Tag Archives: 5150

EVH/Fender Striped Series 5150

In a direct nod to one of Eddie Van Halen’s all-time favourite guitars, the Kramer 5150, along comes an almost exact reproduction of that particular guitar.

The EVH Striped Series 5150 is a much better deal than hiring a luthier to complete a replica job by yourself (although many prior to the release of this guitar did so). So without further a due, let’s dive into the details of the guitar.

Based on the Kramer 5150, this guitar is one essential bit of kit.

Image result for eddie van halen 5150 guitar

Picture courtesy https://www.reddit.com/r/Guitar/comments/3ox4hn/how_to_make_a_van_halen_5150_guitar_replica/

The paint process of the EVH Striped Series guitars, including the Striped Series 5150, takes around 2 to 3 weeks to complete. The guitar itself is not an exact replica since it does not exhibit the wear and tear from Eddie on the original Kramer 5150. Instead, it serves as an homage guitar.

It comes in a satin finish, complete with virtually identical contours on the body itself. The body is made of basswood in comparison to the (presumably) poplar body on the original itself. There is a direct mount EVH Wolfgang humbucker in the bridge, as opposed to the Seymour Duncan pickup used on the Kramer 5150. It also features a 12 inch to 16 inch compound radius on the neck.

Aside from this, most of the features remain as close as or identical to the original. Below are the specs, courtesy of http://www.evhgear.com/gear/guitars/striped-series/striped-series-5150-maple-fingerboard-red-black-and-white-stripes/:

Smiling indeed: the legend that is Eddie Van Halen.

Image result for eddie van halen with 5150 guitar

Picture courtesy https://thehub.musiciansfriend.com/artist-interviews/eddie-van-halen-early-guitar-gear-tone-evh-and-more

GENERAL:

Model Name: Striped Series 5150®, Maple Fingerboard, Red, Black and White Stripes

Model Number: 5107902515

Series: Striped Series

MSRP: $1931.02

Colour: R/B/W “5150” Striped Pattern

BODY:

Body Material: Basswood

NECK:

Neck Material: Quartersawn Maple

Neck Shape: Hi Performance Modified “C” Shape

Scale Length: 25.5” (648mm)

Fingerboard Radius: 12” to 16” Compound Radius (304.8 mm to 406.4 mm)

Number of Frets: 22

Fret Size: Jumbo

String Nut: Floyd Rose® R3 Locking

Nut Width: 1.685” (42.8mm)

Headstock: EVH

Neck Plate: 4-Bolt Standard

Neck Finish: Hand-Rubbed Urethane Gel

Fingerboard: Maple

Position Inlays: Black Dot

ELECTRONICS:

Controls: Master Volume

Pickup Switching: None

Pickup Configuration: H

HARDWARE:

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

Tuning Machines: EVH®-Branded

Orientation: Right-Hand

Hardware Finish: Chrome

Pickguard: N/A

Control Knobs: Black “Speed” Knobs

MISCELLANEOUS:

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

Included Accessories: 3mm, 2.5mm Allen Wrenches Tremolo Arm

 

For those who enjoy the 1980’s and Eddie’s Kramer 5150, start here.

 

References:

  1. EVH Gear NAMM 2017 New Gear Exclusive Tour 5150 & More. EVH & Gear TV. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uecAYTUgtNw&t=86s

EVH/Fender 5150 III S

Eddie Van Halen himself admitted that his musical tastes were constantly changing in pursuit of his tone chasing and updated revisionism on his musical equipment.

In acknowledgement of this fact, Eddie began modifying his own EVH 5150 III amplifiers to further suit a more personalised experience. The result is a limited edition head which is available for purchase.

Eddie never fails to disappoint with his EVH Gear brand.

Eddie with his Striped Series 5150 and 5150III EL34

Picture courtesy https://thehub.musiciansfriend.com/artist-interviews/eddie-van-halen-early-guitar-gear-tone-evh-and-more

So, what differs from the previous EVH 5150 III amplifier heads? The basic differences from the regular EVH 5150 III heads are, as noted from www.evhgear.com themselves, are:

  • Increased gain on Channel Two for greater sustain.
  • Revoicing on Channel Two for further low-mid frequency clarity definition.
  • Channel Three also features increased gain.
  • Improved low end control range on Channel Three.
  • Each Channel has an additional resonance control on the rear of each channel to fine tune low frequency response.
  • Eight JJ ECC83 preamp tubes.
  • Four Shuguang 6L6 Power Tubes.
  • Switchable output impedance (4, 8 and 16 ohms)
  • Adjustable bias control.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Eddie was inspired by his early Van Halen sound in the making of the EVH 5150 III S amplifier.

