Born in New York in 1960, acclaimed rock guitarist Steve Vai began playing guitar in his teens, when he studied under local guitar teacher Joe Satriani (now a famed solo musician). After high school, Vai studied at the Berklee School of Music in Boston, then moved to Los Angeles to seek his fortune. Within a year he came to the attention of gonzo musician Frank Zappa, who was impressed by Vai’s amazing technical ability and tremendous knowledge of Zappa’s own large repertoire; Vai soon joined Zappa’s band as “stunt guitarist,” earning a reputation as one of the most talented hard rock guitarists in the industry.
In 1984 Steve Vai made his solo debut with Flexi-Able, then joined the local metal band Alcatrazz. In 1986 he joined former Van Halen frontman David Lee Roth’s backing band for the Eat ‘Em and Smile album. Following the recording of Roth’s 1988 album Skyscraper, Vai temporarily joined Whitesnake, filling in on guitar on their 1989 effort, Slip of the Tongue. He then returned to his solo career, recording the 1990’s acclaimed Passion and Warfare. Several more all-instrumental solo albums followed. You can catch Vai along with Satriani and special guest Yngwie Malmsteen in their successful G3 concert tour.
This riff is from the song “Viv Woman” which is from Vai’s first solo album “Flex-able”. It’s a weird album, to say the least, but there’s some amazing guitar playing on it. This riff is no piece of cake to learn. You’ll have to do some serious work in order to play it up to speed. Fingerings are very important, so pay close attention to the fingerings I’ve suggested further down the page. Good luck!
Here’s what it sounds like:
Here’s the same riff, but a bit slower: