Joe Satriani – The Life and Guitars

Joe Satriani, one of the most iconic and influential guitarists of all time, has carved out an illustrious career with his virtuosic skills and innovative techniques. His blend of rock, blues, and other genres has earned him numerous accolades and a dedicated fan base.

In this post, we’ll delve into the life and career of Satriani, explore his iconic guitars and gear, and learn how he’s shaped the world of guitar playing.

The Early Years

Born on July 15, 1956, in Westbury, New York, Joe Satriani discovered his passion for guitar at the tender age of 14. Inspired by the legendary Jimi Hendrix, he decided to pursue guitar playing seriously. Satriani studied under jazz guitar greats such as Lennie Tristano and Billy Bauer, and later became a guitar teacher himself, imparting his knowledge to future guitar legends like Steve Vai, Kirk Hammett, and Larry LaLonde.

The Rise to Fame

Joe Satriani’s rise to fame began in 1986 with his debut album “Not of This Earth,” which showcased his innovative guitar techniques and unique musical style. However, it was his second album, “Surfing with the Alien” (1987), that catapulted him to international stardom. This album, featuring instrumental rock hits like “Satch Boogie” and “Always with Me, Always with You,” displayed his exceptional command over the guitar and ability to create expressive melodies.


Throughout his career, Joe Satriani has become synonymous with Ibanez guitars, particularly the JS series. The collaboration between Satriani and Ibanez began in the late 1980s, resulting in the creation of the first Joe Satriani Signature model, the JS1. This series has evolved over the years, with various models featuring different finishes, pickups, and hardware.

One of Satriani’s most recognizable guitars is the Ibanez JS1000, which has been his main axe for years. This guitar boasts a basswood body, rosewood fretboard, and a pair of DiMarzio humbuckers, the PAF Pro (neck) and the Fred (bridge). These pickups provide the perfect balance of warmth and clarity, allowing Satriani to achieve his signature tone.

Other notable guitars in the JS series include the JS2410, which features an alder body and Sustainiac pickup, and the JS2480, which comes equipped with a Sustainiac pickup and a DiMarzio Satch Track single-coil-sized humbucker in the neck position.

If you’re the proud owner of an Ibanez JS series, you can check the year of your guitar by the serial number.

Guitar Equipment

Joe Satriani’s tone is the result of not just his guitars but also his choice of amplifiers and effects. Over the years, he has used Marshall, Peavey, and Mesa Boogie amps, but his long-standing partnership with Marshall led to the development of the JVM410HJS Joe Satriani Signature amp head. This versatile 100-watt amplifier features four channels, each with three modes, offering a plethora of tonal options for the discerning guitarist.

Satriani’s effects setup has evolved over time, but some essential pedals have remained constant. The Ibanez Tube Screamer, particularly the TS9 and TS808 models, has been a staple in his rig for years, providing a smooth overdrive and natural compression.

Additionally, Satriani has used the Dunlop Cry Baby wah pedal, which delivers the expressive, vocal-like quality he’s known for. Other crucial elements of his effects arsenal include the Boss DS-1 Distortion pedal, Eventide H9 Harmonizer, and the Strymon TimeLine Delay pedal.

For his signature lead sound, Satriani often employs the use of a delay and reverb in combination with his overdriven tone. The TC Electronic Hall of Fame Reverb and the aforementioned Strymon TimeLine have become key components in achieving his ethereal, soaring leads.

A Pioneer and Educator

Joe Satriani’s impact on the guitar world extends beyond his own music. In 1995, he founded the G3 tour, a concert series featuring three guitar virtuosos sharing the stage. This innovative concept has allowed guitar enthusiasts to witness incredible performances by legends such as Steve Vai, Eric Johnson, Yngwie Malmsteen, John Petrucci, and many others.

Satriani’s commitment to education and mentorship also continues to thrive. His online guitar lessons, masterclasses, and “Guitar Camp” events have inspired and nurtured countless aspiring guitarists. By sharing his knowledge and experiences, Satriani ensures that the next generation of guitar players can continue to push the boundaries of their instrument.

The Lasting Legacy of Joe Satriani

Joe Satriani’s influence on the world of guitar playing is undeniable. His innovative techniques, expressive playing style, and relentless pursuit of excellence have left an indelible mark on the music industry. The iconic guitars and gear he has used throughout his career serve as a testament to his dedication to finding the perfect tone and pushing the boundaries of what is possible with the instrument.

From his early days as a guitar teacher to his rise to fame with groundbreaking albums like “Surfing with the Alien,” Satriani has consistently shown that the guitar is not just an instrument, but a vehicle for artistic expression. As he continues to perform, record, and educate, the legacy of Joe Satriani will undoubtedly inspire generations of guitarists to come.