Eddie Van Halen's Guitars and Gear

📅 Published :
🧑🏼 Author : Dan Kopilovic

Summary of Eddie Van Halen’s gear

What guitar did Eddie Van Halen play?

Eddie Van Halen played the guitar known as Frankenstein (sometimes also referred to as Frankenstrat) – an instrument that he made and assembled himself using various parts around 1976. During the early years, this was Eddie’s main guitar, especially for live performances. Aside from that one, in those years he also used an Ibanez Destroyer, later named “Shark”, to record a good part of the first Van Halen album.

Eddie Van Halen's Frankenstein guitar after (left) and before it was painted red (right).
Eddie Van Halen’s Frankenstein guitar after (left) and before it was painted red (right). The photo on the right was taken at the New Haven Coliseum, shortly after the release of Van Halen (1978) album. Photo by: GeezerB/Flickr

Around 1979, he played the guitar nicknamed Bumblebee and used it 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.

EVH Wolfgang - a guitar that Eddie Van Halen played in his later years.
EVH Wolfgang – a guitar that Eddie Van Halen played in his later years. The image on the right dates to 2015, when Van Halen performed on Jimmy Kimmel Live.

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.

Did Eddie Van Halen use any Effects?

Eddie never used a distortion or an overdrive pedal, but he did use an Echoplex EP-3 which is a tape delay, an MXR Phaser, and a Flanger. Occasionally he would use a Wah pedal, but the three pedals listed above were the key to his sound.

Eddie Van Halen's Echoplex EP-3 tape delay guitar effect
Echoplex EP-3 tape delay, identical to the ones that Eddie used. He would usually have two of them on stage, as can be seen in the photo on the right.

In the later years, he made his own signature line in collaboration with MXR, which included a Phaser, a Flanger, and a Chorus.

What amps did Eddie Van Halen use?

Eddie Van Halen used a 1960s Marshall Super Lead 1959 as his main guitar amp. 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 amp made in collaboration with Fender.

What strings and gauges did Eddie Van Halen use?

Eddie used the Fender 150XL set (9, 11, 15, 24, 32, 40) strings in the early days. In the 80s he made a deal with Earnie Ball, who produced that exact same set for Eddie. In the later years when he moved over to Fender, he used their custom-designed EVH Premium guitar strings.

List of Guitars, Amps, Effects, and Accessories used by Eddie Van Halen

Eddie Van Halen's Electric Guitars

  • Teisco Del Ray WG-4L

    Eddie Van Halen’s 1960s Teisco Del Ray WG-4L

    This was Eddie’s first guitar. He initially bought a pair of drums when he came to the US, but when he was working around the neighborhood delivering paper to pay for the drum set, his brother Alex would sneak into his room and practice himself.

    Eddie holding his first electric guitar, a Teisco Del Ray.
    Eddie holding his first electric guitar, a Teisco Del Ray.

    Eddie saw that Alex was getting better and better, so he decided to switch to an electric guitar instead. He bought a Teisco Del Ray for around $100 from Sears with four pickups – a detail that according to Eddie, made a significant impression on him as a high-school boy. At that time, he didn’t have money to buy an amp, so he would play with his guitar on the table – which made it louder since it would resonate through the wood.

    We don’t know when exactly this was, but it was probably around 1966-67.

  • 1969 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop

    Eddie Van Halen’s 1969 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop

    Eddie’s father Jan purchased this guitar for Eddie on August 15, 1969. It was likely his second electric guitar chronologically looking.

    Original receipt from 1969.

    Based on the photos, the guitar was a Gibson Les Paul Goldtop with two P-90 single-coil pickups. Based on the serial number shown in the receipt above, it was made in 1969, but sometimes you’ll that Eddie referred to it as a ’68.

  • 1958 Fender Stratocaster

    Eddie Van Halen’s 1958 Fender Stratocaster

    Very little is known about this guitar, aside from what was said by Eddie in a few interviews where he mentioned it. According to him, he used this guitar briefly, before Van Halen formed, but the rest of the band didn’t like the sound of it, so he ended up selling it.

