Tag Archives: Marshall

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:


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

Model Number: 2250250000

Series: EVH® 5150 III® Heads

Amplifier Type: Tube

MSRP: $3055.54

Colour: Black


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)


Cabinet Material: Birch/Pine

Handle: Molded Plastic Strap with Nickel-Plated Caps

Control Knobs: Chicken-Head Style Pointer


Pre Amp Tubes: Eight JJ ECC83S / 12AX7

Power Tubes: Four Shuguang 6L6


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/



  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

Soldano SLO-100

The story of Eddie Van Halen’s involvement with Michael Soldano is limited and brief. Given that over time, Eddie noticed that his Marshall Superlead amplifier was losing its power in terms of tone, Eddie needed a new way of keeping his sound alive.

Soldano Amplifiers have been around for some time, and are custom built in the Soldano factory.

Picture courtesy http://www.seymourduncan.com/forum/showthread.php?224992-Soldano-in-a-box

In an attempt to remedy this problem, Ed decided to give a call to Michael Soldano. Soldano worked nearby where Eddie lived at the time, so it was convenient to him to travel down to Michael Soldano’s workshop and pick up a Soldano SLO-100 amplifier. Soldano himself had built up his reputation beforehand as a gigging guitarist and a “Mr. Fix it” style attitude around the west coast for amps. He and Eddie Van Halen perhaps saw the stroke of genius in each other.

When Eddie Van Halen sent in his faithful Marshall to be fixed to Soldano, he replaced the tubes in his Marshall. However, in the meantime, Eddie fell in love with his SLO-100 and used it as a transition amp between the Marshall Superlead and his first line of branded amps, the Peavey 5150 range.

Michael Soldano is an intelligent man when it comes to understanding amplifier design.

Picture courtesy http://www.perfecttranslator.com/Soldano

Was it a necessary move on Eddie Van Halen’s part? Most likely. It seemed that listening to the amp and setup that Eddie Van Halen had used from the 1984 album onwards, it was losing its power. The sensible thing for Eddie Van Halen to do at this point was to search for a new sound, using the SLO-100. Strangely enough, the Variac used on the Marshall amplifier, boosting its tone, killed the tubes in the long run. This was due to the fact that using a lower output of voltage via the Variac killed the operation of the amplifier by adjusting the settings of the tubes, making them burn out more quickly than usual as they were not operating at a normal rate.

Eddie Van Halen used his SLO-100 most notably on the vast majority of For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge. He also used his old Marshall (although repaired) and a prototype Peavey 5150 on the album, but for the most part, it was the Soldano sound that made up most of those songs on that album.

The amp itself is an interesting piece of work. It is run on preamp and power tubes, with two channels: Normal and Overdrive. Features include preamp gain, footswitch between channels, bright/clean/crunch switch on the normal channel, plus a two channel tube-buffered effects loop and an additional slave output. A rotary Impedance operation also allows the use of 4, 8 or 16 ohm speaker cabinets.

The SLO-100, although not cheap, will enhance your own understanding of the Brown Sound that Eddie Van Halen sought to progress with around the For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge era.

Picture courtesy http://en.audiofanzine.com/tube-guitar-amp-head/soldano/SLO-100-Super-Lead-Overdrive/medias/pictures/a.play,m.297209.html 

Below are some additional stats:

Retail price (USD): $4 900

Power: 100 Watts

Weight: 42 lbs

Size: 9.5°H by 25°W by 9.5°D

Preamp Tubes: Five 12AX7 / ECC83

Power Tubes: Four 5881 / 6L6

Eddie lost interest in the limitations of the Soldano Amp, noting that the high gain channel was not favourable to him by the time he had developed the Peavey 5150 range of amps. Still, it was another step towards truly being a master and artist of his sonic craft at hand.

Eddie Van Halen was just beginning to develop his truly unique sound in terms of marketing and design. Although perhaps in transition mode, Eddie Van Halen was one step away from creating his own amplifiers.

