A simple project here. A Kramer version of EVH's '78 Frankenstein, but with the partial pickguard.

I used a mid-1980s black Kramer Focus 3000 body with maple beak neck, by Master Blaster (Ollideann). Before taping stripes and painting the body, I re-routed/filled the pickup cavity to provide a flat base and make it look more like the Frankenstein route. I then put together a wooden paint stick "step" to support humbucker, although you really can't see it under the DiMarzio humbucker because I painted it flat black. It's the same thing I made for my Kramer EVH Blue Frankenstein, which also had a DiMarzio humbucker. I did this because the Frankenstein humbucker route really only works with long-leg humbuckers for screwing the pickup directly unto the wood (and DiMarzios come with short legs). And by the way, I used the zebra DiMarzio Virtual PAF that I saved from my old Kramer Venti axe that I parted out. And yes, this DiMarzio sounds incredible!

After painting the body an off-white color, I relic'd the heck out of it to give it road worn look with - especially with the unplated Floyd Rose I used on it. Overall, this was a fairly easy project with just one painting session, and I pretty much had all the parts laying around - Schaller strap buttons, Gotoh tuners, and an old Kramer neck plate. I didn't go with a dummy single-coil pickup in the neck position, nor the dummy 5-way switch in the middle pickup cavity. Again, the plan was to keep it simple.

A new favorite of mine!

May 2018

Under construction...

1982 Kramer yellow/black 6-12 doubleneck
6-12 custom built for EVH - first Kramer guitar EVH played live with logo
The Diver Down tour didn't begin until July 14, 1982, and EVH may even have received the Kramer 6-12 after the start of the tour, as there are a couple of photos of EVH with his Gibson 6-12 doubleneck, which he picked up in 1981 and used to record Secrets (12-string, non-solo sections). While the Gibson 6-12 may have been his preferred No. 2 behind the yellow/black Kramer 6-12, he did actually have another Kramer 6-12 (red/black/white) - most likely delivered at the same time as the yellow/black one - at his disposal for backup use on the Diver Down tour. Since Secrets hasn't been played live by Van Halen since the 1982-83 Diver Down tour, the yellow/black Kramer 6-12 has been retired and is resting at EVH's 5150 Studio (circa 1990s) with the other doublenecks. Note the missing knob.
doubleneck on '82 Diver Down tour
played during Secrets
EVH with doubleneck at Madison Square Garden
EVH backstage with doubleneck
EVH with doubleneck at '83 US Festival
delivered around same time (mid-1982) as white/black-striped Kramer 1 2
painted body with stripes only on front
with =VH= decal applied and sprayed with clearcoat
strung up with Tonerider Rocksong humbuckers
missing knob, as it would get in the way of the =VH=
looks great with the black sides/back

Under construction...

Kramer (Gibson) "Diver Down" guitar, circa 2014, based on Van Halen's 1982 album, Diver Down
EVH never played a Diver Down-striped Kramer during the band's 1982-83 "Hide Your Sheep" world tour, although he certainly had a red & white theme going on
my Kramer Diver Down tribute guitar
Musikraft korina neck with chrome Schaller tuners
1983 Floyd Rose with a rare Seymour Duncan - the Fender exclusive Pearly Gates Plus humbucker
sharp paint job
white VH logo


This guitar started out with the idea of building a Blue Frankenstein. And to get there, I was able to recycle an old project.

For years I had seen Van Halen fans' Frankenstein guitars in blue, white, and black instead of red, white, and black. And I really like that color combination/look, and I had done something similar with my Charvel EVH Custom. But instead of buying all new parts, I went ahead and took apart my Kramer EVH Venti that I put together back in early 2008. The body is a legit ash KNE Frankenstein, and I had just gone crazy on it with some strange Starbucks theme. Years later, it was a classic "what was I thinking?" I used a heat gun to strip the paint off the body (July 2017) and sprayed it black. I taped off the first set of stripes and sprayed it white and aged it a bit - (front) and (back). I taped it off and then sprayed it a killer shade of blue. Perfect.

For the hardware, I went with a nicely aged chrome Floyd Rose with a stainless steel Big Block (saved the black Floyd from the Venti for something else), a dummy 3-way switch for the middle position route, and a dummy neck pickup. The aged body guts look amazing! I slapped on the old Custom Wood Kramer beak neck with the Schaller tuners, and pretty much re-purposed all the old hardware from the Venti project - including the old 1971 quarter.

For the pickup, I wanted to use the zebra DiMarzio that was in the Venti for another project - and I wanted to use an all-black pickup on the Blue Frankenstein, so I purchased a new DiMarzio PAF Master humbucker and aged it up and wired it in. Because it doesn't have long legs for easy direct mounting to the body, I put together a little wood humbucker seat to keep it firm and stable.

I'm amazed on how well this project went. Everything from removing the paint and re-painting it in the blue theme, the shade of blue and the overall aging - everything was fast, fun, and easy. I love the look of the Blue Frankenstein, and the new Alnico 4 PAF Master sounds really good. This build is a blue tribute to the US Festival era when the Frankenstein had the Kramer beak neck. A lot better than a coffee-themed guitar!

