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  1. #1
    Hang 'Em High James in New York's Avatar
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    Default New EVH video--2009

    http://www.usatoday.com/life/music/n...n-guitar_N.htm



    And the cradle will rock ...: Eddie Van Halen riffs on the newly designed Fender guitar called the Wolfgang, named after his son.

    STUDIO CITY, Calif. — His fingers aren't fingers. Think muscle-powered pistons that hammer guitar strings to fretboard with the force of a rivet gun. And right now, they're flying.
    "Just a little thing I made up," says Eddie Van Halen, 53, punching out a blues-rooted riff at once fresh and yet wholly reminiscent of the hard-rock staples created by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band that bears his name.

    The flurry of notes ends with ringing harmonic feedback, a Van Halen trademark. The guitarist looks down at his polished instrument and grins, like a jockey beaming at a prized pony: "This baby turned out great."

    Wolfgang. That's this baby's name, a tribute to his 17-year-old, bass-playing son with ex-wife Valerie Bertinelli. The kid's not around Dad's place today, but nearly 20 other Wolfgangs are, prototypes that line the walls and floors of Van Halen's 5150 recording studio just up the hill from his Tudor mansion that dominates seven acres here.

    More than two years in the making, the $3,000 EVH-branded Wolfgang, which makes its debut at the National Association of Music Merchants trade show in Anaheim, Calif., Jan. 15-18, is an anomaly.

    In a business that typically finds famous players using tweaked versions of classic models such as the Fender Stratocaster (Eric Clapton) or Gibson's Les Paul (Jimmy Page), Van Halen is known for playing handmade instruments that are the product of endless tinkering and part-swapping.

    For many six-string fans, this is an event.

    "Anytime Eddie does something, it's still a big deal," says Matt Blackett, associate editor at Guitar Player magazine. "He's the Jimi Hendrix of our generation, and certainly the most influential guitar gear guy of the last 30 years."

    Tough time to pitch a pricey new ax? Not really.

    "The guitar is the bellwether for our industry, and things are looking good," says NAMM CEO Joe Lamond, noting a 3.8% increase in sales of fretted instruments over the last quarter. "There's also anecdotal evidence that the popularity of (the video game) Guitar Hero is translating into sales."

    In a recent survey by Guitar Center, the instrument retailer, 67% of rhythm gamers said they probably would pick up a real instrument in the next two years.

    Kalamazoo-based Gibson, one of the nation's oldest manufacturers, enjoyed its best quarter ever at the close of 2008, says CEO Henry Juszkiewicz.

    "The guitar market has been counter-cyclical for 100 years — we even did well during the Great Depression," he says. "In times of distress, a guitar can be a relatively inexpensive way to create entertainment at home. Of course, there's also that rock-star image that comes with the guitar. And people want to play what the rock star plays."

    Cue the so-called signature guitar, which has been around since the days of Gene Autry.

    Gibson offers a small army of signature Les Pauls that ape the axes of Aerosmith's Joe Perry, The Who's Pete Townshend and ex-Guns N' Roses ace Slash. The current standout model is a black beauty that is not only a carbon copy of the Gibson used by Page but also one that bears his personal touch. The first 25 of these Jimmy Page Signature Les Paul Customs were signed and played by the Led Zeppelin guitarist; the five-figure model is sold out.

    Fender has a long tradition of presenting amateur pickers with a slice of professional heaven, and today they collaborate with the likes of Buddy Guy, Billy Corgan and Elvis Costello, not to mention making exact replicas of famous guitars played by David Gilmour and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

    And the list goes on. Ibanez puts out editions modified by Joe Satriani and Steve Vai; Paul Reed Smith has Dave Navarro- and Carlos Santana-edition guitars. Gretsch offers instruments designed in collaboration with Brian Setzer and Patrick Stump.

    "When you're selling a guitar that has some bragging rights, that has pull," Lamond says. "Guitar players who can afford it tend to be collectors, and they'll display their guitars like art."

    But for others, it's a matter of commemorating a magical musical experience, Blackett says. "I know many doctors and lawyers who go, 'Hey, the best show I ever went to was a Pink Floyd gig in the '70s.' And they'll then go out and buy something that's a tribute to that moment."

    Van Halen is in a particularly good position to cash in on the signature-guitar phenomenon.

    True, his band hasn't topped the charts since the mid-'90s. And Eddie has had his personal hurdles over the decades, from a battle with the bottle he proudly says he is winning to a fight with mouth cancer, which cannot be aided by his chain-smoking. But "there is no questioning his legitimacy as a player and his dedication to the instrument," says Howard Kramer, curatorial director at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.

    "There are very few guitar heroes around, maybe because music today seems more stylized," he says. "But guys like Eddie Van Halen elevated their instrument to new heights."

    Van Halen has always created his own guitars because of the demands of his playing, which include dive-bomb tremolo blasts, finger-tapped arpeggios and a snare-drum-snappy tone, all of which showboat in Eruption on the band's 1978 debut album.

    As a Southern California teen, Van Halen famously built his first guitar from $125 in parts. He constructed a monster — later dubbed "Frankenstein" — that could stand up to his aggressive playing while producing his unique rock sound.

    Throughout the ensuing decades, Van Halen lent his name to a series of guitars made by companies such as Kramer and Peavey. But he says Wolfgang is the first guitar that benefits from his constant oversight.

    "In the past, guitars with my name on them weren't as good as my own," Van Halen says. He says a Wolfgang bought off the rack is identical to the one he uses on stage and adds somewhat cryptically, "This is my last attempt to get things done right, and I took it seriously."

    Although the Wolfgang was designed and built at Fender's Custom Shop factory east of Los Angeles, the project was ruled by its despotic rock-star-in-chief. Two men who lived through the guitar's creation trade stories like war veterans.