EVH & SLO photo EVHandhisSoldanoSLOs-1.jpg

Picture courtesy http://soldano.conforums.com/index.cgi?board=general&action=print&num=1296516202


  1. Soldano Hot Rod 25 With Mike Araiza and Mike Soldano. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UBIcicqIfCM
  2. Soldano’s Story: Getting Started. Soldano Custom Amplification. http://www.soldano.com/about/
  3. Q & A Session with Michael Soldano. Musician’s Hotline. http://pasutto.net/divers/Brown%20Sound/Variac/MichaelSoldano.htm
  4. 100w Super Lead Overdrive. Soldano Custom Amplification. http://www.soldano.com/products/guitar-amplifiers/super-lead-overdrive-slo-100/
  5. Edward Van Halen Interview: EVH at Play. HP Newquist. http://guitarinternational.com/2010/08/20/edward-van-halen-at-play/

The Early Van Halen Amp Setup

To understand more about the early Van Halen sound, one must examine the amp and effects setup that Eddie Van Halen used, not just his guitar and playing style.

Eddie is a technical genius when it comes to production of sound.

Picture courtesy http://www.flickriver.com/groups/584497@N21/pool/interesting/

It is well known that Edward had a stock Marshall amplifier in the early days, although there is much confusion over the exact type and modifications of the said amp. The primary amp that Eddie used was a stock of many that he owned mid to late 1960s Marshall Superlead amplifier in the transition stage where Marshall amplifiers changed their build1. It is noted as well since Ed liked to put his amps on full blast, he used an Ohmite Variac to lower the voltage and change the sound.

There are Marshall Superlead reissues out there, check them out online, eBay is a good place to start as Marshall do not sell them on their website.

Picture courtesy http://www.pinterest.com/pin/187180928237410760/

Another trick that Eddie used was to use a dummy load box system through the amp. Essentially this would place the effects and other additional sound modifications more directly through the amp, and adjusting the reproduction of sound effects as a result. This made the effects less noisy, and sounding more realistic as a result in terms of sound production. Eddie also used a couple of sixties style basket weave cabinets along with his main Superlead amplifier. This was probably to modify and contain the sound emitted from his amp. When it came to effects pedals, Ed used a fairly basic setup. He was known to use the MXR effects pedals for basic effects2 (including a MXR Flanger and Phase 90 pedal). He also used on Eruption a standard Echoplex tape delay system to achieve that sound at the end of “Eruption” on Van Halen I. His pedalboard would grow and change over the years.

The EVH Gear website does sell some interesting pedals, amongst other things, if you cannot follow the original setup.

Picture courtesy http://www.highprofilemedia.com/oldnews.html

By the way, Eddie never uses a distortion pedal, preferring instead to use the in-built distortion in the amplifier itself3. This is just a basic early setup of Eddie Van Halen’s gear. Here is a link to assist you in achieving that classic Van Halen early setup and sound: http://www.rig-talk.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=43828 This is a link to an online forum where a more in-depth analysis of Ed’s early setup for the first Van Halen album is.

The true appreciation of Eddie’s genius is not just found in his music, but also in his equipment.

Picture courtesy http://www.harmonycentral.com/forum/forum/LivePerformanceCategory/acapella-54/409280-

Additionally, below is a diagram of Eddie Van Halen’s early amp setup. The basis of his setup was fairly stock, although was slightly modified over the years. Please see the diagram below for a basic reconstruction of the setup EVH used for the main part of his career.

This is a perfectly good reconstruction of how Eddie Van Halen set up his amp rig to play with on-stage, or in the studio.

Picture courtesy http://www.legendarytones.com/edward-van-halen-brown-sound/

According to Legendary Tones where this diagram originated from, there is a several step process for linking Ed’s guitar to the end chain of the output of sound:

  1. MXR Midboost (used only occasionally, depending on which guitar Ed used)
  2. Marshall Superlead (late 1960s), as mentioned before, with some modifications possibly in place, although mostly stock otherwise.
  3. Ohmite Variac as mentioned before, yet set at different levels, depending upon studio/stage requirements, mostly around 89 Volts. DO NOT under any circumstances, set the voltage higher than normal, as this will damage the amplifier and possibly be dangerous to the user.
  4. Dummy load box used to deal with effects and output more easily.
  5. MXR Flanger.
  6. MXR Phase 90, sometimes Ed used this on stage, rather than linking it into the signal chain. This was totally dependent upon what song or sort of performance Ed was doing at the time.
  7. Echoplex EP3.
  8. Occasionally Eddie would add an EQ box, dependent once again, on the sound and need for the output.
  9. H & H Power Amp. Please note that Eddie did initially not use this until the early 1980s. It was designed to shape the signal before reaching the speaker output.
  10. Marshall, JBL and later on, Celestion speakers used for the end output of the signal.

