EVH WOLFGANG PROJECTS
CHARVEL EVH FRANKWOLF PROTOTYPE
blown out Floyd post - not enough wood around the pivot screws
glued in a maple block and shaped it
added more wood around where the pivot holes would be
drilled holes, installed new pivot screws, and painted to match
Musikraft Wolf neck with Coney Island Brazilian Walnut (Ipe) wood fretboard (circa 1920s)
square heel fits in body
with EVH and Charvel waterslide
heavy ash body and killer Frankenstein paint job
customized Seymour Duncan JB humbucker with rough Alnico 2 magnet
SUPER-WIDE brass Floyd block
neck attachment ferrules
3x3 Gotoh tuners
CHARVEL EVH PINE TELE-WOLF
Half Wolfgang - half Telecaster. With a pine theme thrown in.
While browsing some pine guitar bodies on eBay, I found a company called ToneBomb Guitars that made hybrid Telecaster/Wolfgang bodies. In pine. Well of course I had to get one. The two-piece, center-joined pine body was routed for a square-heel Tele neck, a top-mount Tele control cavity, and a strings-through-body Tele half bridge. But it was in the shape of a Wolfgang body with a single bridge humbucker route - very cool. And it was less than $75!
I obviously picked up a reasonable Mighty Mite Tele neck in maple to complete the theme. I had a 1990s Charvel neck plate sitting around, so I painted the headstock face black and ordered a matching gold Charvel waterslide decal. That way it kinda looks like the headstock on EVH's Charvel pictured on the second album. For the tuners, I ordered a set of chrome locking GFS, and I topped it all off with a circular string tree. I also took quite a bit of the finish off the neck and stained it with a mix of lemon oil and graphite powder, to give it a nice relic'd look.
I decided early on to paint the body like Van Halen's famous black/yellow Charvel, although with a lighter shade of yellow - Sun Yellow. I also got the idea from EVH Guitars' 2015 Limited Edition EVH Wolfgang "Bumblebee" striped guitar, which I thought looked really cool. Because there were some knots in the pine, and because my striping lines weren't perfectly exact (nor exactly perfect), I fully relic'd the body. For the body hardware, I tracked down a USA GPG Half-Cut Tele bridge made out of thick, unfinished stainless steel. It's an amazing piece of machinery. I ordered an undrilled Tele control cavity cover and drilled two holes for volume and tone. I added in some chrome Schaller strap buttons, chrome vintage Tele knobs, and some 5/16" nickel ferrules for the back. I was in business.
For electronics, I used the zebra GFS VEH humbucker that I originally had in my Fender EVH 77 Black Strat, as I needed an "F-spaced" humbucker for this project and with the slanted positioning in the 77 Black Strat tribute, it was unnecessary. (I had ordered a zebra DiMarzio F-spaced FRED humbucker, but it turned out to be a regular-spaced HB, so I just dropped it into the 77 Strat - worked out perfectly.) I used CTS 500K pot for the volume, and a CTS 250K pot for the tone, with a .022uf Sprague Orange Drop tone cap thrown in. A Switchcraft jack in an aluminum Electrosocket cup tied up everything nicely.
The GFS VEH pickup sounds great in the pine body, and although it has some Telecaster appointments, this one is truly a Wolfgang-sounding axe. And it looks all Van Halen.
EVH WOLFGANG FRANKENSTEIN PROTOTYPE
This is how it all started. In December 2013, I broke down and purchased a 2010 ivory EVH Wolfgang Special with a maple neck. Then in July 2014, I picked up another used Japanese Special (Stealth HT), this one with an ebony neck, so I could swap necks with my ivory Special (see my EVH Wolfgang Vintage White Special project). I sold the Stealth body, but I held onto the maple EVH neck - for this.
