“That was really hard, actually.”
Reflecting on his work and career, Joe Satriani recalled one particular issue he had playing a Gibson Les Paul.It’s not unusual to say that Satch isn’t a guy who you’d associate with the classic old brands like Gibson and Fender. Being one of the most influential shredders to come out of the 1980s, Super Strat-style instruments are more of his thing. And we can definitely see that with his arsenal that consists mostly of Ibanez JS guitars.
However, he still isn’t a stranger to Gibson or Fender. Appearing recently in the Moods and Modes podcast of Testament’s Alex Skolnick, he recalled one occasion where he played a vintage Les Paul Special. Although he did sound great, there’s a specific issue that makes his music challenging to perform on such a guitar.
“I did a couple of shows for Les Paul for his birthday party,” Joe recalled (transcribed by Ultimate Guitar). “There’s a good YouTube clip of me playing a ’58 Les Paul Special, ‘Satch Boogie.’ That was really hard, actually. That’s because Les Pauls go out of tune, like instantly, when you play that kind of aggressive style of guitar playing.”
And during the same interview, Joe also reflected on Fender guitars, particularly Telecasters. The talk came up when he was reflecting on some of the vintage stuff that he used back in the day and why he still prefers to go with more advanced modern-style guitars and gear.
“I love playing the newer stuff because it solves a lot of the issues that the old stuff didn’t have,” he explained. “I’m not trying to recreate anything, actually. I’m just trying to move forward. I don’t know if you remember seeing me in The Squares. I used to use two Echoplexes and two Marshall half-stacks. It was a crazy idea.”
And going more into guitars that he played, Joe said that he “grew up playing a Telecaster for many years.” And that’s not all — there’s one reason why he keeps coming back to Telecasters:
“It’s something that I always go back to, and it feels normal to me. But it is the thing that teaches me whether or not I’m any good on any given day. You really have to make yourself sound good on a Telecaster. It does not offer you anything. No boost.”
Some years ago, Joe also addressed both Gibson and Fender. Although he doesn’t think these old-school-style instruments are bad, they just don’t work for his particular playing style. In an interview back in 2018, Joe said:
“What I noticed when I was growing up and developing my style was that Les Pauls, Teles, and Strats restricted me.”
“I wanted to play a certain way, but my knuckles would hit the horn on ES-335s, Telecasters and Les Pauls would dig into the underside of my forearm, and things like that.”
“The Strat was a bit more lenient, but the vibrato bar wasn’t working out for me. Then, all of a sudden, the Floyd Rose comes into being. It had to be invented, because somebody had to solve the tuning issue and make a better vibrato bar.”