Image result for eddie van halen with marshall amp

Picture courtesy https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/forum/showthread.php?t=491342

Aside from this, all the regular features are, courtesy of www.evhgear.com:

GENERAL:

Model Name: 5150III® 100S Head, 120V, Black

Model Number: 2250250000

Series: EVH® 5150 III® Heads

Amplifier Type: Tube

MSRP: $3055.54

Colour: Black

ELECTRONICS:

Controls: Gain, Low, Mid, High, Volume, Channel Select, Prescence and Resonance for each channel

Effects Loop: 1/4” – (Send/Return)

Inputs: One – 1/4″

Line Out: One – (1/4”)

Channels: Three – (Clean, Crunch and Lead)

Voltage: 120V

Wattage: 100 Watts into 4, 8 or 16 ohms (Switchable)

HARDWARE:

Cabinet Material: Birch/Pine

Handle: Molded Plastic Strap with Nickel-Plated Caps

Control Knobs: Chicken-Head Style Pointer

TUBES:

Pre Amp Tubes: Eight JJ ECC83S / 12AX7

Power Tubes: Four Shuguang 6L6

ACCESSORIES:

FootSwitch: 4-Button Footswich Included

 

The basis for the update of this amplifier was to mold together two brilliant theories of the perfect sound that Eddie himself has been tone chasing in his amplifiers throughout his music career. The first was to provide a modern amplifier that would be ideal for a fresh and innovative approach for those who sought the latest in rock innovation.

The second was to replicate, in this modern amplifier, a tone that looked back at the heyday of Eddie Van Halen that he had early on in his career with his Marshall Superlead head. This is not an easy sound for a company to capture. However, Eddie himself has blown away any competitors and imitators in this regard. The best product is the one that sells itself, and the EVH 5150 III S, for these reasons, is a must have for any gigging musician today.

EVH Gear are no doubt forward thinking and boundary pushing in their approach which complements Eddie’s tone chasing vision.

EVH® Logo 3x5 Banner

Picture courtesy http://www.evhgear.com/gear/accessories/evh-logo-3-x-5-banner/

 

References:

  1. Review: EVH 5150 IIIS EL34 Amp Head and 4×12 Cabinet. Guitar World. https://www.guitarworld.com/gear/review-evh-5150-iiis-el34-amp-head-and-4×12-cabinet

Peavey 5150

There is little knowledge of specifically why Eddie Van Halen teamed up with Peavey to design, model and release his first signature line of amplifiers. The reasonable guess, however is obvious. Eddie was becoming dissatisfied with both his Marshall Superlead Amplifier and then later on, his Soldano SLO 100. Both had served a purpose for the time being, yet Eddie was prepared to go one step further and teamed up with the American company, known for heavy metal sounds called Peavey.

Both Eddie Van Halen and Hartley Peavey worked together on the 5150 line of amplifiers.

Picture courtesy http://www.harmonycentral.com/forum/forum/guitar/acapella-41/1126327-/page6

Hartley Peavey’s father had begun his own small music store prior to him discovering rock and roll. However, in 1965 Hartley Peavey decided to focus on rock and roll and after playing in bands, began creating products for rock musicians. With a particular focus for amps modelled and released with appeal for hard rock and heavy metal musicians alike, it came as no surprise that one Eddie Van Halen pursued the idea of the perfect metal amplifiers with the assistance of Peavey.

So by 1991, Eddie Van Halen had approached Peavey and they had agreed to assist with creating the 5150 line of amps. As early as the For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge album, a prototype of the Peavey 5150 was used, notably on “Poundcake”. Eddie began using Peavey’s amplifiers shortly afterwards onstage. By the time 1993 came around, the Peavey 5150 line of amplifiers were commercially released.

The fact that the 5150/6505 amplifiers have been extensively used over the years by a large variety of guitar players proves the ingenious construction and design of them.