November 2017

Under construction...

'82 EVH Kramer auctioned in late 2013
auction Kramer 1 2
Auction Kramer closeup 1
Auction Kramer closeup 2
Auction Kramer (front & back 1)
Auction Kramer (front & back 2)
'82 Kramer auction info 1
'82 Kramer auction info 2
'82 Kramer auction info closeup text
famous 1985 Kramer guitar ad with John McEnroe and Vitas Gerulaitis
tennis star Vitas Gerulaitis
EVH backstage with Rudy Leiren (left) and Vitas Gerulaitis, 1982 Diver Down tour
Vitas Kramer purchased by The Music Zoo
similar stripe pattern to the blue headstock Kramer
added dummy switch and neck pickup, strap buttons, gold Strat jack plate & partial pickguard
rebuilt (and repainted) right Floyd post hole platform
body zoom with Duncan Custom 2 '59
great paint job
the 1982 Kramer projects - the Auction and the Neptune - both painted by Mark Blankenship

Under construction...

EVH at the Kramer factory in Neptune, NJ with the Neptune
Routing, painting, and assembling the Neptune at the Kramer factory (circa Spring 1983) 1 2 3 4
including a newspaper mention in the Asbury Park Press (NJ) - full article.
EVH with the guitar at the June 1983 National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) show in Chicago (pictured with Kramer boss Dennis Berardi and Floyd Rose) 1 2 3 4 5
on display at the Orlando Hard Rock Café 1 2 3 4 5
fan's Neptune/Hard Rock Café tribute 1 2 3
added dummy switch and neck pickup, strap buttons, gold Strat jack plate & partial pickguard
rebuilt (and repainted) right Floyd post hole platform
body zoom with Gibson '61 Classic
great paint job

One of the most-pictured EVH striped Kramers, but most people don't realize that it was used for only one tour and that it has a unique body shape.

The EVH Kramer Walker was built by Van Halen at the Kramer factory during the summer of 1982, and fans saw it featured prominently in Kramer print ads the following year.
"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 (January 26) 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)
The Walker Strat body shape has a thicker top horn, which gives it a unique shape, and it's actually quite noticeable when you know to look for it. In 1982, Kramer had stopped using the Walker-style bodies (Kramer-Walker Guitars history), but this is the one EVH picked so everyone went with it. From pictures, (1 2 3 4), it looks like EVH assembled and painted the guitar right at the New Jersey factory. He then used it quite a few times on the 1982-83 Diver Down tour (early 1983 South America)...
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

VH fans have been making faithful tribute builds for years and some of these are really inspiring - fan's Kramer-Walker build 1 and fan's Kramer-Walker build 2. The key for me to do one of these was to track down an accurate Walker Strat-shaped body. And Locke Custom Guitars makes just such a body ready to go! I picked up the Locke poplar body and a Musikraft neck and I was all set. Add a chrome German Floyd Rose and a Pariah (Pasadena Series-White) humbucker and it's already a simple project. And then there's the painting and the headstock back decal.

The back of EVH's red Explorer-shaped headstock on this guitar has a white decal in an Old English font that reads "#1 Edward Van Halen Model" (fan's Kramer-Walker build - back of headstock). And yes, I tracked down someone on eBay to make me such a decal about the approximate length. So I started the painting process by spraying the body white, taping stripes, and then spraying it red. No problems and it was starting to take shape. The headstock was the same, and there is no black on the headstock - just the black Kramer logo (and only the headstock face has the white stripes). I then had to "reverse tape" the body to add the overlaid black stripes and that wasn't too bad - it's the same process that he used on his 5150 guitar. And I applied the #1 Edward Van Halen Model decal to the back of the headstock and it looks great!

For other parts, I went with chrome Schaller tuners with gold washers and buttons, and a gold Strat jack plate, and chrome Schaller strap buttons. I even found a vintage Kramer neck plate. I have an unwired "dummy" neck single-coil pickup and I used a real DiMarzio "DM-50 MADE IN JAPAN" switch for the middle pickup cavity. The aged Pariah humbucker looks and sounds amazing, and after aging the body a bit, I think it turned out really well and certainly has the vibe of the original. Especially because the Locke body is super accurate with the Kramer Walker body Strat horn.

Not a cheap project, but it fit together well and there were no issues. That's usually case when I use top quality hardware and electronics. Just like the Kramer ad Walker guitar.

October 2018

Under construction...

Van Halen's Hot For Teacher video from 1984
featured in the guitar solo while walking on the tables
made famous from the video
close-up picture
took it out on the 1984 tour - backstage and in his hotel room
picture from Vintage Kramer (
straight forward paint job
1984 MTV memories
Seymour Duncan Custom 5 humbucker and 1983 chrome Floyd Rose
custom Period Correct Guitar Parts HFT Volume knob
chrome Kramer neck plate (07120)

Under construction...