This is a rough guide to the amp setup Eddie Van Halen used in the early days. Of course, Ed loved the sound of his Marshall amplifier, which is present on all the early David Lee Roth albums. It is a fantastic sound and is very audibly recognizable and simple to setup.


  1. http://www.legendarytones.com/brownsound.html
  2. http://www.angelfire.com/ri2/bob2/evh.html
  3. http://equipboard.com/pros/eddie-van-halen

Eddie’s first main guitar – The Gibson Les Paul

It is somewhat known that Eddie Van Halen’s first guitar that he purchased was actually a Teisco Del Ray that he purchased for $110 from Sears courtesy of his job on the paper route1. He is quoted in an interview as stating that he purchased that particular guitar as he said “I used to think the more pickups, the better!”2 which he found appealing at the time. Eddie chose to play the guitar after his brother Alex played his drum set as he was out on his paper route and eventually topped him in terms of skill. Eddie eventually picked up his brother’s guitar and began playing it after this occurred, shortly buying his first guitar afterwards.

Eddie Van Halen with his first purchased guitar from Sears in 1967Eddie Van Halen with first guitar








Photo courtesy http://www2.gibson.com/News-Lifestyle/Features/en-us/The-Early-Years-of-Van-Halen_.aspx

Early on in his days as a guitarist he quickly became a fan of Cream, and more specifically, guitarist Eric Clapton. It is noted that Eric Clapton favoured the classic Gibson Les Paul guitar, strangely enough out of production at the time3, being replaced by what would eventually become the modern day Gibson SG. He sought out a Les Paul that some blues artists had been using, and played it on the well-known and critically acclaimed John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton album with a Marshall amplifier. He later joined Cream.

The cover of the highly influential John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton with Eric second from left.

Photo courtesy http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Bluesbreakers_John_Mayall_with_Eric_Clapton.jpg

Eddie is quoted as saying: “Clapton was it. I knew every note he played.”4 Indeed Eddie is a huge Eric Clapton fan!

So a knowledge of the sound Ed was pursuing began from day one came originally from his records that he loved. He loved the sound of Eric Clapton’s guitar playing and practiced constantly in order to achieve the sound that he wanted. But still, it wasn’t enough.

Now, before I rush into any complete history of Van Halen, I must cover the Les Paul and what it is. You can pick up a firsthand USA Gibson Les Paul for around $3 000 US for the 2014 model. Now given that, it is an excellent guitar (and no, I am not biased) and is a good way to start with following that classic Van Halen sound.

But what exactly can I do in terms of an amplifier? You may be asking that question yourself. Well in the early days of Van Halen Eddie used Marshall Amplifiers, so let’s take a look at those.

Marshall Amps are the way to go for the early Van Halen sound.

Photo courtesy http://www.rocksins.com/2012/04/founder-of-marshall-amps-jim-marshall-passes-away-14605/

Marshall Amplifiers were famously designed the way that they were because of the involvement of Pete Townshend of The Who. He was looking in the early 1960s for a brand of amplifier that was louder and heavier than the typical Fender or Vox A30 amps of the time. Discussions were held between Townshend and Jim Marshall, and the rest is history as they say. But to be clearer about the history of the amps, other guitarists were searching for the Marshall sound at the time. So although Pete’s contribution is not to be underestimated to the Marshall sound, he was not the only one in assisting the amps to become one of the largest international brands of amplifiers today. Many Marshall Amps are sold at various sizes and prices, but spending around $500US or more on a basic amp should do the trick.

Remember, this is a lot of money to invest. It is NOT for people who do not take the guitar or the music of Van Halen seriously!

In any case, if you were to look at the basic very early Van Halen set up, then a reasonable Gibson Les Paul Standard and a basic (but not too basic) Marshall amplifier will do the trick. Once again however, I must stress that you will need to play like Ed as well as use the setup to complete the sound. It is noted that Eddie in the early days of Van Halen, before constructing the legendary Frankenstrat Eddie had three main guitars at his disposal: Gibson Les Paul; Fender Stratocaster and the Gibson ES-335. All three he experimented with before building the first Frankenstrat guitar.

