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.
As far as pickups, the neck one looks like the original humbucker that was fitted on the model, but the bridge pickup had a metal cover on it – which according to the Ibanez spec sheet, shouldn’t be the case. This could mean that Eddie likely moded the guitar with a custom humbucker.
Also, Eddie’s guitar shows no visible branding on the truss rod cover, which is where you’ll find the Ibanez logo on 2387 models. Maybe Eddie removed this himself, and maybe he wasted the guitar to look and play more like a Gibson, which would also explain the pickup change.
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Chris Gill, the co-writer of the EVH book ‘Eruption’ confirmed directly from Eddie that this Flying V was stolen almost immediately after this gig. Chris is a friend and I have our e-mail correspondence about this very guitar to prove it.
Alright, that explains it then. Thanks for sharing!
Chris said that this happened to Ed A LOT in those days-indeed his first nice guitar, the goldtop Les Paul, was also stolen. Chris said Eddie REALLY liked the sound of that Flying V. He theorizes that this is what led him to get the Ibanez Destroyer…it was an effort to try to get a guitar that sounded as good as that Flying V. The Destroyer may have sounded BETTER than the V in the end!
I believe it’s impossible to know what brand this guitar actually was. Ibanez, Aria, Greco, and Electra all had nearly identical red, bolt on neck flying V guitars made in the same factory. I believe it is least likely an Ibanez because most of them had a medallion routed into one of the points. Without the truss rod cover reading anything, it’s practically impossible to decide which brand it is. Chris Gill was told by Eddie that his Ibanez flying V was stolen, but this was before the photos of Eddie playing a legit “korina” Ibanez Rocket Roll surfaced. This was more likely the guitar that inspired him to get the Destroyer, rather than the red, bolt on flying V.
Hi Tanner – Ed personally told me about this guitar in July 2013 when I spent two days with him doing the Guitar Aficionado cover story on his guitar collection. Ed told me that this red V was an Ibanez and that he owned it only a few months before it was stolen. “English” Cathy Harris also recalled that this guitar was an Ibanez in Paul Branigan’s Unchained/Eruption book. Cathy would not have known this info from my interview with Ed as it wasn’t published at the time, so there are two direct sources that independently identified it as an Ibanez V.
The V shown in the early 1975 Van Halen photos also has a few details that are consistent with the Ibanez model only, most significantly the white humbucker. The Electra model’s Maxon humbuckers have pairs of “staple” bar polepieces on one of the coils, which look like a big square. Greco guitars weren’t distributed in the US and Aria’s V guitars were made by Matsumoku (the Ibanez, Greco and Electra Vs were made by Fujigen Gakki). The medallion Ibanez V was actually less common, and the Ibanez V was available in both bolt-on and set neck versions.
Many Ibanez copies did not have an Ibanez logo on the headstock during the early 70s up until 1974. Various scans of Ibanez catalogs from 72, 73, 74 are available online that show guitars without logos, and examples appear on the used market often.
It’s also possible the Ed flipped the truss rod cover to hide that he was playing a copy and not a real Gibson. Cathy Harris told Branigan that Ed was upset when she immediately noticed that his V was a copy, so perhaps he tried to hide the Ibanez logo (or the logo simply wasn’t there at all).
The so-called “korina” (actually ash) Ibanez Rocket Roll you reference is only seen with Ed in a photo from the March 1977 gig at AMAT’s gym (about two years later – he was also photographed playing the Destroyer and the unfinished Franky body at that show) so the “korina” Rocket Roll was definitely not the inspiration for Ed getting the Destroyer. Further, Ed and Chris Holmes bought their Destroyers very, very early on when the Ibanez “korina” models were first introduced in 1975. The dealer where they bought them (The Sound Chamber) was allegedly the first in the US to receive these models.
Ed told me that he bought the Destroyer shortly after the red V was stolen. His story was consistent with the chronology of available photos of early Van Halen shows. Ed also borrowed a lot of guitars and amps for Van Halen shows, and I believe that the “korina” V was borrowed for that one gig in 1977. Similarly Ed is seen in the Nov 1975 Lanternman Auditorium shows playing a black Les Paul Custom copy (also with no logo on the headstock, also likely an Ibanez copy) that he probably borrowed for that show only as it’s not seen anywhere else.
Regarding the Gibson Firebird in the main text – I don’t think this is correct (should be Ibanez Destroyer). Ed did have a mid 60s Gibson Firebird I in his collection that he showed me and talked about, but he bought that later from Dan Martin. Ed bought it due to the Clapton/Cream connection.
I hope this clarifies some of the confusion /questions.
Guitar World magazine
Thanks for the response Chris! I was hoping to hear the full story about this guitar. My mistake
Yeah, the Firebird was supposed to be Destroyer, editing that right now. I’ll also add a link to your comment from the main text since you shared a lot here. Thanks again, Chris!
A Bay Area concert 5150 tour it looked like he was playing a Steinberger while playing Summer Nights. or maybe my memory is getting dull. If anyone knows, would like to know more.