_skill
    ok, dragonforce? talk about ruining the feel of the thing. not only would they do nothing but stand up there and shred, they would do a very sloppy job of it. I think my favorite combo was vai/satch/petrucci
    TinTin8
    ihop_08 wrote: It's funny that everyone wants Gilbert, and Buckethead. Wouldn't that be redundant? Haha...maybe Paul could go backstage and change in between sets.....
    ... Gilbert & Buckethead are not the same!!!!!
    Kurt_Rosenwinkl
    and santana is way above all these players, hes wayyyy toooo tasteful to play with satch or vai. ALL HAIL CARLOS SANTANA
    Dyer's Eve
    Skwisgaar Skwigelf LOLOL. I reckon Alex Skolnick or Devin Townsend would be good additions.
    Graphix
    Ace Frehley anyone. He is a great guitarist. Not enough credit is given to him for that. Next years line up should be Ace Frehley, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, and Satch
    Kurt_Rosenwinkl
    hahaah zakk or buckethead woulld be intense. I dont know where the Kenny Wayne idea is coming from, i mean i guess hesgood, but i never thought he was in that league of virtuosos, ive just heard him playing blues stuff, which anyone off the streets could play ALEX SKOLNICK WOW! GOOD CHOICE! DYERS! LETS GET SOME JAZZ GUYS UP THERE hEHHEH, JONATHAN KREISBERG! OR KURT ROSENWINKEL! COME ON CHECK THESE GUYS OUT! As much as i loved kirk growning up, i realize now how bad of a player he is, NO rythmic feel, distasteful melodic lines if u could call them that, and he sounds horrible live. KIRK IS A NO GO!
    RR3
    tell steve i caught his pick on the australia tour and its in new zealand! tell him if he wants it bak he has to giv me a visit hehe
    RR3
    Get kiko loueiro 4 a g3 tour! and come to new zealand please!
    Eternal_One
    A thrash G3? F-ing AWSOME!!! Omg,I can't wait for that day!! But on the normal G3 playing fields,I would like to see maybe Chris Impellitteri and of course...BUCKETHEAD!!!!! No one can say Buckethead wont fit in because he can fit in with ANYTHING! He is a guitar god.
    nick_b
    sockboy wrote: Get Zakk, Kirk or Gilbert on the G3 tour.
    that'd be hectic if there were more than 3 guys eh? i mean a combo of Vai, Satch, Wylde, Petrucci & Hammet. That would be insanity on a stage. especially if they came to sydney. i would see that. well i'd see them now, but that would be even better. but i spose they cant be G3 if they have 5 guys on stage. G5 doesn't have the same ring to it *sigh* so i guess i'll just have to keep dreaming
    nick_b
    speedoman03 wrote: what about synester gates people???
    oh yeah can't forget about synyster gates. A7X Rock! .. ok so thats: Vai, Satch,Petrucci,Hammet,Wyl de AND Syn.
    Bubonic Chronic
    Eh, I've seen better musicians play in a bar in my home town. Jazz is where it's at. Rock is just...boring.
    TinTin8
    littleleo88 wrote: satch and vai, plus any of the following: petrucci, michael angelo batio, malmsteen, eddie van halen, would all be fantastic. alexi laiho would be good, but just isnt in the same league as the aforementioned guitarists.
    MAB, Malmsteen ... no way ... they cant flow w/ G3 ... i cant stand the garbage they play EVH would be good, although im not to into him Alexi ... no way, although he is good, hes not G3 material
    mattallica
    littleleo88 wrote: satch and vai, plus any of the following: petrucci, michael angelo batio, malmsteen, eddie van halen, would all be fantastic. alexi laiho would be good, but just isnt in the same league as the aforementioned guitarists. You've obviously never seen all that Alexi is capable of then.