    So I bought a ’58 Strat years ago when we played high school dances, and Dave and Al just turned and started throwing sticks at me! They said, “Don’t use that guitar — it sounds to thin!” You know, single-coil pickups. They had a real buzzy, thin sound unless I used a fuzz box, and that’s even worse. So I sold that and then two years later I bought a router and dumped a Gibson PAF pickup into a ’61 Strat. It got very close. All of a sudden the band said, “That’s okay, It doesn’t sound like a Strat anymore.”

    Young Wizard of Power Rock” By: Jas Obrecht Guitar Player (April 1980)

    In a later interview regarding this Frankenstein guitar, Eddie noted that he used a tremolo from a ’58 Stratocaster on the earlier incarnation of the guitar. This would mean that even though he sold the ’58, he somehow kept the tremolo.

    Unfortunately, we don’t know whether he sold the guitar “as is” with the tremolo missing, or if he installed something else on it. It’s also possible that this was a case of Eddie misremembering details, and that he actually used a ’61 tremolo on Frankie, from his second Stratocaster.

  • Ibanez 2387 Flying V

    Eddie Van Halen’s Ibanez 2387 Flying V

    Eddie was photographed with this guitar around 1974-75. Allegedly this Ibanez was a direct replacement for the 1969 Les Paul that Eddie played prior, and had stolen from him. Also allegedly, the Ibanez was met with the same fate and had to be replaced with an Ibanez Destroyer.

    Interestingly, all of the photos of Eddie with the guitar originate from the same concert, so it could be that Eddie had this guitar for a very short period of time. Otherwise, one would think, we would have more photos of it (see comments for the actual reason behind this, and more history behind this guitar as told by Chris Gill),

    Eddie’s Ibanez 2387 was finished in a clear red lacquer, it had a 22-fret neck with a rosewood fretboard with dot inlays, and a Tune-o-Matic style fixed bridge and stop tailpiece.

  • 1970s Ibanez Destroyer 2459

    Eddie Van Halen’s 1975 Ibanez Destroyer 2459 “The Shark”

    Eddie acquired this guitar sometime around 1975 after his Ibanez Flying V was allegedly stolen. According to Doug Anderson, he bought the guitar at the store called The Sound Chamber, and it was one of the first Destoyers to reach the US from Japan.

    The guitar was bought on the same day that Chris Holmes (W.A.S.P. guitarists, Eddie’s friend) bought his Destroyer, which Eddie would then later borrow and use on Women and Children First (1980). The reason, why Eddie didn’t use his own Destroyer on that album, is that by that time he made some serious modifications to it, which according to him, ruined the tonality of the guitar (more on this later).

  • Gibson ES-335

    Eddie Van Halen’s Gibson ES-335

    This guitar Eddie played for a very brief period of time around 1976. According to him, he liked the guitar and experimented on it, but the rest of the band preferred that he played something else.

    I used to have an old Gibson ES-335 that was my main experimental guitar. That was the one I refretted and painted and totally screwed up! I mean, I did everything you can imagine to that guitar to ruin it.

    I was playing a 335 for a while before we got signed, and it sounded fine. But the other guys would go, “Come on you look like Roy Orbison,” Really, here’s this little skinny punk kid playing a Ted Nugent axe, you know. So I dumped that and started playing the Les Paul again.

    Young Wizard of Power Rock – Jas Obrecht

    Based on the only available photo of the guitar, this was an ES-335 model with block inlays, and a Vibrola tremolo. Apparently, Eddie sawed this tremolo piece in half, which allowed him to bend the bottom three strings separately. Also, it seems that the guitar met its end when he took a sander to it and made a big hole in the thin body of the ES-335.

    It had one of those Maestro Vibrola wiggle sticks with the bent metal tailpiece, like you find on an SG, I liked it, but it wouldn’t stay in tune. I sawed the bent metal spring in half, figuring I could make the E, A and D strings solid and just have the high three strings affected by the wiggle stick. I did all kinds of crazy shit to that 335. I took a belt sander to it when I wanted to repaint the guitar white, but I ended up sanding a big hole through the wood.

