When Heavy Metal changed forever

By Massimo D'Angelo

The Eddie Van Halen Style

Heavy metal changed forever in Los Angeles, in the late 70s, thanks to Eddie Van Halen, and from there began the legend of one of the most influential and copied guitarists in the history of rock.  

In his early days,  young Eddie couldn’t afford ‘toys’ like the wah-wah or fuzz, so he had to come up with something to get all possible sounds and effects out of his guitar, creating a technique that would give him everything, or almost, using just his fingers. For this reason, he himself claims, that his right hand is merely an ‘extension’ of his left. 

This need led him to innovate, and the innovation led to a technique based on a combination of ‘tapping’ and ‘picking’, where the tapping is done with the fingers of his right hand, hammering the strings, whereas the picking is work of the left hand. This way of playing, and his imagination on the use of scales, up and down the neck, helped develop great speed with very little effort (for him, of course). 

Before getting a deal on his own line of guitars, EVH Signature (a deal he still has with Fender), Eddie Van Halen went through several top-end makers including Charvel, Kramer, Peavey and Ernie Ball/Music Man. What's clear is, in the collective imagery, the guitarist will always be tied to his ‘Frankenstrat’ -his take on combining the classic sound of a Gibson with the physical attributes of a Fender- the guitar he built himself, with a Boogie Bodies body, a Charvel neck, and a one-of-a-kind vintage Gibson PAF humbucker pickup.   

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