Steve Vai introduces “fascinating…stunning and…terrifying” Hydra guitar on new album, ‘Inviolate’

Steve Vai introduces “fascinating…stunning and…terrifying” Hydra guitar on new album, ‘Inviolate’
Favored Nations/Mascot Label Group

Rock guitar virtuoso Steve Vai released his latest studio album, Inviolate, last month.

On the nine-track instrumental collection, Vai’s impressive technique, inventiveness, melodic sensibility and knack for showcasing various influences are on full display.

Vai’s music could be described as otherworldly, but Inviolate‘s first track, “Teeth of the Hydra,” features a unique new signature guitar that Steve helped design that looks like something an alien would play. To create the three-necked instrument, dubbed the Hydra, Vai teamed up with the designers at Ibanez.

“I wanted it to have a 12-string neck that was half fretless, [a] seven-string [neck], [a] three-quarter [scale] bass neck that had two fretless strings, and these harp strings,” Steve tells ABC Audio. “And I was also into steampunk fashion at the time, so I gathered a bunch of material and I sent it to Ibanez, and the designers…went crazy, man. They just blew up the bridge.”

Vai’s reaction to seeing the finished instrument? “It was fascinating, it was stunning and it was terrifying, because I knew I had to write a piece of music with it,” he says.

It took him months, but he finally composed “Teeth of the Hydra.”

Inviolate also features contributions from a number of talented guest musicians, including drummers Terry Bozzio and Vinnie Colaiuta, both of whom, like Steve, are alums of the late Frank Zappa‘s touring band. Bassist Billy Sheehan, who was a member of David Lee Roth‘s solo band during the 1980s alongside Steve, also plays on the album.

Vai had planned to launch a lengthy U.S. tour in support of Inviolate last month, but he recently reinjured his shoulder — which had required surgery last year — forcing him to postpone the trek until the fall. You can check out Steve’s tour schedule at

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