Tag Archives: Ernie Ball

For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge

The time had come for a new album by Van Halen. Given that their output had diminished somewhat during the Sammy Hagar era, this is one of their better albums of this era and marked a sort of turnaround comeback for the group after three years of fans waiting for the next Van Halen album. The album went to #1 in the United States alone and sold well.

Van Halen were back and ready to rock.

Picture courtesy http://popblerd.com/2012/02/07/discography-fever-van-halen-part-two/

The name came from Sammy Hagar and the original idea was to call it FUCK alone as a protest against American censorship. The idea to call it For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge came after a discussion that Sammy Hagar had with a professional boxer about the history of the profanity and used the proper term as the name of the record.

The prolonged period in which the record was worked on, for about a year, delivered some of the best songs and songwriting from the Sammy Hagar era Van Halen. The band enlisted two producers for the record: Andy Johns and Ted Templeman. It was a strange mixture that delivered a more cohesive sound than the previous Van Halen recording.

The Ernie Ball guitar that Eddie Van Halen designed sings on this album.

Picture courtesy https://www.flickr.com/photos/43908441@N00/4004945510

The record starts oddly, with near silence for the first ten seconds. Then Eddie makes his new Ernie Ball guitar start with “Poundcake” by a power drill placed onto it. This curiously, was done using a Makita drill that was left in the studio to fix Eddie’s Soldano SLO 100 amplifier. The song itself is a great piece of work that talks about an ideal woman for the listener to take in.

“Judgement Day” is next up, which sounds very upbeat, yet has Sammy Hagar talking about inner feelings concerning faith and religion. “Tell me why…should I care or even try?” he asks in relation to this matter. Some of Eddie’s best whammy work is here, and the solo is really good as well.

Surprisingly, although humorous, “Spanked”, or at least this version of it, seems a letdown. It does have some killer vocal work by Sammy Hagar, but falls flat sonically. Despite that, the rhythm work of Michael Anthony and Alex Van Halen sounds very cohesive on this song.

Andy Johns was the main producer of this album and ensured a good effort overall.

Picture courtesy http://www.vhnd.com/2013/04/07/andy-johns-passes-away/

“Runaround” is just awesome. In retrospect, it sounds like a party tune, yet there is a great vocal delivery on the bridge, proving that Sammy Hagar himself is quite an expert vocalist. It certainly was a hit single, and still is a fan favourite.

The biggest let down on this recording is “Pleasure Dome”. Despite this being another showcase for Alex Van Halen, it simply falls flat and does not seem listenable apart from that. It goes well over five minutes and is really only worth hearing once.

Eddie Van Halen was now focusing on his sound down to every individual aspect of its creation.

Picture courtesy https://www.pinterest.com/uberschall/van-halen-whitesnake/

“In ‘N’ Out” follows, which is much better. It talks about wage slavery, and seems pseudo-political. But Sammy and Eddie both keep this song well alive, and it has some really fantastic vocal work from Sammy Hagar, proving that age does not need to destroy a fantastic voice.

“Man On A Mission” is good, but seems nothing too special. But still, the background vocals of Michael Anthony and Eddie Van Halen keep this song going well. Another song about finding the ultimate girl, perhaps the theme of this record.

The next track, “The Dream Is Over” is very underrated. This is what makes the song come more alive upon listening to it today. When the midsection hits, with Sammy Hagar screaming, “It’s a rip off…” you will appreciate the song more. A good effort.

Sammy Hagar really excels all expectations on this recording.

Picture courtesy http://nogonadudyp.hostzi.com/sammy-hagar-eddie-van-halen-pictures.php

One of Van Halen’s most memorable tracks, “Right Now” was a big hit for Van Halen and does still sound moving. Some of the best lyrics from this album are here and it is memorable, and very good indeed.

“316” the instrumental pastiche by Eddie Van Halen is a simple, lovely sounding acoustic piece that Eddie wrote years earlier. Due to the arrival of his then newly born son Wolfgang Van Halen, he devoted it to him on this recording. It does sound very romantic, and is a welcome change from the vocals/guitar/bass/drums of the other songs on the record.

Eddie was still coming up with fresh ways of approaching music.

