Eddie Van Halen was one of the most influential and innovative guitarists of all time. He revolutionized the rock guitar sound with his virtuosic technique, inventive style, and distinctive tone. He also left his mark on the guitar world as both a player and a designer. Eddie Van Halen created and modified his own guitars to suit his musical vision. But what was Eddie Van Halen’s favorite guitar?
The answer is not so simple, as he used many different guitars throughout his career. Each guitar had its own story and significance. In this article, we will explore some of the most famous guitars that Eddie Van Halen played. We will find out which one he loved the most.
What Was Eddie Van Halen’s Favorite Guitar?
The Frankenstrat, one of Eddie Van Halen’s favorite guitar, is probably the most iconic guitar that Eddie Van Halen played. It is a custom-made instrument that he built himself in 1976, using various parts from different guitars. He started with a Stratocaster-style body that he bought for $50, and a neck that he got for $80. He then added a humbucker pickup from a Gibson ES-335, which he mounted at an angle in the bridge position.
Eddie Van Halen also installed a Floyd Rose tremolo system. This allowed him to perform extreme whammy bar effects without going out of tune. He painted the guitar black, then added white stripes with masking tape, and later red stripes with bicycle paint. He also drilled holes in the body to reduce the weight and added various stickers and decals to personalize it.
The Frankenstrat was Eddie Van Halen’s main guitar for live performances, especially in the early years of Van Halen. He used it to record some of his most famous songs, such as “Eruption”, “Ain’t Talkin’ ’bout Love”, “Jump”, and “Panama”. He also modified it several times over the years, changing the pickups, the wiring, the paint job, and even cutting off part of the body with a saw. The Frankenstrat is now retired and displayed in a museum. It remains a symbol of Eddie Van Halen’s creativity and innovation.
The Bumblebee, one of Eddie Van Halen’s favorite guitar, is another custom-made guitar that Eddie Van Halen built in 1979. It has a similar design to the Frankenstrat, but with a black and yellow color scheme. He used it for most of the Van Halen II tour. It can be seen on the back cover of the album. He also used it to record some songs on Women and Children First, such as “And the Cradle Will Rock” and “Everybody Wants Some”.
The Bumblebee has a special place in Eddie Van Halen’s heart. He gave it as a gift to one of his heroes, Dimebag Darrell of Pantera. Dimebag was a huge fan of Van Halen, and he admired Eddie’s playing and tone. He was buried with the Bumblebee after he was tragically killed on stage in 2004. Eddie Van Halen attended his funeral and paid tribute to him by playing “Cathedral” on another one of his guitars.
The Shark, one of Eddie Van Halen’s favorite guitar, is an Ibanez Destroyer that Eddie Van Halen bought in 1977. It is a Gibson Explorer-style guitar with a natural finish and two humbucker pickups. He used it to record most of the first Van Halen album, including “Runnin’ With the Devil”, “You Really Got Me”, “Jamie’s Cryin’”, and “On Fire”. He also used it on some songs on Van Halen II, such as “Dance the Night Away” and “Beautiful Girls”.
The Shark got its name from an incident that happened in 1978, when Eddie Van Halen decided to modify it by cutting off part of the body with a chainsaw. He wanted to make it look more like a shark’s fin. But he ended up ruining the sound and balance of the guitar. Eddie Van Halen then painted it red with white stripes, similar to the Frankenstrat. However, he was never satisfied with it. He eventually gave it away to a friend, who later sold it to a collector.
4. Kramer 5150
The Kramer 5150, one of Eddie Van Halen’s favorite guitar, is a signature model that Eddie Van Halen designed in collaboration with Kramer Guitars in 1981. It is based on the Kramer Pacer model, but with some modifications that Eddie requested.
The guitar has a Stratocaster-style body made of maple, a maple neck with a rosewood fingerboard, a single humbucker pickup in the bridge position, a Floyd Rose tremolo system, and a volume knob labeled “Tone”. It also has a red, white, and black striped paint job, and a large “5150” sticker on the body. It is the name of Eddie’s home studio and the title of Van Halen’s sixth album.