Picture courtesy https://pointyguitar.wordpress.com/2012/04/21/ad-eddie-van-halen-for-peavey/

It immediately became popular amongst heavy metal players for creating a unique sound for that type of music. This was the beginning of the long relationship between EVH and Peavey that did not end very well in 2004. After this occurred, Peavey retained the rights to continue selling the amp, renamed the 6505 in commemoration of its 40th anniversary as a rock and roll company.

The amp itself is a powerful tube driven amp. Different versions of it come with slight modifications. But if you are hardcore about finding out what Eddie Van Halen wanted to experience with his amp, your best bet is to go for the traditional head and cabinet, the 6505 head and the 430B 412 Cabinet.

Eddie Van Halen used Peavey amplifiers for nearly 15 years, a remarkable length of time.

Picture courtesy http://picssr.com/photos/snowfreak91287/interesting?nsid=21186431@N04

Listed below are the stats for the 6505 head, courtesy of http://www.peavey.com:

  • High and low gain inputs
  • 120 watts (rms) into 16, 8 or 4 ohms (switchable)
  • 2-channel preamp switchable on front panel or remote footswitch
  • Rhythm channel: pre/post gain, bright and crunch switches
  • Five 12AX7 preamp tubes and four 6L6GC power amp tubes
  • Channels share 3-band EQ
  • Presence and resonance controls
  • Switchable post-EQ effects loop
  • Preamp output
  • Footswitch included
  • Lead channel: pre/post gain
  • Weight unpacked: 48 lb (21.772 kg)
  • Weight packed: 54 lb (24.494 kg)
  • Width packed: 12.25” (31.115 cm)
  • Height packed: 28.5” (72.39 cm)
  • Depth packed: 14” (35.56 cm)

Additionally, listed below are the stats for the 430B 412 Cabinet, courtesy of http://www.peavey.com:

  • Four 12″ Celestion Vintage 30 Speakers
  • 16 ohms
  • Heavy-duty casters
  • Vintage British sound
  • 18 ply Baltic Birch cabinet construction
  • 120 watts power handling
  • Stereo or mono operation
  • Weight Unpacked: 96.98 lb(43.99 kg)
  • Weight Packed: 107.25 lb(48.65 kg)
  • Width Packed: 32.75″(83.185 cm)
  • Height Packed: 35.75″(90.805 cm)
  • Depth Packed: 17.125″(43.4975 cm)

Despite the fact that Eddie no longer endorses or uses this particular set of amplifiers, Peavey have managed to continue to sell a legendary and historical amplifier with great success. This is largely due to its tone, being very popular amongst heavy metal and thrash metal players for its distinctive sound.

For more information, visit http://peavey.com/products/6505/

Hartley Peavey and Eddie Van Halen’s collaboration, although fruitful, did not last over time.

Picture courtesy http://www.vhnd.com/2014/02/15/aap52/ 

References:

  1. 2015. Peavey. Corporate profile. http://peavey.com/corporate/
  2. 2015. Peavey. 6505 – Forging the sound of aggression. http://peavey.com/products/6505/

Ernie Ball Music Man EVH Model

Once the Ernie Ball strings were being manufactured, it soon became apparent that Kramer and co. did not enjoy the idea that another company was creating strings for their client. In an odd stroke of fate as Kramer were in rapid decline financially, Eddie Van Halen and Ernie Ball fell out with Kramer due to accounting misconduct by Kramer. Allegedly Kramer and Ernie Ball did not see eye to eye on financial accounting issues and shortly after Eddie found out, ceased the working relationship that Eddie Van Halen once had with Kramer.

In the interim, Eddie Van Halen had come up with a design for a new guitar, possibly foreseeing the future. The guitar itself was further refined when Eddie Van Halen began working more closely with Ernie Ball Music Man. As a result, he had designed his first guitar, an important step in his musical journey.

Ernie Ball’s Music Man department and Eddie Van Halen worked together on the EVH Model.