Picture courtesy http://www.pasadena.edu/about/history/alumni/vanhalen/vanhalen.cfm

The last track ”Top Of The World” is a definite encore number, using the outro riff from “Jump” as the main riff on the song, although not noticeably so. It sounds positive and makes you feel like the most confident person in the world after listening to it. A very good effort.

So, in retrospect, the album went three times platinum and put Van Halen back into the game. However, from this period onwards, undercurrent issues began to emerge from within the band which would later eat themselves up. But at this point, Van Halen were indeed doing well and had made a great record for their fans to appreciate.

This recording was one of the better recordings of the “Van Hagar” era.

Picture courtesy https://frasesdavida.wordpress.com/2011/11/02/sammy-hagar-ataca-o-van-halen/

References:

  1. Van Halen News Desk. 2015. Sammy Hagar Marks ‘For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge’ Anniversary With Retrospective Video. http://www.vhnd.com/2015/06/18/sammy-hagar-marks-for-unlawful-carnal-knowledge-anniversary-retrospective-video/
  2. Van Halen News Desk. 2013. This Day In 1991: Van Halen Performed “Poundcake” on the VMAs. http://www.vhnd.com/2013/09/05/this-day-in-1991-van-halen-performed-poundcake-on-the-vmas/

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

EVH Strings and Things

Until this point in Project EVH, we have not yet covered the fact that Eddie has changed his string gauge and type repeatedly over the years. Now is the time to do so.

When Eddie first began playing guitar, he was noted for using an array of Fender strings, boiled overnight for use the next day. Initially, Eddie used his own mixture of Fender strings, heavy on top, lighter on the bottom. This ended up not working very well, so instead Eddie Van Halen changed to a regular set of strings. He used Fender Heavy Strings to begin with, later on changing to Fender 150XL gauge strings. These were supposedly used until the association with Ernie Ball Music Man.

Eddie Van Halen used a variety of Fender strings early on, until the association with Ernie Ball Music Man.

Picture courtesy http://www.premierguitar.com/articles/Fender_Reintroduces_Pure_Nickel_and_Nickel_Plated_Steel_Electric_Guitar_Strings

Eventually came a point around the turn of the decade from the 1980s to the 1990s where Sterling Ball, son of the string maker and entrepreneur Ernie Ball, saw in an issue of Guitar World featuring Eddie Van Halen some, as he put it “real acme string envelopes” scattered on the floor by his feet. He decided to grab EVH’s attention by then quickly designing a string package with strings in his gauge. Sterling Ball acted quickly, sending them off within the day.

Eddie Van Halen loved the sound of these particular guitar strings, contacting him the next day telling him so. Soon enough, Ernie Ball and Sterling Ball flew out shortly afterwards and a deal was made where the Ernie Ball company would make strings for Eddie.

Ernie Ball made the first set of licensed EVH strings.

Picture courtesy http://s236.photobucket.com/user/stefanpnr/media/EBLogo.jpg.html

This was the beginning of the association with Ernie Ball. Although Ernie Ball does not make strings for Eddie Van Halen anymore, it is interesting to note that the 5150 EVH Ernie Ball strings were in a very unusual gauge. The regular 9 gauge strings are (in the thickness of millimetres): 9; 11; 16; 24; 32; 42. Eddie’s set, were measured at: 9; 11; 15; 24; 32; 40.

Still, if looking for these strings, there are two options. Firstly, you can seek out some on eBay, although it is difficult to do so these days. The second is to use a more regular gauged set of Ernie Ball strings. The first set listed above (0.09s-0.42s) should do the job. Ernie Ball strings are sold at almost every music shop, and are very cheap. This is an ideal measure to find the sound that you are looking for, though you can always change the bottom string if necessary.

This began the idea for Eddie Van Halen that he could completely change his sound by any measure possible. From this point onwards, Eddie had decisions made in the process of creating and marketing his own strings. It was a unique step in his own musical journey.

Ernie Ball 0.09s-0.42s are the way to go with strings if you are seeking the string type that Eddie Van Halen was using at the time.

Picture courtesy http://www.conceptmusic.com.au/products/Ernie-Ball-Super-Slinky-9%252d42-Electric-Guitar-Strings.html

References:

  1. http://www.groundguitar.com/eddie-van-halen-guitars-and-gear/
  2. http://www.vhnd.com/2009/02/26/sterling-ball-on-his-association-with-evh/