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
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
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/
- 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
- Ernie Ball. 2007. Ernie Ball Forums. http://forums.ernieball.com/music-man-guitars/21007-ernie-ball-axis-history.html