Summary of Eddie Van Halen’s Equipment
As far as electric guitars, the best-known piece of Eddie’s gear is definitely his Frankenstein guitar, which he built himself around 1976. During the early years, this was Eddie’s main guitar, especially for live performances. Aside from that one, he also used an Ibanez Destroyer, later named “Shark”, to record a good part of the first Van Halen album.
Around 1979, he built the Bumblebee, a guitar that he used for most of the Van Halen II tour. In 1981 Eddie got his first endorsement deal with Kramer, which resulted in the Kramer 5150 guitar that became his main. In 1991 he switched to Ernie Ball/Music Man and designed a completely new guitar, named the Music Man EVH. A couple of years later he switched to Peavey guitars, and in 2001 he finally joined Fender guitars. During his last years, Eddie played the EVH Wolfgang model and the Fender Custom Shop replica of the original Frankenstein guitar.
Regarding acoustics, Eddie rarely ever picked up one. In a 1980 interview, he was even quoted saying that he never even owned a steel-string guitar at that point.
It’s a similar story when it comes to effects. Eddie never used a distortion or an overdrive pedal. But he did use an MXR Phaser and a Flanger extensively, and occasionally a Wah pedal later on.
For amps, Eddie relied heavily on his 1960s Marshall Super Lead 1959. He used this amp on most of his studio recordings. For live performances, he mostly used newer Marshalls or Peavey 5150s. Most recently, he used the EVH 5150III made in collaboration with Fender.
For strings, in the early years, he used the Fender 150XL set (9, 11, 15, 24, 32, 40). In the 80s he made a deal with Earnie Ball, who produced that exact same set for Eddie. Most recently and since he moved to Fender, he used their custom-designed EVH Premium sets.
How to Sound like Eddie Van Halen
Please note that this is just a quick basic guide for beginners. In reality, a lot of factors go into replicating someone’s sound, and it’s usually nearly impossible to achieve. To see the equipment that Eddie actually used himself, and all that went into it, refer to the chronological list below.
Guitars to Sound like Eddie
Nowadays, there are a lot of options out there if you want a guitar similar to the one that Eddie himself used. If you wanna go for the old-school sound and look, and you’re looking for a Frankenstein, get the EVH Striped Series Frankie. If you want his iconic Shark Ibanez Destroyer, you can get the EVH Striped Series Shark.
In case you want the more modern Eddie Van Halen sound, the perfect option would be the EVH Wolfgang Standard, which is the guitar that Eddie used towards the end of his career. Besides being a bit more modern, the EVH Wolfgang is also a lot more affordable, so consider it as an option if you’re on a tight budget.
Again, if you wanna go for the actual amp that Eddie used, the EVH brand offers a variety of models. If you’re on a budget, the EVH 5150 III LBXII 15W would be a nice option. But, if you want to think more long-term, and buy something that you can later gig with, the EVH 5150III 50-watt is definitely a smarter choice.
If you’re on a really tight budget, and you just don’t want to spend a lot of money on an amp right now, something like the Marshall Code 25 is going to do the job. It’s relatively cheap, sounds good, and it has built-in effects like Flanger and Phaser, both of which Eddie used.
It’s the same story with effects. Eddie has his own line of signature pedals, which most notably include the MXR EVH117 Flanger and MXR EVH90 Phase 90. If you want, you can also buy the stock versions of those pedals, as Eddie himself used them before the EVH models came out.
Strings and Picks
In the latter years, Eddie used his signature line strings that sold under the EVH brand – the EVH Premium Electric Guitar strings. He also used picks made by Jim Dunlop – the EVHP08s.