||Download Example 1
Clip 1 demonstrates the perfection of the EVH D-Tuna on the EVH Wolfgang guitar. Begins with the opening riff of Dokken's "Kiss Of Death" which is in E. The second riff you hear (after the clicking noise of the D-Tuna being engaged buy pulling it out of the rear end of the Floyd Rose tremolo) is the opening riff to RATT's "Lay It Down, " which is tuned to a drop D with the key of the song in D. You can hear the tuning of the low E string is dead on without any tuning adjustments needed.
||Download Example 2
The clip starts with the volume all the way up, then rolled off a bit, then cranked again.
||Download Example 3
This clip adds a Cusack Screamer overdrive (with minimal gain and the level at 5) and an Akai Headrush delay (set to tape echo). Here, we test how the EVH Wolfgang guitar can withstand total shredfest! With the stock set-up as per Eddie's spec using Eddie's preferred string gauge (009.-.046), it took a little getting used to before hitting the record button. The thin stainless steel frets were slippery enough to allow for effortless vibrato and the low action made the tapping sequence simpler than I had anticipated. The mid section also has the Floyd Rose used in aiding vibrato to bent notes and the end has me crashing the Floyd into a divebomb with open harmonics and fretting a G on the low E string.
|Recorded with EVH Wolfgang guitar played through a '73 Marshall
100-watt head through a Marshall 4x12 loaded with four 25-watt
Celestions and an Electro Harmonix Holy Grail
reverb pedal. There is minimal gain as the amp is set at 10 (a la EVH himself).
Eddie Van Halen is known for hacking his way into great tone—taking chisels and a set of screwdrivers to a guitar body to get some of the most influential guitar sounds known to mankind. That seems ironic when you look at his new signature series EVH Wolfgang guitar, which gleams with sheer elegance. While it’s true that this one evolved out of previous Van Halen signature guitars, the EVH Wolfgang is clearly a different kind of guitar.
The Wolfgang guitar used for this review features a basswood body and AA top with subtle figuring that glows through its amber-colored tobacco finish. The shape of the body is reminiscent of previous Van Halen signature models, but has more refined and subtle differences. Its total thickness is 1-1/2”. The maple top is arched, and is 1/2” thick at the apex of the arch. The back of the guitar is finished in a dark, transparent brown color to complement the front. A regal touch is added by a five-ply black-and-cream colored binding that surrounds the face of the body. From both sides of the neck pocket, it’s plain to see the binding is not simply trimmed off, as it rounds into the crease of the neck. The body as a whole is covered in a very thin acrylic finish.
The scale length of this guitar is 25.5”. The neck is made of a two-piece, AA heavy birdseye maple with an angled headstock. It seems bulky yet comfortable at 3/4” thick. Embedded inside it are two graphite reinforcement rods that aid the truss rod staying true. The fretboard is a separate 1/4” slab of heavy birdseye maple. The headstock also evolved from a previous EVH signature design, but has a more pronounced fork at the tip. It uniformly matches the body with the same amber-colored tobacco sunburst and five-ply binding. The frets are vintage-style, Strat-sized stainless steel wire and are rounded on the surface, not crowned to a near point. The 3-on-a-side tuners are custom-made for the Wolfgang by Gotoh, and they add to the elegance of this guitar with their pearloid buttons. The neck joins the body at the 16th fret and is bolted to the body with four offset position bolts. The heel area of the body is carved to fit the inner palm of the hand while fretting notes in the upper register of the neck. The truss rod adjustment access is at the end of the neck, recessed into an exposed cavity. It’s a wheel turned by exposed holes that needs only an Allen wrench or any metal rod (like a small screwdriver) to turn.
Getting into the Nuts and Bolts
Much of the hardware and electronics is exclusive to this guitar. The first-ever signature Floyd Rose tremolo bridge is on this guitar. It bears both the Floyd Rose and EVH brand logos. While the previous Van Halen signature guitars had licensed Floyd Rose variations, this is a specific tremolo made for this guitar by Floyd Rose. An EVH D-Tuna is attached to the low E saddle. The nut width of this guitar is 1-5/8”, and the locking nut is bolted through the back of the headstock, the more traditional Floyd Rose way. The 500k volume pot and 250k tone pot are custom-made by Bourns and EVH, and bear the EVH brand logo. They are firmly mounted to the interior of the heavily shielded electronics cavity, with grounds attached to metal screws embedded into the wood.
Unlike the non-descript knobs adorning many guitars, the Bourns pots are capped by MXR-like knobs in a nod to Van Halen’s preference for MXR pedals. The three-position pickup selector toggle switch is at the top horn of the body and is wired backwards in comparison to most guitars featuring this switch: up is the bridge pickup, middle is both pickups, and down is the neck pickup.
At the heart of this guitar are the custom-designed, custom-wound, double-potted pickups. These zebra-coiled EVH humbuckers are low output and are screwed directly into the wood. There are no springs or adjustment transit screws. The wood is carved to the exact measurement the pickups need in relation to the string height. Because of their low output, the sound of this guitar is very defined. Through a moderately overdriven amp, there is more individual string volume than the masking sizzle of a higher-output pickup.
At nearly eight pounds, the weight is average for this type of guitar. It’s set up according to Van Halen spec and factory strung with a standard .009–.042 set of strings. The neck feels more vintage and old-style with its meatier center section. Most modern rock-style guitars have necks that are thinned out in the middle, but the Wolfgang feels more like an old Strat. Like previous Van Halen-designed signature guitars, the neck shape is asymmetrical, but feels even-sided along its length. The action is very low at 1/16”—at times, it feels like the lower strings are slapping against the frets when playing fretted chords. Because it has a compound radius of 12” to 16”, the surface of the neck gets flatter as you ascend up the fretboard, easing playing in the upper register and soloing past the 12th fret. With stainless steel frets, bending notes and lightly vibrato-ed chords seem slippery to the touch and take a little getting used to. Stainless steel frets are resistant to major wear, which was the reason for using them on this guitar, but the slippery feel makes the G-string seem flimsier than normal. One thing to note is the thinness of the frets— they’re not troublesome during shredding because of the fretboard’s flatness and the straightness of the neck (due to the graphite rods). Most shred guitars feature big frets, but this guitar doesn’t need them. With the action low and slippery frets, shredding seems effortless. Again, it takes a little getting used to, but once you get started, the temptation to perform the intro chords to a Van Halen classic like “Somebody Get Me a Doctor” is inevitable.
The Floyd Rose tremolo set up is for downward travel only. It’s seated into the wood and recessed only slightly into the body in its resting position. This contributes much to the natural string vibration transfer. When depressing the bar downward, it only takes a light touch because there are only two springs. This also contributes to making bending notes feel less stiff. The D-Tuna is a push-in/pull-out attachment that drops the low E to a perfect D.