    Have you seen the Chaos Ridden Years DVD? I really like Bodom, but Alexi is NOT a good live guitarist. His recorded solos are pretty good but still arnt in the same leauge (as littleleo88 said)
    wasp2020
    Seither2k wrote: OKay.....I have a question. My brother and I got into it because he said that Steve Vai has no melody, and his songs are all the same and boring. He kept saying over and over "no melody" and that he does nothing but shredding. He even bet me I couldn't memorize any part of any of his songs because of the fact that there is no melody. Someone help me here.
    The Crying Machine, Tender Surrender, Whispering a Prayer, Jibboom, Juice, For The Love of God, Die to live, Ya Yo Gakk...
    Jonu
    dude, herman li? wtf, he messes up everything he plays, and the creativity in tapping every solo ? dude..
    MarkMurray420
    the d-force guys are sloppy bastards... EVH or malmsteen would be cool. as for michael angelo, what is he going to do, perform no boundries like he does everytime he plays anywhere? good song, but move on man.
    henza_x
    a7x, wylde and hammet dont deserve to share the stage with vai or satriani. whereas vai, satch, even petrucci have a love of music, meaning they venture into the different genres, the different styles, sounds of music, the jerks you label are only into metal, and can only play fast for the sake of playing fast.. get over it, i doubt they would invite malmsteen back again, mainly because his stage presence is simply ridiculous and not at all controlled or classy like vai or satch
    Guitar_Poet
    wasp2020 wrote: Seither2k wrote: OKay.....I have a question. My brother and I got into it because he said that Steve Vai has no melody, and his songs are all the same and boring. He kept saying over and over "no melody" and that he does nothing but shredding. He even bet me I couldn't memorize any part of any of his songs because of the fact that there is no melody. Someone help me here. The Crying Machine, Tender Surrender, Whispering a Prayer, Jibboom, Juice, For The Love of God, Die to live, Ya Yo Gakk...
    rofl, yea. whoever said that Vai has no melody... i dont know what else to say.. but theyre just flat out wrong about that, lol.
    Guitar_Poet
    guitarsolo_17 wrote: TheGuitaristMan wrote: They should get the ghost of Hendrix or SRV to play with them one year. i agree whole heartedly, cuz they would just bring a new dimension, and not to mention, those two are easily (especially jimi) the most soulful guitarists ive ever imagined, life isnt all about shredding..... music is soul....
    what if shredding comes from the soul? i think its soulful at times..
    Guitar_Poet
    MarkMurray420 wrote: the d-force guys are sloppy bastards... EVH or malmsteen would be cool. as for michael angelo, what is he going to do, perform no boundries like he does everytime he plays anywhere? good song, but move on man.
    malmsteen already did G3 for a long time...
    Guitar_Poet
    ivan_2894 wrote: Petrucci and satriani should always be in the G3!
    Satch, Vai, and Petrucci, to me, is the perfect G3.... well, Petrucci/Dream Theater would be amazing! =)
    Doodleface
    i would like to see: 1. Bumblefoot, because he is amazing and plays very odd experimental stuff, which would definitly compliment the show. 2. Allan Holdsworth, because the is just plain amazing, and can improvize better than almost anyone out there
    ihop_08
    henza_x wrote: a7x, wylde and hammet dont deserve to share the stage with vai or satriani. whereas vai, satch, even petrucci have a love of music, meaning they venture into the different genres, the different styles, sounds of music, the jerks you label are only into metal, and can only play fast for the sake of playing fast.. get over it, i doubt they would invite malmsteen back again, mainly because his stage presence is simply ridiculous and not at all controlled or classy like vai or satch
    Listen to some of Zakk's acoustic stuff, and then tell me he doesn't have a heart for music. He knows what he wants. It's funny that everyone wants Gilbert, and Buckethead. Wouldn't that be redundant? Haha...maybe Paul could go backstage and change in between sets.....
    Satch_Boogie
    Guitar control, you know Randy Rhoads is dead right? Also Jerry C because of one song? Whats wrong with you?
