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EVH GEAR AND E.L.V.H. INC.

Eddie Van Halen is arguably the most influential electric guitar player of all time. Some may say that substantiating such a statement might be considered a very tall order. However, upon examination of his impact, accomplishment and the revolution he created on multiple industries, the burden shifts to suggesting another guitar player that has even ever come close.

In February of 1978 Van Halen released their first album and the world of electric guitar would never be the same. Contained on that album were guitar tones that seemed to come from another planet and were performed by an extraterrestrial. These were sounds that no one could identify because they had never been heard before by earthlings, or mere mortals. A common reaction by guitarists around the world was that of confounded bewilderment, intrigue and a sort of stunned state of shock, followed by the question how did he do that?

These tones and sounds were the work of a 21-year-old Dutch immigrant named Eddie Van Halen. What followed over the course of the next 35 years is unparalled and unequaled in its innovation, influence and accomplishment.

Eddie was a true triple threat. His playing was revolutionary, his song writing was exceptionally outstanding and his tone making was ground breaking. This is because Eddie differed from all other guitar greats before him and after.

How did he differ? Aside from many of his signature playing techniques, the difference in Van Halen versus Hendrix, Clapton, Page and anyone else you may consider is that they all used off the rack standard guitars and amplification. they created within the confines and limitations of standard equipment.

As a result, while the playing of Hendrix, Clapton and Page was simply brilliant it was still limited to what the equipment was capable of, and there were limits.

Enter Eddie Van Halen, who was never satisfied with the confines of anything, especially guitars and amplifiers. Instead of buying his work tools off the rack, he decided to make his own!

Prior to Van Halen’s arrival there were primarily 2 choices of guitars used by rock musicians. Gibsons and Fenders. Both had unique tonalities but were limited to their DNA’s capabilities. Gibson’s deployed PAF dual coil “humbucking” pick-ups in their models while Fender’s were almost exclusively fitted with single coil pickups.

Eddie wanted the capabilities of both in a single guitar, so armed with nothing more than a chisel he set out to create his own combination of both. Thru a process of trial and error, eventually he created his first prototype later named by fans as “Frankenstein."

This guitar was the body and neck of a Fender Stratocaster loaded with the electronics of a Gibson. The sound was beyond new, it was truly amazing. Within less than a year of of the release of Van Halen’s first album, major guitar manufacturers were rushing to produce models that copied the combination to cash in on the revolution that had never been available previously. Today, a replica of Eddie’s Frankenstein sits proudly on display in the Smithsonian museum in Washington D.C.

From 1978 onward, every Stratocaster influenced body style made by any manufacturer that came equipped with humbucking pickups, can be directly attributed to the innovation of Eddie Van Halen. How many guitars is that? No one can really say, but few would argue that it is likely in the hundreds of thousands to million plus mark and far past the total production numbers of all the Les Paul’s, Gibson or otherwise that have ever been sold since 1952.

Eddie didn’t stop innovating with his guitar. His use of effects and amplification were not spared from his out of the box experimental approach of trial and error. The result of his amplified sound was commonly referred to as “hot rodded” or “jacked up”. He achieved a more overdriven and responsive sound than anyone previous to him, which allowed for the limits of tonality and expression to be pushed further than ever before. Everyone was after Eddie’s sound and wanted it for themselves. This paved the way for guitarists to start asking amplifier technicians to modify their amps by adding gain stages to their preamps to achieve more overdrive and distortion. The result of this is what we commonly refer to today as high-gain amplification. It wasn’t long before every amp manufacturer in the world started offering a high gain model. Once again, like Strats with humbuckers, every high-gain amp out there today including Marshalls, Soldanos, Diesels, Bogners, Mesa Triple Rectifiers, Blackstar and more owe their existence to Eddie Van Halen’s ingenuity some 35 years ago.

Eddies trajectory of being an experimenter, “tinkerer” and tone chaser has never diminished. It is a constant component of his being that is always active and pushing the boundaries of guitar sound and guitar equipment design.

Today, Van Halen has sold just shy of 100 million albums, performed for millions and millions of fans around the world and graced more guitar magazine covers than any other guitar player in history. As for the gear, the EVH Brand of guitars amps and musical products are the living and breathing embodiment of what so far has been a 35 year journey in relentless pursuit of the ultimate in guitar tone and sound making. If you ask Eddie, he’ll tell you he feels like he’s just getting started.
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