This one has to be one of my favorite guitars from the early EVH era. The circa 1980 Charvel "Star" guitar with the Danelectro neck.

The guitar has some simple history. It first appeared as just white in a late-1979 photo (far right) with a herd of EVH's axes. Then at some point before VH's 1980 Invasion World Tour, EVH had it painted up with some weird designs and it was actually used quite extensively live that year. 1 2 3 4 5 EVH's guitar featured an early, non-fine tuner Floyd Rose and a cream humbucker. The neck is a 21-fret, maple/rosewood Danelectro model with a Floyd locking nut.

More info on EVH's Danelectro neck history

I started the project in October 2008 by purchasing an alder Charvel-type Star body from Mitch at KnE for around $120. I then had Warmoth make me a custom, 22-fret Danelectro neck out of maple and pau ferro, routed for a Floyd nut. I then stained the maple part of the neck with coffee to give it a nice aged, worn-in look. The wood was all set!

And then came the painting. Unfortunately, not too many closeups (1 2) exist of this axe, so reproducing it seemed like a real pain, although VH forum member Dino did a really great job. I first sprayed the body white a few times with white primer and wet sanded it between coats to make it perfectly smooth. Then I sprayed it white. I literally let it dry for about a month and then got crazy with some tape - that took forever! I had to manipulate the tape in every possible way to resemble the shapes and designs on EVH's original. I would not want to do that again... I then sprayed it black and waitied a day and then peeled the tape off. Not too bad. I then sprayed it clear several times and wet-sanded in between coats to get it nice a smooth and clear. It actually came out really cool (front back).

Of course, I went with a real 1980s Floyd Rose tremolo and added a brass Big Block from FU-Tone.com for extra sustain (there's a lot of wood missing from the bridge area on a Star body). I then added some chrome 3x3 Gotoh tuners, chrome Schaller straplocks, a chrome Electrosocket jack, and a chrome volume knob.

For the pickup, I went with a cream, F-spaced DiMarzio PAF 36th Anniversary bridge model. Maybe it's me, but I think it sounds a bit thin - probably because the body it pretty light and there's not a lot of mass around the bridge. Ah, but I get picky and it can easily be EQ'd up.

Well, it not an exact match - that's for sure. I doubt EVH's 80 Star was clear-coated and it didn't have a 22-fret neck, or a Floyd with fine tuners. And the paint job doesn't match exactly. But it looks close enough for me and it's cool to have a version of such a cool guitar from early VH history.

August 2009

Another interesting EVH-themed striped guitar that just came out of nowhere.

This build came together when I stumbled on a black/yellow striped body on eBay in early 2016. The basswood body by Mojo Bodies was routed for a Floyd and one humbucker, and had the Charvel/Jackson control cavity and San Dimas-style shape and edges (less rounded). Whoever painted it just used cans, but did a pretty good job, and I like the fact that it's an original design - not the classic EVH "bumblebee" pattern.

Of course then I'd need a neck. Around the same time, I saw some nice Strat necks being sold on eBay from Michigan that came with the Floyd nut route, and to keep with the I'm going to do this one a little different plan, I ordered one of the necks with a rosewood board. Very impressive quality and a great value. With the 12th-fret dot spacing and the Strat headstock, the 22-fret neck reminded of the original "Strat" Kramer headstock, before Fender stepped in with a cease and desist. The neck came with a thin seal, and I sanded it off and dirtied it a bit to give it a nice aged look.

For the hardware, I broke down and for the first time in my life, purchased a gold Floyd Rose tremolo. Luckily, I found a good deal on an old 1980s model; I just cleaned it up and upgraded the screws and string blocks. I also replaced the stock arm with a chrome one (as with my black Floyds) and swapped the trem sustain block with a thick brass one, as well as adding a chrome EVH d-tuna. I had a set of chrome Schaller tuners, so to fit in with the gold theme, I replaced the knobs and bushings with gold ones, so it now has a cool chrome/gold Schaller look. I went with a gold R2 Floyd nut, gold Schaller strap buttons, and to top if off, I used an old chrome Jackson neck plate to hold everything together.

