Notes from Rick Beato’s Joe Satriani Interview

In this conversation Rick and Joe discuss the importance of being inspired, playing on a “comfortable” vs “uncomfortable” guitar, Joe’s thoughts on practicing, and embracing the chaos of music.

Full interview:

You don’t really know what the guitar sounds like… (3:35)

“When you’re playing guitar, you really don’t know what it sounds like, you know what it feels like, and so you start to react to what you’re getting out of it, the tactile give back from it…”

You have to be inspired (5:00)

Most important thing is you have to be inspired, whatever you are working with, strings, guitar, pedals, amplifier, if you aren’t inspired the audience will not pick up on the magic, the enthusiasm, the love of the art, inspiration is the most important thing

When you’re recording or playing live, it’s important that you feel comfortable with your gear.

Changing strings (7:15)

“I hate changing strings, I won’t change them until they break…”

I wouldn’t have played that on a comfortable guitar (9:06)

On his album “Shapeshifting”, the main guitar he used was a high action guitar. “It’s a bit of a fight to play” due to the resistance from the high action. This presented a benefit because Joe would play less notes as a result. The goal on the album was to not overplay.

On the song “All for Love”, take #10 was the one and it was 99% a live performance.

“It was brutal to get there due to the challenge of playing this guitar, but once I got there, it felt different. I wouldn’t have done that on a comfortable guitar, I would have been playing too many notes…”

Eb tuning and 10-gauge strings (10:00)

10 years ago when playing in Chickenfoot started tuning guitar to Eb with 10-gauge strings. Initially tried 9-gauge but they were too floppy on Eb tuning.

Who’s going to buy a ticket to see somebody practice? (12:00)

“My patience for practicing has been waning over the years. When you’re 14, you’ll spend as many hours as you have playing guitar. But it’s different when you’re 30, 40, and now at 64, how much patience do I have to go through every scale in every key.” 

“I find when I’m practicing technique, the part of me that’s creative starts to fade, stuff that I write is based on what I’m practicing, who’s going to buy a ticket to see somebody practice…”

“It’s better for me if I concentrate on writing, writing and writing…”

Play guitar specifically for the song (14:50)

“I could impress my friends by playing the fastest thing over a song, but I’ll just be playing all the notes all the time…”

“Ultimately I want an album, say it has 10 songs, to be like a Hendrix album. Every song is different. Where as the listener you’re wondering is that same guy playing the guitar on the third song? It doesn’t sound like the guy on the second song. Different guitar, different scale, different temperament, different attitude…” 

“If I practice too much, the guitar player will want to show off. And if I’m at home there is no one to stop me…”  

Getting the right take in a solo (16:30)

Sometimes you just have to blow through all the things people know you for (this may require over 10, 15, 20 takes…) to get to that point of the magical “right” take.

Experiment with how you play your melody (20:00)

Experiment with subtle changes on how to play a melody. Joe will play around with what note to bend, what note to play flat, length of the note, how to pick it, that’s not even talking about the sound yet. Anything to reach people more…

Will people like your record? (33:20)

Each time you put out a record, you just don’t know if people are going to like it. Nobody knows, no one is able to figure it out.

We don’t know as artists what’s going to hit, what’s going to make people happy. 

Embrace the chaos (38:30)

Popular music, music that resonates with others is constantly changing. Embrace the chaos of it. Time moves on, whatever is happening now embrace it and move on. Don’t hold on to past trends.

We pass through trends, don’t hold on to them. Embrace the change.