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)

Dragon Snake Originally

Originally, the guitar was finished in black and had what looked like a Danelectro neck fitted on it. It also had a single white-colored humbucker in the bridge position, and what looked like a gold-plated non-locking tremolo (see photo).

After the Mods

After Eddie had the body carved out, he fitted the original Boogie Bodies Frankenstein neck on it. This however didn’t last for long, and soon after, he replaced the neck with another Stratocaster style maple neck with the headstock painted black.

Dragon Snake with the original Boogie Bodies neck, circa 1979. Source: EVH GEAR FANS LIVE – Facebook

The consensus among the fans that research Eddie’s gear is that this neck originated from the Bumblebee guitar, then spent some time on the Frankenstein, and then ended up on the Dragon Snake.

This hypothesis is highly probable because this is the only neck from that period that still doesn’t have a locking nut fitted on it. When Eddie installed a Floyd Rose/locking nut on the Bumblebee, he installed a new neck on it and moved the black-headstock neck to the Frankie. Then once he installed a Floyd Rose on the Frankie, he once again installed a locking nut on a new neck, and the black-headstock neck ended up on the Dragon Snake.

The only slight problem is figuring out whether the Frankie and the Dragon Snake ever overlapped – whether the two guitars were ever used on the same date, at the time that they both had necks with black headstocks. This would obviously prove that there were two different black-headstock necks, but until such evidence surfaces, it’s highly probable that this was one same neck.


Eddie used this guitar on tour occasionally in 1979 and 1980. It was seen on March 23, 1979, at the Selland Arena in Fresno, California, and in a televised lip-sync performance of “Fools” for the Italian TV show “Superstar” (Rai2 TV) which aired on September 4, 1980. but was filmed earlier that year, in May.

Van Halen “Fools” @ Piper Club Rome Italy 1980

The Guitar Since the 80s

The story of what happened to this guitar since Eddie used it during those early years is for the most part unknown.

There are photos of it out there showing the neck split apart from the body, so it seems that Eddie broke it at some point. Interestingly, this neck has two holes on the backside, which would indicate that it had a locking nut installed on it. The problem with that is that Dragon Snake was never really seen with such a neck.


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1 year ago

I continually read you calling it “Frankenstein”, yet I can CLEARLY remember reading MANY and seeing MANY interviews with Ed calling it his “Frankenstrat”!, Try calling it what HE called it, since Frankenstein was a monster and the Frankenstrat was a monster Strat that made some of the most memorable songs in history!

It’s also NO secret to ANYONE who plays a guitar and has a pair of functioning ears, or to anyone that knew him that Ed WAS a complete psychotic egomaniac who loved to pull guns to overcompensate for his teeny stature whenever he would get pissed off, which was often and also that he WAS just a one trick pony with small mans disease!

Randy Rhoads was doing his solo from 1970-71 and on, long before Ed was doing any VanHalen shows with Randy doing only slight variation in some parts here and there and in it he ALWAYS had the section that sounded just like Eruption in reverse that Ed later ripped off after seeing Quiet Riot at least TWO years before VanHalen was officially created, Ed played Randy’s solo backwards and called it “Eruption” which would be the ONLY solo he would ever play night after night, year after year and tried claiming that HE taught Randy everything he knew, which we ALL know is complete and total bullshit!

Ed was a very sick little boy who needed quite a bit of professional help, yet never got any, due to everyone always being afraid of the little angry boy and sucking up to him, until they could get as far away from him as they could!

NOBODY liked playing with him, nobody liked hanging out with him, even his wives threw his drunken ass out!

#1-The guy is dead, he won’t be coming out with anything new, so why bother?

#2-Who cares what he played on or did to his piece of shit guitars? He completely devalued them by chopping em all up the way he did, yet some idiots would pay millions, just because he touched it, that is just so idiotic, retarded and dumb!

#3-VH’s BEST albums were I and II, everything after that was just noise! Fair Warning has a few OK tracks, but IS boring and some tracks sound like mud!, Women and Children is boring and very poorly mixed, Diver Down is a boring album, 1984 is just a commercial stab with lame kiddie pop songs, the VanHagar shit albums ARE , well, SHIT! e has the worst voice, I just can’t even listen to one track all the way thru without telling myself “His voice is TERRIBLE and this song SUCKS and sounds so GAY!”
The lone Gary Homo album is pure garbage! terrible production, terrible writing, terrible phoned in playing!

Than bringing dildo Dace back in was just a waste of time, that pothead POS cant even remember his own lyrics and IS a pathetic joke on a stage and really needs to go home and stay there! He has no voice left, no Ed to lean on and nothing left in the tank and just looks like a fucking clown on stages!

Van Halen was done by 1979!
Ed quit trying to come up with good solo’s in songs, which is why he started playing too much synth and keys!
All the years of alcohol abuse ruined him!
He’s gone, get over it!
Sorry to burst your kiddie bubble!
Now you can just go get a real job and earn real money!

1 year ago

Eddie never called it the “Frankenstrat”. It is a completely fan made-up name. He called it Frankenstein.. that’s why any version released by EVH gear is called… wait for it… Frankenstein. They are made by fender so they could even call it Frankenstrat if they wanted to.

You take a lot of time writing this crap out for someone who doesn’t care.. clown

9 months ago

What a loud mouth douche bag you are. I don’t even really like Eddie, but I’ve never read so much crap in my life. The internet was invented for people like you, to be able to talk crap. Because if I heard someone like you talking garbage like this in public I’d have the irresistible urge to throttle you, and probably would. GFYS you chose.