Tag Archives: Music Man

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


  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/