    Original Source Needed, possibly from Eruption: Conversations with Eddie Van Halen by Chris Gill

  • 1961 Fender Stratocaster

    Eddie Van Halen’s 1961 Fender Stratocaster

    Eddie used this guitar for a period of time in 1976 and 1977. Initially, the guitar was a sunburst model, featuring a rosewood neck, with what appears to be a small headstock. This detail would place the date of manufacture in the early 60s because by the mid-60s Fender started producing Stratocasters with larger headstocks.

    Interestingly, the logo on Eddie’s Strat was placed very oddly, closer to the middle of the headstock as opposed to the bottom, where it would usually be. This could point out that this was either a replacement neck or a neck that was refinished.

    Logo placement on the headstock of Eddie's Stratocaster.
    Logo placement on the headstock of Eddie’s Stratocaster.

    We also see that the neck has a fatter slab fretboard, which is typical of Strats made before August 1962, which is when Fender moved to thinner veneer fretboards.

  • Frankenstrat

    Eddie Van Halen’s Frankenstein/Frankenstrat

    Around early 1977, Eddie purchased a Stratocaster body from Boogie Bodies shop, owned by Wayne Charvel and Lynn Ellsworth. The popular theory is that he also purchased a neck that same day, went home, and pieced together the parts creating the infamous Frankenstrat guitar. However, it’s most likely that the nack was purchased later, as we’ll soon explain.

    Eddie playing the guitar in the
    Eddie playing the guitar in the “Dance The Night Away” music video.

    The body that Eddie picked for Frankenstein was a factory-second unfinished one, which was apparently the first one that he saw lying around the shop.

  • Gibson Les Paul Custom (White)

    In 1978 at what looks to be one show, Eddie Van Halen was seen using a Gibson Les Paul Custom in white (Most likely a Norlin era but unknown). The guitar had 3 of the 4 knobs equipped and toggle switch removed, and a DiMarzio Super Distortion or Mighty Mite copy in the bridge with a stock pickup with a cover in the neck.

    Eddie with the white Les Paul Custom.

    It is unknown what happened to it or where it came from but it was used in the tour at least once.

  • DragonSnake

    Eddie Van Halen’s Dragon Snake Guitar

    After becoming disappointed with the sound of his old Destroyer, mostly due to the removal of a good portion of the body behind the bridge, Eddie wanted to make a new one for himself. So, he went to Charvel and ordered parts that resembled an Ibanez Destroyer, and assembled the guitar himself.

    Not long after that, he got bored of the guitar and sent it out to a friend of his, Julian F. Sterry, who carved out the body to feature a dragon biting a snake. From that point on, the guitar became known as the “Dragon Snake”

    It lost the tonality I want. Now, kids can’t tell — they can buy a DiMarzio pickup and stick it in anything and go, “Yeah, it’s rock and roll!” But it was that distinct little tone that I look for that was cut out of the guitar. Then I went to Charvel and bought the parts for a Destroyer with a vibrato. I got tired of playing it, and so I had a friend of mine carve a dragon biting a snake out of the Destroyer’s body.

    “Young Wizard of Power Rock” By: Jas Obrecht Guitar Player (April 1980)

  • Bumblebee

    Eddie Van Halen’s Bumblebee “Van Halen II”

    Eddie made this guitar sometime before the release of the Van Halen II album in 1979. He was first seen with it during the photoshoots for the album cover.

    According to Eddie, he assembled the guitar by himself, using parts from Charvel. He custom ordered a body that could have the pickup mounted from behind, which would eliminate the need for a pickguard.

    I made the yellow-and-black Strat. It has an ash body by Charvel. It was my idea to have it rear-loaded so I wouldn’t have to have a pickguard, and Charvel routed it for me.

    “Young Wizard of Power Rock” By: Jas Obrecht, Guitar Player (April 1980)

    Eddie Van Halen with the Bumblee on the back of the Van Halen II album.
  • 1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard

    Eddie Van Halen’s 1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard

    Eddie bought this guitar sometime around 1980 from Norman Harrison, nowadays better known as Norm from Norm’s Rare Guitars. According to Eddie, he bought two Les Paul, but whenever he was photographed with his guitar collection in those days, there was ever only one – so we’ll focus on that one.

