John Petrucci

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John Petrucci
Petrucci performing with Dream Theater at Wacken Open Air 2015
Petrucci performing with Dream Theater at Wacken Open Air 2015
Background information
Birth nameJohn Peter Petrucci
Born (1967-07-12) July 12, 1967 (age 56)
Kings Park, New York, U.S.
  • Musician
  • songwriter
  • producer
Years active1984–present
Member of
Formerly ofExplorers Club

John Peter Petrucci (born July 12, 1967) is an American guitarist, best known as a founding member of the progressive metal band Dream Theater. He produced or co-produced (often with Mike Portnoy before his initial departure from the band in 2010) all of Dream Theater's albums from Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory (1999) to A View from the Top of the World (2021), and has been the sole producer of the band's albums released since A Dramatic Turn of Events (2011). Petrucci has also released two solo albums: Suspended Animation (2005) and Terminal Velocity (2020).

Early life and influences[edit]

John Peter Petrucci was born on July 12, 1967, in Kings Park, New York, to an Italian American family. He picked up the guitar at around the age of eight because his older sister was allowed to go to bed later in order to practice the organ. However, he decided to quit the guitar when his attempts to stay up late were unsuccessful. He picked up the guitar again at the age of 12. Petrucci has said he committed to practicing guitar six hours a day when he discovered it was his passion. His early influences were bands like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, AC/DC, and later developed an interest in progressive rock and heavy metal, exemplified by Rush, Yes, Iron Maiden, Dixie Dregs and Metallica.[1][2]


Eventually, his childhood friend and future Dream Theater keyboardist Kevin Moore invited Petrucci to join his cover band. Petrucci attended Berklee College of Music in Boston with childhood friend John Myung (bass), where they met future bandmate Mike Portnoy (drums). While in Berklee they often covered two of their biggest influences, Iron Maiden and Rush. These three, in addition to Kevin Moore, formed the band Majesty. Because there was already another band with the same name, the group later became Dream Theater.

While Petrucci is most commonly associated with Dream Theater, he is also in the project band Liquid Tension Experiment, and has appeared as a guest on records by other artists, such as the Age of Impact album by the Explorer's Club.

Petrucci has released a guitar instructional video, Rock Discipline, which covers warm-up exercises, exercises to avoid injury while playing, alternate picking, sweep picking, chords and other techniques for developing one's guitar playing. Petrucci also has a book named "Guitar World presents John Petrucci's Wild Stringdom", which was compiled from columns he wrote for Guitar World magazine under that title.

In 2001, Joe Satriani and Steve Vai invited Petrucci to tour with them on the popular G3 guitar tour, which exposed him to a massive number of new fans and inspired a solo album. The album, Suspended Animation, was released on March 1, 2005, and was available for order from his web site. Petrucci also appeared on the 2005 and 2006 G3 tours, and in 2007, went on G3 tour again, this time with Paul Gilbert and Joe Satriani. In a video with Larry DiMarzio, Petrucci announced that he is working on a follow-up to his 2005 album, Suspended Animation and a new Dream Theater album.[3]

Petrucci also wrote and recorded two instrumental soundtrack songs for a Sega Saturn game titled Digital Pinball: Necronomicon. Each track is roughly two minutes long, and are named simply Prologue and Epilogue. In a spoof rock band, Nightmare Cinema (which was the Dream Theater members changing instruments for encores), he used the "alternate stage name" Johnny James.

In 2012, Petrucci was invited once again to join Joe Satriani on the G3 tour, along with Steve Morse. He was accompanied by bassist Dave LaRue and drummer and Dream Theater bandmate Mike Mangini.

In 2018, Petrucci joined Joe Satriani on the G3 tour. They were accompanied by Uli Jon Roth on the European leg of the tour, and Phil Collen in North America. His second solo album, titled Terminal Velocity was released in 2020.[4] Petrucci's first solo album in 15 years, it reunited him with Mike Portnoy for the first time since the drummer left Dream Theater in 2010.[5]

Musical style[edit]

Guitar technique[edit]

Petrucci in 2007

Petrucci is respected for his variety of guitar styles and skills. One of the most notable of these is his high-speed alternate picking which, as he himself claims, requires a "strong sense of synchronization between the two [playing] hands." He is notable for frequent use of the seven-string electric guitar, which he says he uses as a writing tool, taking advantage of the extended range for heavier riffing and to play extended range runs as part of a solo. Moreover, Petrucci often combines his metal shredding technique with a slower, emotive soloing style. His influences as a guitarist include Jimmy Page,[6] Brian May,[6] Eddie Van Halen,[6] Steve Morse, Al Di Meola, Steve Howe, Allan Holdsworth, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Randy Rhoads, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Alex Lifeson, Yngwie Malmsteen and David Gilmour.[2][7]


Petrucci is Dream Theater's most prolific lyricist, with each album including at least three songs featuring his lyrics. Some of Petrucci's notable songs include "Metropolis, Pt. 1: The Miracle and the Sleeper", "The Spirit Carries On", "The Great Debate", "In the Presence of Enemies", and "Through Her Eyes". Petrucci has occasionally used real-life experiences for lyrical inspiration, as heard in songs such as "The Count of Tuscany", "A Nightmare to Remember" and "Endless Sacrifice".