A Gibson Les Paul and a decent sized Marshall amp should get you the ‘classic’ rock sound, much like what Eddie was looking for very early on.Gibson Les Pauls and Marshall Amps.

Photo courtesy http://www.pinterest.com/pin/348677196121529437/

The following is a list of the materials that the modern day Gibson Les Paul is made of, according to the official Gibson website:


Top: Maple

Back: Mahogany

Adhesive: Franklin Titebond 50


Silkscreen: Gold “Gibson” & “Les Paul Model”

Truss Rod Cover: Black Bell Hot Stamp White “ETune”


Neck position: Rhythm Burstbucker Pro (Alnico #5)

Bridge position:


Species: Mahogany

Profile: ‘60s SlimTaper™

Truss Rod: Standard

Joint Angle: 5⁰ (+/- 15 seconds)

Adhesive: Franklin Titebond 50

Neck fit:

Joint: Mortise and Tenon

Adhesive: Franklin Titebond 50

Joint Angle Tolerance: +/- .005”


Min-ETune with Vintage Keys


Potentiometers: 2 Push/Pull Volume Controls, 2 Push/Pull Tone Controls

Type: 500K Non-Linear

Toggle Switch: Three-way Switchcraft with Black Plastic Tip

Output jacks: 1/4” mono


Species: Rosewood

Frets: Cryogenically Frozen, 22

Radius: 12”

Nut/E.O.B: 1.695/2.260

Inlays: Figured Acrylic Trapezoid with 120th Banner


Type: Tune-o-Matic

Material: Chrome


Type: Stop Bar

Plating: Chrome


Material: Black TekToid™

Width: 1.695

Slots: Gibson PLEK System


Knobs: Black Supreme Grip Speed Knob

Control Plate: Black

Trim Rings: Black

Strap buttons: Aluminium

An alternative is the Gibson Les Paul Axcess, which has a Floyd Rose tremolo built into it. But it is a little pricier, around $4000US. But still worth your while if you feel up to purchasing one. Eddie has always been a fan of the Floyd Rose tremolo, and is worth seeking if you are on a budget.

The Gibson Les Paul Axcess is another modern day alternative to consider.

Photo courtesy http://www2.gibson.com/Products/Electric-Guitars/Les-Paul/Gibson-Custom/Les-Paul-Axcess-Standard/Features.aspx

Another thing to add is that the Gibson Les Paul has gone through some significant changes over the years, and if you are really going after the classic rock sound, you may need to seek out an early 1970s model of Gibson Les Paul, which is much more difficult to find and may cost a lot more. Eddie stated in a more recent interview that he used a Gibson Les Paul Goldtop, just like what Eric Clapton used. Just remember that it is highly unlikely that Eddie used it ever on any recording. But it is essential to explore this wonderful guitar to gain a deeper understanding of what Eddie was exploring at the time.

In any case, I hope that I have provided enough information for you to get started.

Enjoy! 🙂 \m/\m/

Remember, you will still need to play like Ed as well as use the equipment that he used in order to sound like him.

Picture courtesy http://www.mylespaul.com/forums/gibson-les-pauls/78822-eddie-van-halen-les-paul.html


  1. EVH Gear Official Website. 2014. http://www.evhgear.com/en-AU/media/timeline/
  2. McCulley, Jerry. 2008. The Early Years of Van Halen: A Paper Route, a High School Essay and a Couple of Lucky Breaks. http://www2.gibson.com/News-Lifestyle/Features/en-us/The-Early-Years-of-Van-Halen_.aspx
  3. Cross, Dan. Gibson Les Paul Standard Profile – History of the Les Paul Standard. http://guitar.about.com/od/gibson/ss/Gibson-Les-Paul-Standard-Profile_2.htm
  4. Van Halen News Desk. 2012. Van Halen on Clapton. http://www.vhnd.com/2010/02/12/van-halen-on-clapton/
  5. Gibson Official Website. http://www2.gibson.com/Products/Electric-Guitars/2014/Les-Paul-Standard.aspx