Eddie Van Halen wasn't just a playing trailblazer – he was a gear pioneer too. His original Frankenstein electric guitar mixed Gibson and Fender traits with a unique aesthetic that became synonymous with his maverick status in the guitar world. That's why we're so excited to see EVH's latest iteration of the guitar – the Striped Series Frankie – that's available for £1,329 and is an absolute stunner.
Let's take a look at the new Frankie's features up close…
1. Neck and fingerboard
EVH necks have always impressed us, and the Frankie’s lives up to previous models we’ve played. It’s 22-frets, with a standard 25.5” Fender scale length.
The compound radius is the same profile as found in other Stripe models, but here, the already-comfortable oil finish takes on a new level of familiarity thanks to its worn-in appearance and feel. It’s smooth, comfortable, fast and very playable.
The Wolfgang humbucker is a tonal delight, particularly under some gain where it delivers the thick, harmonically rich tone of a bridge humbucker that we hear in our heads, minus the wool that some ’buckers are associated with. Its finishing move, though, is the clarity and separation you get, even with hefty distortion.
Interestingly, the original Stripe series humbucker was mounted parallel to the strings, but the Frankie’s is tilted at an angle like Eddie’s. If you’ve ever wondered whether a properly aligned and spaced pickup really makes a difference in a Strat-style guitar, we’d suggest using a Frankie as Exhibit A.
Fender’s relic’ing process reveals the EVH’s basswood body on the rear. Or, do it yourself with years of constant gigging!
4. Truss rod
A Strat neck it might be, but this one is reinforced with a graphite (rather than standard steel) truss rod. What’s more, the usual options of either trying to fit a key into a narrow rout, or having to remove the neck to adjust the relief of the neck are easily diverted by the thumbwheel at the neck-joint.
It’s small considerations like this that typify the design of EVH guitars. Are they the first and only brand to do it? No. Should other companies? Absolutely.
Like most of the EVH’s guitars, the Frankie comes equipped with EVH-branded Gotoh tuners.
If you’ve ever tried balancing a Floyd, you’ll have learnt just how painful tearing your
own hair out can be. So, when you have a Floyd-equipped guitar and your bassist suggests playing in drop D, it’s no wonder you’ve also considered how best to attack someone with a set of Allen keys.
The D-Tuna solves this issue – no need to unlock anything and risk throwing out that finely adjusted Floyd. Simply pull a lever and boom, your bottom string drops by a tone.
7. Floyd Rose
The Frankie’s Floyd is set flush against the body – as per Eddie’s preference – and there’s no carve underneath. This means you can drop the pitch but you can’t raise it.
Is that a problem? It wasn’t to Ed, so we can live with it. The included Floyd here is a licensed model, made by EVH and featuring a brass block with chromed finish.
The spliced scratchplate is one of many oddities on the Frankie, and the holes where the electronics should be are blocked off.
9. Dummy single coil
Relic’d guitars divide quicker than Carol Vorderman armed with a scientific calculator. So, if the Frankie receives criticism, it’ll be of this pickup and the five-way switch that sits in the middle pickup rout. They aren’t wired in, and, though the pickup can become a working model with the aid of your soldering iron, you’ll need to introduce a working switch.
Thankfully that’s possible due to the quarter-section of scratchplate, pre-cut and drilled with space underneath for the switch skeleton. An easy job, but also an easy target for those who rally against relics.
Eddie Van Halen owns the trademark to the instantly-recognisable striped finish, and its pattern is specific and exact across all Stripe models. But here, we see it in its war-torn state. Fender are masters of the relic’ing process, and this knowledge is imparted to the company’s Mexican factory, which means that the aged-fakery is pretty much the best you’ll find on a production guitar. It’s not modelled exactly on Eddie’s original – nor does it claim to be – but it is very convincing.
Original scratchplate screwholes, paint bleed and tape lines as well as decades of grime all contribute to an authentic ageing. The finish is satin urethane rather than the nitrocellulose used on Fender’s Road Worn guitars, and as such is potentially more hard-wearing and likely to age differently. We suspect this is intentional, replicating Eddie’s DIY paint job rather than recreating vintage mojo.
- EVH Striped Series Frankie
- ORIGIN: Mexico
- BODY: Basswood
- NECK: Quartersawn maple (graphite reinforced)
- SCALE LENGTH: 648mm (25.5”)
- FINGERBOARD: Maple, 12”-16” compound radius
- FRETS: 22, jumbo
- HARDWARE: Faber aged-nickel compensated wrap-around, Faber tuners
- PICKUPS: Direct Mount Wolfgang Humbucking (Bridge), Dummy Strat (Neck)
- CONTROLS: Volume
- HARDWARE: Relic'd chrome
- FINISHES: Red with black and white stripes relic
- Contact: evhgear.com
- MSRP: £1,329