What strings does Steve Vai use?
Who is Steve Vai
Steve Vai is the architypal American virtuoso rock guitarist.
Three-times Grammy winner, he started out playing with Frank Zapper and ended up ten years later in Whitesnake... before starting his solo career as a guitar superhero. His list of Best Guitarist, Best Solo, Best Album etc has been growing year-on-year for two decades. As well as being know for heis speed and playing accuracy, Steve's got a deep academic knowledge of music theory and a love of exotic guitars, including twin and triple necks.
What brand of strings does Steve Vai use?
Steve originally used - and endorsed - Dean Markley strings, but then changed over to Ernie Ball after about ten years. However, the reason for the change was less technical than personal and shouldn't be seen as a slur against the Dean Markley brand. If fact Steve mentions that both Ernie Ball and Dean Markley are very good products.
Steve says: "I met Sterling Ball and we became very good friends. He's a really interesting, engaging, funny, personable guy and I really didn't know anybody at Dean Markley. They were very good, and they supported me, but I developed a personal relationship with Sterling. For anything else that was the reason.". He also mentions using Ernie Ball strings when he was younger (and long before he was famous) and says that nostalgia played a part in the decision.
What about gauge?
Steve Via has confirmed in interviews that he switches between 9 and 10 gauge strings, but more often than not will be using 9s. Typically he'll start a tour or project using 9 gauge, but finds that they seem too light after a while, so will switch to 10 gauge.
The exact set that Steve is said use is 9-42 Super Slinky - exactly the same as thousands of amateur guitarists and disappointingly un-exotic!
Super Slinkys are Ernie Ball reference 2223 and comprise Nickel-plated roundwound gauges 9, 11, 16, 24, 32, 42