Jumat, 29 April 2011

All About EVO "Steve Vai"

Body Front
Steve writes, "I think a lot of people believe that Evo has special modifications on it and is not similar to the production pieces you buy at retail. Actually it’s exactly the same as any production just beat up a lot more. Things like nuts, tail pieces, frets, tuning pegs, have changed due to being worn out but the guitar itself is intact." Steve will occasionally have to rewrite EVO on the body due to fading. Another view of Evo's re-written name, scars and dings. Also visible here is the bottom strap holder. Because of Steve's sometimes violent approach to playing, at one gig the strap locks actually pulled right out of the guitar. Wood fill was used to create stability and is anchored deep into the guitar. This poor guitar has gone through some serious beatings but Steve likes when his guitars look worn in and does not worry at all about getting scratches or dings. "They add character and tell stories." The tape on the body is used for Thomas (Steve's guitar tech) to identify the guitars when they are standing upright in his guitar rack. As detailed in the bottom strap lock picture, at one gig the strap locks actually pulled right out of the guitar. Wood fill was used to create stability and is anchored deep into the guitar. In this photo you can see where the wood was drilled out and filled. Evo travels almost everywhere with Steve, and her battle scars are a testament to a grueling schedule of constant touring, playing (and dropping.) More detail of Evo's injuries. Also note the crack in the body. More on that ahead...

Body Back
The padding on the back is stuffed with tissue paper to cut down the noise of the springs and the vibrations in the back cavity that inevitably flow through the body and create a lot of noise that is picked up through the pickups. The tissue cuts this noise down tremendously and this tightens up the sound considerably. The velcro circle was put on there by Thomas Nordegg so that when the guitars are stacked they don't hurt each other. Plus, Thomas Nordegg is a velcro fiend. Steve played at Les Paul's birthday party in 1995, and the first time Les signed the guitar it said, "To Steve, You’re a great player, Les Paul." This was done on the top part of the back of the guitar but faded very quickly. It happened that Steve had the opportunity to play with Les again in 1998 and asked the master to sign his guitar one more time. This time it was covered with a piece of plastic but has still faded considerably. Evo has been through such tumultuous incidents that the body is actually cracking right through. Ibanez has made every attempt to try and fix this but the crack runs through the entire body and is making it harder and harder to stay in tune. Sadly, nothing can be done and the guitar is becoming more and more unreliable to keep in tune and the neck is constantly shifting. As a result she may be confined to the studio and not brought on tour anymore. Says Steve: "The day I must embark on a tour without her will be a cold one." "drop scars" on Evo's rear bottom heel. Her naked alder body is visible under the chipped finish. the input jack, along with the drilled out and filled rear strap lock.
Evo's original neck was broken in an onstage accident in Melbourne, Australia in February 1997. Several new necks were tested as candidates to replace the neck, and one with a black headstock was finally chosen as feeling the best. The mismatched but great playing new neck remained on Evo until very recently. This is a fairly new neck, added during last year's Alive in an Ultra World tour. The back of the headstock, including neck serial number, and allen key holder. low E string action at the 12th fret. low E string action at 24th fret. scalloped fingerboard and frets 16-24.

Various things are easily changed on Evo without any noticeable difference in the tone. One of these is the tail piece: it gets changed a few times a year. the tremolo's floating position. Evo is installed with an earlier Edge tremolo. With a series of springs and knobs it creates a resting point for the bridge that helps to keep the float aspect of the bridge in control. Floating bridges are difficult to use because any little pressure on the tail piece will make the strings go sharp - making your playing sound sea sick. This cuts down on that a lot. The elusive tissue stuffing that replaces Evo's back plate, cuting down the noise of the springs and the vibrations in the back cavity that inevitably flow through the body that is picked up through the pickups. 