Also in 2014, EVH Gear/Fender released a Limited Edition EVH Wolfgang "Frankenstein" striped guitar and it looked really cool - man did I want one! But it was pretty expensive, so I took a short cut. I contacted Scott Fletcher with Jet City Guitars, and he made me an unfinished alder Wolfgang body that fit perfectly with the neck. It was just like the real deal - except with just the bridge humbucker route. It took some courage to build up to it, but I eventually attempted my first Frankenstein paint job in May 2015. I followed a combination of the real Frankenstein and the 2014 Wolfgang paint scheme and I was pretty pleased (front and back). I aged it a bit and with that maple neck in hand, I was ready for some hardware and guts.
Since the neck I had was fully loaded (I did swap the pearloid buttons for black tuner ones from the Stealth), I only had to worry about body hardware. I took the 2005 chrome Floyd Rose that I had originally had on my "super-glossed" Frankenstein body (busy summer!) and rebuilt it a bit to match the EVH Floyd on my EVH Wolfgang Special MIJ. I replaced all the screws (nut clamp, nut through neck, string lock & saddle lock) with stainless steel screws (great look!), and then swapped out the standard block inserts with titanium blocks. I also upgraded the tremolo block to a 40mm brass Big Block. Now it's indestructible!
For the pickup, I went with a DiMarzio F-spaced Air Zone in white & black zebra. I screwed the pickup directly into the wood and wired it up to an EVH Bourns pot with EVH's standard black "MXR Dunlop" glow knob. And with no neck pickup or 3-way switch, this was the simplest (and my favorite) wiring job.
The only interesting thing about this project besides the crazy paint job was filling the neck butt holes, and drilling the holes for the curved neck plate. Always fun filling and drilling neck plate holes. But everything went according to plan and this guitar plays really well - love those stainless steel frets. And the Air Zone gets a really good EVH tone. Glad I saved that neck!
EVH WOLFGANG STEALTH SPECIAL MIM
Another EVH Wolfgang. But this Special was made in Mexico.
Toward the end of 2014, EVH Gear moved the production of its Wolfgang Special line to Mexico. This change also resulted in some different features. Two of the biggest changes were the discontinuation of the stainless steel frets and the addition of the carved top (previously only available on USA models). And of course there were some new colors added.
Besides the matte black Stealth, I really liked the Natural, Gold, and matte green Drab colors, and in early 2017, I found a ridiculous deal on a used Natural Made In Mexico (MIM) Wolfgang Special. The carved basswood body top came with a flamed maple veneer, and with the cream binding and black hardware it looked really good. But the maple neck was significantly thicker than the my Japanese Special and USA necks, and color-wise it was kinda closer to a tan/orange than natural.
In June 2017, I found an even better deal on a used MIM black Stealth Special model. Hmmmm. I grabbed the Stealth and sold the Natural MIM - for the same price I had bought it for originally. So I actually saved a little bit since the Stealth was even cheaper. I love that matte black look and the neck is thinner - just like the USA and Japanese Wolfgangs. Wolfgang owners know that the 3-way switch is set up opposite from a Les Paul pickup selector - down in neck and up is bridge. But this Wolfgang Special came configured that same as a Les Paul - down is bridge and up is neck, so I just left it. I know that quite a few Wolfgang owners switch the wiring around to match the Gibson selector direction, anyway. Another thing that made this axe cool was that the flat-black Stealth model (with the ebony fretboard) became EVH's No. 1 on the 2012 "Different Truth" tour, so this one looks very close to that.
I had made two changes on the Natural that I then applied to the Stealth. In doing some research on the EVH Floyd Rose, I discovered that the Wolfgang USA model Floyd (German) is different than the Wolfgang Special Floyd (Korean). The EVH Floyd Rose on the Wolfgang Special is essentially the Floyd Rose 1000 (same as German model, but made in Korea) and with EVH branding. So I modded the stock EVH Floyd Rose (FR 1000 equivalent) with German black saddles, stainless steel screws, titanium block inserts, a chrome D-tuna, and a real German chrome arm (also a brass Big Block). I also swapped out the stock strap buttons for black Schaller straplocks. That's it.
