Tag Archives: Setup

EVH/Fender Frankenstrat

Once Eddie Van Halen and crew pulled their act together and a new contract with Fender was signed, Fender became a reliable and productive ally for Eddie Van Halen. Historically Eddie had fallouts with each company that he had been with after a period of generally five to ten years. Since being with Fender, Eddie has not wavered in his faith with that company for the service that has been provided to him.

Fender granted Eddie Van Halen his right to market their products under his outlet called EVH Gear. The first fruit of this collaboration came in 2006, when Fender began a limited edition run of custom made Frankenstrats with specifications to be the exact same as the final incarnation of the original Frankenstrat that he had built and modified over a time frame of many years. This is truly a collector’s piece, provided that you are able to afford it.

The principle man to deal with EVH on his gear needs was a younger but clever man named Chip Ellis. Chip is the main guy that Eddie deals with for his gear via Fender.

The idea that the Frankenstrat could be replicated entirely and made in a limited edition run of 500 guitars was conceived and has been on the market since 2006. It is virtually the same guitar as the original Frankenstrat in every detail: from the striped paintwork and a custom wound Seymour Duncan humbucker in the bridge position to the more intricate elements of the guitar, such as the cigarette burns and the 1971 quarter near the Floyd Rose tremolo system. It also comes with some wonderful accessories, a hard case and booklet and certificate of authenticity.

Eddie Van Halen and Chip Ellis are two very clever men indeed who wore together well on the EVH Gear based products.

Picture courtesy http://www.jameslimborg.com/music-and-guitar-pedals/van-halen-news-desk/

In a video recorded at the 5150 studios, Eddie revealed the history and some his input into the guitar itself. Noted in the video to avoid confusion with the near identical replicas, Eddie Van Halen wrote in capital letters: “THIS IS THE SHIT – THANKS CHIPS” on the original Frankenstrat.

The only real downside, apart from the limited availability of this replica, is the price tag. The replica Frankenstrat goes for around $25,000.00 US and is virtually unaffordable in that respect. A good alternative is the EVH/Fender Striped Series, which was the next collaboration project that EVH and Fender worked together on.

In short, if you have a spare ten grand or two lying about, this is a definite must for any Eddie Van Halen fan to purchase. For more information, visit http://evhgear.com/frankenstein/.

 

 

References:

  1. EVH Gear. 2016. The Eddie Van Halen Frankenstein Replica Guitar. http://www.evhgear.com/frankenstein/
  2. Dan from Ground Guitar. 2016. Eddie Van Halen Guitars and Gear. http://www.groundguitar.com/eddie-van-halen-guitars-and-gear/
  3. Guitar World. 2008. “Eddie Van Halen’s Frankenstein Replica Guitar (part 1)”. YouTube video, 6:02, Jun 11. https://www.youtube.com/xwatch?v=i2mh7zGfFRM
  4. Guitar World. 2008. “Eddie Van Halen’s Frankenstein Replica Guitar (part 2)”. YouTube video, 5:47, Jun 11. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ICXeYawQqFs
  5. Guitar World. 2008. “Eddie Van Halen’s Frankenstein Replica Guitar (part 3)”. YouTube video, 6:18, Jun 11. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O9_ZDxoxhoc

Peavey Wolfgang

Due to some of the limitations of Eddie Van Halen’s Ernie Ball Music Man EVH Model and the contract ending with Ernie Ball, Eddie decided to pursue Peavey further in his ultimate quest for the perfect sound and tone.

In 1995 Eddie Van Halen and Hartley Peavey worked together placing the finishing touches on a brand new line of guitars for Edward and the result was both unique and amazing simultaneously. The guitar itself was made commercially available in 1996, along with a licenced production of Peavey EVH Wolfgang guitar strings as well. The name was the same name as Eddie’s son Wolfgang Van Halen.

Eddie Van Halen was eager to move on with guitar design and refinement.

Picture courtesy http://olho.nu/van-halen/gear/evh_peavey-guitars.htm

This new guitar was similar in some respects to the previous guitar that Eddie Van Halen had used, yet there were some subtle differences that had made this guitar more unique than the previous one that Eddie had used.

