I set out to build one, but ended with two projects, so here's the story for both as they are interlinked.

It all started when I was looking at pictures of Van Halen playing at Oakland's "Day On The Green" on the first tour on July 23, 1978, where EVH played black Charvel Explorer (Danelectro neck) (a few more pics from that day: 1, 2, 3). VH fans obviously recognize the 3x3 Danelectro neck, but what's the deal with the black explorer body? According to EVH from a November 1978 Guitar Player interview, "I've also recently bought a Charvel Explorer-shaped body and put a Danelectro neck on it and an old Gibson PAF pickup." EVH must have put in a request with Charvel to build him this and maybe had it delivered during the tour. Charvel built similar Explorers around this time, as seen in this late 1970s Charvel Explorer print ad. Seemed like it wouldn't be too hard of a build. I looked online and saw a fan's version of this EVH 1978 Charvel Explorer with Floyd Rose. How hard could it be? At least that's what I thought at first.

I started by tracking down a Danelectro neck. I had to expand the tuner holes on the headstock to accommodate real locking tuners, but otherwise this was the easy part. The neck was unused (no mounting holes) and came with the aluminum nut. Keep in mind that Danelectro guitars have a 25" scale. Around the same time I saw a builder on eBay selling basswood Explorer bodies that had the Tele top control route. I thought it would look cool to give it the standard Tune-O-Matic/stop tail bridge, so I ordered one with the standard Gibson 24 3/4" scale. The wood was ready to go with the unfinished basswood explorer body with Danelectro neck. Surely I could mess with the neck joint or the TOM to make up for that missing 1/4" for the scale.

I painted the body black, sanded the Danelectro logo off the headstock, and wired in a Planet Tone (Nico's) Legacy humbucker (great tone, btw). For the bridge, I went with a GFS XGP brass tail and TOM set, and these are amazing. Super heavy and extremely well made. Then I strung up the explorer body strung up with Danelectro neck and tuned it up and checked the intonation. Ugh. Way off. The only way I could adjust it, was in the neck pocket. And because I needed to expand it from 24 3/4" to 25", I had to move the neck out, which left a space in the pocket for 25" Dano neck. Not very stable. (That's a String Swing cushion cut in halves inserted in the space.) Now what?

Well I could see the basswood body had to have a real 24 3/4" neck - like found on a bolt-on Epiphone Les Paul. So I went out and got a neck, sanded down the headstock sides and top to give it the narrower "Danelectro/Melody Maker" look, and added a Charvel decal after re-painting it black. I also had to round off the butt edges so it fit the body, but that only took a few minutes. But I didn't want to leave the body black. So I striped it up to resemble the paint scheme on EVH's white/black VHI guitar, and painted it an off-white. I slapped on the Epiphone neck and the intonation was right there. Awesome! This guitar looks cool with the brass XGP TOM saddles, bridge, and knobs and the brass side jack plate. I also replaced the stock Epiphone plastic nut with a brass nut, and the exposed gears on the Hipshot locking tuners are brass. A lot of brass on this axe! I even got a custom-made Charvel mini neck plate.

That's the story of the Charvel EVH Explorer Striped Classic. But now I was left with the one piece that started all of this - the Danelectro neck. I had a 25" neck and I needed a real 25" scale body. Now I was going to get exact - just like the EVH '78 Charvel Explorer. Black body, vintage tremolo route, correct scale. Time to call in KnE guitars.

-- -- -- -- -- --

To commence Explorer project #2, I sent the Danelectro neck to Mitch at KnE Guitars in California and he made a custom alder Explorer-shaped body that was 25" scale and had the perfect neck pocket for the Dano neck. He routed it for one bridge humbucker, a vintage tremolo and a top-route, Tele control cavity. Within a few weeks I got the body, painted it black, aged it front and back, and was ready to go.

I had an old Tele control cover so I went with that, I used the custom Charvel neck plate that I originally got for this one-guitar project, and I tracked down a new set of Gotoh 3x3 locking tuners. I ordered a chrome vintage tremolo from GFS that came with a nice big brass block. I also found an old Charvel-type straight tremolo bar with the brass tip, along with a cream humbucker ring, a cream Tone knob, and a black Tone knob. And for the side 7/8" jack hole, I used an aluminum Electrosocket with a Switchcraft jack.