For the pickup, I went with an F-spaced DiMarzio Tone Zone in white. I have a black Tone Zone in my Smithtone Flintstones axe and I love that tone. I went with white to match the white Tone knob, and I think that it looks good with the black/yellow paint job and the gold hardware theme. Speaking of the gold hardware, one of the deciding reasons for going with the gold Floyd Rose was to get close to the look of Van Halen's Charvel VH2 with gold Floyd Rose, circa 1990. And a lot of the old black/yellow Charvels from the late 1970s and early 1980s had brass hardware, and that was in my mind, too. Examples are Van Halen's '82 Charvel from the 1982 Entertainment Tonight TV clip 1 2, and these other Charvel black/yellow striped guitars 3 4 5 6 7.

I love the way this guitar plays and the Tone Zone is an awesome pickup. It's like a Charvel/Jackson body with a Kramer neck, and how can you go wrong with that? And the gold hardware is really growing on me!

May 2016

Well I broke down and had to try one of these newer EVH Stripe Series guitars. Made a few changes along the way.

When EVH Guitars put out the three Art Series striped versions in 2004 - for about $2500, I balked. Way too expensive for what you get. Then in January 2013, EVH rolled out the new Striped Series (made in Mexico), and these were less than half the cost. So when I saw someone online looking to sell their used 2013 red, black & white (RBW) version for $500 during the summer of 2015, I said "heck yeah!"

The guitar comes with some amazing appointments, in addition to the really cool paint job, but I still made some changes to really hot rod this guitar. First, I replaced the stock black EVH pickup (foreign made) with an authentic zebra EVH Wolfgang bridge humbucker. I even routed the pickup area to resemble the classic Kramer 5150 humbucker route, since it screws directly into the wood. I also replaced the EVH-branded Floyd Rose (which is essentially a Floyd Rose 1000) with a 1990s German-made Floyd I had laying around, along with a German-made R3 locking nut and brass Big Block. I even swapped out the stock chrome Floyd pivot posts for black ones. And I added a black EVH D-tuna (replaced the stock chrome one) and chrome Schaller straplocks.

And that was about it. I kept the chrome EVH tuners and the EVH neck plate, and relic'd the entire guitar to give it that Fender "Road Worn" appearance. A LOT of sanding on that body, since the factory finish was pretty thick. I used some graphite powder on the neck to give it a well-played look & feel, and aged the humbucker and Floyd. I tracked down a 1971 quarter and screwed it into the body face near the Floyd to resemble the Frankenstein setup. I also sanded off the big EVH headstock logo.

The guitar looks, plays, and sounds great, and the upgrades and additions weren't too big of a headache, although setting up the angle on the Floyd seemed tougher than usual. I had to sand down the back of the neck butt and add a shim to improve the angle in order to keep the action right and still use the D-tuna. Compared to the stock EVH RBW, I'd say mine looks pretty cool.

Yes, there are guys on eBay modifying EVH RBWs to match his Frankenstein guitar, but I didn't want to go that far. So this one is a cross between the Frankenstein and his 5150.

August 2015

UPDATE: April 2017

My latest kick is taking older Floyd Rose base plates and using my Dremel to take off the chrome plating right down to the bare steel. The Floyd looks good with the matte steel finish and it's actually kinda fun and easy. So since the older chrome Floyd on this EVH guitar had some chips and blemishes, I went ahead and performed this little modification. And the unplated steel with the aged black saddles looks really cool.

This one is essentially a negative of Van Halen's '78 white with black stripes Frankenstein.

Nothing too complex here - I just wanted to do a '78 Frankenstein and reverse the black and white colors, as well as the hardware (chrome & black). For the body, I ordered a KnE Frank body in alder, and the neck is Master Blaster with a Strat headstock and rosewood fretboard (instead of maple). I painted the headstock face black and tracked down a vintage '70s Fender Stratocaster waterslide in white. The tuners are chrome/black Fender Schallers to keep with the Fender theme.

