Steve Vai “Won't Be Able to Play for a While” After Holding a Chord for So Long He Needed Surgery

Steve Vai performs live in 2019
(Image credit: Scott Dudelson/Getty Images)

Steve Vai recently revealed that he had undergone shoulder and trigger finger surgeries in recent months, saying that his shoulder had been "screwed up," but not necessarily revealing why he needed the latter surgery.

As it turns out, Vai sustained that latter injury by, of all things, holding a tough chord for too long. 

“I was doing this fun thing, and I had to put my thumb in this really weird position," Vai said during an appearance on Tyler Larson's Guitar Villains podcast.

“And I had to kind of hold this chord really for a long time – I was meditating on it. And I knew it was a hard position, and I just kept sitting there and playing it and playing and playing, and 20 minutes later, I'd kind of come out, and I [felt pain in my hand]. 

“So I kind of sprained this, and then, all of a sudden, I developed trigger finger. My wife said, 'Don't show anybody,' 'cause they did that operation and they cut in there, and the guy's fooling around with everything in there, and it's really bizarre. 

“But it's all fine – it's something very simple that they can fix. But I won't be able to play for a while.”

Larson asked Vai if the chord in question was a F#add9, to which Vai said “No, it was more like a D…molished chord!”

Though Vai previously assured fans that the surgery was "nothing," we reckon this may slow down production on the five albums the virtuoso reportedly has in the works...

Jackson Maxwell
Associate Editor, and

Jackson is an Associate Editor at and He’s been writing and editing stories about new gear, technique and guitar-driven music both old and new since 2014, and has also written extensively on the same topics for Guitar Player. Elsewhere, his album reviews and essays have appeared in Louder and Unrecorded. Though open to music of all kinds, his greatest love has always been indie, and everything that falls under its massive umbrella. To that end, you can find him on Twitter crowing about whatever great new guitar band you need to drop everything to hear right now.