'I called it Evo because it's one of the first guitars I had that had the Evolution pickups in it and it's just a great-sounding guitar. I try replacing it with other guitars but nothing really quite cuts it like this one. Pogo is just like Evo in appearance but it has less output and it's a little warmer. Some guitars just sound different. I gave Pogo to my guitar tech at the end of the tour 'cause he really it. The Attitide guitars were the ones that got smashed on the 'Sex & Religion' tour. At the end of 'The Attitude Song' I'd go into this spinning, throwing guitar extravaganza and some nights the guitar wouldn't survive. Some nights I wouldn't survive it either! The bodies would stay intact for about three or four shows but the necks would pretty much get smashed on every show.'
Steve's most infamous guitar is perhaps his pink Ibanez triple-neck which he used with David Lee Roth live for 'Just Like Paradise' and with Whitesnake.
'With Whitesnake I fingered both necks live - I forget for which song. I had this little device made that would mute the strings at the nut to avoid unwanted open strings sounding. The little mascot thing on the guitar was just actually something that I had made for a hat that I ended up taking off and putting some feathers on and nailing it to the guitar - just to give it some character so it just didn't just look like a big red heart.'
Steve has another Ibanez triple neck, although this time it's a slightly more sensible affair with all the necks on the same side. 'It's a regular 6-string, a 6-string fretless guitar and a 12-string. I wanted to take it on the 'Sex & Religion' tour but it was just two expensive to cart around - too fragile.
'My first proper guitar was a natural wood-colour Strat that my mother had bought me when I was a teenager. I used it all through High School and then through college and with Frank Zappa and for 'The Attitude Song'. It was a good guitar. Well, actually, it sounded like crap!'
Steve also has some Ripley guitars which were custom built for him. 'They're really unique guitars and they're made so well. I have a Ripley fretless guitar, I have a Ripley stereo guitar, I have a Ripley 16-fret per octave guitar, I have a Ripley 24-per octave guitar. Steve Ripley is now in a band called the Tractors which have sold a lot of records in America.
'But one of my favourite guitars is the Guild semi-acoustic I used at the beginning of 'Rescue Me Or Bury Me'. I think it's the F4CE and it's got a 2 inch body but it's hollow. It's got this pickup in the bridge and it just has a really unique, twangy, warm sound and I use it on almost every record. I've also got a Guild 12-string that's really nice-sounding as well. I like to tune the strings independently of each other, like for the top 'E' string maybe one note would be 'E' and the other 'G#'. I almost put a song on 'Alien Love Secrets' that was like that.
'When I was in the market for an acoustic guitar I played a Taylor and I just had to have one 'cause they're fabulous guitars. So, he made me that one. I wanted it to be purple and I wanted the inscription 'Light Without Heat' on it.'
Despite these other axes, Steve is still closely involved with Ibanez and has just designed a new finish for them. 'We take, like, an ash body or a basswood body, and we burn it with a blow torch and then put a stain on it, then oil it. For the fret markers we're using screws and nothing's really shiny on the guitar - it's a very cool-looking guitar. We're just working on the sound right now 'cause it's not quite right yet. I'm throwing around a couple of names - like maybe a Misfit or something like that.'
This interview appeared in 'The Guitar Magazine' Vol 5 No 5, May 1995.
© Douglas J Noble 1995