    I bought a ’59 Les Paul Standard, which is a beautiful guitar – I don’t even want to tell you how much I paid for it. For the person who wants it, the price doesn’t matter. Like other people will say, “Oh, what a fool. You got ripped off.” Well, I spent ten grand on both of ’em, but they’re beautiful guitars. I got them from a guy named Norman Harris. This stuff wasn’t even in his shop; it’s so nice, he was afraid to let any punk kid touch it. One has beautiful flame maple top. 

    “Eddie Talks Guitars: 1979” (from the “Van Halen Tapes 1978-82”) By: Jas Obrecht

    The guitar was first seen on the “pickaxe” photo of Eddie with his guitar, taken sometime before the release of the 1980 album, Women and Children First. At that point, it was completely stock.

  • Charvel/Sandoval Megazone

    Eddie Van Halen’s Charvel/Sandoval Megazone

    This guitar was seen in the famous “pickaxe” photo, of Eddie standing next to his guitar collection. The photo was taken during the Women and Children First album photoshoot in 1980. As far as one can tell from photos and videos available, he never used the guitar live.

    Very little is known about this guitar, apart from that it was made by Karl Sandoval sometime in the late 70s when he worked for Wayne Charvel. From the photos, it can be concluded that the guitar had a glued-on neck with a rosewood fretboard, a white humbucker in the bridge position, and a Strat-style tremolo bridge with brass saddles.

    Eddie Van Halen Shares the Guitars Behind His Quest for Tone

    In the video below, you can listen to Karl Sandoval himself talk about the guitar. In short, Karl revealed that the body was actually designed by Jerry Sewell, who also worked for Charvel at that time, which Karl modified somewhat. He also tells the guitar had a different neck on it when he sold it to Eddie, with a 3+3 headstock. According to him, Eddie asked whether the headstock could be changed to a Strat-style 6 inline.

  • Charvel Star

    Eddie Van Halen’s Charvel Star

    This guitar was first seen in the famous “pickaxe” photo taken by Neil Zolzower, showing a collection of Eddie’s guitars in 1980. The guitar was assembled by Eddie, using parts from Charvel, and a neck from a Danelectro.

    The initial version of this guitar was finished in a plain white color and had what looked like a DiMarzio X2N or a Schaller humbucker in it. It also had a standard Stratocaster non-locking tremolo. This was the state of the guitar in the mentioned “pickaxe” photo.

    Not long after that, the pickup was changed with a plain black humbucker of unknown origin, and the guitar was fitted with a Floyd Rose tremolo.

  • Unchained/Rasta Guitar

    Eddie Van Halen’s Unchained/Rasta Guitar

    This is perhaps one of the less known guitars of Eddie’s. It was seen around 1981/82, and it originally started out with a black and white finish, and it became known as the “Unchained” guitar – or “Bye Later See Ya” guitar since those exact words were written on the back of the body.

    Eddie with the Unchained/Rasta guitar before he repainted it. Note the white humbucker.
    Eddie with the Unchained/Rasta guitar before he repainted it. Note the white humbucker.

    For unknown reasons, Eddie decided to repaint the guitar drawing inspiration from Rasta culture. It seems that he also replaced the pickup with what appears to be a DiMarzio X2N humbucker.

  • Petschulat Little Guitar (#13)

    Eddie Van Halen’s Petschulat Little Guitar (#13)

    Eddie bought this guitar for $1,100 in 1981 from David Petschulat, the guitar’s maker. Based on David’s story, this happened in Nashville, before a Van Halen concert. Based on tour dates, the band played the Nashville Municipal Auditorium on August 30, 1981.

    According to David, he met Eddie while the band was waiting for a ride on a side of a street. Initially, David planned to go to the concert venue where the band was playing and present the guitar to Eddie, but he couldn’t get past security.

    I’m walking down the street and spot Eddie, Alex, and one of their crew sitting on some steps waiting for a ride. I walked up quickly, opening the case before I arrived to make sure I didn’t get shoo’d away before he saw it. He saw it, and the vibe of the day changed quickly.

    He loved it, and immediately took it out the case and tried it. He hustled us all to venue to run it through his rig, and there backstage, he bought that one, and contracted me to make him another one.

