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
Eddie with the ES-335.

Frankenstrat Humbucker

According to Eddie, the black humbucker that he installed in his Frankenstrat guitar originated from this Gibson ES-335.

That was just the first of many guitars that I fucked with. I took a PAF out of an ES-335 and the vibrato out of a Fifties Strat when I made my Frankenstein guitar, but it was worth it because it got me closer to the sound I was looking for.

Eddie Van Halen Shares the Guitars Behind His Quest for Tone


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