Before the recording of Van Halen's first album in 1977, Eddie tried several types of guitars before settling on his home made "Frankenstrat":
- Gibson ES-335 ( "the band said,'You're rock'n roll, you ain't Roy Orbison. Either get some dark glasses or get rid of the guitar!'")
- Gibson Les Paul ("…to me was just the clichéd guitar- the 'rock'n roll' guitar. I liked the sound but it didn't fit my body.")
- Fender Stratocaster ( "The guys said.'Don't use that guitar. It sounds too thin.'")
Finally Edward decided to create a guitar that featured the "best of both worlds" when he routed out the bridge pick-up cavity of a '61 Strat and popped in a Gibson P.A.F. (Patent Applied For) late 50's model humbucker. He was almost there.
In 1975, Ed purchased an ash guitar body and a maple neck from Linn Ellsworth (who a custom guitar builder and owner of Seattle's Boogie Bodies).
"It was a second,"recalls Ed."I gave the guy $50 for the body and got a neck for $80. I picked up the two and slapped them together."
That’s right folks, the guitar that Eddie Van Halen used to create some of the most incredible rock riffs ever with (including the immortal "Eruption") cost it's owner a whole 180 bucks!
"It was neat. I really felt I was on to something when I built that guitar, because you couldn't buy anything like it at the time."
This famous guitar, pictured in Eddie's grip on the cover of the first VH album, consisted of the following:
- Boogie Bodies neck and body
- Gibson jumbo frets
- Tremolo system from '57 Fender Strat
- Schaller tuning pegs
- P.A.F. humbucker from a '61 Gibson ES-335
- Black and white Schwinn acrylic laquer bicycle paint
The guitar was originally pre-routed for three single coil pick-ups(such as a standard Fender Stratocaster) so Eddie had to chisle out a hole big enough for the humbucker in the bridge position.
Ed usually strung his guitars with .09 to .42 strings tuned down a half step from standard to Eb ( Eddie has stated that he would often just pick up his guitar and have Mike tune to him, which accounts for the 1/4 step down tuning of "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love").
The humbucker was dipped in paraffin wax to help reduce unwanted feedback.
Eddie awesome stage antics led to the destruction of the original neck, so he replaced it with "whatever was handy."
During Van Halen's second tour (supporting the Van Halen II album) Ed replaced the original whammy bar with a prototype locking tremolo system built for him by Floyd Rose.
Eventually, Eddie put another coat of paint (red) on the guitar.
The back of the guitar has since been decorated with several bike reflectors.
Ed uses a quarter (1971) wedged under the bridge to stabilize the tremolo.
A piece of double sided tape is used to hold Eddie's extra picks.
This guitar was kind of Ed's back-up guitar during the earlier albums/tours. It was a Ibaneze copy of the Gibson Explorer model.
"You can hear that on 'Jaime's Cryin','On Fire' and 'You Really Got Me'. It was a great sounding guitar, but I (messed) it up by cutting a big chunk out of it later. It never sounded the same again." (Note: The overdubbed guitar on "Jamie's Cryin'" is not the Destroyer.)
This guitar was made up of the following:
- Korina body (giving it a unique tone).
- Dual humbucking pick-ups with a three way toggle switch selector.
- Stop-bar tail piece (such as standard Gibson Les Pauls).
The guitar was originally white but Eddie "Van Halenized" it by giving it a purple and silver striped paint job
This guitar is shown in chainsaw massacre condition on the cover of the Women and Children First album.
Ed used the toggle switch to create to cool echo sound on the last note of the solo in "You Really Got Me."
Eddie used this guitar to record songs that didn't require any whammy bar acrobatics.
Ed calls this his "Shark" guitar due to it's customized shape.
Eddie bought this Charvel Stratocaster copy just after the recording of Van Halen II. Ed said that the custom black and yellow striped paint job that he had put on it was dry just in time for that album's photo shoot. Eddie poses with his new axe on the back cover of VH II and also on the photos inside. The double locking Floyd Rose tremolo system on the guitar's picture above had not been installed yet at that time. The neck above is also different than the original (which had a black headstock). Ed took this guitar with him during the tour for Van Halen II.