Picture courtesy http://icmp.co.uk/events/tunnel-tunnel-festival 

The model itself was produced for around five years, although Eddie famously used this guitar during the For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge and Balance era, as well as on tour. The reason for changing company was due to the fact that supposedly Eddie Van Halen was upset by the inability of the company to satisfy demand with the production of these guitars. The truth is probably closer to the fact that Eddie was unhappy with some of the limitations of this particular guitar, as he was already secretly designing the Peavey Wolfgang for Peavey at the end of the association with Ernie Ball.

Nonetheless, once the association had ceased to be, Ernie Ball continued to produce this particular guitar under the name Ernie Ball Music Man Axis, with some slight modifications. These were: removal of Eddie Van Halen’s signature; toggle switch moved more towards centre of body; body contour added; widening of neck to prevent string slippage; “tone” knob renamed “volume”; and saddles changed from offset to non-offset on tremolo system.

Eddie Van Halen was very happy with his Ernie Ball Music Man EVH Model.

Picture courtesy https://www.tumblr.com/search/ernie%20ball%20musicman

Eddie was known particularly to favour an Ernie Ball Music Man EVH Model that came in an Amber Orange colour, which was equipped with the first of Eddie Van Halen’s patented D-Tunas, a device that enabled the playing to Drop D tuning without extensive time spent fiddling around with the Floyd Rose locking tremolo system. This simply operated by pulling a knob attached to the bottom string of the guitar, instantly changing to the note from E to D. Additionally, the guitar itself had a neck electronically mapped to be exactly the same as the one on his previous main guitar, the Kramer 5150. It also had a black 5150 sticker on the body towards the end of usage by Eddie Van Halen on his #1 EVH Model.

The guitar itself is a great bit of history. Although you could possibly find genuine Ernie Ball Music Man EVH models on EBay, it is most likely easier to find an Ernie Ball Music Man Axis from Ernie Ball Music Man’s website. These retail for around $3 000 AUS or so, but is worth every dollar and is a great playing guitar, coming in a variety of colours. For those who desire the specifications, they are listed below, courtesy of the Ernie Ball Music Man website:

This guitar is still available commercially from Ernie Ball Music Man under the name Axis, although with some slight modifications.

Picture courtesy http://www.music-man.com/instruments/guitars/axis.html

Model: Axis

Size: 12-5/8” wide, 1-3/4” thick, 36-1/4” long (32.1 cm wide, 4.5cm thick, 92.0 cm long)

Weight: 7 lbs, 4 oz (3.29 kg) – weight varies slightly

Body Wood: Basswood with bookmatched figured maple top

Body Finish: High gloss polyester

Body Colours: Back and sides – Opaque Black

Body Bindings: Binding – Cream

Bridge: Music Man® locking tremolo with fine tuners; lowers pitch only

Scale Length: 25-1/2” (64.8cm)

Neck Radius: 10” (25.4cm)

Headstock Size: 1-5/8” (41.3mm) at nut, 2-3/16” (55.6mm) at last fret

Frets: 22 – High profile, medium width

Neck Width: 1-5/8” (41.3mm)

Neck Wood: Select maple neck

Fingerboard: Select maple or rosewood

Neck Finish: Gunstock oil and hand-rubbed special wax blend

Neck Colours: Standard – Natural; Optional – Matching Painted Headstock

Tuning Machines: Schaller M6LA with Pearl Buttons

Truss Rod: Adjustable – no component or string removal

Neck Attachment: 5 bolts – perfect alignment with no shifting; Sculpted neck joint allows smooth access to higher frets

Electronic Shielding: Graphite acrylic resin coated body cavity and aluminium lined control cover

Controls: 500kohm volume pot

Switching: 3-way toggle pickup selector

Pickups: HH – 2 DiMarzio Custom Humbucking

Left-handed: No

Strings: Ernie Ball Slinky 9s-42s

 

For those looking for a slightly different alternative, there is also the Ernie Ball Music Man Axis Super Sport. Specifications are not listed here, yet you can go to the Ernie Ball Music Man website and have a browse if you wish.

This guitar truly is a piece of good history, and will make a fine addition to your collection.

Ernie Ball Music Man also made a double-neck baritone guitar for Eddie specifically for live performances of the For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge song “Spanked”.

