Eddie Van Halen’s Ibanez “Shark” Destroyer

It is often overlooked and misunderstood about Eddie’s use of the Ibanez Destroyer, nicknamed “the Shark”. Indeed, Eddie was not 100% satisfied with just one sound on the recording of the first Van Halen album. So instead, he relied on a stock Ibanez Destroyer to create a slightly different sound when required on the album.

This guitar is as important as the Frankenstrat when it comes to the early Van Halen sound.

Picture courtesy http://www.vhnd.com/2011/06/02/search-and-destroy/

Ibanez Destroyers have been around since 19751 and they were a relatively new addition at the time. It made perfect sense for Eddie to use the Destroyer on the first Van Halen album to vary the sound somewhat. It is often overlooked in the Van Halen cannon this guitar, so it is well worth noting about. Edward’s son Wolfgang referred to the Ibanez Destroyer as simply, “My favourite”2.

Ibanez is one of the most popular heavy rock guitar brands internationally.

Picture courtesy http://grandcentralmusicstore.com/about/product-lines/

Little is known about this particular guitar, but what is confirmed is that Eddie did use the guitar on much of the early Van Halen work more than people realise. For example, on the first Van Halen album Eddie used it on roughly half the tracks: Runnin’ with the Devil; You Really Got Me; Jamie’s Cryin’; Feel Your Love Tonight and On Fire. Basically early on, he used his Destroyer on any track that did not require the tremolo arm on his Frankenstrat, instead opting for the heavier sound of the Ibanez Destroyer when necessary.

However, shortly after the recording of the first Van Halen album, Eddie became interested in modifying the guitar and carved out parts of it. He also removed the pickguard, painted it striped in red and white, placing a Les Paul style volume knobs on it, filling in a hole for the middle knob and a rear cutaway that Eddie completed with a chainsaw.

Eddie indeed, loved using the Destroyer, even after the heavy modifications.

Picture courtesy http://media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/0b/fb/5a/0bfb5a8337515aaf3e0a342e5fd19ad5.jpg

The result was, however more visually impressive, was a negative one. It reportedly destroyed the tone of the guitar, making it less sonically pleasing to Ed. However the guitar meant something to Eddie, as he posed on the cover of the 1980 Women and Children First album with it. Indeed without the Ibanez Destroyer that Eddie used throughout early Van Halen recordings, much of what we recognise as the Brown sound would have been lost.

You can still find Ibanez Destroyer guitars (although without the EVH modifications) available today.

Picture courtesy http://georgemangos.com/destroyer/index.htm

Still, Ibanez sell Destroyer guitars to this day. There are two models, one retailing at $1199.00 (DT520FM) and another more expensive model at $1895.00 (DT520) and are worth checking out if you are keen on one. Listed below are the details of the more expensive model, courtesy of www.ibanez.com:

Finish: Black

Neck type: Destroyer 1 piece Mahogany set-in-neck

Body: Mahogany body

Fretboard: Rosewood Fretboard

Fret: Jumbo Frets

Bridge: Tight-Tune Bridge

Tailpiece: Tight-Tune Tailpiece

Neck pickup: DiMarzio® Air Norton™ Humbucker Neck Pickup (Passive/Alnico)

Bridge pickup: DiMarzio® The Tone Zone® Humbucker Bridge Pickup (Passive/Alnico)

Hardware colour: Chrome

Neck dimensions:

Scale – 628mm/24.75

  1. Width at Nut – 43mm
  2. Width at Last Fret – 57mm
  3. Thickness at 1st Fret – 20mm
  4. Thickness at 12th Fret – 22mm

Radius: 305mmR

Features: DiMarzio Pickups; Tight-Tune Bridge and Tailpiece

For all of those in the knowhow of Eddie Van Halen’s music and curious to explore some of the earlier, heavier sounds present, this guitar is well worth checking out.

The Ibanez “Shark” Destroyer is on the cover of Women and Children First.

Picture courtesy http://jasobrecht.com/eddie-van-halen-complete-1979-interview/

References:

  1. Ibanez Official Website. 2014. Electric guitars – Ibanez Destroyer. http://www.ibanez.co.jp/products/eg_page14.php?year=2014&area_id=2&cat_id=1&series_id=32&data_id=264&color=CL01
  2. Van Halen News Desk. 2011. Search and Destroy. http://www.vhnd.com/2014/07/27/aap75/

3 thoughts on “Eddie Van Halen’s Ibanez “Shark” Destroyer

  1. gabrielalanking

    Iv’e always loved the Ibanez destroyer. Sounded great with Def Leppard and many other bands….. looks great. Undoubtedly Ed played it on “Runnin’ with the devil” and other songs off the first record. He even plays it in the video. I’d love to get one someday, and if I do I wont chop it up like Ed…. lol maybe stick a EVH Frankenstein in the bridge.

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  2. gabrielalanking

    The Ibanez Destroyer is a great guitar. Loved it on Def Leppard’s stuff too and it looks great. I’d love to get one someday…. no doubt Ed used it a lot on the first album- released on my 4th birthday: February 10th 1974. Life would suck without Van Halen ! Ed chopped it up pretty good but it looks cool either way. I’d maybe stick an EVH Frankenstein in it… throw on a whammy bar etc.
    Here’s Ed playing it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i5txwFv-zYM

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  3. Thom

    Just a side note about Eddie and his use of the destroyer. Recording Women and Children first, he borrowed Chris Holmes of WASP’s destroyer for the chord work.
    They grew up in the same neighborhood, and Chris, looking up to Eddie had bought the same guitar.

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