For the humbucker, I went with a black G.M. (Guitar Madness) Hot Alnico 5 and relic'd it up. I wired it in with a volume, tone, Switchcraft jack, and an Orange Drop .022 capacitor (same as the Striped Classic Explorer I just did). I strung it up and it sure looks close to what EVH was playing that summer day in 1978. The G.M. pickup sounds really full and this guitar (probably because of the mass of the body) really has great tone and nice action. And it tunes up accurately since it's the correct scale body for the neck. Imagine that. And this is an authentic Explorer body shape, too.

And that's how the Charvel EVH 1978 Explorer came about.

Van Halen's black Charvel Explorer body has some interesting history. After seemingly using it for that one show in July 1978 with the Danelectro neck, EVH had a friend (John Sterry) carve it into a Dragon and Snake doing battle - January 1981 Guitar World EVH cover with carved Dragon and Charvel Strat neck with black headstock (original VHII back cover neck). "I went to Charvel and bought the parts for a Destroyer with a vibrato. I got tired of playing it, and so I had a friend of mine carve a dragon biting a snake out of the Destroyer's body," EVH said in an April 1980 Guitar Player interview. EVH used the Dragon guitar for an early 1979 basement rehearsal and on the opening night of the 1979 VHII tour in Fresno, CA on March 25, 1979. From there it looks like it temporarily fell apart (circa 1979) before being pictured again in the 1990s with a Floyd Rose and hanging around in 5150.

More info on EVH's Danelectro neck history

November 2017

A late-1970s, pre-Floyd Rose tribute.

This project started with me spotting a deal on an old-school, Charvel-like brass tremolo on eBay. My plan was to build something resembling a 1978ish Charvel with a standard (brass) tremolo and black/yellow stripes. EVH's famous yellow-black Charvel "Bumblebee" started off with a standard tremolo, as pictured on the back of Van Halen's second album in 1979. EVH was also pictured in 1982 with a different patterned Charvel "Bumblebee" on an Entertainment Tonight clip (1 2), and that also had the standard brass tremolo.

For my version, I wanted to use a zebra GuitarForce Erupter humbucker (pulled from my Vox Phantom II guitar), and because it has standard spacing, I wanted to use an angled humbucker route to align the poles. And yes, Charvel made single-humbucker axes with slanted routes (obviously influenced by EVH). So I ordered an alder KnE Charvel body with a slanted humbucker and a standard tremolo. To be even more unique, I also had Mitch put the Strat output jack on the body face, as opposed to the side. I painted the body a nice golden yellow color (same color as my Fender Vintage Pine Tele Bass), taped off a unique stripe pattern, and shot it black. For the neck, I went with a nicely figured Mighty Mite maple Strat neck, replacing the stock nut with a brass nut. I also painted the headstock black and applied a vintage Charvel waterslide.

To stick with the brass (or brass-looking) theme, I went with GFS gold locking tuners, a gold Strat jack plate, a gold circle string retainer, gold Schaller strap buttons, and a custom gold/brass Charvel replica neck plate. I aged all three and applied a little graphite powder to take the look away from gold and more toward darker brass. I went with an aged cream Tone know (to match the cream in the zebra humbucker), and a black brass humbucker ring. I even went with a brass trem claw to go with the brass tremolo sustain Big Block.

The Erupter sounds great, and I like the color of the darker yellow stripes on the body - looks more vintage. And the brass tremolo and nut, along with the gold hardware, really give it the look and feel of a late 1970s Charvel. Here is Van Halen's Charvel VH2 with gold Floyd Rose, circa 1990. And here are some other Charvel yellow/black striped guitars from back in the day: 1 2 3 4 5 6.

December 2017

A Van Halen take on an old, classic Charvel.

As an EVH guitar fan, I'm used to seeing the 1981 Charvel Star star body design with a Danelectro headstock, but Charvel's old Star guitars basically had Strat necks, as pictured here on this 1981 model. So that was the plan - an EVH-themed Charvel Star with the classic Strat headstock.

I went to Mitch from KnE and had him make me an alder Star body, but with a slanted humbucker route. And for the bridge, I went with the Tune-O-Matic, stop bar. I guess I had to put my own spin on it a bit. For the neck, I went with a simple maple Mighty Mite Strat, and just added the Charvel waterslide. I had all the wood, so now it was just a matter of painting the body and some wiring/assembly.