Picture courtesy https://www.pinterest.com/pin/177751516517126418/

References:

  1. Ball, Sterling. 2008. I guess I have to talk about EVH… Ernie Ball Music Man Forums. http://www.music-man.com/blog/sterling/i-guess-i-have-to-talk-about-evh.html
  2. Ernie Ball. 2007. Ernie Ball Forums. http://forums.ernieball.com/music-man-guitars/21007-ernie-ball-axis-history.html

5150

“Hello baby!” is where the 5150 album begins, introducing the Sammy Hagar era Van Halen. This album is important in the Van Halen back catalogue, as it changed Van Halen, their sound and their overall perspective of the music for many years to come. It was also their first #1 album in the U.S. prompting a huge amount of interest in the band from this point onwards.

Van Halen seemed refreshed and ahead of the competition early on with Sammy Hagar.

Picture courtesy http://1979rock.blogspot.com.au/2012/07/1986-vanhagar-5150.html

In retrospect, this album is not dissimilar from its previous counterpart 1984, which sounds almost musically similar. It was the effort of pure luck for Van Halen. Without the contribution of Sammy Hagar and the new producers (Mick Jones, Donn Landee), this album would have been nothing.

“Good Enough” kicks off the album, a catchy, humourous tale of food and sex. The sound here is not as good as the sound on previous albums, as the group had lost Ted Templeman as overall producer. However, Eddie’s playing is fantastic here, sounding like he really loves shredding away on his Kramer 5150.

Eddie reached his peak of excellence in terms of his guitar playing on the 1984 and 5150 albums, and was much more confident with his skills as a result.

Picture courtesy https://www.pinterest.com/norseman72/worlds-best-guitarists/

Following up is the hit single, “Why Can’t This Be Love?” This song is synth heavy, with the guitars taking a back step to the electronic sounds. In retrospect, this song sounds very dated. But at the time, it was killer. It is still catchy enough and listenable regardless.

The next song, “Get Up” is one of the worst Sammy Hagar era Van Halen songs recorded. Strangely enough, the boys decided to place this onto the album anyway and even play it live. It is the first of two songs where Eddie used the Steinberger 5150 on it. But apart from some pacing drum work by Alex Van Halen, it falls short.

Following up is “Dreams”, which is a lot better. This sort of song created a lot of criticism from older David Lee Roth era Van Halen fans who disliked it intensely. Indeed, this song could never have been done with him. Sammy Hagar really hits the higher notes here, and the guitar solo is unusual and interesting, pointing to the fact that Eddie Van Halen wanted to branch out further with the sound of Van Halen at this time.

Sammy Hagar is still a great singer, and his role as the second lead singer for Van Halen boosted his career to new heights.

Picture courtesy http://www.rollingstone.com/music/pictures/sammy-hagar-a-history-in-photos-20110301/1986-0094850

A singalong number, “Summer Nights” follows using with Ed using the Steinberger 5150. It is very catchy and comes as a feel good song. There is some understated playing by Eddie Van Halen on this number, and still sounds fresh today.

“Best of Both Worlds” follows and sounds wonderfully awesome. Using the Kramer 5150, Eddie changes his playing subtly. Gone are the loud hard rock solos of old, instead a more thought out, methodical approach to his playing is here. A wonderful number indeed.

There was something miraculous of being able to change lead singer in a great rock and roll band, and still put out great music as well.

Picture courtesy http://www.vhnd.com/2013/03/27/27-years-ago-today-van-halens-first-concert-with-sammy-hagar-as-frontman/

Sounding somewhat different, “Love Walks In” is a spacey, keyboard driven song about aliens in love. Although seemingly strange nowadays, it was keeping with the fashion of the time of science fiction. With catchy melodies and an uplifting solo by Eddie Van Halen, it is essential for “Van Hagar” fans. A must.

“5150” is the next song, a more stripped down rock/pop song about the compromise of love. It really is a touching sort of song. You can imagine David Lee Roth sniggering and rolling his eyes to this piece. But that is not the point. It is emotional and uplifting, in a way that David Lee Roth era Van Halen never could be…

Eddie Van Halen was evolving musically, and the 5150 album sounds very different to anything David Lee Roth era Van Halen ever offered.

