Your Cart is Empty

The TRUE Story of Eddie Van Halen's Frankenstrat

by vaughn skow October 31, 2018 2 min read

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 destruction of a 50's Gibby 335 ... or the very fact that that phat, saturated tone came from the lowliest of all buckers!  Let's look into this a little more.

In Eddie's own words:

From the January/February 2014 issue of Guitar Aficionado magazine.

“I took a PAF out of an ES-335 and the vibrato out of a Fifties Strat when I made my Frankenstein guitar”

Holy crap ... he ALSO yanked the vibrato out of a 50's Strat ... and THAT gave him the ability to dive-bomb.  Again, mind blown, head spinning!  Listen back to Van Halen 1 ... that's a Gibson PAF pickup (totally NOT a "hot" pickup) and a 50's Fender trem ... NOT the famous first Floyd that Edward would get at a LATER time.  Wow. 

One little piece of info Edward also shared in this 2017 interviewwith The Smithsonian's National Museum of American History and Zócalo Public Square: 

Eddie claims to have INVENTED wax potting pickups! 

This one is hard for me to accept, but watch the video for yourself, at about 17 minutes he explains how he conceived of the idea for dipping pickups in wax to stop them from squealing. "I have no idea where I got the idea"!  He also says he ruined quite a few PAFs before he got it right, too ... holy crap, they would be worth a small fortune today!  Oh, and yes, Edward confirms three commonly known tidbits about "Franky" 1:

  1. The neck and body WERE Boogie-Body rejects.
  2. He only hooked up the one volume control because it was all he could figure out how to do.
  3. He screwed the pickup directly into the body not for tone, but because he thought that was how it was done!
Eddie Van Halen first Frankenstrat guitar details

Wow, re-listen to Van Halen 1 and digest this info folks. Next week might be even harder to digest.  If part one, and this part two didn't blow your mind, part three is guaranteed to get the job done.

So, don't miss the next blog.

Van Halen 1

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.