    ApexGT
    I love the current line up. Satch, Vai, and Petrucci are a great group (Petrucci is my idol, so it makes it even better). I agree that Paul Gilbert would be an awesome addition. Buckethead can play like no one's business, but it might be a little too..."weird" for lack of a better term. I heard only one person mention Michael Romeo, and I have to second that pick. I think he's usually underrated, but I love his work with Symphony X. Herman Li may be "sloppy", but I think that his playing would add another element to the group. Whoever mentioned Skwisgaar Skwigelf...I totally agree! Either he or Toki would be awesome. I don't think I've heard anyone mention Alex Lifeson...so I will, lol.
    irishRW
    GET NUNO BETTENCOURT ON YOUR BOOKS! i think nuno-g3 would be absolutely amazing. His solo section would own and the jam at the end would taste lethal with nuno's flavour mixed in there. His tapping legato style flat-out-ness is unrivalled, he come sup with the best riffs and HE CAN SING!! After hearin satch mumble foxey-lady on the latest dvd we deserve some redemption. I'm sorry satchy-baby but u couldn't sing to save ur life, stick to the frets! arite,arite,arite...to conclude GIVE US NUNO!!
    korny1
    Hammett can do some very interesting things when he wants to...Metallica doesn't give him enough creative input is all. He did a Little Wing Jam in Jacksonville last year, and he did some harmonics that were absolutely unreal. Tapped harmonics and some very strange E flat minor arpeggios that were absolutely beautiful. I loved every second of it. Again, I'm not saying he should be the only G3 guitarist included by far, I'm just saying he should get at least one G3 tour, just to see if he can hold up. If he can't, what do we have to lose? It'll be entertaining nonetheless.
    arcadi656
    I also would like to say that if dime were still alive, he would be the best thing to hit g-3 next to the hammer-gods already there, and I think we all agree, regardless of taste,he changed heavy guitar forever, shaking and ripping the soul out of the six stringed virgin he so-proficiently fondled. Dime will live in my heart and my soul forever, and if you can do that to one person, you are a god.
    arcadi656
    Eddie van halen would rule on g-3, and no one can deny it, even if you think he is overrated, he is the father of the brownsound, and a progenetor of rock guitar, an innovator, and a god among gods. please Eddie, if youre out there, know that your music has influenced the world an we all love a little of it. As for my own pick of shredders, I would have to say alex skolnick, or the amot brothers from arch enemy, and maybe even david gilmour, no-one can phrase a whale'in ass run like good ol' dave, so please, don't talk trash about eddie, but yes, i do believe that kirk is overrated, and i am a die hard metallica fan, I even love saint ankey(anger), but he is in metallica, and if he joined g-3, james and lars might kick him out like they did jason!
    haotehmao
    Dyer's Eve wrote: Skwisgaar Skwigelf LOLOL. I reckon Alex Skolnick or Devin Townsend would be good additions.
    LOL. Crush My Battle Opponents Balls is epic. Devin Townsend's a pretty good idea, but John 5 needs to be in there. He's just so damn versatile.
    korny1
    I believe Kirk Hammett would make probably one of the best additions. I'm a huge fan of Paul Gilbert's and Buckethead's (who I would like to see both on G3 in the future), but I think that it's time for something new and old school at the same time. Kirk is a mixture of both the old school bluesy style and the modern neoclassical style that would definitely add a more raw flavor to the show. Don't you ever get bored of seeing everything played perfectly all the time? Nobody's taking any risks. Kirk, love him or hate him, is all about taking risks. I saw him in Florida last year, and he went from playing a finger-picked classical piece to a Hendrix-style R and B doodle to a fleet-fingered tapping bit all in the matter of six minutes. And yes, contrary to popular belief, the man is versatile. I believe he deserves a chance to prove to the world that he can really do what everyone thinks he can't do: keep up with Satch and Vai. He may even outdo them when no one's looking. Lest we forget, he played with a string quartet, also, to prove that he is highly classically trained. The man knows guitar. Give him a chance.