Petrucci has acted as a backing vocalist live since the Awake Tour. He is a baritone, producing a sound darker than that of James LaBrie's tenor voice. He has also written vocal melodies for Dream Theater. Petrucci's role as a vocalist expanded following the departure of Mike Portnoy, who had been Dream Theater's primary backing vocalist and occasionally even shared lead vocals with LaBrie. In live performances, Petrucci now replicates some vocal parts originally sung by Portnoy, with others being recorded samples.

Accolades and praise[edit]

Regarded as "one of the most celebrated guitarists alive" by Premier Guitar,[8] Petrucci has performed as the third guitarist on the G3 tour seven times, more than any other invited guitarist. In their article "John Petrucci: The Ultimate Evolved Guitarist",[8] Premier Guitar calls Petrucci "one of the best who's ever laid a hand on a fretboard".[8] He was voted "Best Prog guitarist" by The Prog Magazine[9] and the "Greatest Guitarist" by Burrn magazine[10] and Mariskalrock.[11] Guitar World magazine lists Petrucci among the "Fastest Guitarists of All Time"[12] and calls him "the most celebrated and popular guitarist in the world of progressive metal" and "arguably the most versatile and proficient player in his realm, with a highly developed melodic sense and an alternate picking technique that is virtually untouchable as far as speed and precision", while also ranking him among the top 5 "Best Guitarists of the Decade".[13]

In 2019, Petrucci won the SENA Performers European Award.[14] Joel McIver's 2009 book The 100 Greatest Metal Guitarists ranks Petrucci second, after Dave Mustaine.[15] He was also named as one of the "Top 10 Greatest Guitar Shredders of All Time" by GuitarOne magazine.[16] In 2012, Petrucci was ranked the 17th greatest guitarist of all time by a Guitar World magazine reader's poll.[17] According to Forbes, the Ernie Ball-Music Man John Petrucci JP6 is the second-best-selling signature model of all time, behind only the Gibson Les Paul.[18]


Petrucci is a long-time user of Music Man JP and Majesty series guitars and Mesa/Boogie amplifiers. While his pedalboard, controller, effects and overdrives have undergone changes over the years, the core of Petrucci's guitar sound remains DiMarzio pickups and Mesa/Boogie amplifiers. Most recently the signature JP-2C amplifier based on the Mark IIC+ series and other Mark and Rectifier series amplifiers, such as during the recording of Train of Thought.[19][20][21]

A number of brands have released signature guitar equipment designed or endorsed by Petrucci:

  • Ibanez released the first John Petrucci signature guitars, made from 1995 to 1999
  • DiMarzio have produced several pickups designed in collaboration with Petrucci, and released a signature guitar strap bearing his emblem.
  • Ernie Ball Music Man (USA) began producing John Petrucci signature guitars in 2001 and have made numerous models bearing his name since.
  • Dunlop produce John Petrucci signature guitar picks including the Jazz III and flow
  • TC Electronic released the Dreamscape John Petrucci signature modulation pedal in 2013.

At the beginning of 2016 two new releases were announced: the Dunlop John Petrucci signature Cry-Baby wah, and the Mesa/Boogie JP-2C John Petrucci head. The latter is a three-channel amplifier, which is available both as a stand-alone amp head and as a rack-mounted amp head. It differs from other Mesa/Boogie Mark series amps in that it features two separate graphic EQs, an exclusive "Shred" circuit, midi connection and CabClone direct out, resulting in increased versatility.[22]

Personal life[edit]

Petrucci lives in St. James, New York with his wife Rena Sands, a guitarist in the all-female heavy metal band Meanstreak, and they have three children. With Petrucci being married to Sands who is an aunt from the mother side of Jake Bowen, a guitarist in the progressive metal band Periphery, also makes Petrucci Bowen's uncle. [23]

Petrucci is an avid fan of bodybuilding and dedicates much of his off time to weight training. He is a voting member of NARAS.[24]

Dream Theater bandmate Jordan Rudess revealed in an interview that Petrucci is a practicing Catholic and Petrucci himself told about it in a Dream Theater Q&A session with DreamTheaterForums and in an interview with Mark Small from Berklee Today magazine.[25][26][27]


Solo albums[edit]

With Dream Theater - Studio albums[edit]