I decided to go with the standard Van Halen Frankenstein approach - painting the body black, taping stripes and then painting it white, and then taping more stripes and finishing it in red. I really just made up the striping pattern as I went along, and I think it turned out pretty good (body back).

For the hardware, I went with locking Gotoh tuners, a nickel Gotoh TOM bridge, and a nickel-plated brass XGP stop bar tailpiece. I even splurged and got a custom black Charvel neck plate with the serial number 91107 (Pasadena zip code). I also swapped out the stock Mighty Mite synthetic bone nut (they are actually great quality!) with a Fender brass nut. Lastly, I installed an Electrosocket cup for the Switchcraft output jack, and nickel Schaller strap buttons.

I took an old Seymour Duncan JB and put a nickel cover on it, as I had it from another guitar I bought where someone painted the bobbins and although it worked perfectly - it looked terrible. To really make the wiring cool, I hooked up a tone pot and hid it in the control cavity like the limited edition EVH '79 Bumblebee. It's set to 10 and I doubt I will ever remove the cavity cover to change it, but it seems like something EVH would have done back around 1979.

Overall an easy project, but just tedious because of the painting. The JB sounds great and it's an awesome-looking guitar!

August 2019

A nother color scheme take on an EVH-striped Charvel.

zebra Tonerider Birmingham humbucker and hard tail bridge with stainless steel modern saddles
black Charvel replica neck plate - LL 1881, which is essentially the address of the Pasadena house where the Van Halens grew up - 1881 Las Lunas Street
fiesta red body with Ivory Bisque sprayed over taped stripes
project turned out perfect

When Edward Van Halen left Peavey in 2004 and hooked up with Charvel, I knew I had to get a new "EVH model" guitar by Charvel - until I found out how much they cost.

I could have purchased a new Charvel EVH Art Series for about $2600, but I decided to make my own with top-of-the-line parts. I started with a Custom Woods basswood body, which was made exactly to spec as an old Charvel body. One humbucker, Floyd route, one volume, and the control cavity and output jack are just like the original. For the neck, I had Warmoth make me a heavy birdseye maple Strat neck with abalone dots - possibly the nicest neck I own.

For the electronics, I went with a Seymour Duncan Custom Shop '78 Evenly Voiced Harmonics (EVH) that is made to represent EVH's pickup characteristics from the late 1970s. One can only get this pickup by calling Duncan in California and the cost is $160. Definitely, the most expensive pickup I've ever purchased, but I saved a bit by wiring the guitar up myself. For hardware, I tracked down a pristine 1980s chrome Floyd Rose and I topped it off with chrome Schaller tuners and straplocks. Then came the painting.

I decided to go with a typical EVH-stripe pattern, but I went with non-traditional colors - blue, black, and white. Only a few of my EVH-striped guitars have authentic color schemes and I do this purposely to honor King Edward and his artistic axes and to allow my collection to have some individuality. Typically, I base the stripe patterns after one of his guitars, but for this one, I totally made it up on the spot and I think it looks pretty cool. The painting went pretty well, although not as well as my Kramer 5150 -Envy-.

Now for the finishing touches. Tracking down a real Charvel neck plate was a pain and too expensive! I eventually got a break and found a silver chrome Charvel EVH Art Series neckplate with serial number "2004", that captures what I was really going for, and it's numbered 2004. And since all of my guitars with Floyd Rose trems have 1976 quarters to rest against the body, I needed to get one of those. I ordered a mint, non-circulated 1976 quarter for the bridge. Talk about shiny! I also added an EVH D-tuna for the Floyd bridge. For the neck, I placed a vintage Charvel decal on the headstock and even added a blue/black EVH logo to sorta match the originals.

The only major problem I had with this project was the overall "softness" of the basswood body. The Floyd Rose trem pivots on two post inserts, which are screwed into bushings, and one of them was very loose and started to lean toward the neck. I was able to "strengthen" the wood around this area by inserting a long set screw in front of it to tighten the gap (I did a similar thing to my Red Devil II), so it should be fine for a long time.