On one of Steve’s tours in 1998 he did a gig and there was something not quite right with the sound of Evo. So he told his tech about it, and the following day Evo sounded completely different than ever before and Steve didn’t like it. He asked the tech what he did and the tech said he changed the neck position pickup and replaced it with another Evolution pickup because there was a bad wire or something on the connection. They were on the bus at this time and had already left the gig. Steve was freaked out and told the tech that he didn’t want the pickup changed, just looked at. The tech confessed that he threw the original away! They turned the bus around and went back to the venue. Steve had the whole crew digging through this gigantic trash bin to find the original pickup, and low and behold, they found it. Phewwwwww. The pickup was put back in the guitar and life was good again. bridge position Evolution humbucker, along with pickup positioning and string action. Closer detail of the volume knob is also visible - read on to find out where the knob comes from... The reason why the tape is on the pickup is because sometimes Steve hits the strings so hard the high E string would have a tendency to get stuck under the pick up. Hey, a little spit and glue can go a long way. The word “KONX” is an ancient alchemist mantra word that is believed to have originated with Aleister Crowley. It’s meant to be used in various incantations that are supposed to invoke disembodied entities from the abyss to materialize into the physical. Please don’t try that at home... The silver rough edge volume knob is nice because it’s easier to grip when you need fast volume control tweakage. It was originally Danny Gatton's.

The story of how the Jem guitar came to be will be coming soon, but for now here are some comments on Evo.

I wanted to design a Jem that had a classic look to it. We experimented with some color combinations and I decided on a white guitar with gold hardware. Ibanez had sent me 4 of them when they were available. They were production models with absolutely no modifications. I couldn't even tell them apart. I started to play them all to get a feel for the one I wanted to make my main ax.

Guitars are like snowflakes in that it seems like there are no two that are exactly alike. Each of those 4 guitars had a slightly different feel and sound. None were better than the other just a little different.

At the same time, I was also working with DiMarzio designing a new pickup. There were four that we experimented with and each was named after a Harley Davidson engine style. They were the Flathead, Knucklehead, Panhead and Evolution. The one I liked the most was the Evolution, so DiMarzio put them into production and they are still available.

The reason I liked the Evolution pickup was that it had a hot output, smooth yet cutting top end and tight bottom end. I had them put in one of the new white Jems and to tell the guitars apart I had to write something on them. That's how Evo got her name. Another one at the time was Flo. The way I got her name will remain a secret for a while.

There was something about Evo that I responded to. Even though she was technically exactly like every other production model guitar, there was something about her touch and sound that moved me. To this day, whenever I see her, my heart goes pitter-patter. Regardless of what is going on in my life, highs or lows, Evo is always a tender sanctuary. The feeling I get when I see her or approach her is akin to a warm home where you feel safe and secure, maybe even around the holiday season - you get the picture.

I started playing her before the Sex And Religion recordings and she has been my main ax since. The only time I use another guitar is if I'm looking for a sound that Evo can't deliver. Flo received a Fernandez sustainer and these days I have been using her more often for two reasons: I have been using the sustainer, and poor Evo is coming to pieces. Read the descriptions and look at the pictures! I did not want to put a sustainer in Evo because it really changes the sound.

I have several backups for Evo and Flo that I use and take on tour. The original Evo II was given to Charlie Bolis. He is a cool guy that is one of my studio techs.

Although Evo is just made out of wire and wood, I'm afraid of how much emotional investment I have in her. I think when you play an instrument long enough it becomes an extension of yourself in ways that run deeper than anyone may understand but you. It moulds and shapes to your body and style or you mould and shape to it. It is the tool an artist uses to express his or her deepest emotional expressions and secrets. For me, Evo has been the voice of my heart and has seen the depth of my most depressed emotional frames of mind to my most euphoric moments of joy and divine love, and she usually gets the brunt of it all. I have cried, screamed, prayed and bled through that instrument, and like I said, although she is only wire and wood, there is an emotional investment in her. I'm afraid at how much I love her but I know that she is only on loan to me for a short time and will one day be dust. But for now, there's still quite a bit we have to say together.
From http://www.vai.com

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