Picture courtesy https://www.pinterest.com/pin/356558495469932752/

And speaking of David Lee Roth, the throwaway “Inside” is a direct dig by the band about their former singer. Although perhaps unnecessary, it has some interesting lyrics and samples of chatter (including somebody shouting not-so-discreetly “Alimony!”) which proves that the band were not going to water down any attacks towards David Lee Roth. How quickly things can change…

The reason why this album was so successful was the fact that during the Sammy Hagar era, Van Halen were now mainstream. The sounds (screaming vocals, shredding guitars, thumping basslines, electronic drums and keyboards) plus the fact that everybody knew them for the single “Jump” put Van Halen in the spotlight. Musically, the album seems a little weaker than otherwise hoped for. Still, Van Halen were happy to create music in a newer style and were not looking back.

The era commonly dubbed “Van Hagar”, although different from the David Lee Roth era Van Halen, was very successful, and proof that change is sometimes not a bad thing.

Picture courtesy http://pennycan.createaforum.com/music/van-halen-discography-(the-sammy-hagar-years)/

Steinberger 5150

Perhaps one of the lesser known guitars that Eddie Van Halen used, the Steinberger is a fascinating, interesting instrument with a great deal of history behind it in relation to the design and construction of it. Steinberger became a big name in the music industry, particularly after Eddie Van Halen used the instrument extensively on “Get Up” and “Summer Nights” on the 5150 album. This ensured that both men would be in the books of history for developing and using an instrument that was unusual, yet useful.

For a short period of time, Eddie Van Halen used his Steinberger 5150, which he loved.

Picture courtesy http://www.therpf.com/showthread.php?t=106322

The Steinberger story began many years before the two men had any association with one another. Ned Steinberger designed furniture as an industrial designer. Apparently Steinberger worked with Stuart Spector, a bass luthier at one point in New York. Spector requested assistance from Steinberger on design for a bass guitar. Ned Steinberger agreed, and the initial result was the Spector NS. This was a new bass guitar design, of which was later adopted and expanded upon by Warwick.

Inspired by this initial move into the music world, Steinberger persisted with a new take on the traditional bass guitar design. He thought extensively about some of the problems that existed with the traditional Fender Precision Bass style design that had very much dominated the market to the day.

Ned Steinberger is one true genius, not in a way dissimilar to Eddie Van Halen.

Picture courtesy http://www.gibson.com/Products/Electric-Guitars/Firebird/Gibson-USA/Firebird-X/The-Revolutionaries.aspx

Looking at the main part of the design of the bass guitar, Ned Steinberger found that overall, the design was not very ergonomically ideal in approach. He found that the body of the bass guitar was too heavy, large and above all, subject to issues with tuning and portability. He decided to break with his own past and the past of the music industry and do something that many others were afraid at the time (except perhaps for Eddie Van Halen): innovate.

A prototype Steinberger bass was designed and first manufactured in 1979. This did include body based tuners that required a coin or a screwdriver to turn them, and was heavily based on piano style design. This resulted by Ned Steinberger taking the design of the bass guitar one step further and asking himself: “Why don’t I place the tuning heads on the headstock onto the body?”

The prototype Steinberger bass guitar was extensively rejected by all major music corporations upon presentation.

Picture courtesy http://www.laster.it/musica-ed-altro-storia/ned-steinberger-un-uomo-pieno-di-idee.html

He did just that. Next, he further redesigned the body of the bass guitar, using fibreglass and graphite (aerospace industry materials), he managed to create a smaller, more compact and lighter body available for the bass guitar player. He further used polyurethane or nitrocellulose to finish the body, along with several other key methods of development and redesign that result in a very unique and radical approach from the traditional bass guitar design.

Getting proper support and attention from major guitar manufacturers for his radical and new design was much more difficult. He took it to numerous major musical manufacturers (including Fender and Gibson) only to be turned down by all, including those who liked the idea, but not the design of the instrument. Eventually Steinberger himself decided to take matters into his own hands and began manufacturing the first line of Steinberger bass guitars, whilst making a few sacrifices financially along the way.

He relocated to the state of New York after building on borrowed money, a brand new factory. Eventually after designing the then hugely popular Steinberger bass guitar, Ned Steinberger rethought his design for the electric guitar. He already had a prototype for this in the early 1980s upon relocating to Brooklyn, yet it was not introduced into the market until 1984, the same year that the TransTrem system for his line of electric guitars was introduced.

The TransTrem system is one innovation that was way ahead of its time.