EVH holding a Kramer Pacer Imperial, circa mid-1982. Note the maple neck with the classic "beak" (post-Strat) headstock and Rockinger tremolo.
Other b&w pics of EVH with the Pacer Imperial 1 2 3
different shades of white (gloss white and satin "heirloom" white)
two volumes and a master tone with mini 3-way switch
Seymour Duncan Designed 101 (59) in the neck and 102 (JB) for the bridge with chrome 1980s Floyd Rose
chrome Gotoh tuners and Floyd wrench holder
turned out great

For a guitar that EVH only used for one year on one tour - this project sure took a while.

This essentially is a Warmoth project (both body and neck are Warmoth) and I began this in 2005, finishing it in the summer of 2010 with a different Warmoth neck. But before stating the specifics and all the issues along that road, here's the info on the EVH original.

In late 1981 or early 1982, EVH acquired a purple Kramer Pacer Imperial with a maple neck and was photographed with it jamming with Alan Holdsworth in late April 1982. The guitar next turned up live with Van Halen in 1982 for the Diver Down tour (1 2) but it sure looked more colorful. EVH applied blue, orange, white, and yellow strips of electrical tape and he also appeared to have replaced the bridge humbucker with a zebra model. Pictures of this guitar are hard to come by, and I only found one photo where he actually uses it on stage. EVH's model featured a gold Rockinger tremolo (Kramers had these trems before they went with Floyd Rose in late 1982) and gold tuners. The neck pickup seems to be a stock Schaller (Kramers came stock with Schaller humbuckers before hooking up with Seymour Duncan in the mid-1980s), but it's anyone's guess as to what the zebra humbucker is (most likely Duncan). EVH's purple Pacer disappeared from use after 1982, although EVH seems to have kept it at 5150 with his other guitars.

And then there's mine. I originally did not intend for this project to be an EVH purple Pacer tribute model - I was looking to make something similar to my Charvel EVH Custom, but with two humbuckers - including a Fernandes Sustainer unit - and a different color scheme - cream, burgundy, and gold. The Warmoth neck I wanted to use on this project was exactly like the neck on the Charvel EVH Custom in that it featured birdseye maple, abalone dot inlays, and a square heel. I began to paint it, but slowly lost interest in this obscure paint pattern. So the project sat. And sat.

In 2007 at some point, I made the decision to model this project after the EVH purple Pacer. Since I hadn't progressed too far on the Charvel version of this project, it wasn't too big of a deal to sand the body down and spray it purple. I went to Home Depot and picked up the appropriate electrical tape color rolls and tried to follow EVH's pattern as close as possible. And that tape is on there - no clear coat necessary. I decided not to go for the original Rockinger tremolo, since they are a pretty rare find on eBay and maintaining it with replacement parts would be impossible. Thank God for Floyd Rose!

Since the Fernandes Sustainer occupies the neck humbucker slot, I needed to decide on zebra bridge pickup. After some consideration, I went with a Seymour Duncan Custom Trembucker, but I realized after I got it that its zebra alignment is cream to black (bridge to neck), while EVH's is black to cream from the bridge. Oh well. Other notable differences include (besides the Fernandes Sustainer and the Floyd Rose): chrome hardware (Floyd, tuners), old Ibanez knobs (instead of Gibson speed knobs), and mine has just one volume and one tone (EVH's has one volume and two tones). I attached the neck and even strung it up, but with the complex Fernandes Sustainer, I needed it to be professionally wired. So it sat. And sat.

The next movement came in October 2009 when I ordered a flame maple neck from Warmoth for my Fender EVH Frankenstein, which was still waiting to be a baritone (see story above). I eventually ordered a Warmoth baritone Tele neck and planned to use the flame maple Warmoth neck for another project, but thought that the birdseye Warmoth neck on my purple pacer project would be a starter for a new guitar project (eventually sold), since it had a square heel, so I slapped a black Kramer decal on the flame maple neck and screwed it to the purple Pacer. Whew - that was confusing! And then, because everything seemed set, I got off my rear end and took the purple Pacer Sustainer into the shop to get it professionally wired in May 2010 - FINALLY! And I'm glad I did - that wiring looks really complicated!

So it's finally all done. An alder Warmoth body with a flame maple Warmoth neck. The bridge Duncan Custom pickup sounds massive and the Fernandes Sustainer tool is pretty slick - it's like having an E-Bow mounted to your guitar. And with a few exceptions, it looks awefully close to EVH's multi-colored purple Pacer that he used for one tour in 1982. And it only took about five years to get there!

June 2010

UPDATE: December 2014

The Duncan Custom Trembucker being the wrong zebra pattern (Seymour Duncan standard zebra is cream to black - bridge to neck) bothered me a little bit, so I ordered a reverse zebra (black is closest to the bridge) Duncan Distortion Trembucker and wired it in. Now the guitar matches EVH's original purple Pacer. I used the Custom Trembucker in my Charvel EVH Star Shark and that worked out perfect, since it's a single humbucker guitar and the cream-to-black coil order matches the cream-to-black humbuckers found on EVH's Shark guitar. Devil in the details!

See other Kramers:

5150 Kramers
Kramer Projects
Van Halen Kramers - Inspired By

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