Vai is also a producer. He owns two studios, "The Mothership" and "The Harmony Hut" ), and his own recordings combine his guitar skills and novel compositions with studio and recording effects. Vai helped design his signature Ibanez JEM guitar series. They feature a hand grip (fondly referred to as a "monkey grip") cut into the top of the body of the guitar, a humbucker–single coil-humbucker (H/S/H) DiMarzio pickup configuration with several different types of pickup including Evolution, Breed and EVO 2. He also uses the Ibanez Edge and Lo-Pro Edge double-locking tremolo systems (between the years 2003-2009, production JEMs had the Edge Pro, which is now discontinued), as well as an elaborate and extensive "Tree of Life" inlay down the neck. Vai also equips many of his guitars with an Ibanez Backstop, a tremolo stabilizer that has been discontinued. Lately Vai has also equipped some of his guitars with True Temperament fretboards to make his chords sound more in tune.
Vai has a 7-string model designed by him named Ibanez Universe, featuring DiMarzio Blaze pickups in an HSH arrangement. The Ibanez Universe gained attention in the 90s when the band Korn used the guitar and sold millions of albums worldwide. Vai also has a signature Ibanez acoustic, the Euphoria. His two main guitars are white JEMs dubbed "Evo" and "Flo", each with their own unique modifications. Before Ibanez, he briefly endorsed Jackson guitars, but the relationship only lasted two years. Steve Vai has also worked with Carvin Guitars and Pro Audio to develop the Carvin Legacy line of guitar amplifiers. Vai wanted to create an affordable amp that was unique, and equal in sound and versatility to any guitar amp he had previously used. Over his long musical career, Steve Vai has used and designed an array of guitars. He even had his blood put into the swirl paint job on one of his signature JEM guitars, the JEM2KDNA. Only 300 of these were made. Currently, he mainly uses his white "Evo", a JEM7V, and his "Flo", which is a customized Floral JEM 77FP painted white. They are both inscribed with their names in two places, mainly so he can distinguish between them onstage. "Flo" is equipped with a Fernandes sustainer system.
He has a guitar named "Mojo" with dot inlays that are blue LED lights. He has a custom-made triple-neck guitar that has the same basic features as his JEM7V guitars. The top neck is a 12-string guitar, the middle is a six-string, and the bottom is a six-string fretless guitar with a Fernandes Sustainer pickup. This guitar was featured on the G3 2003 tour on the piece I Know You're Here. Vai's effects pedals include a modified Boss DS-1, Ibanez Tube Screamer, Morley Bad Horsie, Ibanez Jemini Twin Distortion Pedal, TC Electronics G-System, Morley Little Alligator Volume pedal, DigiTech Whammy, and an MXR Phase 90/Phase 100 on the Passion and Warfare album. His flight cases are labeled "Mr. Vai", or lately, "Dr. Vai." He has used a number of rack effects units controlled via MIDI, but used a floor-based TC electronics G system instead for the Zappa Plays Zappa tour.
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