The Kramer 5150 became Eddie Van Halen’s main guitar in the 80s. He used it to record some of his most popular songs, such as “Jump”, “Panama”, “Hot for Teacher”, “Why Can’t This Be Love”, and “Dreams”. He also used it on stage for many tours. It can be seen on the cover of Live Without a Net, a live video released in 1986. The Kramer 5150 is one of the most recognizable guitars in rock history. It influenced many other guitarists to adopt a similar style.
5. Ernie Ball Music Man
The Ernie Ball Music Man, one of Eddie Van Halen’s favorite guitar, is a signature model that Eddie Van Halen designed in collaboration with Ernie Ball/Music Man in 1991. It is a completely new guitar, unlike the previous ones that were based on existing models.
The guitar has a basswood body with a quilted maple top, a maple neck with an ebony fingerboard, two humbucker pickups with a five-way switch, a Floyd Rose tremolo system, and a volume knob. It also has a unique headstock shape and a natural finish with a translucent red or amber color.
The Ernie Ball Music Man was Eddie Van Halen’s main guitar in the early 90s, and he used it to record some songs on For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, such as “Poundcake”, “Runaround”, and “Right Now”. He also used it on stage for the Balance tour, and it can be seen on the cover of Live: Right Here, Right Now, a live album released in 1993. The Ernie Ball Music Man was praised for its quality and playability, and it became a popular model among guitar enthusiasts.
6. Peavey Wolfgang
The Peavey Wolfgang, one of Eddie Van Halen’s favorite guitar, is a signature model that Eddie Van Halen designed in collaboration with Peavey Electronics in 1996. It is similar to the Ernie Ball Music Man, but with some differences.
The guitar has a slightly smaller body made of basswood or mahogany, a maple neck with a birdseye maple fingerboard, two custom-wound humbucker pickups with a three-way switch, a Floyd Rose tremolo system, and two knobs for volume and tone. It also has various color options, such as black, red, purple, sunburst, and tobacco burst.
The Peavey Wolfgang was Eddie Van Halen’s main guitar in the late 90s and early 2000s, and he used it to record some songs on Van Halen III, such as “Without You”, “Fire in the Hole”, and “How Many Say I”. He also used it on stage for the III tour and the reunion tour with Sammy Hagar in 2004. The Peavey Wolfgang was well-received by guitar fans and critics, and it became one of Peavey’s best-selling models.
7. EVH Wolfgang
The EVH Wolfgang, one of Eddie Van Halen’s favorite guitar, is a signature model that Eddie Van Halen designed in collaboration with Fender Guitars in 2007. It is an evolution of the Peavey Wolfgang, but with some improvements.
The guitar has a basswood body with an arched maple top, a maple neck with an ebony or maple fingerboard, two custom-designed humbucker pickups with a three-way switch, an EVH-branded Floyd Rose tremolo system with D-Tuna device for drop tuning, and two knobs for volume and tone. It also has various color options, such as black, white, red, sunburst, stealth gray, and ivory.
The EVH Wolfgang is Eddie Van Halen’s main guitar in his later years, and he used it to record some songs on A Different Kind of Truth, such as “Tattoo”, “She’s the Woman”, and “Stay Frosty”. He also used it on stage for the reunion tour with David Lee Roth in 2007-2008 and 2012-2015. The EVH Wolfgang is the latest model in Eddie Van Halen’s signature line of guitars, and it reflects his experience and expertise as a guitarist and a designer.
The Bottom Line
So what was Eddie Van Halen’s favorite guitar? The answer may vary depending on the time period and the context. Each guitar that he played had its own characteristics and advantages that suited his musical needs at the time.
However, if we had to choose one guitar that represents his legacy and influence the most, it would have to be the Frankenstrat. It is not only the first guitar that he built himself, but also the one that he used to create some of his most memorable songs and solos. It is also the one that inspired countless other guitarists to follow his footsteps and experiment with their own guitars.
The Frankenstrat is more than just a guitar; it is an expression of his musical genius and personality. The Frankenstrat is the ultimate example of Eddie Van Halen’s favorite guitar, and it deserves to be celebrated as such.