Joe Satriani wants to capture the best of all Eddie Van Halen tones on the upcoming Best Of All Worlds tour.
In a recent Q&A with Rolling Stone‘s Andy Greene, Satriani was asked if he intends to try and replicate Eddie Van Halen’s guitar tone. Below is Satriani’s response:
It’s really interesting. There’s an interesting period with Ed, which he starts with an old Marshall [amp] head and he moves forward into the late 1980s, getting more and more complicated with these Marshall heads. And then at some point it flips and he goes to a Soldano [amp] and he starts developing the 5150 with Peavey, and then he keeps moving forward. And then the new era of the [EVH] 5153 starts up.
For a guitar player, this is a remarkable set of changes that affords you different ways of pulling things off. And one doesn’t work for the other. Using one of the brand new amps to represent something from the first album, it’s very difficult. And it’s difficult playing later songs with the earlier setup. So in the last week, my idea is the setup he was using in 1986 on Live Without a Net. He was still using Marshalls, but it was really complicated.
If you’ve ever seen pictures of the rig, how he was using the amps, he wasn’t just plugging in and turning them up. They were going into Power Soaks. They were going into effects loops, and sophisticated effects processors, and then going into power amps. It was a complicated setup, but at the heart of it was his incredible touch. He just had a beautiful touch on the guitar. He played with such intensity. I don’t want to generalize and say that he made everything sound good, but he did. [Laughs] You notice that when you have one of his guitars and his setup or his model, he just can’t be replaced.
But in direct answer to your question, I’m going to try to get close to the sound of each of those eras. Primarily, it’ll be for me. It’ll help me get in the mood to play the parts the way he did. And he played them one way on the album, and then every night he played them live. As far as I can tell, he changed them every night. He just could not be contained. That was what was so beautiful about his enthusiasm about playing guitar and being a musician. He just kept reinventing the parts and the chords and how he would embellish it and how he would solo over it. If you’ve been tasked with the job of imitating him, it’s like, “Well, which moment?”