With Liquid Tension Experiment[edit]

With G3[edit]

With Jordan Rudess[edit]

As a guest[edit]



Year Title Notes
1993 Images and Words: Live in Tokyo First Dream Theater live DVD. Includes extended version of "Take the Time."
1995 Rock Discipline – VHS John Petrucci does a DVD on guitar warmups, tricks, exercises, and his gear.
1998 5 Years in a LIVEtime The only live Dream Theater DVD with Derek Sherinian.
2001 Metropolis 2000: Scenes From New York
2002 Rock Discipline – DVD
2004 Live at Budokan
2005 G3: Live in Tokyo
2006 Score 2DVD's recorded at Radio City Music Hall on April 1, 2006, New York, US Celebrating Dream Theater's 20th Anniversary. They performed this concert with a symphony orchestra.
2007 Chaos in Progress: The Making of Systematic Chaos DVD included in the special edition of Systematic Chaos
2008 Chaos in Motion 2007–2008 Released September 30, 2008. Documents the band's 2007/2008 Chaos in Motion and Progressive Nation tours.
2013 Live at Luna Park
2014 Breaking the Fourth Wall 2DVD's recorded live at the Boston Opera House on March 25, 2014, released on September 29, 2014, on CD, DVD, and Blu-ray.
2020 Distant Memories – Live in London Recorded on February 21 and 22, 2020.


  1. ^ "Interview with John Petrucci (Dream Theater)". Wikimetal. Archived from the original on October 6, 2014.
  2. ^ a b "John Petrucci: Biography". Archived from the original on November 27, 1999.
  3. ^ John Petrucci and his DiMarzio® Pickups. on YouTube
  4. ^ Munro, Scott (June 19, 2020). "Dream Theater's John Petrucci announces new solo album Terminal Velocity". Prog. Future plc. Retrieved June 20, 2020.
  5. ^ "Terminal Velocity Review". August 27, 2020. Retrieved April 7, 2022.
  6. ^ a b c "John Petrucci | Similar Artists". AllMusic.
  7. ^ "John Petrucci Talks About the New Dream Theater Album in the November 2011 Issue of Guitar World".
  8. ^ a b c Reiff, Corbin (September 24, 2013). "John Petrucci: The Ultimate Evolved Guitarist". Retrieved September 3, 2020.
  9. ^ "Prog Awards 2019: Dream Theater, Big Big Train, Hawkwind among this year's winners". September 12, 2019.
  10. ^ [user-generated source]
  11. ^ [user-generated source]
  12. ^ "Need for speed: The 50 fastest shred guitarists of all time". March 11, 2015.
  13. ^ "The 20 best guitarists of the decade". December 30, 2019.
  14. ^ "John Petrucci winner of the Sena Performers European Guitar Award 2019". April 23, 2019.
  15. ^ "Dave Mustaine Discusses 'The 100 Greatest Metal Guitarists'". Ultimate-Guitar.
  16. ^ "Top Shredders of All Time". Archived from the original on March 9, 2008. Retrieved February 26, 2008.
  17. ^ "Readers Poll Results: The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time". Guitar World. Retrieved October 13, 2012
  18. ^ "These Are 7 Best Selling Models of Big Guitar Manufacturers".
  19. ^ "Gear". Archived from the original on January 26, 2013. Retrieved May 17, 2010.
  20. ^ "Rig Rundown - Dream Theater's John Petrucci". October 25, 2011.
  21. ^ "John Petrucci's Gear and Equipment (2015)".
  22. ^ "Dream Theater's John Petrucci Gear Guide".
  23. ^ Artist On Artist: John Petrucci (Dream Theater) & Jake Bowen (Periphery) - Roadrunner Records on YouTube
  24. ^ The Official John Petrucci Web Site Archived July 11, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  25. ^ The Dream Theater official FAQ Archived April 18, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  26. ^ " presents a Q&A Session with Dream Theater". Archived from the original on December 21, 2021. Retrieved July 19, 2020.
  27. ^ "Dream Theater". Retrieved August 16, 2023.
  28. ^ Ewing, Jerry (January 11, 2021). "Liquid Tension Experiment reveal artwork and tracklisting for new album". Louder Sound.
  29. ^ Exclusive: Periphery Officially Announce July 3 Release Date for New Album
  30. ^ "The Mutual Admiration Society | Sterling Ball, John Ferraro, and Jim Cox".
  31. ^ "Dream Theater's guitarist John Petrucci featured in Super Mario Bros. main theme remix with FamilyJules". Loudwire. February 3, 2018.
  32. ^ "VIDEO: Super Mario Bros. theme by FamilyJules (feat. John Petrucci)". YouTube. Archived from the original on December 21, 2021. Retrieved January 30, 2018.

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