    Small Is The New BIG: How 3/4 Size Guitars Are Currently Reshaping The Sonic Landscape

  • Kramer Doubleneck (Yellow)

    Eddie Van Halen’s Kramer Doubleneck (Yellow)

    Eddie started using this guitar during 1982 Hide Your Sheep Tour to play the song Secrets, from the band’s fifth studio album, Diver Down. On the studio recording, however, he used a Gibson EDS-1275 double-neck.

    I used that live to play ‘Secrets’ off of Diver Down. On the record, I used a Gibson double-neck. I had that before the ‘Panama’ 5150 guitar, so it’s probably the first guitar I ever got from Kramer.

    Eddie Van Halen Shares the Guitars Behind His Quest for Tone

    In the later years, the guitar was seen sitting around Eddie’s studio, but it’s unknown whether he ever used it again.

    Eddie playing the double-neck Kramer.
    Eddie playing the double-neck Kramer.
  • Kramer 5150

    Eddie Van Halen’s Kramer 5150

    Eddie started using this guitar as his main after retiring the Frankenstrat, sometime in late 1983.

    It’s a workhorse. It served me for a very long time. When I retired my Frankenstein, that became my main guitar. I played it in a lot of videos – ‘Panama’ and ‘When It’s Love’ – and in the studio. I used that guitar up until I started using my Music Man EVH guitar. It still sounds great

    Eddie Van Halen Shares the Guitars Behind His Quest for Tone

    Eddie playing the guitar in the famous “Eruption Solo” video.
  • Petschulat Little Guitar (#16, Red)

    Eddie Van Halen’s Petschulat Little Guitar (#16, Red)

    This is the second”little guitar” that Eddie bought from the builder David Petschulat, likely sometime in 1984, as that was the first time he was seen using it. According to David, this second guitar had the serial number 16, and Eddie paid $900 for it.

    Embed from Getty Images

    This second guitar was custom ordered by Eddie, who requested the body to be fatter than the one on the first guitar, and he wanted full-sized humbuckers. The guitar was finished in dark wine red, and it styled a Van Halen logo on the headstock, instead of Petschulat’s own (Small Is The New BIG: How 3/4 Size Guitars Are Currently Reshaping The Sonic Landscape).

  • Steinberger GL-2T 5150

    Eddie Van Halen’s Steinberger GL-2T 5150

    Eddie started using this guitar around 1986. It was built by Jeff Babicz, who at the time worked with Ned Steinberger. The guitar was custom painted with the “Frankenstein” graphics, and it had two EMG pickups in it.

    A large part of why Eddie liked using this guitar was because of the TransTrem system. This is a special type of tremolo, that allows the player to change tunings in real-time. Simplified, you’re able to do this by locking the tremolo in different positions, going two full steps up, or three steps down from standard tuning.

    If you’re interested in a really in-depth history and analysis of this guitar, the Rob5150 EVH YouTube channel is a great place to go (see video below).

  • Music Man EVH 5150

    Eddie Van Halen’s Music Man EVH 5150

    Anticipating Kramer’s bankruptcy, after the company lost a lawsuit brought by Floyd Rose, Eddie ended his deal with Kramer and switched to Ernie Ball Music Man guitars. The company already produced EVH signature strings for a good couple of years, so the new deal with Ernie Ball made sense for Eddie.

    The new guitar was designed largely by Eddie, in order to incorporate everything he needed from a guitar at that time.

    I really want a guitar that I can play on tour, and on the records – thats exactly what I want. Not what other companies think that I want.

    It’s kind of a boring looking guitar, but at the same time, I didn’t want some like “V”, or “X” crazy looking thing. It’s really balanced, really comfortable to play, and basically what I wanted to do is build like twenty guitars just for myself.

    Eddie Van Halen talks about his new ERNIE BALL GUITAR

    The Music Man EVH featured a basswood body shaped very differently than anything Eddie played before. It held two DiMarzio humbuckers and a Floyd Rose tremolo system. The neck on it was maple, and it was electronically mapped in order to look and feel like the one he used on his Kramer 5150 guitar.

  • Music Man EVH Doubleneck

    Eddie Van Halen’s Music Man EVH Doubleneck

    Eddie used this guitar when performing “Spanked” live in 1991/92, or during the time he used Music Man guitars.

