The incredible story of Eddie Van Halen!
"To Hell with the rules."
- No rules with music theory : he can't read music.
- No rules with playing guitar : he is self taught.
- No rules with his guitar : it's DIY hand made.
Here are 8 rockin' facts about the legendary Jumping Guitar Hero explained with drawings !
Rule 1 : Van Halen can't read music.
Rule 2 : Van Halen never took guitar lessons.
That's true, he actually never took guitar lessons. Passionate, he did transfer all his music knowledge he got with piano to the guitar.
Used to play music all by ear and fooling his piano teacher, he worked the same way on the guitar.
Important Notice : he also knos how to play piano, drums, and his father was a professional music player...
Rule 3 : To hell with the Rules !
Eddie do not care about the Rules, only the result count. As a life Motto, he applied it to learnong piano, learning guitar, building his guitar, the tapping technique...
4.Tapping : An Eddie van halen eruption of notes
"Eruption" introduced the two-handed tapping in the Rock History, One hand tapping wasn't common but the two hands tapping make the technic popular and a widespread used in the 80's rock music !
Eddie Van Halen admit he didn't invent the tapping : He got an idea when watching Jimmy Page do his “Heartbreaker” solo back in 1971.
It was a pull-off to an open string = one hand tapping. But if you use your second hand finger as the nut and move it around ?
That's how two hands tapping was born !
The story : "Eruption" was at first a guitar solo Eddie performed live in clubs.
During a recording session, while eddie was rehearsing the solo for his next gig at Whisky a Go Go in West Hollywood, the record producer did record it on the go. - just one take - and if you listen well the end of the solo, there is a mistake at the top end of it. This could have been played better but that's why it makes it legendary !
5. The Eddie Van Halen guitar : the Frankenstrat
Van Halen wanted a special guitar : a very speciale one that could combine the sound of a classic Gibson with physical attributes of the stratocaster and aTremolo bar bar functionality.
Impossible to find, he decided to make his own guitar from spare parts. It is made from :
- a Stratocaster body
- a Gibson PAF Humbucking bridge pickup
- Pickup routing modified. ( He actually couldn't make a correct routing with the second pickup and the pickup selector, so he let evereything in place and just used one pickup
- It was painted with a black and white striped design at first
- The final combination is made with a red background with black and white stripes.
- there is aFloyd Rose tremolo on it, that could actually be blocked with a DIY quarter dollar coin with holes in it.
- Eddie uses a vinyl record shaped into a pick guard to cover the controls. It was later replaced by a real, similarly-shaped pick guard.
- Double face tape to get an easy access to 4 spare guitar picks. (throw away the pick before the double hand tapping solo, get a new pick after the solo)
- There are bicycle reflectors on the other face of the body : he was able to reflect stage lights onto the crowd when flipping the guitar.
- Straps buttons are replaced with large screw eyes to make the guitar strap and the guitar get together, whatever the situation on stage !
- Doctor Eddie Van Halen gives life to his monster guitar : the Frankenstrat !
6.Van Halen Jump between synth and frankie
The 80's are the decade of the synthetisers, Eddie bought an Oberheim polyphonic synthetiser, the same keyboard used by prince and Queen.
The keyboard had enough power and depth to compete with loud guitars onstage. It was made for him !
Eddie performs both on keyboard and guitar with two solo : one on each instrument !
7.Van Halen is a 5150
The album is named 5150, not an address number, nor a fifty/fifty variation. It is actually a police term used by Californina police for a mentally unstable person. Eddie Van Halen gave this code number to his home studio as well and even a frankenstrat version.
Van Halen was in love with his guitar and always used the Marshall amp, maybe the one rule he did follow ! But what for a sound !
9.Want more details ?
The print of is available on my website with plenty more details put indide the portrait.