A lot has been stated about one of the crucial well-known guitars in rock historical past – Eddie Van Halen’s Frankenstrat, which made its first look on the quilt of Van Halen’s basic self-titled debut (using white and black colours, earlier than a paintjob added pink to the equation), and would finally spark off a craze of different guitarists assembling their very own devices out of assorted components and distinctive appears to be like.
And in my new e-book, Iconic Guitar Gear, EVH skilled/former Guitar World editor Brad Tolinski (who can be the creator of the e-book, Eruption: Conversations with Eddie Van Halen), totally analyzes when and the way the legendary guitarist assembled his now-instantly identifiable axe.
However maybe most attention-grabbing of all, Tolinski defined the way it was most likely not only a completely satisfied accident regarding how Eddie got here up with the seminal design on his Frankenstrat. The primary potential inspiration stretches again to the place the Van Halen brothers unique hail from. “How he really got here up with the precise thought…I’ve a number of concepts about it. One is – which is attention-grabbing to me, and if it is true then it was a unconscious form of factor – there’s a motion of artwork and design known as De Stijl, that truly began in Holland within the Netherlands.”
“And there have been artists like [Piet] Mondrian who grew to become vastly celebrated. And De Stijl is mainly these work that had been created by utilizing major colours at laborious angles. A few of the artwork was simply pink squares on white backgrounds or black stripes. However in case you go have a look at these De Stijl work, you may instantly get the vibe of Ed’s guitar. So, to me, that was form of a captivating factor. As a result of Ed lived in Holland till he was seven or eight, there was no approach he did not see that as a part of the Dutch tradition – this portray and this artwork. So, I believe a number of the inspiration and aesthetic of that guitar simply comes from that.”
Secondly, Tolinski theorizes the affect of the Van Halen household’s relocation to California when Eddie and Alex Van Halen had been nonetheless kids performed an element, as properly. “I believe one other attention-grabbing and funky factor is that he grew up in Pasadena, proper? Pasadena was an enormous middle for warm rods – for making scorching rods and making customized vehicles. There have been children actually engaged on their entrance lawns with their vehicles – spray-painting scorching rods, pinstriping them themselves. Every kind of issues.”
“And I believe Ed, additionally – possibly not consciously – he was a automotive freak, so positively he was conscious of this. Perhaps the entire notion of taking your guitar and ‘scorching rodding it,’ and portray it and rearranging it…he would see these children far and wide, taking their vehicles and modifying them – pulling out exhaust pipes and placing new ones in, or altering the tires or the engine, or repainting them. Would not that sound acquainted to you? Would not that sound like what Ed was doing together with his guitar? So, I am unable to assist however suppose that in the entire course of of making your personal guitar, it might need come from being uncovered to the Pasadena and LA scorching rod tradition. I consider that there is one thing to do with that.”
And whereas Van Halen would finally change into most aligned with heavy metallic and area (stadium?) rock, it was one other rock subgenre that reared its head within the mid-70s that additionally might have impressed Eddie, too. “After which, lastly, I do not know what to think about this however it’s an attention-grabbing story – we contact on this in Eruption – however proper across the time Ed was creating his guitar, he, Al, and Dave would go to the golf equipment in LA. They usually form of dug punk rock. They had been curious at the least.”
“You at all times hear that Ed stated, ‘Nicely, ‘Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love’ was a tribute to our model of a punk rock tune.’ They usually even went to I believe it was the Whisky dressed up as punks one evening. And there was this band taking part in on the time known as the Dils. And the guitarist of the Dils [Chip Kinman] had a white Les Paul, and he adorned it with black electrical tape. If you happen to see photos of him and also you see the guitar, you may see it instantly as one thing that was not fairly as attention-grabbing or as dimensional as what Ed did, however very comparable. And Van Halen did see the Dils.”
“So, it could possibly be a bizarre mixture of all these issues. Like, one thing about what the Dils guitarist did might need appealed to him, and possibly it obtained triggered by the De Stijl work that he noticed as a baby, and blended with slightly little bit of Pasadena scorching rod tradition. For Ed himself, he would simply say he thought it was a cool thought.”
“I by no means noticed him draw something, so I do not suppose he was a painter or something. Nevertheless it was one thing he may do – stripes. It is one thing he may make to jazz up his guitar – he clearly wished it to look totally different, sound totally different, and really feel totally different. So, I do not know the place it got here from precisely and Ed could be extremely imprecise about it – as a result of I do not suppose he took it immediately from something. However in case you take all of those components and mix them collectively, you most likely have one thing near the place he obtained it.”
Greg Prato is a longtime AllMusic contributor. Iconic Guitar Gear is his thirty sixth e-book total.