In 1996, Satriani founded the G3, a concert tour intended to feature a power trio consisting of three instrumental rock guitarists. The original lineup featured Satriani, Vai, and Eric Johnson. The G3 tour has continued periodically since its inaugural version, where Satriani is the only permanent member, featuring differing second and third members. Other guitarists who have performed in such a G3 configuration include among others: Yngwie Malmsteen, John Petrucci, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Robert Fripp, Andy Timmons, Uli Jon Roth, Michael Schenker, Adrian Legg and Paul Gilbert.
In 1998 Satriani recorded and released Crystal Planet, which went back to a sound more reminiscent of his
In 1992, Satriani released The Extremist, his most critically acclaimed and commercially successful album to date. Radio stations across the country were quick to pick up on "Summer Song," which got a major boost when Sony used it in a major commercial campaign for their Discman portable CD players. "Cryin'," "Friends," and the title track were also regional hits on radio.
In late 1993, Satriani joined Deep Purple as a temporary replacement for departed guitarist Ritchie Blackmore during the band's Japanese tour. The concerts were a success, and Satriani was asked to join the band permanently but he declined, having just signed a multi-album solo deal with Sony, so Steve Morse took the guitarist slot in Deep Purple.