    The top portion of the guitar served as a 6-string bass, while the bottom was a regular 6-string guitar. The bass side had what appeared to be Danelectro-style “lipstick” pickups, while the bottom had the regular “Zebra” humbuckers from the 5150 model.

    This is one of a kind. It’s a hollow-body 6-string bass, and one of these (points towards the regular 5150 guitar) hooked onto it.

    Eddie Van Halen BARITONE Double Neck Guitar

  • Parker Fly Deluxe

    Eddie Van Halen’s Parker Fly Deluxe

    Eddie used this guitar to play Spanish Fly live in 1993, on at least one occasion (see photo below). If you happen to know the exact day of the concert, please post it in the comments.

    Eddie playing a Parker Fly Deluxe guitar, 1993.
    Eddie playing a Parker Fly Deluxe guitar, 1993. Source: YouTube

    Not much is known about this guitar, apart from what can be deducted from the footage. The guitar was finished in black, it had two full-sized humbuckers, and a non-locking tremolo.

  • Music Man Albert Lee

    Eddie Van Halen’s Music Man Albert Lee Signature

    According to Eddie, he used a Music Man Albert Lee guitar on the song Baluchitherium from Van Halen’s 1995 album Balance.

    You know what I used? It was a Music Man Albert Lee model guitar that I strung with heavier strings and tuned down to low A.

    1995 Guitar World Interview: Eddie Van Halen Regains His ‘Balance’

    Albert Lee models seem to come in both the SSS and HH configurations, and it’s, unfortunately, unknown which version specifically Eddie used.

  • Peavey EVH Wolfgang

    Eddie Van Halen’s Peavey EVH Wolfgang

    Around late 1995 Eddie signed a deal with Peavey and continued where he left off with Music Man. The new guitar that he built with Peavey was named after Eddie’s son Wolfgang and looked very similar to the Music Man model – but featured some improvements and changes in the design.

    The company continued using the same type of wood (basswood), with some models featuring maple tops. As opposed to the flat top on the MM, this guitar had an arched top and full body binding. It also had two custom Peavey/EVH-designed humbuckers, Floyd Rose tremolo, a three-way switch – which was now moved to the top of the body, and Schaller mini M6 tuners. The version with the Floyd Rose also had a small device called D-Tuna, which is used to quickly change the tuning of the low E string by a whole step. Eddie was the lead inventor of this device and held the rights to the patent.

    Eddie playing his purple Peavey Wolfgang in 1998.
    Eddie playing his purple Peavey Wolfgang in 1998.

Eddie Van Halen's Acoustic Guitars

  • Ovation Nylon-string Guitar

    Eddie Van Halen’s Ovation Nylon-string Guitar

    According to Eddie, he used a nylon-string Ovation to record the song Spanish Fly from the band’s second album, Van Halen II. The guitar was seen in the famous “pickaxe” photo sitting on the floor, but unfortunately, it’s hard to tell the exact model just from that one photo.

    I have an acoustic, too — the one I used on “Spanish Fly.” It’s an Ovation nylon-string, not the real expensive model. I’ve never owned a steel-string.

    “Young Wizard of Power Rock” By: Jas Obrecht Guitar Player (April 1980)

  • Unknown Acoustic Guitar (Josephina, 1998)

    Eddie Van Halen’s Unknown Acoustic Guitar (Josephina, 1998)

    Eddie used this acoustic guitar during a live performance of the song Josephina, from Van Halen’s 1998 album, Van Halen III.

    Unfortunately, at this time, the exact model of the guitar is unknown. At that time Eddie played Peave guitars, so it could be that this was an acoustic guitar that Peavey built for him. But the fact that the guitar doesn’t match any of the Peavey designs, and the fact that Eddie covered the headstock logo with a tape, suggests that this was likely something else.

    The headstock shape suggests that it could be a Taylor, but once again, it’s hard to match it exactly to any of the models that the company produced in the 90s.

  • Tacoma JR55 Jumbo

    Eddie Van Halen’s Tacoma JR55 Jumbo

    Eddie was seen playing this guitar on the bonus DVD that came with the deluxe edition of the band’s 2012 album, A Different Kind Of Truth.