The '78 EVH pickup sounds amazing and even though it's a soft wood, basswood does provide good tone. Combine these with a slammin' Warmoth neck and this is one killer axe. And it cost less than $900 to make.

February 2005

Every now and then, I'll search eBay for "Van Halen guitar" to see what comes up and in October 2005, I found something really cool. An awesome replica of EVH's classic Frankenstein guitar.

Van Halen's Frankenstein (circa 1983-4)

Someone on eBay had purchased a Warmoth swamp ash Strat body and striped it red, white, and black and then glossed the crap out of it. All for less than $400. And when you think about it, A new Warmoth ash Strat body is about $175 and a professional glossy paint job (with accurate stripes) would easily be another $200-$250, so the price wasn't too bad. The body was also routed for a Floyd Rose and it even had the threaded pivot bushings installed.

Around the same time, I found a store on eBay selling accurate Charvel-type bodies so I contacted Jimmy Lee with Blackhorse Guitars in Fort Worth, TX, and had him build me a black and yellow Van Halen II-style guitar body (see Charvel VH II and the corresponding story below). So basically, I was putting together two guitars at once and a lot of the parts were the same for both. I called Warmoth and ordered two identical maple necks with a 1 11/16" nut width - routed for a Floyd. I then tracked down a pair of Charvel headstock decals off of eBay. I then ordered two sets of chrome Schaller tuners and straplocks. And because tracking down two old 1980s Floyds off of eBay would be tedious, I ordered two new Original Floyd Roses (R3) from Ed Roman Guitars. I also had two Tone knobs (white for Frankie and black for VH II) and two 1976 quarters ready to go. Unlike my Charvel EVH guitar (Custom, I didn't track down an authentic Charvel neckplate - too expensive.

For the pickup, I decided to go with the Gibson '57 Classic, since EVH used a Gibson PAF in his original Frankie. I got a matte black pickguard and cut it up and wired it in myself. I had an old Fender single-coil pickup (I think it even works!) laying around so I ordered a red cover for it for the dummy neck position pickup. And of course I added the non-functional 5-way switch for the middle pickup route.

The following is a brief history of the original "Frankenstrat" guitar, mostly taken from Guitar World magazine:

Edward bought the ash body from Linn Ellsworth (later became co-founder of Warmoth) in 1975 for $50 and the neck (also a cast-off) for $80. Originally, the body came with the single-coil bridge, neck, and middle pickup positions pre-routed and Van Halen, with a chisel, excavated a hole to house a humbucker in the bridge position. He placed in this chiseled hole a PAF from a 1961 Gibson ES-335. The pickup was also "ruined" but sounded good so it's what he used. The single-coil neck pick-up was completely disengaged.

The guitar was first sprayed with black and then white Schwinn acrylic lacquer bicycle paint and EVH mounted a black Strat-style pickguard (also home-made) eventually only covering the two front (electronics) routings. The guitar was eventually re-taped and painted with red, giving it the appearance of red, white, and black stripes. Red and orange truck reflectors were added to the back of the guitar. This red-Frankenstrat first appeared as the black and white guitar pictured on the debut VH album.

The nut was brass and the tailpiece unit was from a 1961 Fender Stratocaster. During the band's second worldwide stampede, Van Halen replaced the original tremolo with then-prototype Floyd Rose. A quarter was attached just under the top-back side of the Floyd Rose to keep it from rising up. That first Ellsworth neck was broken by the guitarist's rigorous stage antics and replaced with whatever was handy (including a Danelectro at one point). The Ellsworth neck sported Gibson jumbo frets ("I put those in with the help of some Crazy Glue" -EVH). The tuning heads were Schallers.

The guitar was EVH's main axe - both in the studio and on tour - until the band's Memorial Day weekend 1983 US Festival performance. It also appeared in VH's infamous video for "Jump", which was filmed in November 1983. It was retired at this point as EVH's new #1 guitar became is red, white, and black Kramer 5150 - played by EVH almost exclusively for the 1984, 5150, and OU812 tours (1984-1988).
The guitar cost me less than $900 to put together and it plays like the real $2600 EVH Charvel. And it looks more accurate, too, with the top-routed body and cut pickguard.

Charvel Art Series - red/white/black

This was definitely the way to go. It was really fun putting this thing together and I didn't miss painting it! It plays great and sounds great and it looks totally cool. Warmoth makes great bodies and necks and this things is set up to rip. And I saved about $1700.

