So What's the Difference?
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    Default So What's the Difference?

    Any of you guitar experts out there, please let me know what you think.

    I have the MIM Frankie, and recently acquired the 5150 Series Stealth. I've plugged them into the same rig with the same settings, and they sound different. Not amazingly different, they have the same general tone, but there is a is a noticeable difference.

    To my ear, the Frankie sounds more articulate on the individual notes when playing chords, almost like it's a little less output. It also seems like it has a little more presence and cuts through the mix better. The 5150 Series sounds more Wolfgang like, with kind of a more smooth, homogenous blend when playing chords. Not muddy and not bleeding together, but less pronounced between individual notes.

    The major difference between the two is the Ebony fretboard on the 5150 Series vs, the Maple fretboard on the Frankie, but otherwise the basics are the same. So, is it the additional electronics wired into the 5150 Series? Is it the Ebony fretboard? I'm just trying to figure out why two so similarly spec'd guitars with the same pickups sound so different. To me, the Frankie nails the CVH tone, and the 5150 sounds better with the more modern VH sound. Just curious on how they accomplished that using the same pickups.
    "Having an opinion that people disagree with doesn't make you a Douche, arguing with the people who disagree with your opinion and calling them stupid does!" -Me.

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    small clip of Frankie:

    "Having an opinion that people disagree with doesn't make you a Douche, arguing with the people who disagree with your opinion and calling them stupid does!" -Me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nobozos View Post
    Any of you guitar experts out there, please let me know what you think.

    I have the MIM Frankie, and recently acquired the 5150 Series Stealth. I've plugged them into the same rig with the same settings, and they sound different. Not amazingly different, they have the same general tone, but there is a is a noticeable difference.

    To my ear, the Frankie sounds more articulate on the individual notes when playing chords, almost like it's a little less output. It also seems like it has a little more presence and cuts through the mix better. The 5150 Series sounds more Wolfgang like, with kind of a more smooth, homogenous blend when playing chords. Not muddy and not bleeding together, but less pronounced between individual notes.

    The major difference between the two is the Ebony fretboard on the 5150 Series vs, the Maple fretboard on the Frankie, but otherwise the basics are the same. So, is it the additional electronics wired into the 5150 Series? Is it the Ebony fretboard? I'm just trying to figure out why two so similarly spec'd guitars with the same pickups sound so different. To me, the Frankie nails the CVH tone, and the 5150 sounds better with the more modern VH sound. Just curious on how they accomplished that using the same pickups.
    To answer your question...wood and electronics assembled by human hands.
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    I have a black/yellow striped series and a Mexican Wolfgang Special and the striped series is way brighter. I think it's a difference in the pickups. I also have a Wolfgang Standard and it sounds different from all of them as well. I'm pretty sure it's probably a cheaper pickup in that instance.

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    The pickups are all supposed to be the same spec and the body woods are the same. In theory they should be minimal tonal difference between the original Striped Series guitars and the relic version for +~$1k, or between those guitars and the 5150s and Wolfgang Specials - apart from fretboard wood and standard tolerances (as Mitch mentioned, humans are involved in this).

    I've got two Wolfgang Specials. One with an Ebony fretboard and another with a Maple fretboard. Otherwise all the same spec. The differences are similar to what you describe, the maple fretboard sounds more aligned with classic tones while the ebony fretboard is smoother and more focused.

    But you could probably take two of the exact same guitar off the line and hear a decent difference between them. The mixture of tolerance in the electronics vs. the properties of those particular pieces of wood can make decently noticeable differences.

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    I guess my question stems from what I perceive is the realization that the Frankie sounds great for CVH stuff, and the 5150 Series sounds more like a Wolfgang. It's almost like the sound purposefully matches the era the guitar is shooting for too much just to be a happy accident of manufacturing variations in pickups.

    I seriously doubt that the Wolfgang pickups that they put in the Frankie are different than the ones they put in the Striped Series or Wolfgangs, but it sure sounds like they are. It's different enough to make me curious about just what else might be going on to explain the variation.
    "Having an opinion that people disagree with doesn't make you a Douche, arguing with the people who disagree with your opinion and calling them stupid does!" -Me.

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    Default So What's the Difference?

    Quote Originally Posted by nobozos View Post
    I guess my question stems from what I perceive is the realization that the Frankie sounds great for CVH stuff, and the 5150 Series sounds more like a Wolfgang. It's almost like the sound purposefully matches the era the guitar is shooting for too much just to be a happy accident of manufacturing variations in pickups.

    I seriously doubt that the Wolfgang pickups that they put in the Frankie are different than the ones they put in the Striped Series or Wolfgangs, but it sure sounds like they are. It's different enough to make me curious about just what else might be going on to explain the variation.
    Its a different guitar body shape. Different neck. Different fretboard wood. Different finish. Those can all influence the sound of the guitar.

    If you put a PAF in a Strat, its still going to sound different than a Les Paul with the same pickup.


    I also think the differences when it comes to the Franky being better suited for CVH could be psychosomatic. You see the stripes, the wear, the fact your brain associates it with CVH more than any other era of VH.

    That could be playing a part in this, as well.


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    Yeah, the psychological thing was actually the first thing I considered. I actually said to myself, "Am I just hearing what I'm hearing because I think that's what it should sound like?"

    I actually had to call my 21 year old daughter in to listen to the two guitars. She is obviously familiar with Van Halen growing up in the house with me, but she doesn't understand CVH vs. Modern VH tone.

    So I played the two guitars and asked her if she heard a difference. She said she did, and that the 5150 Series to her sounded more, in her words, "tuned" to the music. She said the Frankie sounded more "separate" from the music. I interpret that as her way of saying that the 5150 blends in with the mix and the Frankie cuts through the mix, because that is what I hear.

    So when I knew it wasn't just me, and based on an objective third party opinion, it must sound different.
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    I was just playing my MIM EVH Frankie last night and made the same observation. It nails the CVH tone and it does sound more crisp than my MIM Rocket Red 5150. My Rocket Red 5150 has a maple neck though. I agree totally with your assessment of the Frankie, it just plain Smokes and is a brilliant guitar. If you were going to buy just one EVH guitar to add to your collection, buy the Frankie. It is Awesome.



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    If you play them both unplugged, you'll hear the actual guitar, regardless of electronics & pups, and understand why they both sound different.

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    It has to be the slanted pickup. Don't know why it didn't occur to me before. I just played it next to a Black and Yellow Striped series, and still sounds different than that one. The only real difference is the slant, which has to be it.
    "Having an opinion that people disagree with doesn't make you a Douche, arguing with the people who disagree with your opinion and calling them stupid does!" -Me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nobozos View Post
    It has to be the slanted pickup. Don't know why it didn't occur to me before. I just played it next to a Black and Yellow Striped series, and still sounds different than that one. The only real difference is the slant, which has to be it.
    Also, the MIM Frankie replica is a front route, where the other Striped Series (except for the B/W and the Circles), and 5150 guitars are rear routed. That may come into play timbre wise.

 

 

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