For the body, I painted it white to start with instead of black, taped off the '78 stripe pattern, and sprayed it black instead of white. Super easy and it turned out looking pretty good. I went with my black Floyd Rose from my old Circus to stick with the reverse theme and a white partial pickguard with a black Tone knob. I even used black tremolo springs to be different!

For the humbucker, I just had to find a good white one instead of a black one, and Nico's USA/Planet Tone Pasadena humbucker absolutely fits that bill. EVH tones galore! I threw in a black dummy neck pickup and the obvious 5-way stich for the middle cavity to complete the Frankenstein process. I finished everything off with a chrome Fender neck plate, black Schaller strap buttons, a black Strat jack cup, and a 1976 quarter. I lightly aged the pickup and hardware, and barely touched up the body.

This project didn't take too long and I think the reverse Fender Frankenstein looks really cool.

July 2018

It's actually really simple. This fan's Les Paul Frankenstein project made me want to do something similar.

Ed Van Halen has been playing Les Pauls since before the band was signed in 1977, but I think this striped Les Paul Custom is the only Franken-Paul he has been pictured with. So after seeing that fan's example, I thought I could do something fairly cheap with an Epiphone and turn it into a Gibson-looking axe.

I found a cheap 2017 Epiphone Les Paul Special "Walnut" on eBay (it's actually mahogany but they stain it a walnut color), which would be easy to paint since the body had a matte finish. I closed up the Tone and switch holes in the control area and then it was spray paint city. I painted the body black, striped it up with a Frankenstein-style tape job, and then sprayed it white. I taped it up again and shot it red - it doesn't look too bad, although it's kinda strange to see the Frankenstein pattern squeezed on an LP body. And, of course, I relic'd it up a bit.

And then came the 2017 Epiphone neck. Epiphone headstocks have a unique (non-Gibson) outline, but I have done a couple of projects where I sand the sides down to make the headstock narrow and it closely resembles the famous Gibson Melody Maker outline. I did this with my Gibson Les Paul Junior Melody Maker. For the LP Frank, I sanded it down, sprayed it black, applied a Gibson decal and I was in business with another Melody Maker-type headstock. (I also did another narrow headstock on my Charvel EVH Explorer Striped Classic.)

So with the body and neck done, it was time for some hardware. I went with Gotoh locking tuners, an XGP solid brass tail piece and chrome Tune-O-Matic with brass saddles, and I had an old 61071 neck plate ready to go. I even used some leftover reflectors on back like the Frankenstein body back and modified an "off by one year" 1972 quarter to complete the Frankenstein look.

For the pickup, I wented with a cheap ceramic Guitar Madness (G.M.) 1984 humbucker, and I'm actually impressed. I purchased it in black (it's spaced perfectly for the Epiphone bridge/string spacing) and aged it. The thing was less than $20 and it's comparable to a Duncan Distortion. It's amazing what they are doing overseas with guitar pickups.

Overall, it was a pretty simple project with a lot of painting, but it turned out well. I enjoy making these oddball EVH guitars and it's fun to turn an Epiphone headstock into a Melody Maker!

July 2018

Under construction...

Talk about an obscure EVH project! This guitar seems to have only been used one night in 1980, and has to be the ugliest axe Van Halen has ever played on stage. So naturally here we are discussing my attempt at something like it.

