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Early Van Halen Tone Without a Plexi/Variac Setup?

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  • Early Van Halen Tone Without a Plexi/Variac Setup?

    There has been a lot of discussion about which pickup/magnet combos to use in obtaining the earlier VH tone. A main part of this is modding a Plexi with a variac. How many people logistically can/are able to do this?

    I guess my question asks the question, short of modding a Plexi, what pickup in a Strat-style guitar (with a Floyd) with a Marshall amp will get the sound? It would appear that it will probably be some variation of a 59B...

    Thoughts?

    Thanks
    Chris

  • #2
    Re: Early Van Halen Tone Without a Plexi/Variac Setup?

    A pickup that is transparent, open, and doesn't have an abundance of "offensive" frequencies.

    There is no "one way" to get his many tones, IMO.

    Where the argument lies, in my opinion, is in *which iteration* of Eddie you're talking about. It's not enough to say "early Eddie". After all, "Light Up the Sky" and "Outta Love" are on the same album!

    You've practically got to pick a song, or a set of songs.

    Anyway, I still think the key is to pick something that doesn't spike too much in any one frequency, which can create irritation.

    You can have upper mids, so long as your highs are tamed, you can have highs, so long as your upper mids are tamed, you can have upper bass, so long as your lower bass is tamed, you can have lower bass, so long as your upper bass is scooped, etc.

    You also have to consider that his live tone is more "Alnico V-ish" than "Alnico 2-ish". Regardless of how he arrives at this result (EQ, bright stainless steel Floyd, etc.), this is indeed the net result. Up until 1991, he was all smooth bass, and all smooth treble during his shows.

    His tone is different across albums, like I said.

    Listen to 'Diver Down'. If that's not a pleasantly scooped low-output Alnico V pickup, I'll eat my own shorts.

    Same thing with "Hot For Teacher". You can hear the brightness and twang on that track, whether it be due to the lighter, smaller guitar, or the magnet in the pickup.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Early Van Halen Tone Without a Plexi/Variac Setup?

      Originally posted by Majestic
      A pickup that is transparent, open, and doesn't have an abundance of "offensive" frequencies.

      There is no "one way" to get his many tones, IMO.

      Where the argument lies, in my opinion, is in *which iteration* of Eddie you're talking about. It's not enough to say "early Eddie". After all, "Light Up the Sky" and "Outta Love" are on the same album!

      You've practically got to pick a song, or a set of songs.

      Anyway, I still think the key is to pick something that doesn't spike too much in any one frequency, which can create irritation.

      You can have upper mids, so long as your highs are tamed, you can have highs, so long as your upper mids are tamed, you can have upper bass, so long as your lower bass is tamed, you can have lower bass, so long as your upper bass is scooped, etc.

      You also have to consider that his live tone is more "Alnico V-ish" than "Alnico 2-ish". Regardless of how he arrives at this result (EQ, bright stainless steel Floyd, etc.), this is indeed the net result. Up until 1991, he was all smooth bass, and all smooth treble during his shows.

      His tone is different across albums, like I said.

      Listen to 'Diver Down'. If that's not a pleasantly scooped low-output Alnico V pickup, I'll eat my own shorts.

      Same thing with "Hot For Teacher". You can hear the brightness and twang on that track, whether it be due to the lighter, smaller guitar, or the magnet in the pickup.
      Yep. It does change and varies from album to album and sometimes song to song. Get an old marshall and a PAF variation and adjust knobs to suit you. Mix pickups with amps to even things out. For example with my DSL a '59 or demon does the trick. With my JCM 800 the A2 pro or anoth A2 pup will do fine. His fingers are pretty important as well
      Peavey Wolfgang(USA) EBMM pickups
      Meanstreet Exile (Wolfgang Copy) evh set
      Sterling AX40 stock (Fender Wolfgang bridge/AN neck)
      Epiphone LP Special w/JB
      Rouge P Bass SD Quarter Pounders
      Epiphone Acoustic with seymour woody
      1984 Marshall JCM 800 4010 Voodoo Modded w/EVH Greenback
      Peavey 6505+ combo

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      • #4
        Re: Early Van Halen Tone Without a Plexi/Variac Setup?