The basic idea of the design was almost identical to the Ernie Ball guitars that Ed had used for some time. Basswood was used for the body, with maple used for the neck and for the body design, a licensed Floyd Rose tremolo and two custom designed and wound EVH/Peavey humbucking pickups, as well as Schaller M6 mini tuners.

Some of the design differences in comparison to the previous Ernie Ball guitars were the addition of maple top and a unique three-way switch placed at the top of the body which was reversed in comparison to regular three way switches typically placed at the same position. Additionally the new Peavey line-up also included, for the first time, a D-Tuner added to the Floyd Rose tremolo system which was not included on the previous line of guitars. A tone adjuster with knob was also added, along with a new uniquely shaped headstock.

In a sadly ironic way Eddie Van Halen endorsed and played the Peavey Wolfgang throughout the worst period of his musical career.

Picture courtesy http://olho.nu/van-halen/news/2005-01-10_evh-parts-with-peavey.htm

The first commercially produced Peavey guitars that were created in 1996 were limited only to the Peavey Wolfgang Standard, which came in six different finishes. The quality of these guitars varied widely due to the difference in quality of the flame maple tops, which later was changed to curly maple tops in a way of remedying the problem of quality of sound output.

A variety of different models were offered over the years. From 1997 to 2004, there were models such as: Wolfgang Standard; Wolfgang Standard Deluxe; Wolfgang Special; Wolfgang Special Deluxe; Wolfgang Special EXP and also Peavey provided a custom shop for those who preferred that sort of service.

The Peavey Wolfgang guitar is an underrated lost piece of history.

Picture courtesy http://johnnyolsa.com/Guitars/

Eddie himself primarily played during this time a Wolfgang Standard with a Tobacco Sunburst style finish. He did play this through both Van Halen tours respectively after production commenced, yet apparently destroyed this guitar on the last show of the 2004 tour.

All Peavey Wolfgang guitars came with a special handbook with a personal statement from Eddie himself about this unique brand of guitar, along with tips for care. Below are some stats of the Peavey Wolfgang:

 

Body:

  • Figured maple top/basswood back or solid basswood construction.
  • Unique offset cutaway design with carved top.
  • Cream or black top-edge-binding.

Neck:

  • Birdseye maple neck and fingerboard, oil-finished.
  • Dual graphite reinforcements and adjustable torsion rod.
  • 25 ½ inch scale length, 22 jumbo frets.
  • 15 inch fingerboard radius.
  • 10 degree tilt-back headstock with 3+3 tuning machine configuration.
  • Bolt-on construction with contoured neck heel.

Electronics:

  • Two custom-wound Peavey/EVH humbucking pickups.
  • Volume and tone controls.
  • Switchcraft® 3-way toggle switch and output jack.

Hardware:

  • Schaller® tuning machines with pearloid or cream buttons.
  • Peavey/Floyd Rose® licensed, double-locking tremolo assembly or tune-o-matic/stop tailpiece fixed bridge assembly.
  • D-Tuner™ (available on tremolo model only).
  • Chrome-plated hardware finish.

In a strangely repressed way and under huge pressure, Eddie Van Halen’s Peavey Wolfgang was one of the most forward thinking designs of guitar yet.

Picture courtesy http://www.rocknrollweekend.com/index2.html

Although Ed ended his contract with Peavey in 2004, if you are seeking this guitar, be sure to look at eBay for various models of this guitar, although it can be rather pricey to purchase a second hand one. Sadly this guitar was strictly produced by Peavey and there are no other real alternatives to finding a guitar quite like it. Once Eddie ceased relations with Peavey, he took his ideas elsewhere and left Peavey with little memory of his involvement with them and Peavey now only produce the 5150 amplifiers (now branded as the 6505 amplifier range) and the guitar strings he used to use. Regardless of this, this guitar is part of the history of the Brown Sound and if you have one today, you are very lucky indeed.

