VH2 “Bumblebee” guitar, Floyd Rose and Charvel

Little is actually known about this particular guitar. When Eddie Van Halen was in the process of recording the second Van Halen album, Van Halen II, he wanted something that would be different to his original Frankenstrat. Since the release of the first Van Halen album, copycats began emerging trying to emulate not just Eddie’s playing but also his original Frankenstrat.

 

In an attempt to remedy this, he created the “Bumblebee”, more or less the same sort of guitar that the Frankenstrat was, including the same type of neck on the guitar, constructed at the Charvel factory. But there was one large difference. Initially a Fender Vintage Tremolo was installed. But Eddie made rock history when he became the first ever professional rock guitarist to use a Floyd Rose tremolo system on the guitar1.

The Floyd Rose tremolo system is very vital to the Van Halen sound. Picture courtesy http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Floyd_rose_original.jpg

Floyd Rose is an interesting addition to the Van Halen story, but one that is often overlooked. Floyd Rose began by playing a Fender Jazzmaster as his first guitar with a tremolo bar, but after experiencing severe problems using the tremolo bar and arm itself, he sought out a solution. He managed to develop a couple of crucial modifications to a standard tremolo system: inserting a ¼ inch steel bar in place of the whammy bar (which he tested and did not break); and changing some of the string arrangements on the tremolo. Although these were not the only modifications that he did, it did begin exploration of a device which could be a usable tremolo system. Over the years various improvements of the tremolo system emerged but Eddie Van Halen was the first notable guitarist to use it on the VH2 “Bumblebee” guitar, which made both become even more notable in rock history2. There was also the Charvel story. Eddie used to visit the Charvel guitar shop in Los Angeles to pick up parts and seek advice on building his own guitars. Wayne Charvel himself confirmed that he made the VH2 guitar for Eddie in his guitar factory. However Wayne Charvel later sold the business to Grover Jackson. A fallout ensued later between the new Charvel administration and Van Halen, with the matter being settled legally3.

Charvel and co. played an important part in the sound of early Van Halen.

Picture courtesy http://imgarcade.com/1/fender-guitars-logo/

On a sadder note, when ‘Dimebag’ Darrel Abbott passed away, Eddie placed the guitar with him in his burial place, after hearing that Dimebag himself loved the guitar.

Dimebag loved the VH2 guitar, stating it was his all time favourite.

Picture courtesy http://www.dravensworld.net/2011/12/rip-dimebag-darrell-putain-7-ans.html

Nonetheless, it is still a guitar that fascinates many to this day. The materials used to create this particular guitar are more or less the same materials used to create the original Frankenstrat, with the exception of the paint job, which was yellow stripes on black respectively. It originally had a green headstock, but was later changed. Still if you are not up to building a VH2 lookalike, there is the option of picking up the EVH Gear Striped Series Bumblebee lookalike. Below are the specifications for this guitar, retailing at $1 199US4:

The EVH Striped Series is the best bet for a close copy of the VH2 guitar.

Picture courtesy http://images.evhgear.com/misc/new2013/stripe-yellow.png

Body: Body: Basswood Body

Finish: Gloss

Neck:

Number of Frets: 22

Fret Size: Jumbo

Position Inlays: Dot

Fretboard Radius: 12” to 16”

Compound Radius: (304.8mm to 406.4mm)

Fretboard: Maple

Neck Material: Maple Neck

Finish: Hand-Rubbed Oil

Nut Width: 1.6875” (42.8 mm)

Scale Length: 25.5” (648mm)

Headstock: Standard Stratocaster®

Neck Plate: EVH®-Branded

Electronics:

Pickup Configuration: H Bridge

Pickup: Direct Mount Wolfgang

Humbucking Controls: Master Volume

Hardware:

Hardware: Chrome

Bridge: EVH®-Branded Floyd Rose® Locking Tremolo with EVH D-Tuna®

String Nut: Floyd Rose® Locking

Miscellaneous: Strings included: EVH® Branded (.009-.042 Gauges)

Unique Features: EVH® Neckplate, Bar String Retainer, Thumb Wheel Truss Rod Adjustment, Vintage Strap Buttons, 1-Ply Black Pickguard (576 Only)

Accessories: Control Knobs: One White “Tone” Knob On Volume Pot

Once again, little information exists on this particular guitar as it is not as well-known as other Eddie Van Halen guitars such as the Frankenstrat or otherwise, but is still worth exploring the sound and tone of it on the Van Halen II album. For this reason, it is still relevant exploring today.

Van Halen 2 is a remarkable exploration in sound and tone, and the VH2 guitar reflects this. It is crucial in the Van Halen back catalogue.

Picture courtesy http://www.theaceblackblog.com/2011/04/cd-review-van-halen-ii-by-van-halen.html

References:

  1. Bonta, Mark Steven. 2010. Van Bonta’s Guitar Collection. http://vanbontasguitars.blogspot.com.au/2010/03/vhii-bumble-bee.html
  2. Unknown author. Unknown date. Floyd Rose – The Man. http://www.floydrose.com/about-floyd-rose/floyd-rose-the-man
  3. Steven Rosen. 2008. Rock Chronicles. 1980s – Wayne Charvel. http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/interviews/rock_chronicles/rock_chronicles_1980s_wayne_charvel.html?no_takeover
  4. Unknown author. Unknown date. EVH Striped Series at EVH Gear. http://www.evhgear.com/en-AU/gear/subpage/?partno=5107902528

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