There was one thing about the date of the Stealth Special, though, that had me wondering. The headstock stamp shows a 2014 serial number, but the neck butt decal shows a May 2015 date. So I'm not positive if this was maybe began in late 2014, but finally completed in May 2015? (Guitars don't take 5-6 months to build.) Or maybe it is a 2014 model that had to go back to the factory in 2015 for some type of adjustment? I may end up calling Fender/EVH Gear to get an answer - not that it's a big deal.
The Stealth Special guitar plays great, sounds great, and looks amazing. The tone from the Wolfgang humbuckers cuts through everything. And I love the look of the matte black carved top with cream binding. I just hope I don't find a screaming deal on another used MIM Special!
EVH WOLFGANG STEALTH USA HT
A real USA Stealth EVH Wolfgang!
In September 2016, I purchased a 2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo in matte gray. Great Deal. Low Miles. Awesome car. The next month, I found a 2013 USA Stealth Wolfgang Hard Tail (HT) in matte gray. These guitars retail for over $4,000. I won't say how much the deal was for, but let's just say it was a no-brainer. I scrounged together some money and pulled the trigger. And yes, it came with the top-of-the-line EVH molded case.
Changes? Two. First, I replaced the stock strap buttons with black Schaller straplocks. Second, I am so spoiled with locking tuners (no Floyd on this HT Stealth), so I replaced the 3x3 EVH tuners with black Hipshot locking tuners - an exact fit for the mounting screws. That's it. I now have the USA and import models of all of EVH's signature models from Ernie Ball Music Man, Peavey, and EVH Gear (Fender).
So instead of writing how great it looks and how amazing it sounds, here are some pictures:
matte gray EVH Wolfgang Stealth USA HT
black 3x3 Hipshot locking tuners
back of the Wolfgang body
5-ply black binding on the body
ebony fretboard with mother-of-pearl block inlays
black 3-way switch
black Gotoh Tune-O-Matic/hardtail with fine tuners
shielded cavity with EVH Bourns pots
amazing matte gray finish
2013 EVH Wolfgang Stealth USA HT in its EVH molded case
EVH Wolfgang molded case
EVH Wolfgang molded case striped design/logo
my 2013 matte gray Hyundai Veloster Turbo with my 2013 matte gray EVH Wolfgang USA HT
And yes, the action is perfect. A flawless guitar. This guitar and that car linked by year and color. Both great deals. Both low miles. Awesome rides.
FENDER EVH WOLFGANG F
Man, was I tempted!
Crusing eBay one day in early 2009, I saw a guy (Stan Shields @ the Inventing Shed) who made Wolfgang-style bodies with spalted maple caps. I emailed him him and asked if he could make one with a single bridge humbucker, and he said to check eBay in a week or two and sure enough - one appeared with a really cool F-hole and I scooped it up. My first plan was to put a Bigsby on it, but after receiving the body, I realized that there wasn't enough room on the Wolfgang, so I ended up using the Bigsby on my Vox Phantom II project. I then began searching eBay for a non-Floyd Peavey Wolfgang neck, but those are kinda rare, so I got the idea to use a neck that I already had for another project (Taxicaster). Ironically, I then picked up a Fender Starcaster neck with an arrow headstock for the Taxicaster and ended up using that for the Vox project, so whatever neck I eventually go with for the Taxicaster will be idea #3. But that will be another story down the road.
The neck I originally had in mind for the Taxicaster project was a Warmoth birdseye maple Strat neck with a graphite nut. What makes the neck special is that it is a conversion-scale neck, meaning it is built to be put on a 25 1/2"-scale body and it will make the guitar 24 3/4" scale - very clever. I had Trey from eBay make me up a custom Fender EVH Wolfgang waterslide for the headstock, and I eventually got a hold of an Edward Van Halen signature vinyl decal from Best-Decals to further identify it.
And now for the hardware. I wanted it all to be black. Because the Wolfgang body wasn't made for a tremolo, I wanted to put a cool bridge on there - something I hadn't used before (not just another Tune-O-Matic). I went with a Hipshot Baby Grand bridge (pain to install correctly). I also added Schaller locking tuners with ebony buttons, and Schaller straplocks, as well as an MXR volume knob. I ordered a smaller Carvin neck plate, as the rounded edges of the body prevented me from using a standard size plate.
