Here’s the last of the interesting stuff from the newly published transcript of the entire 1978 interview of Edward Van Halen that Jas Obrecht did for Guitar Player mag. Wish there was a lot more!
Jas: Does it have a standard neck?
EVH: Yeah. It’s completely stock, really, except for the paint job and the electronics and stuff. It’s just an Explorer or Destroyer – whatever they call ’em.
What we learned:
> First, it was a Destroyer, not some other guitar as a few folks persist in thinking.
> Second, it was completely stock…except for “the electronics and stuff.” Lol! Seems like very little of what Ed used was completely stock.
What about your other two guitars?
Okay, the other one is just an Ibanez [Destroyer] which I slightly rearranged with a saw. It’s the one I use on “You Really Got Me.” I just cut a piece out of it, painted it up. It’s kind of like a cross between a [Flying] V and an Explorer.
My other one I just put together over the couple days we had off. Yesterday I went down to Charvel’s, they gave me a body, and I just slapped a Danelectro neck on it, put an old Gibson pickup in it [another rewound PAF].
[He said this in response to a follow-up Q about what became the dragon geetar:]
[Charvel is] making Explorer bodies now too, and I just put that thing together in one afternoon, just like I did with the Strat that I play.
Why He Didn’t Use Les Pauls Much
I like Pauls too. The main reason I don’t like them is because everybody and their brother plays one.
How about the sound as opposed to your Charvel?
It might be taste fatter, but sometimes that fatness makes it garble up with everything else. Makes it so fat that it doesn’t really stand out.
Never Owned an Acoustic
Are you heading into any new areas with your guitar?
Ah, sure. We got some acoustic tunes, which sound real nice.
You use an acoustic guitar?
I’ve never really owned one. I play it on electric, but I know it will sound much better on an acoustic because it’s acoustic type of riffs. And I play keyboards. So does my brother. So don’t be surprised if you hear some piano or synthesizer or something on the next record or maybe the third one.
I don’t think we’re gonna make any drastic changes for the next one. I think a lot of people make that mistake: They make too drastic of a change, and people go, “Ohh, I don’t like ’em anymore.”
He Could Read!
[Though Ed has said he couldn’t read a note, I and maybe you found that super tough to believe being raised in such a musical household, taking music courses in community college, etc. So was interested to see that when Jas asked him if he read music, Ed said:]
Oh, yeah! Definitely. I slightly know how to read for the guitar, because I know notes. But like if I see an A or an E, I don’t know which one it is in relation to the piano. But piano, yeah, I played for a long time. Got all my musical theory and stuff like that from playing piano.
We used to have this old Russian teacher that was a super concert pianist, and that’s what our parents wanted us to be, was concert pianists.
In Case You Had Any Doubt…
How long did it take to cut the first album?
Three weeks. The album is very live with no overdubs – that’s the magic of Ted Templeman. I’d say out of the 10 songs on the record, I overdubbed the solo in two – “Runnin’ With the Devil” and “Ice Cream Man.” And “Jamie’s Cryin’” – three songs. All the rest are live!
I used the same equipment I use live, the one guitar, soloed during the rhythm track, and Al just played one set of drums [laughs].
Any Tunes Left?!
[Asked if he had any tunes planned for the second album, Ed said:]
Oh, for the first record we went into the studio one day with Ted, and we all just played live and laid down like 40 songs. And out of those 40, we picked nine and wrote one in the studio for the record. So we got plenty of songs.
As a matter of fact, I’m gonna get together with Ted on Wednesday and figure out which songs off that tape that we’re gonna do for the next one. But we’ve been writing, and we’ve got so many more songs since that tape, and we’ve got like 30 songs left just on that tape.
I think we’re gonna use just that tape for the next album, because Ted seems pretty sure that he’s got some hit action or whatever just out of those songs. A little polish here and there, but the basic ideas are there.
I had to do this even though it proves zip:
> Van Halen II had 10 songs. Scratch “Spanish Fly,” and that’s 9.
> WACF had 9 tunes. Scratch “Tora! Tora!” and that’s 8, so we’re up to 17 out of those 30 leftover tunes.
> Fair Warning had 9. I’m going to take out the last two tunes and “Push Comes to Shove” as no way being written before VH I, but probably more weren’t either. So at most we’re up to 23 tunes.
> Diver Down maybe had 1 or 2 tunes from the early days on it, at most. That’s 25.
> 1984 had 9 tunes, and I think only “House of Pain” was from the early days but someone will know for sure.
So if my count is close to right, that makes 26 tunes at most out of 40 written before VH I that are still out there….
– End of part 3 of 3 –