    Eddie with the Tacoma acoustic guitar, at The Henson Recording Studios in Los Angeles, California.
    Eddie with the Tacoma acoustic guitar, at The Henson Recording Studios in Los Angeles, California.

Eddie Van Halen's Amps

  • 1963 Fender Bandmaster

    Eddie Van Halen’s 1963 Fender Bandmaster

    Eddie used this amp in his early days, sitting in his room, and coming up with ideas for songs. Later on, when the band began performing, he used the amp live and played through a Marshall cabinet.

    I used that amp for years in two ways. I already had the Marshall, but I had not stumbled onto the Variac thing yet, so I would use the Bandmaster through the Marshall cabinet when we gigged at smaller clubs like Gazzarri’s.

    I wrote all of the early Van Halen songs for the first three albums with that amp, playing quietly in my room. It was really quiet, so my mom couldn’t hear me, but it sounded amazing.

    Eddie Van Halen Shares the Guitars Behind His Quest for Tone

  • 1967/68 Marshall 1959 Super Lead

    Eddie Van Halen’s 1967/68 Marshall 1959 Super Lead

    Eddie used this same Marshall amp to record the first six Van Halen albums. He bought it secondhand from England, which sparked up some stories that the amp was unable to run on 110v. The truth is that in Europe, all amps come with a switch to vary the AC voltage that you wish to plug into. Eddie however didn’t know about this at the time.

    I’ve gone through every amp on the market. I mean, first tour I started out using my old 100-watt amp, which breaks down every other song, so I started using new Marshalls. I didn’t like the way they sounded, but I had to have something that would make it through the show. Then I lost them somewhere on an airplane, never got ’em back. And I started using Music Mans, Laneys. I used just about everything, and they all pretty much sounded the same, just because I play the same.

    In the studio I use my old Marshall, which gets a slightly different sound. Live I use new Marshalls, but I do little tricks to them too.

    “Eddie Talks Guitars: 1979” (from the “Van Halen Tapes 1978-82”) By: Jas Obrecht

    So when the amp was delivered to him and he plugged it in, it sounded very quiet because of the voltage difference. Eddie’s solution was to buy a Variac transformer which allowed him to run the amp on lower voltage. He played with the settings and found that the amp could still run well if he kept the dial at around 140v. This allowed him to essentially save the tubes, and play at clubs at half the volume. From that point on he would usually set all the knobs on the Marshall to 10, and control the volume using the Variac.

    The signal from the amp went into a dummy resistor box set to 20 ohms – compared to the speaker output which was set to 8 ohms. This was done so that the Marshall head which was running on full volume can be easier to deal with. Eddie supposedly used this configuration on the first album, then removed the dummy box on the second, and came back to it on the third (and the rest that followed).

  • Peavey 5150 Amp

    Eddie Van Halen’s Peavey 5150 Amp

    From 1993 to 2004 Eddie had a deal with Peavey, during which he endorsed the Peavey 5150. The amp is all-tube with 120w RMS output power. It uses five 12AX7 preamp and four 6L6 power amp tubes, and it has 2 channels – lead and rhythm.

    The amp is nowadays available under the name “6505“.

  • EVH 5150 III

    Eddie Van Halen’s EVH 5150 III Amp

    In the more recent years, Eddie has been using an amp that he made in collaboration with Fender. It is an all-tube amp using eight 12AX7 and six 6L6 tubes and featuring three channels (Clean, Crunch, and Lead). The original amp was 100w, but recently, a smaller and less powerful 50w head was introduced.

    One of our visitors who happens to own one of the early models (s/n 000027) was kind enough to send us some photos of the amp (thanks Brad – DrJenningsortho.com). This amp in particular was used during the 2007 tour.

    EVH 5150III Amp
    EVH 5150III Amp

Eddie Van Halen's Effects

  • MXR Phase 90

    Eddie Van Halen’s MXR M101 Phase 90

    This was one of the very few effect pedals that Eddie used continuously throughout his career. He first discovered it in the mid-70s, while playing together with one of his friends, Terry Kilgore, who happened to have a Phase 90 on his pedalboard (Eddie Van Halen on How He Created His Signature Sound Using MXR’s Phase 90 and Flanger Pedals).

