Are there any new guitars that you’re currently using?
“Yeah, but you have to realize that newer guitars aren’t my biggest feature. I’m actually playing a brand-new Martin 000C – I’ll use that for Mood For A Day. I’ve brought back into action my 1960 ES-5 Gibson Switchmaster, which is one of the most amazing guitars I’ve got. I’m using my Fenders and my steel and things like this, so tonally it’s a well-rounded show. I continue to like contrasting sounds over different types of electric guitars. I still use a 345 Stereo because it’s such a great guitar to play. Mix that with the steel and the Variax guitars… I like the older one because it fits on a stand. Guitars are always shifting, like the sand. There’s some greater appreciation I can realize for some older guitars, but then a new guitar will come along that really works well for me, like the Martin 000C.
“In the electric guitar field, my Steve Howe 175 is one of the guitars I play. Like the Switchmaster, it’s a three-pickup model – a three-pickup custom. Guitars come in and out. I love them. I bought quite a few steel guitars recently. I’m still searching for a single-neck Professional with legs steel guitar, but they’re very, very rare. People think I want to buy a Champ or something, but I don’t want one. They don’t have the double pickup, and they’re not substantial, professional instruments.”
Are there any guitars you record with that you won’t take out on the road?
“Well, I started doing that with my best 175 because airlines – let me just take a deep breath… airlines understand that there are rules, but they change them. One day, a few years back, I got to Heathrow and they told me I couldn’t take my guitar on. I literally freaked out, and I said to the whole gate – I pulled my guitar out and I said, ‘Can you believe this? This guitar, they won’t let me take it on. Can you believe that?’ And everybody cheered, but they still wouldn’t back down.
“I’ve got these people. I mean, I complained vigorously after that. They told me to go home and get another plane. Can you imagine? I mean, I’m not an egomaniac, but I am Steve Howe – I’ve got some credibility. I do have a reason why I want that guitar to go on. So it’s a mixed bag. The 175 from 1964 is not going on any more planes.”
Yes' Heaven & Earth will be released on July 22. You can pre-order the album on Amazon.