Picture courtesy http://www.steinbergerworld.com/mktng.htm

The TransTrem will go down in the technical rock books as a piece of underrated genius, which it is. By using a locking system, one could play chord sequences in different keys, thus generally eliminating the need for alternate guitars with different tunings, or even capos. It even allowed playing the guitar after string breakage by shifting the TransTrem to the centre position, thus enabling the ability to complete the song. This surely would have been impossible, even on a Floyd Rose tremolo system.

Eddie began playing some more varied and interesting music on the 5150 album. After endorsers, such as Sting and David Bowie, played Steinberger instruments, Eddie obviously became inspired by the use of this new and ground-breaking line of instruments. He then requested a GL-2T to be painted in graphics not dissimilar to the Kramer 5150.

The result was the Steinberger GL-2T 5150. This guitar, and its counterpart, the Steinberger GL-2T OU812, were used during this era. Apart from the paint job and the pickups, which were EMG pickups, it is very much guessed that the guitar is stock.

The Steinberger 5150 and OU812 were also used extensively onstage, as well as on the 5150 album.

Picture courtesy https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/98/9d/30/989d3032838086c1ab06fdd624ea6c67.jpg

Steinberger is now owned by Gibson. After Ned Steinberger sold the operation of his company in 1987, Steinberger instruments went through a bad period prior to ownership being acquired by Gibson, due to shifting trends more so than any other reason. Steinberger has not maintained the popularity that it has in previous times, yet is still running today.

Unlike the Frankenstrat or other Eddie Van Halen guitars, there is not much difficulty in recreating this particular guitar. From the Steinberger website www.steinberger.com below are some stats for one of the models of the Steinberger guitars, the GT-PRO Deluxe:

The Steinberger GT-PRO Deluxe is well worth checking out if you are interested in Steinberger guitars.

Picture courtesy http://www.guitariste.com/achat/magasin,guitare,star-s-music,catalogue,steinberg,1.html

Neck Material: 3-Piece Hard Maple

Neck Joint: Thru-Neck

Fingerboard: Rosewood

Fingerboard Radius: 14”

Frets: 24, Medium-Jumbo

Scale Length: 25.5”

Body Wings: Maple

Body Top: Maple

Pickups: Steinberger Humbucker, Single, Humbucker

External Controls: Master Tone, Master Volume, 5-Way Pickup Selector

Bridge: R-Trem Locking Tremolo with Patented DoubleBall Bridge with 40:1 ratio direct-pull tuners

Saddle Material: Steel

Weight: 7.0lb

Length: 30.25”

Zero Nut Width: 1.625”

12-Fret Width: 2.04”

Bridge Spacing: 0.42”

Note that some specifications on this current model are indeed, different to the original Steinberger GL-2T. Mostly aside from that, it is more or less the same guitar.

It is however, unfortunate that Eddie lost interest in using this guitar after some time. Although very much nowadays seen as a 1980s fad, the Steinberger line of guitars, including the GL-2T that Eddie Van Halen used, are original and interesting guitars indeed. Post 5150 album, the guitar was not really used extensively and eventually was retired by Ed in favour of his Kramer 5150. Still, it is an amazing guitar, and one that can be easily replicated today.

Steinberger are still around and still sell guitars not dissimilar to the 5150 and OU812.

Picture courtesy http://www.vintagekramer.com/5150f.htm

References:

1.  2015. Eddie Van Halen’s Guitars and Gear. http://www.groundguitar.com/eddie-van-halen-guitars-and-gear/

2. Steinberger World. http://www.steinbergerworld.com/

3. Winterborne, Alex. Steinberger: Eighties Guitars. http://www.retrojunk.com/article/show/373/steinberger-eighties-guitars

EVH, Keyboards and the 5150 Studio

Unusually for a rock guitarist, Eddie Van Halen also periodically used keyboards in his music too. It is this unusual touch about Eddie that makes him a true musical prodigy, and a gifted one at that.

1984 was the first Van Halen album to feature prominent keyboards in the music.

Picture courtesy https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1984_(Van_Halen_album)

Why the experimentation with keyboards? A few reasons. Number one, many people are unaware that both Eddie and Alex undertook strict piano lessons during their childhood, until they both discovered rock and roll. It even reached the point where they performed in concerts as pianists when children. However, once they had enough and Ed bought his drum set, it all changed.