And then there was the matter of selecting a pickup. In early 2009, EVH released two versions of the EVH Frankenstein humbucker - an aged one for $400 and a regular one for $140. I went with the latter and it's a great pickup indeed. A simple wiring job which I did myself.
As for the finish, since the body was made of basswood with a spalted maple cap, I decided to spray the sides and back black, and just rub lemon oil on the top, which turned out really nice.
Of course, with the Frankenstein pickup, the guitar sounds great plugged in. But with the resonant basswood and chambered body with the F-hole, it sounds great unplugged, as well. And the Warmoth neck - wow - these things are always perfect & consistent out of the box.
UPDATE: May 2015
I swapped the EVH Frankenstein pickup with the Smit's Boosted Classic pickup from my EVH 78 Frank guitar. I should have done this years ago - the Frankenstein HB has normal spacing, while the Smit's has F spacing. Since EVH used a normal-spaced humbucker slanted in his Frankenstein axe, it made more sense to use that pickup there. And the F-spaced Smit's HB lines up better on the Wolfgang F with the Hipshot Baby Grand bridge. And yes, both pickups sound killer!
PEAVEY EVH WOLFGANG SPECIAL
I seriously debated about buying this guitar, since I already owned a Wolfgang. There aren't a lot of differences between the Special and the original model. The biggest difference is the body - it's not a carved top, but it is solid basswood. The Special doesn't have a tilt-back headstock and it doesn't have a tone control. Also, the tuners are stock Peavey - not Schaller. Otherwise, they're pretty much the same.
I thought the Peavey I bought, a gold Wolfgang Special, looked cool, and it's not like I had a lot of choices. In 1998, Peavey was making the USA Special in black, ivory, and gold.
Well, just as with my black Wolfgang, there's not a whole lot of modifications to make on this guitar. I swapped the stock strap buttons for Schaller straplocks, and I replaced the volume knob with a tone knob.
The big modification for this guitar came two years after I bought it, in May 2000, when I shipped the body to Roland Hernandez of Rol's Guitars in Arizona to be striped - Edward Van Halen-style! I had stumbled upon Roland's Web site off a link from the Van Halen News Desk. I thought his stripe jobs looked great, and while I wanted an EVH-paint job on my Special, I didn't feel like trying. So, I took off the neck, stripped the hardware off the body, and shipped it to Roland with $200.
What makes Roland's work so good is not the perfection of the paint job, but the imperfections. Anyone who knows anything about Ed's guitars, knows that his guitars are not professionally painted. It's what gives them so much character. Roland was able to duplicate this character. After he shipped it back, I clear-coated the body and it looks and plays great - no problems. If you look closely at the guitar, you can easily spot the imperfections. Just the way I wanted it.
Roland actually did a custom job for me. On his site at the time, he offered the Special done in a red, black, and white scheme, but that's not what I was looking for. He also painted Strat bodies in black/white and yellow/black, to match Ed's guitars from VH I and VH II, respectively. I asked Roland if he could do a Special in black/white (VH I colors), but with the yellow/black (VH II) striping pattern. He did a great job. He even started to offer my custom request on his site and had a picture of my guitar to show what that option looked like. He also posted my e-mail, using me as a reference for potential buyers.
Unfortunately, Ed's lawyers, in early 2002, threatened to take Roland to court for painting and selling guitars with the EVH stripe job. Apparently, Ed has trademarked his guitar stripe jobs as "Frankenstein Artwork," forbidding any entrepreneur from selling EVH-striped guitars. If you go to the Rol's Guitars site now, Roland has explained the situation.
The bottom line is that this Peavey Wolfgang Special rocks and looks cool. I think even Ed would think it's cool - although he might get a lawyer after me. Seriously, thanks Roland for the super work!
Another Wolfgang guitar:
Peavey EVH Wolfgang
previous story back to the BEHIND THE GUITARS page next story