Pictures of EVH with this blue guitar with red stripes, circa 1980 Invasion tour, began circulating online in May 2017. The best guess is that the guitar was a Yamaha SuperFlighter (SF) Series that was probably red and then taped up and painted the sick blue, although some online contributors thought the guitar was originally blue and then striped with red electrical tape. I agree with those that think it was naturally red, striped and then painted blue, because not all the stripes are the same width (see pinstripes in closeup). Also, one stripe goes right through the pickup cavity - which you really wouldn't do if your were just applying tape (see EVH's 1982 Purple Pacer), and because of the back of the neck (set-in) has stripes. Regardless, it's a one-humbucker, Strat-ish shape body, rosewood neck with a 3x3 tuner headstock, and some type of tremolo (most likely the stock, heavy looking contraption on the Yamaha SF-3000 model, and not an early Floyd Rose). EVH seems to have played this super-weird axe one night (two songs maybe?) in San Antonio, TX on August 27, 1980. And incidentally, EVH met Valerie Bertinelli for the first time two nights later backstage after the show in Shreveport, LA.

So how would I start building a replica "prototype" for this ugly Yamaha? Buying a an old Washburn guitar, of course! A 2000 red Washburn BT-4 model (SN# IS00122147), to be exact. I wasn't going to get it exact and was looking to do something relatively inexpensive, so this route actually made sense to me. And this wasn't my first shot at an EVH guitar that seems to have been only used at one show. I was taken with Van Halen's black Charvel Explorer from 1978 to the point where I built a tribute to that one. This is actually the second Washburn BT guitar I've crossed paths with - in 1997 I purchased a new Washburn BT-5 guitar and it's a quality mahogany body with a nice 24 3/4" scale.

So why was EVH playing a striped Yamaha once back in 1980? Maybe one of his backups wasn't available and he grabbed something from a local music store. But if I'm right and those stripes are painted, then the time to do that shows a little forethought to the point that maybe this was planned. Did a buddy bring it by the show and EVH thought it would be a kick to play it onstage for a song or two? Or did the Yamaha rep swing by with it (already painted?) and EVH did him a solid by playing it live that night? Remember, Michael Anthony was a big Yamaha bass user and it's possible Yamaha reps could have been backstage from time to time and if you're there to see Mike and the greatest guitar player is also hanging out back there, wouldn't you try to get him to use your stuff, too?

I striped the red Washburn body as close to the EVH Yamaha as possible (body front & back) and it turned out well. I threw in the stock dummy single-coil pickup in the neck position and left the middle route open. For the neck, I sanded off the Washburn logo on the headstock and re-painted it black. I tracked down a Yamaha logo waterslide on eBay and it looks pretty good.

I picked up a really odd, no-name white humbucker (circa early 1980s) on eBay and named it the "Viking 800"; I have no idea what it is, but it's really well made. It has a 7.91 DCR (measured), real wood spacer, nickel-silver baseplate, long legs, and an Alnico 2 magnet. Not knowing what it is, I named it the "Viking 800" - no idea why. The "Viking" isn't F-spaced, so I had to angle it in the widened bridge cavity. I wired it up straight to the volume pot, so there's an unused hole for the tone control and the blade 5-way switch. The Yamaha SF-3000 model has both volume and tone controls, but the blue & red-striped version EVH had in 1980 seems to only have one knob. EVH probably passed on the tone, too.

For the hardware, I went with a set of GFS 3x3 locking tuners and a GFS MIM tremolo (modern saddles) with a solid steel block - the same, exact trem that's on my Charvel Holdsworth Strat. I also added a trem stop in the back - the first guitar where I've installed one. I used an old neck plate I had laying around (stamped 59733), added Schaller strap buttons, and swapped the stock nut for a Graph Tech Black Tusq graphite one.

Overall, it's an ugly guitar that plays and sounds surprisingly well, and it has a cool story behind it.

November 2018

See other striped & EVH-related guitar creations:

5150 Kramers
Ernie Ball Music Man Projects
EVH Wolfgang Projects
Jerry Lica EVH Art
Van Halen Charvels
Van Halen Kramers - Inspired By
Van Halen Kramers - Tributes
Van Halen Related Projects

-Charvel EVH Frankenstein J Bass
-Ernie Ball Music Man EVH
-EVH Shark
-Fender EVH Frankenstein PJ Bass
-Peavey EVH Wolfgang
-Red Devil II

previous story   back to the BEHIND THE GUITARS page   next story