Eddie named the guitar after his son Wolfgang. This clearly meant that the Peavey Wolfgang indeed was special to Eddie Van Halen at the time.

Picture courtesy https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolfgang_Van_Halen

 

References:

  1. 2015. Eddie Van Halen Guitars and Gear. http://www.groundguitar.com/eddie-van-halen-guitars-and-gear/
  2. Knapp, Geoff. 2006. Wolfgang Guitars – The Unofficial Site of the Wolfgang and HP Special Guitar. http://www.wolfgangguitars.com/
  3. Peavey. 1998. EVH Wolfgang Operating Guide. http://peavey.com/media/pdf/manuals/80301829.pdf

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/

Steinberger 5150

Perhaps one of the lesser known guitars that Eddie Van Halen used, the Steinberger is a fascinating, interesting instrument with a great deal of history behind it in relation to the design and construction of it. Steinberger became a big name in the music industry, particularly after Eddie Van Halen used the instrument extensively on “Get Up” and “Summer Nights” on the 5150 album. This ensured that both men would be in the books of history for developing and using an instrument that was unusual, yet useful.

For a short period of time, Eddie Van Halen used his Steinberger 5150, which he loved.

Picture courtesy http://www.therpf.com/showthread.php?t=106322

The Steinberger story began many years before the two men had any association with one another. Ned Steinberger designed furniture as an industrial designer. Apparently Steinberger worked with Stuart Spector, a bass luthier at one point in New York. Spector requested assistance from Steinberger on design for a bass guitar. Ned Steinberger agreed, and the initial result was the Spector NS. This was a new bass guitar design, of which was later adopted and expanded upon by Warwick.

Inspired by this initial move into the music world, Steinberger persisted with a new take on the traditional bass guitar design. He thought extensively about some of the problems that existed with the traditional Fender Precision Bass style design that had very much dominated the market to the day.

Ned Steinberger is one true genius, not in a way dissimilar to Eddie Van Halen.

Picture courtesy http://www.gibson.com/Products/Electric-Guitars/Firebird/Gibson-USA/Firebird-X/The-Revolutionaries.aspx

Looking at the main part of the design of the bass guitar, Ned Steinberger found that overall, the design was not very ergonomically ideal in approach. He found that the body of the bass guitar was too heavy, large and above all, subject to issues with tuning and portability. He decided to break with his own past and the past of the music industry and do something that many others were afraid at the time (except perhaps for Eddie Van Halen): innovate.

A prototype Steinberger bass was designed and first manufactured in 1979. This did include body based tuners that required a coin or a screwdriver to turn them, and was heavily based on piano style design. This resulted by Ned Steinberger taking the design of the bass guitar one step further and asking himself: “Why don’t I place the tuning heads on the headstock onto the body?”

The prototype Steinberger bass guitar was extensively rejected by all major music corporations upon presentation.

Picture courtesy http://www.laster.it/musica-ed-altro-storia/ned-steinberger-un-uomo-pieno-di-idee.html

He did just that. Next, he further redesigned the body of the bass guitar, using fibreglass and graphite (aerospace industry materials), he managed to create a smaller, more compact and lighter body available for the bass guitar player. He further used polyurethane or nitrocellulose to finish the body, along with several other key methods of development and redesign that result in a very unique and radical approach from the traditional bass guitar design.

Getting proper support and attention from major guitar manufacturers for his radical and new design was much more difficult. He took it to numerous major musical manufacturers (including Fender and Gibson) only to be turned down by all, including those who liked the idea, but not the design of the instrument. Eventually Steinberger himself decided to take matters into his own hands and began manufacturing the first line of Steinberger bass guitars, whilst making a few sacrifices financially along the way.

He relocated to the state of New York after building on borrowed money, a brand new factory. Eventually after designing the then hugely popular Steinberger bass guitar, Ned Steinberger rethought his design for the electric guitar. He already had a prototype for this in the early 1980s upon relocating to Brooklyn, yet it was not introduced into the market until 1984, the same year that the TransTrem system for his line of electric guitars was introduced.

