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The TRUE Story of Eddie Van Halen's Frankenstrat

Howdy again fellow guitar tone seekers!  Last week, in researching Edward Van Halen's use of a Variac, I stumbled on a couple of OTHER tidbits that caught me unaware.  I promised I would bring you this info, so here goes!  Today we're talking about the pickup in the first "Frankenstrat" ... yep, the VH-1 guitar that broke sooo much ground tone wise.  Are ya ready for this?  It was a vintage PAF he yanked out of a vintage Gibson ES-335!  Holy crap, I'm not sure what blows my mind the most ... the...

The TRUE Story of Eddie VanHalen Using A Variac With A Tube Guitar Amp

Okay gang... this one is, if ya don't mind me tooting my own horn, gonna be GREAT!  This is also one of the first ever blogs I'm doing by special request.  And one last thing before we jump in, in researching this topic, I found soooo much new and EXCITING info on Edward Van Halen's tone that this will be the first in a three-part series on the TRUTH about Edward Van Halen's tone!  So, might as well JUMP ... in :-) Okay, just in case you don't know exactly what a Variac is, A Variac is simply a...

The Difference Between A Regular PAF Style Humbucker and A Filtertron Style

Howdy toneful friends!  Last week I had a really interesting guitar in the shop, it was a sweeeet orange Chet Adkins Country Gentleman... but not the Gretsch you might expect, this was a Gibson version!  These are top-notch instruments in every way, and certainly rival the Gretsch models in quality.  However, there is one very glaring difference: the pickups.  The Gretsch comes equipped with real-deal Filter'Trons, while the Gibby has run of the mill humbuckers, which turn to mud in these guitars.  Now...

The Musicians - Guitar Players Golden Rule

Gang, if you ever want to get out of the garage and be a true professional, then tattoo these words on the inside of your eyelids and meditate on them every morning upon waking and every night before retiring: NEVER EVER BE A SQUIRREL! Many things differentiate the pro player from the guy who will never be heard outside his hometown.  But nothing can hold a candle to this one personality trait. What does it mean to be "squirrely"? You have terrible communication skills, and fail to communicate...

Musicians & Guitar Players: Give Your Mentors Credit!

Howdy music friends!  So, a couple weeks back one of my old Minnesota music buddies expressed sadness and disappointment in himself for never telling his mentor, Prince, how much he he had helped him, and how grateful he was.  That got me to thinking about the folks that put their wings around me and helped me transition from being a kid who loved music into a full-fledged music and guitar guy.  I knew the time was NOW to publicly acknowldge these guys who saw something in me waaay before anyone...

The Best Way To Clean and Polish Your Frets (Don't use Steel Wool!)

It happened again last week, I was sent a pickup to fix, and when I took a look at it the problem was clear, STEEL WOOL!  You see, when you use steel wool to polish the frets on your guitar, you end up with thousands of tiny steel bits EVERYWHERE; and those bits will be strongly attracted to your guitar's magnetic pickups.  What's next?  Best case scenario is you wind up wasting a lot of time with sticky tape, tooth picks, and tweezers ridding the pickup of all the little steel intruders.  Worst...

Pickups - The Number One Electric Guitar Upgrade By A Mile!

Okay, this blog actually begins in 1978, just a little before last weeks installment.  I was about 13, maybe 14 and had gotten my first decent electric guitar, a Strat, played through the Twin Reverb mentioned last week.  About that time, Eddie VanHalen had just hit the scene and his FrankenStrat with only a Bridge Humbucker had all us guitar kids enthralled to say the least.  At that time, and in my little farm town, no such replacement pickups were to be had and so I did what any 13 year old kid...

A New Speaker is The Number One Amp Upgrade, By Far!

It was about 1979.  I saved and saved, and took my aging Twin Reverb to the local Music Store for a full set of new tubes and re-biasing.  $180 (like $500 today) got me the hottest tubes of the era "Groove Tubes" baby!  And when I got her home she sounded ... exactly the same.  What?!?!  About this same time the other guitar player in the band, tired of me ALWAYS drowning him out, ALSO bought a Twin Reverb, exactly like mine, but with one overlooked VITAL difference.  Mine had a pair of...

Why No WGS Neodymium (Neo) Speakers Yet?

Okay, Neo's are all the rage these days, and I totally get it; I'm old enough to seriously appreciate anything that shaves few pounds off my load.  Neo designs are dominating the Pro Audio and Bass guitar market these days, but see here's the deal when it comes to Neo GUITAR speakers: they just ain't exactly 100% ready for prime time yet.  Think about it, the biggest boast anyone ever makes about a Neo (other than the light weight) is "They sound almost as good as our other speakers".  Cum on, are you...

Why Staggared Pole Piece Strat Pickups Are Best

I received an email a while back asking why I don't offer any non-staggered pole Stratocaster pickup sets.  The quick simple answer is I think Leo got it right with his stagger pattern.  I know someone out there (Jason Lollar) is a proponent of non-staggered poles​ ​,  I don't feel that way.  I've done plenty of comparisons, too!   Making GREAT sounding staggered-pole Strat pickups DOES require considerably more work​ than flat-poles ... it's imperative that you individually...

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