IN PRAISE OF: EVH Wolfgang

We salute possibly the greatest modern rock guitar

MANY of the elements that make the current EVH Wolfgang guitar range so brilliant can be traced back to a mongrel that Eddie Van Halen assembled from a pile of parts back in the late 70s.

Eddie took a $50 factory-second Boogie Body, bolted on an $80 maple neck he'd retrofitted with fat frets, and chiselled a humbucker (from an old Gibson ES-335 he'd managed to destroy) into the bridge position, and invented the modern rock guitar.

"For as long as I've been playing guitar, I've been searching for a certain feel and tone, tearing apart and reassembling hundreds of guitars searching for these qualities," he said in 1996. "Although I've ruined a lot of great guitars, I have learned what it takes to make a truly great guitar."

Eddie soon fitted a prototype Floyd Rose vibrato to the red, black and white-striped hybrid, now better known as his iconic 'Frankenstein' guitar. Most of the guitars he used in the 80s were based on Frankenstein, but by the end of the decade Eddie was looking for a change.

Launched in 1990, the twin humbucker-loaded Ernie Ball Music Man EVH initiated Eddie's tonal love affair with maple- topped basswood body construction, which has persisted through to his latest EVH brand guitars. The much-hailed neck of the Music Man EVH was a digitally matched replica of that on Eddie's 5150 guitar, built from Kramer parts.

By 1995, Eddie's endorsement deal with Ernie Ball was over. The following year, he unveiled a new collaboration: the Peavey Wolfgang, a range of superb guitars named after his son (and current Van Halen bassist), who was born in 1991. Then in 2004, Eddie decided to strike out on his own.

A £15,000 limited-edition replica of Frankenstein was produced by the Fender Custom Shop in 2007, while a range of more affordable models – the EVH Striped Series – was unveiled at NAMM (see p123). Then, of course, there are the current EVH Wolfgang models, which combine the groundbreaking features of the Frankenstein – direct-mount pickups, fat frets – with the basswood and basswood/maple construction of the Music Man and Peavey guitars. More than 30 years in the making, an EVH Wolfgang is as great as a modern rock guitar gets.

EVH WOLFGANG TIMELINE

1978

Eddie reinvents the rock guitar with 'Frankenstein'

1990

Ernie Ball launches the Music Man EVH

1996

The Peavey Wolfgang range makes its debut

2008

EVH reveals his own branded Wolfgang range

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