The TransTrem system is one innovation that was way ahead of its time.

Picture courtesy http://www.steinbergerworld.com/mktng.htm

The TransTrem will go down in the technical rock books as a piece of underrated genius, which it is. By using a locking system, one could play chord sequences in different keys, thus generally eliminating the need for alternate guitars with different tunings, or even capos. It even allowed playing the guitar after string breakage by shifting the TransTrem to the centre position, thus enabling the ability to complete the song. This surely would have been impossible, even on a Floyd Rose tremolo system.

Eddie began playing some more varied and interesting music on the 5150 album. After endorsers, such as Sting and David Bowie, played Steinberger instruments, Eddie obviously became inspired by the use of this new and ground-breaking line of instruments. He then requested a GL-2T to be painted in graphics not dissimilar to the Kramer 5150.

The result was the Steinberger GL-2T 5150. This guitar, and its counterpart, the Steinberger GL-2T OU812, were used during this era. Apart from the paint job and the pickups, which were EMG pickups, it is very much guessed that the guitar is stock.

The Steinberger 5150 and OU812 were also used extensively onstage, as well as on the 5150 album.

Picture courtesy https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/98/9d/30/989d3032838086c1ab06fdd624ea6c67.jpg

Steinberger is now owned by Gibson. After Ned Steinberger sold the operation of his company in 1987, Steinberger instruments went through a bad period prior to ownership being acquired by Gibson, due to shifting trends more so than any other reason. Steinberger has not maintained the popularity that it has in previous times, yet is still running today.

Unlike the Frankenstrat or other Eddie Van Halen guitars, there is not much difficulty in recreating this particular guitar. From the Steinberger website www.steinberger.com below are some stats for one of the models of the Steinberger guitars, the GT-PRO Deluxe:

The Steinberger GT-PRO Deluxe is well worth checking out if you are interested in Steinberger guitars.

Picture courtesy http://www.guitariste.com/achat/magasin,guitare,star-s-music,catalogue,steinberg,1.html

Neck Material: 3-Piece Hard Maple

Neck Joint: Thru-Neck

Fingerboard: Rosewood

Fingerboard Radius: 14”

Frets: 24, Medium-Jumbo

Scale Length: 25.5”

Body Wings: Maple

Body Top: Maple

Pickups: Steinberger Humbucker, Single, Humbucker

External Controls: Master Tone, Master Volume, 5-Way Pickup Selector

Bridge: R-Trem Locking Tremolo with Patented DoubleBall Bridge with 40:1 ratio direct-pull tuners

Saddle Material: Steel

Weight: 7.0lb

Length: 30.25”

Zero Nut Width: 1.625”

12-Fret Width: 2.04”

Bridge Spacing: 0.42”

Note that some specifications on this current model are indeed, different to the original Steinberger GL-2T. Mostly aside from that, it is more or less the same guitar.

It is however, unfortunate that Eddie lost interest in using this guitar after some time. Although very much nowadays seen as a 1980s fad, the Steinberger line of guitars, including the GL-2T that Eddie Van Halen used, are original and interesting guitars indeed. Post 5150 album, the guitar was not really used extensively and eventually was retired by Ed in favour of his Kramer 5150. Still, it is an amazing guitar, and one that can be easily replicated today.

Steinberger are still around and still sell guitars not dissimilar to the 5150 and OU812.

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

References:

1.  2015. Eddie Van Halen’s Guitars and Gear. http://www.groundguitar.com/eddie-van-halen-guitars-and-gear/

2. Steinberger World. http://www.steinbergerworld.com/

3. Winterborne, Alex. Steinberger: Eighties Guitars. http://www.retrojunk.com/article/show/373/steinberger-eighties-guitars

Eddie Van Halen’s Ibanez “Shark” Destroyer

It is often overlooked and misunderstood about Eddie’s use of the Ibanez Destroyer, nicknamed “the Shark”. Indeed, Eddie was not 100% satisfied with just one sound on the recording of the first Van Halen album. So instead, he relied on a stock Ibanez Destroyer to create a slightly different sound when required on the album.