March 2006

UPDATE: July 2014

Well, after about 10 years, that "super-glossed" Frankenstein body was yellowing - so much so that the white stripes were past ivory and leaning toward a sunflower tint. Anyway, I thought that if I saw a nice relic'd Frankenstein body, I could just simply move the neck and the body hardware and it would be like a new guitar. Luckily, I did spy someone on eBay selling a beat up Frankenstein body (Musikraft ash) that had the authentic routes, and I went with it. I went out of my way to match it up as best as I could to the $25K version by adding the white tape to the tremolo spring cavity, the black duct tape on the bottom edge, blue paint around the back edges, extra strap button drill holes, and the rolled duct tape on the face used to hold picks. I also - for the first time ever - went with the infamous eye bolts instead of Schaller strap locks. And the Charvel/Warmoth neck with the square butt end really reminds of EVH's Kramer neck on his Frankenstein in the late 1980s.

I ended up getting a new partial pickguard, a real red phenolic single-coil pickup cover, an old 1971 quarter, and a 1980s Floyd Rose - otherwise all the hardware moved over. I tracked down an old Floyd and roughed it up a bit, and ended up adding a brass Big Block and an EVH d-tuna. That way I can use the newer Floyd on another project. Thankfully, the body came with a trashed 5-way switch, so that looks just like the original in that middle pickup route. I also replaced the blank neck plate with an aged "61071" neck plate - as EVH used on his Frankenstein. Lastly, I added the eight reflectors to the back of the body, and even aligned the tremolo springs to match the real one.

Looks great and plays great. I hadn't played this one a lot over the years - it just hung there like art - but I have to say that Gibson '57 Classic humbucker is a great pickup.

Frankenstein at the MET (2019)

$25K Fender EVH Frankenstein WOW!

Here’s a list of the similarities and differences between my EVH Frankenstein and the $25K EVH Frankenstein made by Fender:

--Both have ash bodies
--22-fret neck (with Charvel logo) on mine instead of 21-fret neck (no logo)
--Both have Schaller logo tuners
--Cigarette burns on the headstock are not as pronounced on mine
--Both necks are birdseye maple
--Both have accusrate pickup cavity routing on the body
--Gibson '57 Classic on mine instead of EVH Frankenstein humbucker
--Both have relic's 1980s Floyd Rose tremolos
--Both have black Floyd wood screw posts
--Both have red dummy single-coil pickups and relic'd 5-way switches
--Both have screw-eye strap hooks
--Both have old chrome blank neck plates with 61071 serial number
--Both have pick tape on front and trem ground wire tape on back (spring cavity)
--Both have three tremolo springs at 134 to 135 position
--Both have aged back reflectors and blue paint on back edges

Under construction...

custom Charvel neck plate (0126)
silver with black and white stripes
custom hybrid Seymour Duncan "Perpetual Grange 2", which combines a coil from an SD Pearly Gates and a Jason Becker Perpetual Burn humbucker with the Pearly Gates Alnico 2 magnet. The other variation of this humbucker coil swap ("Perpetual Grange 5") is on my Charvel EVH WACF Frankenstrat guitar.
working SD Vintage Stack Tele in the neck position
chrome/black Schaller locking tuners
great take on the Frankenstein

U nder construction...

Fender Starcaster
Fender Stratocaster Wayner Kramer (MC5) with blue headstock
Kramer 5150 Hard Tail with Rosser semi-hollow ash body
Rosser basses Fender Precision Bass -Active Vintage- and Fender Vintage Pine Tele Bass
F hole interior painted black
custom black Charvel neck plate
patriotic paint job
Brown Buckers with All Parts Nashville Tune-O-Matic and XGP stop tail

A combination of two legendary VH axes - the Shark and the Star.

One of EVH's most legendary guitars is his red/silver Shark - the Ibanez Destroyer that had the V cutout behind the bridge. EVH sparingly played the guitar live on Van Halen's first three tours (EVH backstage with his striped Shark (1978)) and it was featured prominently on the 1980 Women And Children First cover and album back. The popular Star was a black/white Charvel with a Danelectro neck that EVH played a lot on that 1980 tour in support of WACF. After that, it was pretty much retired. I did a version of both the Shark and Charvel Star, but wanted to do a combo version - mostly so I could go with that original red/silver paint job found on the EVH Shark. Wayne (Charvel) Guitars did one years ago and it really looked cool.

