EVH Fans, Get This Book Now!

November 30, 2011 | By | 5 Replies More

If I ever had a doubt I’m a huge Edward Van Halen fan (never had any doubt, but…), any such insane thought was erased when I finished reading Neil Zlozower’s new Eddie Van Halen book.

Yep, reading. Actually got a little emotional at the end of it (*sniff*), reading Nuno Bettencourt’s story about a recent random meet-up with Ed.

I wanted the book for the photos. Wanted to see what little piece(s) of gear intel I could wring from the close-up mostly-color pics of the man on stage, in the dressing room, wherever. Did pick up a few things, nothing earth-shattering, but enjoyed the read just as much if not more. Literally could not put it down.

I’ll give you a few tidbits – since you’re buying the dang book anyway, you can read ’em all yourself!


1. In the early days, Ed was all about the DiMarzio Super Distortion and the Might Mite knockoff of same (most prominently featured on the Shark). Now, the book has mostly live photos so we’re talking live gear. But the Bee, the Shark, the white Les Paul Custom – basically every other guitar EXCEPT Frankie had these pickups. Not sure that’s new, but now you can take it to the bank.

1a) For some reason Frankie seemed to have mostly PAF-looking pickups (rewound, no doubt). Did it have more natural sustain, or…?

2. IMO there’s no doubt Ed had the neck pickup wired up in Frankie. Maybe not forever, but or a loooooong time. You can clearly see the wiring, and one of the million-dollar questions is why is it wired to the switch that’s in the middle pickup cavity? Why a switch? What did Ed hear that he liked? Just WTF was going on there?!

2a) It looks like the red neck pickup in Frankie was also the neck pickup in the three-single-coil, Ed-built guitar in the Van halen II session pix. If true, he must have liked that pickup….


1. In all the reading, investigating, etc. I’ve done about Ed’s tone, I’d never run across (okay, I may not remember it…) this quote from Jose Arredondo (RIP), the guy who famously worked on Ed’s amps. In part it says: “We’d been working very hard to get the sound he wanted. Don’t think this was a couple months…one year to another…we modified it, a little bit of this and that [stock plexi my a**!]. Edward said, ‘I want a clear sound where I can feel the fingerprint on the string. But at the same time I need a ballsy sound that everyone can feel in the stomach and the chest.” Bear in mind Ed was a teenager at the time! Dang!

2. We all know Ed screwed around with his guitars to no end, probably still does. here’s an interesting quote from Michael Anthony: “He would hack up some very expensive guitars, changing the wiring and pickups around to create what would ultimately define his sound….”

The mystery never ends, does it? Get the book. You won’t be disappointed.

Btw, the book lists for $29.95, but I just checked and right now it’s only $18.25 at amazon.com (see widget).


> Thanks and props to Zloz and Chronicle Books for such a great book!

> Also check out the book Instrument (below), where photog Pat Graham takes close-up shots of the guitars of guitarists I’ve mostly not heard of, but it’s still very cool to see these guitars shot this way and read the stories behind these guys’ beloved axes. It’s now $20 on amazon.com (see below). More on the book is here.


Category: Books, Edward Van Halen

Comments (5)

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  1. Brennan says:

    Regarding PAF pickups only in the Striped Frankenstein guitar … could this guitar (having an ash body) been extremely bright and lively? Maybe the PAF warmed up the sound?

  2. Ian says:

    I believe the amps were modded, but he had his amp restored to “original” at some point. Heck, his Frankie was all messed up, intonation-wise, when it was worked on by Tom Anderson and he noticed the bridge was in the “wrong place” as he said. Yet, he managed to play all those awesome songs with it, for all those years. Honestly it doesn’t matter what amps, pickups or guitar he uses… he’s a bad mofo!

    On the subject of pickups, I honestly believe the pickup on VH1 was something “hot” and probably ceramic, but VH2 (my favorite Roth tone for both drums and guitar by far) was the Seymour Duncan “78” rewind. Pretty easy to tell. But I also think he modded his guitars in accordance to the amps he was using. His Plexi sounded way hotter during Hagar (“Sucker in a 3 Piece) sounded almost like a modern hi-gain amp and he was allegedly using a JB in those Kramers: “It was the Van Halen time and I was doing a lot of oddball things for Eddie [Van Halen]. He wouldn’t tell anybody what he had in his guitars, and he was telling people that he was winding his own pickups. But he wasn’t. If I remember correctly, Van Halen opted for the JB model pickup” –Seymour Duncan. To confuse things more, if you ask Maricela Juarez, the head winder and manager of the SD Custom Shop, she claims the “IM1” (I’m The One… get it? Haha) is actually THE pickup that was wound for Eddie’s Kramer. Which is it? I trust MJ’s claim better than Seymour’s memory, but many of the Sammy-era tones DO have that JB-upper mid spike and loose bass. Maybe he wanted a pickup with a JB-like tone but wound with 43 gauge like the Frankie pup…. who knows? The Music Man had a 17k wind, but both his Wolfgang models had a 14k/43 gauge winds… some say ceramic and other say alnico 5.

    Confused? Sure. I personally don’t care for the Balance tones (5150/Music Man) but like the VHIII tones (5150II/Peavey Wolf) quite a lot. What will the new record sound like? Hopefully closer the old tones but maybe a little more OOMPH in the low-end. At least we know his tones won’t be drowned out with a harmonizer!!! :)

  3. SHG says:

    I think most people acknowledge now that Jose Arredondo never actually did anything significant with Ed’s main Marshall and anything Ed said was just hype to drive business to Jose’s amp company.

    Someone as respected as John Suhr has said (paraphrased) “I have inspected the internals of Ed’s #1 Marshall personally, and measured and recorded component values, and not only is the amp unmodified but the condition of the solder joints shows it has never BEEN modified, with the exception of a trivial mod to add a capacitor to the cathode follower circuit that anyone could do and which makes very little difference”.

    • admin says:

      Yep, John Suhr’s comments have been printed here…but who knows for sure if that really was the #1 or not or whether that was the recorded amp or not or whether Ed and Jose experimented on another Marshall(s). Evidence seems to point to not being all hype re: Jose imo.

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