    "Ed's like a dog," Matt Bruck, Van Halen's longtime guitar tech, says with a sigh. "He hears things that the rest of us don't."

    And there were those Ed-isms employed to try to explain his complaints, if poorly. "Ed was always saying, 'It needs to sound more like nut butter,' " Bruck says.

    "Nut butter, yeah," says Fender's Chip Ellis with a laugh. He was entrusted with building the Wolfgang prototype that will be manufactured en masse. "What does that mean?"

    The duo recall listening to the boss wring out pickups — those rectangular, coiled-wire devices that amplify a string's vibration — for eight months straight. "Ed can even hear the difference between a guitar plugged into a 5-foot cable and a 10-foot cable," Bruck says. "Nuts."

    For Ellis, the experience proved both a dream and a nightmare, which he documented in a diary. One typical entry reflects Van Halen's uncanny sensibilities.

    May 27, 2006: "Ed called tonight. Said the (prototype) guitar played great and sounded not great. He hasn't even plugged it in and tells me it doesn't sound right. What? Then he says, 'This isn't basswood, is it? What did you use, alder?' … I did use alder. I can't believe he heard that (difference)."

    For his part, Van Halen shrugs when asked how he perceives such sonic subtleties in everything from a slab of wood to a wire.

    "Sound is a funny thing," he says, his back to a wall of amplifiers and speakers carrying the EVH logo. "It's like color to a blind person, I guess. You just feel it instead of seeing it."

    Van Halen's sound and success grew through incessant gigging and instrument fiddling, the latter a still-vibrant passion that now has found its expression in his new guitar.

    Is the Wolfgang a necessity? Far from it.

    Is it a legacy? And then some. Hendrix didn't live long enough to design his own guitar but instead left flamed-out Stratocaster relics for the rock 'n' roll masses to worship.

    So Eddie has his signature ax. Buy one and, guaranteed, you will not sound like him.

    "But," Van Halen says with an impish grin, "you get to touch and play what was inside my head."
    Last edited by James in New York; 01.06.09 at 08:24 AM.
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  2. #2
    Future's in the past....
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    "His fingers aren't fingers. Think muscle-powered pistons that hammer guitar strings to fretboard with the force of a rivet gun. And right now, they're flying."


    Nice!
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  3. #3
    Hot For Teacher 10 High's Avatar
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    Damn, I was hoping it would show him playing it.

  4. #4
    Hang 'Em High James in New York's Avatar
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    ...a battle with the bottle he proudly says he is winning...

    Way to go Eddie!
    Fashion your life as a garland of good deeds.

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  5. #5
    On Fire Hammer Guy's Avatar
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  6. #6
    Atomic Punk Raldo's Avatar
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    He's been a busy person lately with his guitar and he seems extremely happy with the finished product.

    Anybody going to NAMM?

    Maybe with this project finished, he can concentrate more on the band.
    Remember the Heroes - 9/11/01

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  7. #7
    Atomic Punk bsbll4's Avatar
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    "...battle with the bottle that he proudly says he is winning."

    That's the best piece of info in the entire article.
    CNN may think my opinion matters, but you shouldn't.

  8. #8
    Atomic Punk bsbll4's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by James in New York View Post
    ...a battle with the bottle he proudly says he is winning...

    Way to go Eddie!
    Whoa, I'm thinking like James now Life will be bliss!!
    CNN may think my opinion matters, but you shouldn't.

  9. #9
    Atomic Punk Eddymon's Avatar
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    Funny though of when that video was shot because Ed looks pretty thin there, quite a bit thinner than he did in those Maui pics a couple months back.
    'Old Van Halen, when I was in it-classic Van Halen-makes you wanna drink, dance and screw, right? And the new Van Halen encourages you to drink milk, drive a Nissan and have a relationship.' - David Lee Roth.

  10. #10
    Hang 'Em High James in New York's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hammer Guy View Post




    I agree Raldo, I hope that now the guitar is ready to go, he'll focus more on making some amazing new music.
    Last edited by James in New York; 01.06.09 at 09:57 AM.
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  11. #11
    Hang 'Em High James in New York's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bsbll4 View Post
    Whoa, I'm thinking like James now Life will be bliss!!

    LOL

    Birth and Death is a grave event;
    How transient is life!
    Every minute is to be grasped.
    Time waits for nobody.

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    Fashion your life as a garland of good deeds.

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  12. #12
    Eruption Model Citizen's Avatar
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    Ed...Love ya man..

    But it's obvious they'll have to pry the cancer sticks out of your cold, dead hands. His voice sounds like a Gremlin...

  13. #13
    Good Enough ED'S A 20THCENTURY MOZART's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raldo View Post
    He's been a busy person lately with his guitar and he seems extremely happy with the finished product.

    Anybody going to NAMM?

    Maybe with this project finished, he can concentrate more on the band.
    NAMM? Apparantly Ed is and hopefully he plays the new gear.
    I DON'T NEED NO STINKIN' CLICK!

  14. #14
    Good Enough NOaverageJOE's Avatar
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    Ed looks worn out. Almost like he's gone from drinking excessively to smoking excessively. His voice sounds awful. I'm not trying to rain on the parade, but I was hoping he would look a bit healthier now. He's getting skinny again too. How could one man look so different every few months without significant changes in his lifestyle? I'm not saying he's drinking again, but he either isn't taking good care of himself or he has an issue he isn't making public.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by bottagetta View Post
    Ed...Love ya man..

    But it's obvious they'll have to pry the cancer sticks out of your cold, dead hands. His voice sounds like a Gremlin...
    I'm not sure his voice is that good. Textbook example of what smoking does to a human being over the long term. It's sad, really. And he's still smoking.....Wow!

 

 

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