Gear of the Gods: Eddie Van Halen - The Buyer's Guide

Van Halen inspired rigs to suit every price range.

Ultimate Guitar

Enjoyed Gear of the Gods: Eddie Van Halen? Thinking about building an EVH rig of your own? Well we can help. We're back with the EVH Buyer's Guide - Three EVH rigs catering for three different budgets.

Money to Burn (Budget: Infinite)

Guitars: Eddie Van Halen 2007 Frankenstein Replica/EVH Wolfgang USA

Prices: $20,000/$4,000

If you've got infinite money and you're an EVH enthusiast, then the ultra-limited edition replica of the Frankenstrat made by EVH and Fender is a no-brainer.

Done as a limited run in 2007, the Frankenstein replica recreates Eddie's guitar right down to the finest detail. The cigarette burns in the headstock? Present. The single coil neck-pick up? A dummy just like Eddie's. Even the quarter under the trem unit is a 1971 mint, exactly the same as the one that Van Halen has on his.

One of these babies isn't gonna come in cheap. Expect to pay around $20,000 on the second hand market. Big bucks, sure, but it's as close to vintage Eddie as you're gonna get.

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Given that you could use the Frankenstein to put a down-payment on a house, we're guessing you won't want to gig it. So, our money dropping friend, we'd also recommend picking up an EVH Wolfgang USA for when you hit the road (and by hit the road, we mean playing at family functions with your investment banker buddies. You don't make the kind of money you're spending on guitar gear as a touring musician!). The top spec model that EVH offers, it's basically the same as the one that the man himself takes on tour these days.

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Amp: EVH 5150IIIS Head + 5150 4x12 Cabinet

Price: $3,000 (amp) + $1,300 (cab)

Certainly, if you've got the money to burn, there's no reason you couldn't go out and buy an EVH 5150IIIS (an upgraded model of the 5150III modeled on the version that Eddie tours with) and a vintage Marshall Plexi to get the full range of Eddie Van Halen tones. But, since the 5150IIIS does such a boss job of replicating the old-school Marshall sounds with its crunch channel. We'd recommend you skip the extra-vintage head and splurge the extra money on caviar and prostitutes.

While you're at it, you'll probably need a 5150 4x12 to run your sweet new head through. Hell, why not buy two! Nothing says rock and roll like a having full stack in your office!

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Pedals: MXR EVH Phase 90, MXR EVH-117 Flanger, TC Electronic Alter Ego V2 Vintage Echo

Price: $130, $190, $170

Once again, we're going to Eddie Van Halen's signature EVH line to recreate his classic pedal sounds. The EVH branded Phase 90 and 117 Flanger are the business and we couldn't recommend them highly enough.

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Eddie doesn't put his name to an echo pedal, so we've had to look further afield there. We wouldn't recommend going down the route of a genuine Echoplex, as they're a pain in the arse to maintain and finding one in good condition is a minefield. Instead we're going with the TC Electronic Alter Ego, a pedal that gives you a vintage Echo effect in a modern box.

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Gig Rig (Budget: $2,500)

Guitar: EVH Wolfgang WG Standard

Price: $733

We'd definitely recommend the EVH WG Standard for the serious giggers amongst you. A more budget friendly version of the full-grown USA Wolfgang, it features the same one-piece bolt-on maple neck with graphite reinforcement rods and basswood body as its bigger brother. You also still get the EVH Wolfgang pick-ups and the EVH branded Floyd Rose.

It sounds great, and still does the business when it comes to replicating EVH's classics tones. As well as that, it'll take a beating and you won't break the bank buying one, making it perfect for taking on tour.

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Amp: EVH5150III 15W LBX Head + 5150III 1x12 Cabinet

Price: $950 (amp) + $500 (cab)

Mini compared to the mighty 100W EVH head, the LBX is still a mighty amp, which gets much louder than its 15 watts suggest. Like the main 5150III, this one is also rocking a plexi-emulating crunch, as well as a higher gain lead channel that's in keeping with Eddie's more recent tonal preferences. It's much more versatile than you'd expect a Lunchbox amp to be, and its compact size means it takes up less room in the van than a full size head. For the same reasons of compactness (and to keep within our $2,500 budget!) we'd recommend a 1x12 cab to accompany it.

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Pedals: Mooer Ninety Orange Phaser, Mooer Electric Lady Analog Flanger, Mooer Ana Echo

Price: $62, $88, $62

After buying the guitar and amp, you won't have enough money in your wallet to rock the signature VH pedals. Fortunately, the folks at Mooer do some great approximations of EVH's stomp boxes of choice at a price that's friendly on the wallet.

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Bedroom Warrior (Budget: < $1000)

Guitar: Kramer Pacer Classic or… Build It Yourself!

Price: $369/$300

Unfortunately, if you're in the market for a sub-1000 Eddie-style bedroom rig, you're pretty much shit out of luck for buying EVH guitars. The cheapest on offer is the aforementioned Wolfie standard, which at just under $750 is not going to leave you enough money to buy a halfway decent amp.

We decided instead to shoot for a budget Superstrat, something rocking a Floyd Rose and a fat Humbucker that would give you an EVH without breaking the bank. In the end, we settled on the Kramer Pacer Classic. Based on the vintage 80s Kramer axe of the same name, it felt suitably VH-esque in sound and playability, even if it didn't exactly look the part of the Frankenstrat.

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We also found this awesome video from Mills Custom Guitars, which teaches you how to build your own Frankenstrat replica for under $300. Amazing!

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Ok, so this one is going to take a fair amount of effort on your part, and is probably too daunting for a beginner. But, if you've got the time, patience, and inclination to undertake the project, you can get something pretty close to the real deal without spending a fortune. Besides, building your own axe feels like it's in the spirit of the man himself.

Amp: Marshall DSLW5C

Price: $500

The small but mighty DSLW5C once again makes an appearance! We recommended this in the Hendrix GotG and we're giving it another whirl in this edition. It's a Marshall that sounds like a Marshall should, for a price that's hard to argue with. With a bit of tweaking, you can get a great Plexi vibe, which is excellent for rocking classic Van Halen.

Pedals: Mooer Ninety Orange Phaser, Mooer Electric lady Analog Flanger

Price: $62, $88

We'd recommend using the leftover cash to pick-up Mooer's Phaser and Flanger pedals as they emulate the units most used in EVH's rig. Given budget restrictions, the delay will have to wait.

By Alec Plowman

9 comments sorted by best / new / date

    They forgot the 5150 Overdrive on the bedroom warrior one. Have your amp on a slightly dirty setting and let that thing do its work! But overall great article.
    That guy did a phenomenal job on the replica...So cool.
    gwendolynmyers444 · Jun 18, 2016 03:24 PM
    lets have tom morello, wes borland, or adam jones
    Borland was recently covered in "Sound like... without breaking a bank" but it would be awesome to have him here as well And yes for Morello
    I'm pretty surprised there was no mention of his Marshall Super Lead amp. No one cares about the 5150 as a holy grail of tone because it's not. His classic tone is a cranked Marshall with a low-medium output PAF humbucker, about 8.6k. The tone he is renowned for is his early work with Van Halen. Perhaps I'm a bit pedantic. To those on a budget, I would strongly recommend either the Wampler Pinnacle or CMATMODS Brownie pedal for a convincing "brown sound" in a box.
    I did one of my own as a junior in high school. I used a Fender Squire. I did a shit job painting it and putting it together but I had a fantastic time doing it