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.
Picture courtesy http://soldano.conforums.com/index.cgi?board=general&action=print&num=1296516202
- Soldano Hot Rod 25 With Mike Araiza and Mike Soldano. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UBIcicqIfCM
- Soldano’s Story: Getting Started. Soldano Custom Amplification. http://www.soldano.com/about/
- Q & A Session with Michael Soldano. Musician’s Hotline. http://pasutto.net/divers/Brown%20Sound/Variac/MichaelSoldano.htm
- 100w Super Lead Overdrive. Soldano Custom Amplification. http://www.soldano.com/products/guitar-amplifiers/super-lead-overdrive-slo-100/
- Edward Van Halen Interview: EVH at Play. HP Newquist. http://guitarinternational.com/2010/08/20/edward-van-halen-at-play/