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Steve Vai reveals the pedals he couldn't live without, zombie apocalypse or no zombie apocalypse

Welcome to Pedalpocalypse, a brand-new series from MusicRadar, Guitar World and Guitar Player

I've always been a sucker for pedals - the more colourful they look, the better they sound!

Steve Vai

Each month, British guitarist Robin Davey, in association with Growvision, grills a top-name player on the guitar effects pedals they'd save in the increasingly plausible scenario of, say, a zombie apocalypse (or maybe just another lockdown). Think Desert Island Discs, but with more pedals and undead hordes.

This time out, we take a trip to axe legend Steve Vai's home studio to check out his favoured trio of stompboxes. While we're there we also get some tips from the horse's mouth on how to deploy them to get his signature sounds.

Spolier alert: his favoured pedals are the Ibanez Jemini Distortion, Boss's DD-7 digital delay and the legendary Jim Dunlop Cry Baby Wah.

It's perhaps zero surprise that Steve's a pedal buff. Perhaps less expected, but somehow reassuring, is that he's also as keen on a bit of eye candy as the rest of us. "I've always been a sucker for pedals," he confides. "The more colourful they look, the better they sound!

Of the Jemini, a signature offering, Vai says "I love tube screamers and I love the DS-1 but they need a bit of tweaking to my ear. So we kinda tweaked them a bit and made two pedals."

The DD-7 meanwhile is "a beautiful workhorse for delay," while of the Cry Baby Vai enthuses "I just like it!"

Dive in for a trot through those in more detail, plus a few more choice cuts from the big man's collection. 

This episode is supported by our friends at Universal Audio (opens in new tab) and their UAFX Guitar Pedals: "Built upon powerful dual‑processor engines and UA's proven analog modeling expertise, UAFX Guitar Pedals give you sonic authenticity far beyond other stompboxes."

Previously on Pedalpocalypse:

Episode 1: Blues-country-jazzmaster and all-round tone wizard Josh Smith

Episode 2: British blues guitarist Scott McKeon

Will Groves
Will Groves

I'm lucky enough to be MusicRadar's Editor-in-chief while being, by some considerable distance, the least proficient musician on the editorial team. An undeniably ropey but occasionally enthusiastic drummer, I've worked on the world's greatest music making website in one capacity or another since its launch in 2007. I hope you enjoy the site - we do.