        Originally posted by Majestic
        A pickup that is transparent, open, and doesn't have an abundance of "offensive" frequencies.

        There is no "one way" to get his many tones, IMO.

        Where the argument lies, in my opinion, is in *which iteration* of Eddie you're talking about. It's not enough to say "early Eddie". After all, "Light Up the Sky" and "Outta Love" are on the same album!

        You've practically got to pick a song, or a set of songs.

        Anyway, I still think the key is to pick something that doesn't spike too much in any one frequency, which can create irritation.

        You can have upper mids, so long as your highs are tamed, you can have highs, so long as your upper mids are tamed, you can have upper bass, so long as your lower bass is tamed, you can have lower bass, so long as your upper bass is scooped, etc.

        You also have to consider that his live tone is more "Alnico V-ish" than "Alnico 2-ish". Regardless of how he arrives at this result (EQ, bright stainless steel Floyd, etc.), this is indeed the net result. Up until 1991, he was all smooth bass, and all smooth treble during his shows.

        His tone is different across albums, like I said.

        Listen to 'Diver Down'. If that's not a pleasantly scooped low-output Alnico V pickup, I'll eat my own shorts.

        Same thing with "Hot For Teacher". You can hear the brightness and twang on that track, whether it be due to the lighter, smaller guitar, or the magnet in the pickup.
        Let me say that I prefer the scooped sound than the mid-rangy sound. I'm at about the point of going with just a '59 in the bridge of my Strat. This has a Schaller Floyd. With this be a problem in your opinion? Too shrill?

        Thanks a bunch
        Chris
        nast2112
        Member
        Last edited by nast2112; 04-09-2004, 08:49 PM.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Early Van Halen Tone Without a Plexi/Variac Setup?

          59 bridge or custom shop EVH are basically some of the consensus for that sound.......and if you want a hotter version, the CC
          http://www.myspace.com/wildcatdotdotdot

          Fender Telecaster 1962 Reissue MIJ
          >cord<
          1968 Fender Twin Reverb

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Early Van Halen Tone Without a Plexi/Variac Setup?

            Originally posted by flank
            59 bridge or custom shop EVH are basically some of the consensus for that sound.......and if you want a hotter version, the CC
            The CC has a ton of mids where the '59 is scooped. It appears they would be very much different in sound, not just a hotter version?

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Early Van Halen Tone Without a Plexi/Variac Setup?

              well lets say the 59 is more early van halen.......CC is later van halen, which is a hotter versoin........that one signature guitar of his has very hot pickups in it and is more suited towards his later albums......

              but you are asking about the early albums.......so a 59 bridge is pretty close, and the custom shop EVH is basically dead on his sound
              http://www.myspace.com/wildcatdotdotdot

              Fender Telecaster 1962 Reissue MIJ
              >cord<
              1968 Fender Twin Reverb

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Early Van Halen Tone Without a Plexi/Variac Setup?

                I think the cheapest and easiest way is get a 59 trembucker and buy a separate A2 mag. The extra turns on the trembucker will probably help warm up the 59 a bit also. Don't cut off the extra wire. Leave it taped to the bottom of the pup cavity. That way you can remove the pup and swap mags, if the A5 is too bright thru your rig, without having to do any desoldering.

                If your axe has a pickguard, make the bridge ground and jack leads long enough so the guard can be removed, flipped and placed on top of the guitar without having to do any desoldering.

                I also found that using all nickel strings (fender 150 xls) helped take a bit off the edge off my 59.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Early Van Halen Tone Without a Plexi/Variac Setup?

                  I'd agree with the recommendation of putting an A2 or A3 magnet in a '59 Trembucker. The only thing I could think of that would get you closer would be the custom shop EVH model. As soon as I get around to it, I have an A3 '59 ready to go into my Wolfgang.

                  Ryan
                  Originally posted by JOLLY
                  I'm the reason we had to sign waivers

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Early Van Halen Tone Without a Plexi/Variac Setup?