    From that point on, Eddie acquired a Phase 90 of his own and used it on many of the Van Halen songs, including Eruption, Ain’t Talkin’ ’Bout Love, and Everybody Wants Some!!. For most of the time, he had the control knob set at around 9 o’clock.

    I was into Robin Trower too, but we didn’t play any of his songs, so I used it with the control set between 9 and 10 o’clock. I still use it the same way today. I just locked into that one setting, and I’ve used it ever since.

    Eddie Van Halen on How He Created His Signature Sound Using MXR’s Phase 90 and Flanger Pedals

    In the more recent years, Eddie developed and used his own signature phaser from MXR, named the MXR EVH Phase 90.

  • MXR MX-117 Flanger

    Eddie Van Halen’s MXR MX-117 Flanger

    This is one of the very few effect pedals that Eddie used continually since the early days. In those early days, he had the make-shift pedalboard that he made himself from plywood, with the Flanger, an MXR Phase 90, and an Echoplex taped to it.

    It’s a piece of plywood with two controls for my Echoplex on it,, an MXR Phase 90 that I’ve had for years, and an MXR flanger. They’re all taped to a piece of board with black duct tape.

    “Young Wizard of Power Rock” By: Jas Obrecht Guitar Player (April 1980)

    Eddie used the pedal on many recordings, for example on Unchained and And the Cradle Will Rock:

    I liked the Phase 90, so when MXR came out with the Flanger, I said, What the hell? I loved their stuff. […] I always use the same setting for everything, from the intro to “And the Cradle Will Rock…” to “Unchained,” with the exception of the setting I used on the intro to “Outta Love Again” and “Bullethead.”

    I set the three knobs on the left between 11 o’clock or 11:30, and the last knob on the right is all the way up.

    Guitar World, 2014

  • Univox EchoChamber EC-80A

    Eddie Van Halen’s Univox EchoChamber EC-80A Tape Echo

    Eddie was seen using this tape echo in the early days, together with an Echoplex EP-3 – which is a tape delay. Sometimes he would he two Univox, sometimes one, and they were usually mounted in a World War II–era practice bomb that was repurposed as a rack.

  • Echoplex EP-3

    Eddie Van Halen’s Echoplex EP-3

    Eddie used the Echoplex EP-3 tape delay during the early years. He would usually have two of them when playing live and had separate pedals on his makeshift pedalboard that controlled the Echoplexes.

    Eddie’s dual Echoplex setup.

    It’s a piece of plywood with two controls for my Echoplex on it,, an MXR Phase 90 that I’ve had for years, and an MXR flanger.

    “Young Wizard of Power Rock” By: Jas Obrecht Guitar Player (April 1980)


Eddie Van Halen's Strings

  • Fender 150XL Strings

    Eddie Van Halen’s Fender 150XL Strings

    Eddie used these strings in the early days, from the late 70s, and probably until he switched to Earnie Ball in the mid-80s. According to Eddie, he would actually boil these strings so would stretch more easily.

    Yeah, Fender 150XLs. I stretch them to death. With that new Rose thing, I boil the strings so they stretch, because if you just put them on and clamp it down, the strings stretch out on the guitar. I just take a pack and let it boil for 20 minutes in the hot water. And then I dry them in the sun, because otherwise they rust. But I only use them one night anyway, so who cares if they rust?

    “Young Wizard of Power Rock” By: Jas Obrecht Guitar Player (April 1980)

    The 70s Fender 150XL string set had the following gauges: 9-11-15-24w-32-40. The exact same was available until very recently, but Fender decided to continue it. The closest you can get to it, without making a custom set, is the new official EVH Signature set by Fender, which measures 9-11-16-24-32-42.


Eddie Van Halen's Accessories

  • Dunlop EVHP08 Guitar Picks

    Eddie Van Halen’s Dunlop EVHP08 Guitar Picks

    This is the pick that Eddie used towards the very end of his career. Based on photos, it is the exact same type of a pick that is today manufactured by Dunlop under the EVH license.

    The picks that he used are completely red on one side, with Eddie’s signature in white, and they have the Frankenstein pattern on the other. They are also nylon picks with a thickness of .66mm, and they have a grippy pattern on both sides.

    Eddie’s guitar picks circa 2017.

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