If you spend any amount of time reading or watching interviews with Steve Vai, eventually the subject of Evo will come up. Evo is a prototype Jem 7VWH that got its name from the prototype DiMarzio Evolution pickups fitted in it. According to Vai no guitar he’s ever had has ever fit quite like “her,” that every part is perfect and that she has a sound like no other.
This cannot possibly be true.
The Ship of Theseus is the name given to a fundamental philosophical question and primary reason that Hot Rod builders get in trouble with the IRS. As it relates to cars it goes like this: a builder buys a clapped out-to-dead chassis, and replaces every single part of the car excepting the VIN plate. Given that none of the original parts are there any longer, is it the same car? If it is no longer the same car, can you still register it for $3 and an old bubble gum wrapper? 1(As you may imagine, in the original question it was a boat having war damage repaired)
You see, Steve Vai is a professional musician who does his best to put on a fairly engaging live show
Occasionally there are damages. Evo, being his number one girl, has taken her fair share of them. Which means that she’s had some Joan Rivers level work done.
I’m not a fanatical Evo watcher (these people exist, I mean IT HAS ITS OWN WIKIPEDIA PAGE) but by my count this is at least her third neck, her fourth bridge, the knobs have been changed and it’s impossible for me to believe that those are the original Evolution prototype pickups or pots. All of which is to say that despite his declarations that Evo is the most perfect machine ever to leave Japan, all he’s really talking about is a body.
So what does this have to do with anything? Well, it just occurs to me that guitarists are incredibly superstitious. Steve Vai is, by most sensible measures, a phenomenal guitarist and he has placed a ridiculous, almost supernatural, value on a guitar body. His fans want a piece of that mojo so much that they are willing to spend the cost of a decent used car to have a reproduction (I’m pretty sure that all of the pictures on this page are of the reproductions). It’s a bit silly and it’s easy to make fun of.
That being said, I have a guitar. It is an Ibanez RG750. I bought it as a project guitar and I have the same problem with it that I have with all higher end Ibanez RGs, that is the neck is just this side of awful for me. I will never get rid of that guitar, nor will I ever change it more than I already have (which is, I replaced the fine tuners with a set of Fender Floyd Rose jobbies, because two of them were missing when I bought it). That guitar just sounds…perfect.
It’s my own thing. If a guitar sounds or plays extremely well I will not take it apart, because I have a huge fear that it will not go back together correctly. There are extreme circumstances, of course. I replaced the bridge on my Showmaster and that guitar feels like home. However, that had mostly to do with the fact that I found the stock Fender bridge unusable for any decent amount of time. Other than that, though, if a guitar is good not only am I pro leaving it alone, I’m actively opposed to changing anything other than the strings.
So, I ask you, citizens of Daft Paragonia, what are your guitar superstitions? Do you have a piece of gear that you have placed a larger than logical importance on? Tell me in the comments, I am really interested in this.
- You can, but it is frowned upon to the point of jail time. ↩