This guitar is as important as the Frankenstrat when it comes to the early Van Halen sound.

Picture courtesy http://www.vhnd.com/2011/06/02/search-and-destroy/

Ibanez Destroyers have been around since 19751 and they were a relatively new addition at the time. It made perfect sense for Eddie to use the Destroyer on the first Van Halen album to vary the sound somewhat. It is often overlooked in the Van Halen cannon this guitar, so it is well worth noting about. Edward’s son Wolfgang referred to the Ibanez Destroyer as simply, “My favourite”2.

Ibanez is one of the most popular heavy rock guitar brands internationally.

Picture courtesy http://grandcentralmusicstore.com/about/product-lines/

Little is known about this particular guitar, but what is confirmed is that Eddie did use the guitar on much of the early Van Halen work more than people realise. For example, on the first Van Halen album Eddie used it on roughly half the tracks: Runnin’ with the Devil; You Really Got Me; Jamie’s Cryin’; Feel Your Love Tonight and On Fire. Basically early on, he used his Destroyer on any track that did not require the tremolo arm on his Frankenstrat, instead opting for the heavier sound of the Ibanez Destroyer when necessary.

However, shortly after the recording of the first Van Halen album, Eddie became interested in modifying the guitar and carved out parts of it. He also removed the pickguard, painted it striped in red and white, placing a Les Paul style volume knobs on it, filling in a hole for the middle knob and a rear cutaway that Eddie completed with a chainsaw.

Eddie indeed, loved using the Destroyer, even after the heavy modifications.

Picture courtesy http://media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/0b/fb/5a/0bfb5a8337515aaf3e0a342e5fd19ad5.jpg

The result was, however more visually impressive, was a negative one. It reportedly destroyed the tone of the guitar, making it less sonically pleasing to Ed. However the guitar meant something to Eddie, as he posed on the cover of the 1980 Women and Children First album with it. Indeed without the Ibanez Destroyer that Eddie used throughout early Van Halen recordings, much of what we recognise as the Brown sound would have been lost.

You can still find Ibanez Destroyer guitars (although without the EVH modifications) available today.

Picture courtesy http://georgemangos.com/destroyer/index.htm

Still, Ibanez sell Destroyer guitars to this day. There are two models, one retailing at $1199.00 (DT520FM) and another more expensive model at $1895.00 (DT520) and are worth checking out if you are keen on one. Listed below are the details of the more expensive model, courtesy of www.ibanez.com:

Finish: Black

Neck type: Destroyer 1 piece Mahogany set-in-neck

Body: Mahogany body

Fretboard: Rosewood Fretboard

Fret: Jumbo Frets

Bridge: Tight-Tune Bridge

Tailpiece: Tight-Tune Tailpiece

Neck pickup: DiMarzio® Air Norton™ Humbucker Neck Pickup (Passive/Alnico)

Bridge pickup: DiMarzio® The Tone Zone® Humbucker Bridge Pickup (Passive/Alnico)

Hardware colour: Chrome

Neck dimensions:

Scale – 628mm/24.75

  1. Width at Nut – 43mm
  2. Width at Last Fret – 57mm
  3. Thickness at 1st Fret – 20mm
  4. Thickness at 12th Fret – 22mm

Radius: 305mmR

Features: DiMarzio Pickups; Tight-Tune Bridge and Tailpiece

For all of those in the knowhow of Eddie Van Halen’s music and curious to explore some of the earlier, heavier sounds present, this guitar is well worth checking out.

The Ibanez “Shark” Destroyer is on the cover of Women and Children First.

Picture courtesy http://jasobrecht.com/eddie-van-halen-complete-1979-interview/

References:

  1. Ibanez Official Website. 2014. Electric guitars – Ibanez Destroyer. http://www.ibanez.co.jp/products/eg_page14.php?year=2014&area_id=2&cat_id=1&series_id=32&data_id=264&color=CL01
  2. Van Halen News Desk. 2011. Search and Destroy. http://www.vhnd.com/2014/07/27/aap75/

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.

References:

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