Tag Archives: Kramer

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

The Kramer 5150

Just to begin with, the Kramer line of guitars were the first commercially created guitars that Eddie Van Halen managed to sell, promote and use as his own guitars. It meant that, from this point onwards, Eddie was able to use something other than his Frankenstrat for those purposes.

Eddie Van Halen launched his guitar brand with Kramer.

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

Nonetheless, although not specifically created for a selling purpose, the Kramer 5150 is the baby of Eddie Van Halen’s partnership and innovation that got him started in the commercial rock world.

The story goes that Eddie Van Halen met the executive of Kramer Guitars Dennis Berardi in 1981 who began communicating with Eddie on a regular basis from that point onwards. Initially the conversations were only limited to the use of the company’s Rockinger tremolo system, which Eddie was not all that keen on as he was somewhat satisfied with the Floyd Rose tremolo system and as time went on, this did not become the main focus. Eddie was obviously sick of the copycats out there trying to undo him by cloning his Frankenstrat guitar, and needed a company that could support him in his musical journey.

The relationship between Eddie Van Halen and Dennis Berardi was crucial in lifting both men’s careers to new heights.

Picture courtesy http://pinsta.me/tag/DiamondDave

Initially Eddie desired to have a model exactly like the Frankenstrat he had been using for years by that point. This was rejected by Kramer as it would have not, in their eyes, have been doable. Instead, a deal was signed in 1983 and Eddie Van Halen sponsored a great deal of models of Kramer guitars from that point onwards.

Eddie Van Halen is pictured below with a Frankenstrat replica. The original idea was to specifically market that guitar, before Ed constructed the 5150.

Picture courtesy http://www.thegearpage.net/board/index.php?threads/eddie-van-halens-frankenstrat-is-up-for-auction.1345091/

The deal with Kramer and EVH came as no surprise in retrospect. Eddie was already putting Kramer necks on his guitars, such as the Frankenstrat. The company, was (and is) seen as makers of perfect “shredding” machines, indeed an image that Eddie would have seen to be happy with himself.

This particular guitar was not a Baretta unlike many people think it is. The Kramer 5150 was actually built by Edward himself in Kramer’s factory in New Jersey, using different parts that he desired to do so, loosely based on the Kramer Pacer. The Baretta came later, and was heavily based on this guitar, but the Kramer 5150 came first.

What makes this guitar special, quite apart from the fact that Eddie Van Halen used it for recording purposes and playing on stage, is that there is nothing like it out there today. Everything about this guitar, from the unusual body to the wonderful sound, meant that Van Halen fans were in awe by this guitar for many years to come.

It is difficult to know exactly what Eddie Van Halen used to built this, yet below are some specifications for the guitar:

Body: Kramer Pacer
Body Wood: Poplar
Body Finish: Red/Black/White Stripes
Body Routing: Top Routed for pickup, rear for Electronics
Bridge Routing: Floyd Rose FRT-100
Neck: Standard
Headstock: Hockey stick type
Neck Wood: Maple
Finger Board Wood: Maple
Inlay: Black Dots
String Nut: Floyd Rose R2
Bridge Type: Floyd Rose (original)
Pickguard: None
Control Setup: Volume. No Pickup selector.
Tuners: Gotoh 90 Degree Tuners
Pickup: Seymour Duncan SH-11 Custom Custom (no logo)
Copper Shielding: 2 feet
Output Jack: Switchcraft Brand Mono Jack
Knobs: 1 MXR Knob
Potentiometers: 1 CTS Brand 500K pot audio taper
Tape: Schwinn Brand Tape

Eddie really loved this guitar, even after his relationship with Kramer ceased in 1991. Although he stopped using it as his primary guitar once this occurred, he did give Kramer a compliment: on his Ernie Ball Music Man guitar the guitar neck was electronically mapped to be exactly the same as the one on his Kramer 5150. Additionally according to sources, the headstock was broken around the 5th tuner shortly after the guitar was last used on a recording, the For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge song “Judgement Day”. Eddie asked Ernie Ball’s Music Man department to fix the guitar for him, and they did him proud.

Kramer are still going strong today, although EVH has ceased the working relationship for some time now.

Picture courtesy http://press.kramerguitars.com/

In short for several years, Kramer and Eddie had a strong relationship that worked well until problems arose. The fact that Eddie combined his ingenious designs with Kramer’s entreprenuership meant that, for the first time ever, Eddie had a marketable guitar. And a great one at that.

Additionally, you may want to watch the video located at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCdGFkj_vi4#t=408 for more information on the specifications of the guitar.

Alternatively, if you do not have the time and energy to spend constructing your own Kramer 5150, you can purchase a Kramer Baretta, which is the model based upon Eddie’s original 5150 guitar. If you are interested, please go to http://www.kramerguitars.com and check out the Baretta Vintage for a taste of Eddie based nostalgia, below are the stats from that website:

The Kramer Baretta is the closest thing to owning a Kramer 5150 that you can purchase today.

Baretta Vintage Baretta Vintage

Picture courtesy http://www.kramerguitars.com/Products/Baretta-Vintage/Baretta-Vintage.aspx

Product Features:

Maple Body

Maple Neck with Rosewood Fingerboard

25.5″ Scale

14″ radius

1 Volume Control with push pull series parallel coil tap

Floyd Rose Tremolo System

Bridge – Seymour Duncan JB

Dot Inlays

Still, for an transition between the Frankenstrat and the Kramer 5150, you ought to seek out either a Kramer Pacer Classic or a Kramer Pacer Vintage, sold at http://www.kramerguitars.com Still, it is entirely up to you what choice you make in recreating the classic Kramer sound.

References:

1. Kramer Guitars. 2015. Kramer Guitars History. http://www.kramerguitars.com/History.asp
2. Vintage Kramer. 2011. The Kramer Baretta. http://www.vintagekramer.com/baretta1.htm
3. Vintage Kramer. 2008. Edward Van Halen’s 5150. http://www.vintagekramer.com/5150.htm
4. Shredaholic. 2012. How to build your own EVH Guitar. http://www.shredaholic.com/frankie.htm