The guitar has the body of the Star, but the neck/headstock of the Shark. It has the paint job of the Shark - minus the eye bolts - and the single humbucker of the Star. The Seymour Duncan Custom Trembucker is cream/black zebra (bridge to neck), as the Shark humbuckers are cream and black (bridge to neck). The guitar has the Floyd trem as on the Star, but the Gibson bell knob that was once on the Shark. And so on... A thought-out combination.

I went with a KnE Star body with a Kramer Focus neck and painted everything to match the Shark - as close as I could (painted body - front and back). I also used chrome/gold Gotoh tuners as EVH did with the Shark, and ordered a custom-made gold Charvel neck plate. To keep with that gold theme, I used a gold Electrosocket jack cup and a gold EVH D-tuna for the Floyd. And for that Floyd, I tracked down an old 1980s chrome model and went with a unique FU-Tone copper Big Block - great sustain. The Duncan Custom Trembucker was originally in my Kramer EVH Pacer Sustainer guitar, but I swapped it out of that axe to match the EVH purple Pacer-correct black/cream zebra pattern (bridge to neck). I then used that cream/black Duncan for this project, and it worked with the Shark's original humbucker color alignment. Hope that makes sense!

Everything turned out great - you can't go wrong with KnE bodies, and the paint job was fun to do and it turned out great. The Kramer neck plays fast and the Duncan Custom sounds amazing.

On a related note - apparently Kramer's first attempt at an "EVH" guitar was a Star Shark-type model. The following occurred during the summer of 1982, and describes the Kramer "Walker Ad" Frankenstein build:
"Ed looked at all of the unfinished bodies we had available and didn't like any of them. He wanted a maple "Strat" style body to look similar to his other one. Andy sent me up in the loft to try to find and old "Walker Pacer" body that would work. When I gave it to Ed he was happy because it was just what he wanted and JAN26 was stamped in the neck pocket by 'Sports' when it was made. It was his birthday and he was apparently superstitious about his guitars. Then we needed a neck. Ed brought a new Floyd Rose with fine tuners and it was only the second Floyd I ever saw. The first one was on a replica of his (Women & Children First) Destroyer we made a few months earlier. He returned that one so it was sitting in the rack collecting dust. I had no idea how to set up this new tremolo system and no one had any experience routing a neck to accommodate the locking nut. Ed suggested that we just use the neck from the Destroyer copy since it was already set up and routed. I thought he meant temporarily until we could configure a regular beak neck the next day. I thought a strat body with that big banana headstock looked ridiculous and I said so but Ed thought it looked cool."
(Kramer employee Steve Z, 2003)

From a closeup of that 1982 damaged photo, Kramer basically took an Explorer-type body, sawed out a V behind the bridge (doesn't appear to show the drilled holes lining the V), and passed on the two turnbuckles. The picture certainly shows more of a customized Explorer body than what we have come to know as the Star body shape or the Voyager model. Obviously this '82 Kramer Destroyer/Star Shark was a 25.5"-scale guitar with one humbucker, a bolt-on neck, and a Floyd Rose. And it is just red with white stripes to match the Walker Kramer Ad neck headstock. Hmmm - maybe a future build?

April 2018

Under construction...

reverse color scheme from my Red Devil II and Kramer EVH Baretta -Red Devil- guitars
vintage tremolo with titanium saddles
custom Frankenstein rote with GP Zone 57 Plus PAF
custom Charvel neck plate
classic colors look great

Under construction...

based on a red/black Frankenstein paint job
black and off-white paint job
Roswell pickups - Vintage PAF A2 bridge humbucker and a Quarter Pound A5 single coil in the neck position
Charvel-style tremolo - chrome plate with brass saddles, GFS brass block, and Kahler straight steel arm with brass tip
replica Charvel neck plate - CA M3VH (Model 3 Van Halen)
great use of a Squier body and neck

CHARVEL EVH STRAT -Graffiti Stripes-
Under construction...

unique EVH-themed paint job
Charvel neck plate
hot Oripure Alnico 5 humbucker in the black pickguard
chrome locking tuners
interesting-looking stripes

This has to be one of the coolest guitars in hard rock history - EVH's black and yellow Charvel.