The second reason is as the trends changed in rock music, particularly during the 1980s, keyboards suddenly became acceptable within the rock framework and many popular artists of all genres used them throughout this period. It seemed like a good idea for the band, now on the rise, to use them fairly extensively in their music.

A key point for many understanding the use of keyboards in Van Halen’s music was “Beat It” on the Thriller album by Michael Jackson, which EVH collaborated on.

Picture courtesy https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thriller_(Michael_Jackson_album)

The final reason, perhaps, is down to Ed’s personal preferences. Being the innovator that Ed is, he decided to fiddle around with keyboards early on, despite hostility from others in the Van Halen circle, and eventually won. Without Eddie’s persistence on the matter, some of the music from Van Halen in this period would have been vastly different, and possibly much worse.

It all began with the experimentation of the keyboard on “…And The Cradle Will Rock…” on Women and Children First where Eddie plugged a Wurlitzer keyboard into his Marshall stack. It was accepted at the time, as the sound was not dissimilar from Ed’s famous Frankenstrat, which was entirely intentional. But in particular, David Lee Roth and long-time producer Ted Templeman would not accept the keyboard alone whatsoever. This led to massive arguments between Eddie and the others about the creative direction of Van Halen. On the 1980 tour, Michael Anthony was noted as playing the keyboard part on his bass guitar for the song, which must have been humiliating for Ed.

Eddie realised he had much more power with creating his own music than allowing others to do so for him, hence the 5150 studio.

Picture courtesy http://www2.gibson.com/News-Lifestyle/Features/en-us/flashback-eddie-van-halen-on.aspx

Synthesizers were present on the next album Fair Warning on the track, “Sunday Afternoon In The Park”. By this point, the original incarnation of Van Halen was suffering from some problems with personal relations reaching new lows. But still, the band powered on.

Diver Down, a record that neither Eddie nor Alex Van Halen were particularly happy with had an interesting keyboard part on “Dancing In The Streets”. But it was a cover, and Eddie was unhappy with the fact that what he intended for an original composition was literally hijacked for other purposes. Still, Eddie Van Halen persisted at his dream of using keyboards to supplement Van Halen’s music.

Diver Down, although perceived as a failure by the two Van Halen brothers, was simply paving the future for keyboards and the 5150 studio.

Picture courtesy https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diver_Down

The answer to Ed creating his own sometimes keyboard heavy music was to establish his own studio. Named after the police code for a lunatic on the run in the Los Angeles area, 5150 was built inside Ed’s own home and was completed in 1983, when Van Halen had begun work on what would eventually become the 1984 album.

From this point onwards, no person but Edward Van Halen could claim responsibility for the most part, of Van Halen’s music. The next album, 1984 had the band’s single biggest hit, “Jump” which had an Oberheim OX-Ba keyboard piece recorded on it, dominating the #1 U.S. chart hit in the year of release.

Ed also ventured out, and for a considerable period of time during the 1980s playing keyboard onstage. This was a more interesting touch and a different side to Eddie Van Halen, but one that did not last. As time went on, keyboards became unfashionable to the mainstream music scene during the 1990s as trends changed, and instead offstage session keyboard players and/or sequencing machines played keyboard parts so that Eddie played the primary guitar lines on stage instead, rather than playing the parts himself.

However, this experimentation with keyboards ultimately proved fatal to the first incarnation of Van Halen, with David Lee Roth leaving the scenes in 1985 along with Ted Templeman. The band then had other priorities to deal with from that point onwards. Still, it was Eddie’s ingenuity that won the day, and proved that he was no one trick pony.

Until this day, the 5150 studio has remained the basis of Van Halen’s music recordings and creation.

Picture courtesy https://www.flickr.com/photos/43908441@N00/4160283836

References:

  1. Renoff, Greg. 2015. The History of Eddie Van Halen and Keyboards. http://ultimateclassicrock.com/eddie-van-halen-keyboards/
  2. Rosen, Steven. 2008. Flashback: Eddie Van Halen on 1984. http://www2.gibson.com/News-Lifestyle/Features/en-us/flashback-eddie-van-halen-on.aspx