Find Out The Gear Secrets of Eddie Van Halen

Super-fast two-handed tapping, monstrous dive-bombs, legato licks with machine-like precision - no other guitarist since Hendrix influenced the guitar community more than Dutch-born Edward Lodewijk Van Halen.

Almost single-handedly he brought technical innovation and harmonic diversity to the blues-based Hard Rock of the 60s and 70s. The breathtaking instrumental 'Eruption' on Van Halen's 1978 debut album alone made many established guitarists of the day want to throw their guitar on the dumpster. But not only Eddies' playing was breathtaking, his tone was equally astonishing. Achieved through a combination of highly customized guitars and amps he coined the phrase 'Brown Sound' which set a new reference tone for thousands of guitarists following his path

Eddie first guitar was a cheap Teisco Del Rey solid body guitar, which he swapped for his drum set with his brother Alex Van Halen. Later he acquired a Les Paul copy to learn all the songs and licks from his guitar idol, Eric Clapton.

But he doesn't like the heavy weight and the fact that he can't get a usable tone from the neck pick-up.

The first album was recorded with a self-made Strat-style guitar that consisted of several Charvel guitar parts as well as a '58 Fender Stratocaster. Both guitars have maple necks, which Eddie prefers. The Charvel 'Frankenstein' guitar has a mahogany body which Eddie likes, as it doesn't produce the Fender Twang. He rips the humbucker out of an old Gibson ES-335 and screws it in the bridge position of the guitar and uses sticky tape to give it the famous 'stripe' look.

As soon as the first 'modern' Vibrato-system becomes available Eddie installs it on his Franken-Strat and from then on the Floyd Rose vibrato is a staple on all of his guitars. In the early '80s Eddie had an endorsement-deal with Kramer guitars, who build his signature guitars - equipped with a single humbucker, a single volume control, Floyd Rose vibrato and the trademark white-and-red stripes.

After his deal with Kramer ended he developed his signature guitar with Music Man in the early '90s. This guitar has an attractive curly maple cap and specially designed custom neck and bridge pick-ups by DiMarzio, a great playing neck with compound radius and is extremely successful. It has a very unique tone and is one of the most interesting rock-guitars of the 90s.

1996 sees the end of the collaboration with Ernie Ball / Music Man. Eddie moves to Peavey to release a very similar guitar, called 'Wolfgang' after his son. Music Man renames the EVH-model into Axis and changes a few details and keeps the guitar successfully in their program.

But the Peavey Intermezzo is only short-lived.

Just recently Eddie has launched his own brand, EVH. In collaboration with Fender he now has a range of EVH signature Wolfgang guitars, the EVH 5150 III amps and EVH shoes(!)

The other part to his 'brown sound' is of course his amplifier. In the beginning he uses several cheap amps until he acquires a late '60s Marshall. This Plexi-Marshall is usually played with the 'english setting' - all controls on 10! He later uses a Variac Transformer to alter the voltage in the amp and to make the sound 'spongier'. Effects wise Ed keeps it simple - a Univox EC-80 Tape-Echo or an old Tube Echoplex, an MXR Phase 90 and MXR Flanger are all he needs. Occasionally you can find a MXR Distortion Plus on his pedal board. Later on he will turn to Roland SDE-3000 Delay, Lexicon PCM 70 Reverb and Eventide H-3000 harmonizer to create a full and wide live-tone. Also in his live-rig are a Boss OC-2 Octaver and SD-1 Super Overdrive.

Once Eddie gets accustomed to all the trickery that's available in the studio he makes full use of them, double tracking his guitars, using a Firefox Mini-Strat or a Danelectro 6-string bass.

In the early '90s Eddie starts playing around with the Hi-End amps made by Mike Soldano. He loves the lead sound but the rhythm tone doesn't do it for him. After a meeting with Hartley Peavey they develop a signature amplifier, the Peavey 5150. This amp is extremely popular and fellow guitarist like Ted Nugent, Brad Whitford of Aerosmith or Joe Satriani integrate it in their set-up.

As the partnership with Peavey comes to an end, Ed returns to his trusted Marshall for a while only to team up with Fender to release the EVH 5150 III.

Chris Basener is a guitarist, composer, producer and instructor who plays instrumental groove rock with vibrant melodies that speaks to the cosmopolitan music fan as much as the guitar community.

The graduate of the Munich Guitar Institute (MGI) in Germany did many clinics and demos at tradeshows and fairs across Europe (Germany, Austria, France and Belgium) performing for tens of thousands of people. He has more free articles on his website

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Music news - The magazines that shaped the music industry

Music news as we know it today developed out of the early magazines that caught onto the growth of the popular music industry early on in the 20th Century. Melody Maker was one of the first, introducing itself in 1926 (around the same time that the first electric guitars and amplifiers began to emerge) and targeting musicians. However, as music became more and more popular the music magazines of the day began to target the general public and the introduction of new, rival magazines hit the shelves.

The 1950s is when the real battle started with Melody Maker going head to head with the new kids in town, the NME, an amalgamation of previous titles Musical Express and Accordion Weekly by new owner and music promoter Maurice Kinn. Previously more interested in jazz, Melody Maker was a late convert to the advent of rock and roll, but as the sixties swung in favour of bands like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, the ground was set for big readership figures for both publications.

The 1960s also saw the coming of more politicised voices to the publication of music news with the launch of the Berkley Barb in 1965 and Rolling Stone in 1967. Criticism of the Vietnamese war, the publication of Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and the counterculture revolution of the 1960s sat next to The Beatles, Jimmy Hendrix and Jim Morrison cover stories.

This political edge to music publication didn’t reach the British music news until the late 1970s with the dawning of the age of punk. However, the early 70s saw the introduction of a new rival, Sounds, which quickly became one of the three music weekly magazines to generate good levels of readership. It’s edge came from its ability to see the credibility of new musical movements like Punk early on.

The 1980s would see a mixed bag of journalism in the music industry, with the hip-hop wars affecting the NME and a more populist standpoint reigning at Melody Maker until its intellectual renaissance in 1986. However, it would be the 90s that would see the story of modern British music journalism come to a head. The rise of Britpop and the introduction & success of monthly magazines Q (1986) and Mojo (1993) left Melody Maker without a clear audience or direction, and so in 2000 is ceased publication, merging with its long time rival NME, while Sounds bit the dust nearly a decade earlier in 1991.

The 2000s were left to NME and despite its ropey start to the decade, it would eventually find its footing again with bands like White Stripes, The Strokes and The Libertines. However, with readership dropping fast to just over a tenth of its hey-day 300,000 circulation, publications like NME have pumped significant investment into their online music news to compensate.

With the arrival of a new decade, it’s hard to say that any of the remaining music magazines are doing anything particularly trailblazing, but then neither is the music industry as a whole. With the nation locked into the X-Factor culture, genuinely credible new music often finds it difficult to break out of the underground world that it too often resides. The death of Top of the Pops in 2006 meant that the only music to be played on terrestrial television in the UK during prime time viewing was based around one talent contest or another. With circulation figures so low, maybe it’s time for the icons of music news to take back what they have spent decades helping to create.

Tuppence Magazine delivers music news, film, books, computer games, food & drink, politics, theatre, comedy, art and fashion news & reviews from its entertainment news UK website - dedicated to writing about the best entertainment news online.

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