Joe Satriani Recalls One Thing John Petrucci Said About His Songs, Admits He’s ’Not a Progressive Guitar Player’

While discussing the revamped G3 tour, Joe Satriani reflected on how setlists for this live spectacle are conceived, pointing out some of the differences in material between guitarists participating in these events.

G3 has been going on for a long time, and last year, it was announced that the original lineup of the tour would be out on the road again. In 2024, we’ll be seeing Satriani and Steve Vai, joined by Eric Johnson. Over the years, plenty of other big names were included, including John Petrucci, Robert Fripp, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Guthrie Govan, and many others.

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Speaking to Border City Rock Talk, Satriani was asked about the setlist for the upcoming tour and how they come up with it. And although all guitar players participating in this are virtuosos, there’s a distinct difference in Joe’s material and that’s something that Dream Theater’s john Petrucci also pointed out. He explained (transcribed by Killer Guitar Rigs):

“I’ve done a number of G3s where I think I generally play more songs because my songs are shorter. Now, this is something I think John Petrucci pointed out to me once on one of the many tours — he’s done just about as many as Steve has, and he was saying, ‘Yeah, it’s interesting, your songs are pretty short, you can do more different things during your set, because your songs are shorter.'”

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And Joe himself is more than aware of this. In fact, he openly admits that he’s just a plain old rock guitar player and not a progressive one.

“And I always say — that’s because I’m a rock guitarist,” Satch offered. “So I’m not a progressive guitar player who needs eight minutes or something like that. I like songs that are pretty much like rock songs.”

Then there’s also Steve Vai in the mix. After Satriani, he’s been the most featured name on the G3 bill, appearing on almost all of the tours. Vai’s works are more specific and, compared to Joe’s, tend to be much lengthier.

“And then on the flip side of it, you have Steve who is very performance-oriented,” Satriani explained. “So he might have very few songs, but really long moments in the show where it’s just him doing something mind-blowing.”

And more importantly, Satriani praises Steve’s music, pointing out how his unique style has its place in a G3 show:

“He just does so many crazy things that sometimes a song can’t serve it better — everyone has to stop and just let Steve do his thing, and that becomes part of the show.”

At the end of the day, it’s all about the full show. And the guitar legend explains how it all works perfectly together:

“So it’s quite unique. Every performer that we’ve had gets to do their own thing at their own pace. That’s the beauty of it. We’re not forced to conform to some global setlist.”

“Everyone controls their own set, and then we agree to play some tried-and-true songs at the end of the show that not only everyone loves, and knows, but that are easy to have other guests just jump on stage and join us.”

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“We can’t have 11-minute complicated ensemble songs [laughs] because then no one would ever join us. But if you want Neal Schon to jump on stage, you better be able to play something that everybody knows. And that is a lot for someone to reinterpret, and I think that served us very well over the last three decades.”

In a recent interview with Ultimate Guitar, Satriani also discussed potentials of releasing new material anytime soon. Although there are currently no plans, the maestro is always thinking about his next steps when it comes to original music.

“Well, I’m always writing, so yeah, there’s always a lot of stuff that I’m dealing with,” he explained. “Some of it is real strange and obtuse. I think what I often do is I will get an idea about a person or place, a memory, something I’m imagining, and I focus on the theme, the story, the emotional component, and then I pick an instrument to get me going and then I’ll start to work from there.”

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“Sometimes I’ll sit at the keyboard and I’ll write all the chords and that is the basis of me getting started. Sometimes it might be some sort of crazy guitar riff. It varies really, and I don’t know where it’s going to take me. But I always keep it going.”

“I have to say, it’s probably a daily thing. I’m always picking up the guitar somewhere in the house, and if I’m not sitting in the studio with Pro Tools in front of me, then I’ve got the phone or something and I just record stuff or I write it down. So, yeah, I’m constantly writing.”

Photos: Hreinn Gudlaugsson (Joe-satriani DSC05259), Andreas Lawen, Fotandi (Dreamtheater – Wacken Open Air 2015-1607)


  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor.