Eddie Van Halen Life Techniques And Riffs

author: tonechaser date: 03/23/2009 category: artists' discussions
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Hey guys, this is my first post on Ultimate Guitar (so be nice when commenting please!). I figure this is my way of giving back to UG after it has basically taught me everything I know about guitar and guitar technique over the past few years. However, growing up and using UG left me a little disappointed with the lack of lessons and general stuff on Eddie Van Halen cause I'm a huge fan and wish to someday follow in his footsteps (as do the thousands of other chumps who post videos of Eruption on YouTube).

Eddie/Van Halen's Musical Life

Edward Lodewijk "Eddie" Van Halen was born on January 26, 1955 in Amsterdam, Holland. At an early age, he, his parents and brother (Alex Van Halen- drummer for Van Halen) moved from their dwellings in Nijmegen, Holland to Pasadena, California on the West Coast of the USA. At the age of 5, Eddie began playing the piano getting his musical ear ready for the years to come. He then graduated to the drums doing paper runs to pay for it; during which time his brother, Alex practiced enough to eventually outshine Eddie. In a vengeful act, Eddie began practicing guitar (his brother's chosen instrument) and his lifelong obsession began... Praise be and hallelujah! By the age of 14, Eddie had memorized every Eric Clapton solo from his work in Cream and began using his famous 100-watt Marshall Amplifier. By the age of 15, he began branching out into the music of Jimmy Page, Allan Holdsworth, Brian May and Ronnie Montrose. Eddie's first major step towards Van Halen was the formation of Mammoth in 1972. Eddie was lead guitarist and lead vocalist with his brother Alex on Drums and Mark Stone on Bass. By 1974, the first Van Halen line up was set with the Brothers Van Halen, David Lee Roth on vocals and Michael Anthony on Bass. Eddie and Van Halen spent a few years gigging in the local area of Pasadena until a club gig led to their first demo tapes with Gene Simmons in 1976. Eddie had also began building guitars by this stage; manufacturing his first black and white Superstrat and beginning a revolution in itself. 2 years after the Simmons demo tapes, the self titled album Van Halen was released as their debut under Warner Bros. Management. In 1981, Eddie was married to actress Valerie Bertinelli. Van Halen's momentum was sustained over the late 70's and early 80's yielding an album a year up until 1985 when David Lee Roth left Van Halen. By 1985, Eddie's name had been withdrawn from Guitar Player's Guitarist of the Year poll due to being voted Guitarist of the Year since 1978. Former Montrose front-man Sammy Hagar replaced David Lee Roth in 1985 as Van Halen's lead singer. This marked the beginning of Eddie reliance on synthesizers in Van Halen's music. In 1991, Eddie's son Wolfgang Van Halen was born. With Sammy Hagar, Van Halen yielded several platinum albums and ultimately were more successful than with Roth. But tensions arose between band members and Sammy Hagar amicably departed from Van Halen in 1996. Gary Cherone replaced Sammy Hagar as lead singer of Van Halen and recorded the poorly received Van Halen III. Having made little ground, the band let Cherone go and went on hiatus. Van Halen has since reunited many times in its different forms since the hiatus, most notably the 2007 -2008 Reunion Tour with the appearance of Eddie's son Wolfgang.

Van Halen's Discography And Recommended Listening Material

*Highly Recommended Listening David Lee Roth Era 1978 - Van Halen (Album)* - Running with the Devil, You Really Got Me, Jaime's Cryin', Eruption 1979 - Van Halen II (Album) - Dance the Night Away, Beautiful Girls, Somebody Get me a Doctor 1980 - Women and Children First (Album) - Everybody Wants Some, And the Cradle Will Rock 1981 - Fair Warning (Album)* - Unchained, Hear About It Later, So This Is Love, Mean Street 1982 - Diver Down (Album) - (Oh) Pretty Woman, The Full Bug 1984 - 1984 or MCMLXXXIV (Album)*- Jump, Hot for Teacher, Panama, I'll Wait Sammy Hagar Era 1986 - 5150 (Album)*- 5150, Dreams 1988 - OU812 (Album) - Cabo Wabo, A.F.U (Naturally Wired) 1991 - For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge (Album) - Pleasure Dome, Poundcake 1993 - Right Here, Right Now (Album)- Right Now 1995 - Balance (Album) - I Can't Stop Lovin' You Gary Cherone 1998 - Van Halen III (Album) - Josephina Eddie's Individual Works 1982 - Beat It Solo (with Michael Jackson)* 1983 - Starfleet Project (with Brian May) Collective Albums 1996 - Best Of Volume I (Album) 2004 - Best Of Both Worlds (Album) You Tube Videos 1981 - Largo: Van Halen Segment 1983 - US Festival: Van Halen Segment (2 hours) These are an assortment of the works of Eddie; they all showcase his arsenal of riffs and techniques to a high standard. As you can no doubt tell, the earlier works of DLR's Van Halen are my personal preference but there is still reasonable merit in Hagar and Cherone's Van Halens. Tab Key p = pull off h = hammer on t = tap / = slide up \ = slide down (n) = natural harmonic (t -12) = tapped harmonic (ph) = pinch harmonic V = vibrato bar down ~ = hand vibrato B = bend X = dead note TP = tremolo picking

Eddie's Sound And Techniques

Tone/Sound The key to Eddie's sound is not necessarily the equipment you have and the cost of it. The truth is that it is almost possible to dial in his sound on any amplifier no matter how crappy it is. The trick to his sound particularly in the early albums is the tuning. There is much speculation as to the tuning he uses; the tuning he uses is E flat - Eb Ab Db Gb Bb eb. Some people call it the Hendrix tuning as it was originally used by Jimi (Rest In Peace). On top of that he flattens his B string even further so that the note is between B and Open G which creates a reasonably intonated, beatless 3rd. This gives that signature happy grunt that is heard in tracks like Unchained and Running with the Devil. But if you want his exact set up (Brown Sound) then get yourself a Superstrat (Humbucker guitar) that has a good treble sound and less dominant mids and bass. Make sure your pickup is also potted that gives more depth to your basses and prevents microphonic feedback that is attained at the sound levels that Eddie uses the amp at. The pedal effects he uses are: an MXR Script Phase 90, an MXR Flanger 117, an EchoPlex and mid-boosting MXR equalizers. The next step is to run your guitar to a 100-watt Marshall Super Plexi Lead that is hooked up to a Variac to starve the tubes and gain the (natural) super overdriven sound. The speakers he uses are a combination of Celestions (bass and mid dominant) and JBLs (treble dominant). And Voila! ..Eddie's Early sound. Oh! And make sure you turn up real loud! Tapping Tapping (if you have been living under a rock for all your life) is where a person frets notes normally, however using a finger on your picking hand to start the note sequence by pushing down on the string between frets and pulling off to the other notes. Essentially creating an artificial capo and using both sets of fingers on the fretboard. There are many variations of it. Although most people believe that Eddie began tapping, he didn't invent it! It was a technique that was first used by Jazz artists back in the 50s and continued by various other artists however using a pick on the fretboard. Eddie popularized this technique and reached a virtuoso level of skill. Here are some basic tapping riffs/licks showing what he does: - Standard tapping Eruption - tapping section
eb|-t--------------t-------------t--------------t---------------t-----------
Bb|-9p5p2h5-(x8)--10p5p2h5-(x8)--10p7p4h7-(x8)--12p7p4h7-(x8)---12p9p5h9----
Gb|-------------------------------------------------------------------------
Db|-------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ab|-------------------------------------------------------------------------
Eb|-------------------------------------------------------------------------
- Tapping scaling Jump - solo
      t
eb|---13p9p8p6-(x2)---t-----------------------------------------------------
Bb|-------------------13p9p8p6----t-----------------------------------------
Gb|-------------------------------13p9p8p6-----t----------------t-----------
Db|--------------------------------------------13p9p8p6-- t ----13p6--------
Ab|-------------------------------------------------------13p8--------------
Eb|------------------------------------------------------------------------
- Tapping slides 1983 US Festival solo
eb|-------------------------------------------------------------------------
Bb|----------------t---t--t--t--t-------------------------------------------
Gb|--------7b------12/14/15/17/19p7
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