Steve Vai / Three-necked Hydra guitar features on new album Inviolate

Steve Vai will release his new album Inviolate on 28 January 2022, with the vinal version set to follow on 18 March 2022. The new song Little Pretty has been released today. The album finds Vai playing almost exclusively on a Gretsch hollow body guitar in a dark-toned fusion-funk workout.

“It’s on the wall with all the other guitars,” Vai told MetalTalk, “and I’d always just look at it and go, ‘one day I’m going to play you’.”

The album has been described as Vai’s most focussed, streamlined and invigorating music for some time. “It’s very ‘Vai,’ whatever that means,” Steve said, laughing. “Someone else might be better than me at explaining what that is. But it’s just very honest music.

“Because a lot of my records, they’re long and there’s a lot of concepts and playing around with stories. This one has none of that. This is nine pretty dense all-instrumental compositions that I wanted to capture and record so I could get out there and play them live for people.”

Album opener Teeth Of The Hydra, is a latin-fusion-tinged composition that Vai wrote and recorded with a one-of-a-kind custom guitar he coined the Hydra, a one-bodied, two-headstocked, three-necked creature that encompasses, among other things: seven and 12-string guitars; a four-string bass; sympathetic harp strings; half-fretless necks; single-coil, humbucking, piezo and sustainer pickups; floating and hardtail tremolo bridges; phase splitters; and much, much more.

“It’s an incredibly-built machine,” Vai says. Vai uses the Hydra’s full range of tone and timbres to craft a guitar part that sounds, in its expansiveness and expressiveness, positively alive.

“The interesting thing about the song and the guitar is that it all came at the same time,” Vai says. “It was one of those Inviolate inspirations.”

Steve Vai and his Hydra guitar
Steve Vai and his Hydra guitar

“I knew that I needed to create something with the Hydra that sounded like a real piece of music. It couldn’t be just a novelty. Because if you knew what my hands were doing and how I’m using my left hand to create phrasings that work when I can’t pick a note because my right hand is off somewhere else…my god.

“But the finished piece had to stand on its own. It couldn’t sound like I was just trying to juggle stuff.”

Some songs have been aired before. Knappsack was shared, following his shoulder surgery, and Candle Power was released earlier in the year.

Apollo in Color, features Vai’s soaring runs on his Ibanez PIA signature guitar, the newly-designed model’s first appearance on a Vai studio album.

“One of the great things about the guitar is you don’t need to be a virtuoso to express your creative vision,” Vai says. “I mean, Bob Dylan plays the guitar perfectly well for his expression. So does John McLaughlin.

“You just need to decide how much technique you want or need to get there. For myself, I came out of the chute wanting and needing it all. So, when it comes to my music, I don’t feel like I have to prove anything or conform to anything.

“I just love to think up creative ideas and then use whatever skill I have to manifest them.

“An inviolate inspiration is one that comes to you completely pure. It appears almost in its completeness, and there’s a recognition of it as being right for you – perfectly right for you. There are no excuses in it. There is no fantasy in it.

There’s just a recognition of ‘yes’, and then you capture that in a way that’s authentic to your unique creativity. Hopefully, that’s what I’ve done with this record.”

Inviolate can be pre-ordered from https://smarturl.it/steve_vai


1. Teeth Of The Hydra
2. Zeus In Chains
3. Little Pretty
4. Candlepower
5. Apollo In Color
6. Avalancha
7. Greenish Blues
8. Knappsack
9. Sandman Cloud Mist

Sleeve Notes

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