During the recent interview with Heavy Metal and Booze, guitar legend Michael Angelo Batio has shared his thoughts about an another guitar legend Steve Vai.
He said ‘Steve Vai came out [with his three-neck guitar] – it’s really basically copying my idea’. Here’s the statement:
“I was still pretty young, but I had gotten known for this double guitar, I invented it. There’s one in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.
“And Steve Vai came out [with his three-neck guitar] – it’s really basically copying my idea, but he added the third neck. We [the band Nitro] were getting ready to release our first record [1989’s ‘O.F.R.’], they [the label] knew they had a great album, and they were really gonna promote it.
We had this meeting and the president of our label said, ‘Michael, you have two necks. Steve Vai has three. What can you do? I went, ‘Four?’.
And then they wanted me to challenge him to a duel. They wanted our publicist to call him out, literally call him up. I thought, ‘There’s no way he can outdo me on this.’ I’m left-handed, I invented it, I’m using string dampeners, I’m doing all these things on my guitar.
“I looked at his [Vai’s] heart guitar and I said, ‘Once I start playing left-handed, it’s all over.’ But that doesn’t take away from his greatness. He’s a great composer, he’s great. But when it comes to the double, that’s my thing right now. I’m a piano player, I’m left-handed.
I knew he couldn’t compete with that and you know, he’d have to blow himself up or something – he’s not gonna play crisscross or upside-down like I can.
Having said that – it doesn’t mean I’m better. So I thought about it and I said – I told the label, ‘Music isn’t an Olympic sport. I’m not here to compete with him.’ He gave me credit for it [the guitar] in the magazines. I don’t know if it was the greatest acknowledgment, but he gave me credit for it and we just went on from there.
And so what I did is – I was friends with Wayne Charvel, the man behind Charvel Guitars. He is a brilliant guitar maker, a brilliant person. He was building all my guitars. I had the greatest builders in the world in California building my instruments, so I have an engineering mind.
So I came up with an idea of how to do a four-neck guitar. And the engineering’s actually insanely cool. Even on my double guitar, I don’t get credit for how cool the actual design and engineering mechanisms are.
So I told Wayne what I wanted. He made it look cool as hell, he built it as good or better than anybody on the planet could, and the rest is history. FHM Magazine called him one of the 50 most outrageous moments in rock history. It’s still remembered today.
And believe it or not, that was a Gibson. Wayne Charvel built it through Gibson, the original headstocks were Gibson. And the top two guitars were seven-strings – not low-B seven-strings, but high-A. Getting back to Steve Vai – I’ve never been on a G3 tour. I’d love to. I talked to Steve and he said some really complimentary things.”
Click here to entire interview via Ultimate-Guitar. You can watch it below.