As Van Halen's first tour in 1978 was coming to an end, EVH hooked up with Wayne Charvel/Grover Jackson and they made this guitar together. It was pictured prominently on the back of the band's 1979 album, Van Halen II and was his main guitar on the 1979 tour. It seemed to be retired after the 1980 Women And Children First tour and it's final resting place was in Darrell "Dimebag" Abbott's casket at his funeral in December 2004.

Van Halen with his black/yellow Charvel (circa 1979)

Enough of the history of HIS guitar - here's the history of my guitar. I was looking around on eBay in October 2005 and I came across a company, Blackhorse Guitars in Fort Worth, TX, that made Charvel-type bodies for a reasonable price. I checked out their site and saw that they did the VH II black and yellow paint job. I e-mailed Jimmy Lee and Blackhorse and I ordered a mahogany Charvel body with the special black and yellow striping for $400. It took him a few months to do it, but it was worth the wait. The super-glossy paint job looks super!

Around the same time, I found someone on eBay selling an amazing Warmoth ash body body painted with EVH's classic Frankenstein stripes (see Charvel Frankie and the corresponding story above). So basically, I was putting together two guitars at once and a lot of the parts were the same for both. I called Warmoth and ordered two identical maple necks with a 1 11/16" nut width - routed for a Floyd. I then tracked down a pair of Charvel headstock decals off of eBay. I then ordered two sets of chrome Schaller tuners and straplocks. And because tracking down two old 1980s Floyds off of eBay would be tedious, I ordered two new Original Floyd Roses (R3) from Ed Roman Guitars. I also had two Tone knobs (white for Frankie and black for VH II) and two 1976 quarters ready to go. To top it off, I eventually ordered a custom-made Charvel EVH Art Series neckplate with serial number "1979", and added a chrome EVH D-tuna.

I chose a new DiMarzio humbucker for this guitar - the Virtual Hot PAF (F-spaced) - and wired it up myself. Everything was sailing along with the assembly of this guitar until I tried to put on the Floyd Rose. The body is a little bit thicker than a normal body, so the Floyd Rose bridge block isn't long enough for the usual connection via the springs to the trem claw. Big problem. Two ways to fix it. First, I tried to shim the block with pieces if thick plastic, but even though it was screwed down, it started to move. The only other solution was to route out the back of the guitar for the tremolo spring assembly and that's what I did - I routed it down about 3/16" and re-painted that part black. I then doweled the original screw holes for the trem claw and then lowered the spring connection. That fixed it perfect. A lot of people would have sent the body back, but something like this isn't a problem for me - just a challenge (I only say that because it ended up cool)!

After all of this, I finished putting everything together and let me say that this new DiMarzio pickup sounds amazing. I'm sure the heavier mahogany body adds some tone, too. And this guitar looks so cool. When the Charvel EVH Art Series were introduced in 2004, I was drooling over the black and yellow one. If I would have had $2600 laying around, that's the model I would have purchased.

Charvel Art Series - black/yellow

Am I a smart shopper or what? I put this one together for less than $900 and I used the best woods, the best parts, and the results easily compare to the more expensive Charvel. And I also enjoyed the challenges and fun of putting it all together. And that's what it's all about.

Fender EVH '79 Bumblebee

March 2006

Under construction...

idea for a Strat body with a take on the Shark paint job
heavy duty Aumsen brass hard tail bridge
custom hybrid Seymour Duncan "Perpetual Grange 5", which combines a coil from an SD Jason Becker Perpetual Burn and a Pearly Gates humbucker with the Perpetual Burn Alnico 5 magnet. The other variation of this humbucker coil swap ("Perpetual Grange 2") is on my Charvel EVH Frankenstrat HT -Monochrome- guitar.
FU-Tone brass Pickup Mounting System (PMS)
Seymour Duncan Hot Strat single coil
custom Charvel neck plate
chrome Gotoh locking tuners
sounds great and looks pretty cool

See other Charvels and Jacksons:

Charvel and Jackson

-Charvel 1980 Natural Strat
-Charvel EVH Frankenstein J Bass

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