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Joe Satriani is having a custom amp made to achieve Eddie Van Halen’s classic tone

“He actually had a very specific setup,” says Satch, who will be taking on EVH’s guitar work alongside Sammy Hagar, Michael Anthony and Jason Bonham this summer.

Joe Satriani (left) and Eddie Van Halen (right). Both have their guitars in hand and appear to be mouthing along to the sound of their instrument

Images: (Left) Javier Bragadgo and (right) Michele Eve Sandberg/Corbis via Getty

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Joe Satriani is having a custom amplifier built in preparation for the The Best Of All Worlds tour, in which he will be taking on Eddie Van Halen’s guitar work alongside Sammy Hagar, Michael Anthony, and Jason Bonham.

The group will head out on the road this summer to perform Van Halen material along with tracks from supergroups Chickenfoot and The Circle.

Satriani has already discussed the pressure of tackling the riffs of one of the biggest guitar icons, and has been putting in some hard work to get to grips with the EVH tone. So far, he has been really honing in the set up that he used during some of the most famous Van Halen eras. When it comes to amplifiers in particular, he’s having one built specifically for the occasion.

“Eddie had specific gear – he really did. He didn’t play with the gear I used or Steve Vai or Slash or Tom Morello or any of his contemporaries. He actually had a very specific setup,” says Satriani in an interview with Australian Musician (via Blabbermouth).

He later adds, “Let’s say, if you go to [Van Halen’s 1986 concert video] Live Without A Net or any of those things, even the early  5150 period, from [David Lee] Roth to the early Hagar period where he’s still using Marshalls… Every time he goes to hit a harmonic, boom, there it is. And it’s low noise, big round fidelity, still sounds organic.

“You fast forward to live at the Tokyo Dome [2015’s Tokyo Dome Live in Concert], it’s a totally different thing. He’s playing an entirely different amp. When he goes to do those things, he’s getting an overt amount of harmonic information, but he’s also getting a ton of noise and none of the body that was part of the earlier sound.”

Satch decided to experiment with both amps back when he was asked to join the (seemingly abandoned) Eddie tribute tour, but found them to be “really small sounding”: “If I was 20 years old and I was playing modern rock, those would be the best amps ever. But I’m not, and I still wanna hear sort of the body of the guitar and I wanna hear a more dynamic mix.

“I started to think, ‘Well, what’s my favourite Van Halen section?’ And I did find that period in ‘86. I talked to Sam quite a bit about it and he said, yeah, that first 5150, he was still using Marshalls. In Sammy’s view, [that was] his favourite sound that Eddie ever made. It wasn’t small and then stereo-ized. So I reached out to Dylana Scott at 3rd Power amplifiers, and she is building me what we believe is going to be the amp that does it…”

Watch the interview below:

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