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Eddie Van Halen and the Frankenstrat Stratocaster

Wesman Todd Shaw started playing the guitar when he was 12 years old. He loves nothing more than to pick one up and pluck some strings.

Eddie Van Halen with "Frankenstein," or Frankenstrat

Eddie Van Halen with "Frankenstein," or Frankenstrat

Edward Lodewijk Van Halen: No Introduction Necessary

Edward Lodewijk Van Halen needs no introduction—he's almost instantly recognizable by face or name for anyone who has grown up in the USA or Canada. He especially needs no biography for anyone who has ever been a fan of rock music, and everyone who's ever messed with a guitar at all knows just who he is. Eddie is instantly recognizable by face, name, and sound—you know you're hearing Eddie Van Halen play when you hear him; he's one of the most distinctive sounds of any guitarist. When you see one of his guitars or a guitar with a similar sort of patter on the body, you know exactly what that is, it's either one of Eddie's guitars, or one created to be a replica for sale to persons who either want that look, that sound, or just admire the hell out of Eddie Van Halen.

Known far and wide as one of the world's most important guitarists, Eddie Van Halen appeared out of nowhere with a brand new sound in guitar rock with the first Van Halen album, a pyrotechnical display of electric guitar styles no one had ever heard anything like before. Special thanks for all of it go to David Lee Roth, who'd become the singer, and who'd suggest the name of the band should be Van Halen, and a really big special thanks to Gene Simmons of KISS, who heard the band and produced their first demo. Although Simmons' efforts would not be fruitful, they were well on their way

Michael Anthony, David Lee Roth, and Eddie Van Halen with "Frankenstein," the Frankenstrat in 1982

Michael Anthony, David Lee Roth, and Eddie Van Halen with "Frankenstein," the Frankenstrat in 1982

Eddie with "Frankenstein," the Frankenstrat

Eddie with "Frankenstein," the Frankenstrat

Eddie Van Halen Voted Greatest Guitarist of All Time

Eddie Van Halen has always referenced Eric Clapton as one of his major influences insofar as guitar playing. He says he memorized virtually every Clapton guitar solo from the Cream era note for note. He also sites Jimmy Page as being a guitarist who his playing is more similar to, but not in musical style, in approach, as Eddie has always loved Page's "reckless abandon."

In 2012 Guitar World magazine conducted a poll to determine who readers thought of as the greatest guitarist of all time. Eddie Van Halen was voted greatest guitarist of all time by the readers of the magazine, beating out Brian May, Alex Lifeson, Randy Rhoads, Jeff Beck, George Harrison, Les Paul, Jimmy Page, and Jimi Hendrix. Obviously, the distinctive style of guitar playing Eddie Van Halen brings to us has left some definite impressions in the minds of guitar lovers and music lovers. What is this style of his, what's so distinctive about it?

The two-handed fretboard tapping technique used by Eddie Van Halen wasn't something he created himself, but Eddie Van Halen took the technique and ran with it, used it all the time, and made everyone desperate to learn it. The technique had been used by a lot of guitarists in a lot of different musical genres, and dating all the way back, in the very least, to the 1950s; but no one used it so much as Eddie did and does. It's reported that Eddie has told more than one differing story as to where he got the idea from, but in one more prominent interview he especially thanks or credits Jimmy Page for it.

I think I got the idea of tapping watching Jimmy Page do his "Heartbreaker" solo back in 1971. He was doing a pull-off to an open string, and I thought wait a minute, open string ... pull off. I can do that, but what if I use my finger as the nut and move it around? I just kind of took it and ran with it.

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The two-hand tapping was hardly the only thing which makes Eddie's guitar playing so unique, there's lots more to it than that. You've got to be able to play lightning-fast, know how to dive-bomb the hell out of a tremolo or whammy bar, and then you've got to be able to envision making noises with a guitar that would possibly even impress Jeff Beck, while having the very unique sense of melody that only Eddie has. For more on how to sound like Eddie Van Halen, here's a great web article from Guitar Player online you can read.

Eruption Guitar Solo--Eddie Van Halen

Frankenstein the Fender Frankenstrat Stratocaster

Frankenstein the Fender Frankenstrat Stratocaster

The Frankenstrat

One of the most famous guitars in all of the history of guitar, the Frankenstrat, has its own Wikipedia page, as it should. Eddie pretty much wore out his Frankenstrat a long long time ago, but no matter, he's had Fender, and also Kramer make versions of the instrument for him, and the Kramer guitar is about as famous as the Fender it was based upon. In fact, when I was a young man and getting into Van Halen's music, Eddie was forever playing the Kramer "hokey stick" neck-designed version with the same paint job and color scheme as the earlier used Frankenstrat.

How famous is this exact Fender Stratocaster belonging to Edward Van Halen? Well, it is a guitar so famous a replica is on display at the Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution. That's pretty damned impressive. They don't have Eddie's guitar, they have a replica of it there just so they can show it to you, that's famous, my friends.

Like most famous musicians, Eddie Van Halen was once a starving artist, and he wanted a guitar that was not available on the market, and he had very little money to spend. What Eddie had besides mega guitar skills was a vision of what he wanted and the knowhow to do it himself. Quite simply, he wanted a guitar that felt like and played like a Fender Stratocaster but had the tone of a Gibson with a whammy bar. He set out to build one himself by purchasing parts and rigging things together on his own, and what he came up with is the infamous "Frankenstein," as he calls it, but of course it is now more widely known as the Frankenstrat.

This guitar is not a guitar that Eddie built and then was just satisfied with. Oh no...this is a guitar that Eddie tinkered with many times before he finally arrived on a configuration which he'd decided appealed to him the very most. The final configuration of parts and accessories on the instrument are what are now reproduced and sold by Fender. This is really a pretty affordable guitar, all things considered; I'm pricing them new on the web for $999.

EVH Striped Guitar features:

  • Basswood Stratocaster-style bodiy
  • 3 color patterns inspired by Van Halen's own design from his career (while supplies last)
  • Quartersawn maple neck
  • Floyd Rose locking nut
  • EVH-branded locking tremolo
  • Hand-rubbed oil finish
  • Thumbwheel truss rod adjustment
  • Compound radius maple fingerboard (12'-16")
  • 22 Jumbo frets
  • Black dot inlays
  • Direct-mount Wolfgang humbucking pickup
  • Single volume control knob
  • Bar string retainer
  • EVH die-cast tuners
  • Chrome hardware
  • Vintage-style strap buttons

The Story: Eddie Van Halen's Frankenstrat Replica

© 2014 Wesman Todd Shaw

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