                    Originally posted by rspst14
                    I'd agree with the recommendation of putting an A2 or A3 magnet in a '59 Trembucker. The only thing I could think of that would get you closer would be the custom shop EVH model. As soon as I get around to it, I have an A3 '59 ready to go into my Wolfgang.

                    Ryan
                    I would love to hear what you have to say about it. My understanding is that an A3 is somewhere between an A5 and A2, but closer to the A2 overall (a little more mids) but with a tigher bottom end? I'm thinking of picking up a 59 and an A3 magnet and making the swap. I'll probably see what it sounds like without the switch first, but I'm afraid with a Floyd it will be too shrill. Maybe not. I will have the pickup screwed into the body and the Floyd against the body (non-floating).

                    Thanks
                    Chris
                    nast2112
                    Member
                    Last edited by nast2112; 04-10-2004, 03:35 PM.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Early Van Halen Tone Without a Plexi/Variac Setup?

                      .....I was going to answer you on that......

                      In my opinion, an A5 is too much in a PAF with a Floyd. That's just me, though.

                      Maybe an aged A5, or an A4.

                      I dunno. That's why you have to pick a path, and stick with it/mod it. See, on the one hand, I insisted that Eddie's tone "Diver Down" sounds like an A5.

                      Maybe I should've said "hollow", and "A5-ish".

                      For all I know, it was an A2. You're right, his Floyd changes everything.

                      It changes everything between my two Axis guitars, one of which has the Floyd, and the other a vintage trem. It may not inherently be the Floyd, so much as the material that it's constructed of, though.

                      Stainless steel transfers STRONG bass and treble frequencies. Oddly enough, my Floyd-equipped Axis is louder both acoustically and electrically than my vintage trem Axis.

                      Yet, the vintage tremmed-Axis sounds more organic and musical. I suspect it's made of some nickel or something.....I'm not really sure. Plus, it doesn't have the stainless steel nut.

                      I gotta tell ya, for your guitar, the Blues Trembucker is probably going to be your best overall, and most versatile bet. Plus it's got a bit more push than a stock PAF.

                      Not as congested as a "Custom" style pickup, though.

                      Maybe a Hybrid is the trick, if you're feeling zesty.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Early Van Halen Tone Without a Plexi/Variac Setup?

                        Originally posted by Majestic
                        I gotta tell ya, for your guitar, the Blues Trembucker is probably going to be your best overall, and most versatile bet. Plus it's got a bit more push than a stock PAF.

                        Not as congested as a "Custom" style pickup, though.
                        The Blues interests me. I don't know. I wish it came in white for my guitar... I wish the samples were better to judge from. Sounds like the '59 in the samples. Perhaps there's a Blue's song that would give me an idea what this might really sound like?

                        Sucks, ya know? Maybe I go with a '59 and just change the magnet out. Is there a place to pick up an 'aged A5 or A4' or do you have to find and old pickup of some sort to get the magnet from? Never simple...

                        BTW, where in Michigan ya located? I'm in Lansing.

                        Chris

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Early Van Halen Tone Without a Plexi/Variac Setup?

                          Grand Blanc.

                          .....and forget about the "Aged" thing. I was just referring to Eddie's magnets, which were from old, vintage guitars.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Early Van Halen Tone Without a Plexi/Variac Setup?

                            What about a Custom 5 for what I'm after? Anyone have opinions?

                            Chris

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Early Van Halen Tone Without a Plexi/Variac Setup?

                              Hot For Teacher was recorded with flying V, most of the first 5 records were recorded with V's Explorers, Les Paul's and the occasional Ibanez Destroyer. Ed said he recorded very little with his Frankenstrats because the Floyd made them sound thin and tinny in the studio, it's ironic that the guy who single handedly inspired everyone to dump thier Fenders and Gibsons for Superstrats with a bar on them hardly ever used one in the studio. It's obvious if you listen to Fair Warning, that thick, raspy, dark sound he has on Sinners Swing is all Gibson Les Paul or V, no strat with a humbucker will ever sound like that.

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