EVH Wolfgang StandardThe Wolfgang Standard may be the most affordable EVH yet. But it sacrifices surprisingly little of the magic and utility that makes its more expensive cousins objects of desire among Eddie heads. The Standard is loud, responsive, and feels fantastic—everything a serious player could want at a fraction of the price.
Wolfgang Standards are offered in relatively understated trans black, trans red, and gloss black finishes like the EVH models Van Halen himself uses onstage these days. My Indonesian-built test model looked sharp: Its gloss black basswood body and black hardware makes a bold contrast to its bone-hued maple neck. The guitar sports a pair of high-output, Savage EVH humbuckers that are direct mounted for better sustain.
As with all EVH guitars, the 3-way pickup selector switch is wired backwards—the up position activates the bridge pickup and the down position activates the neck. This is a functional, Eddie-specific design feature: His right hand often accidentally knocks the switch when he’s playing hard, and this reversed configuration keeps him at the bridge by default. It’s counterintuitive in some respects, but I had no problems with the setup in practice.
The domed and textured volume and tone knobs have indentations that make volume swell-intensive figures like “Cathedral” easier—especially if you use a thumb and index finger combination. However, if you control the volume knob with your pinky, it’s not quite as comfortable. Because the volume knob’s placement is fairly close, height-wise, to the bridge, there isn’t much clearance between the knob and the whammy bar. So the bar insert screw will inadvertently press into the back of your pinky.
I tested the Wolfgang Standard through a Fender Super-Sonic combo with a Mad Professor 1 pedal for extra dirt. Loud and bold, the Savage EVH pickups offer the brilliance and bombast you’d expect from a Van Halen-designed guitar. When I played triad-based rhythm figures, like the intro to “Runnin’ with the Devil” and “Panama,” the Standard delivered cutting tones that were glassy but never piercing, and at times, even quite warm. That same responsiveness came to the fore in lead situations: Whether I was tapping or tremolo-picking, single notes felt and sounded explosive, and it was easy to coax pinch harmonics from the strings.
The Wolfgang Standard has a commanding voice that would kill in any hard rock setting. No matter how I adjusted the controls, the guitar maintained great presence and clarity. Even when I engaged the neck pickup and rolled the tone knob way down, the guitar stayed dynamic and clear. I could play the deep, low inversions of the intro to “The Best of Both Worlds” and get perfect note separation.
Given its Sunset Strip roots, it’s little surprise that the Wolfgang Standard can conquer any hard rock or classic metal riff I threw its way. What’s less unexpected is how well it functions in a modern metal environment. The guitar’s tight, focused sound allowed me to play rhythmic djent riffs with surgical precision.
Eddie Van Halen launched the shred movement almost singlehandedly, so you’d expect that any Eddie-associated axe would be built for speed and maximum playability. With a 25.5" scale and 12"-16" compound-radius fretboard, the bolt-on, graphite-reinforced neck delivers big time in this respect. Boasting rolled edges, the 22 frets add to the fast and silky feel.
While I was really enamored with the Wolfgang Standard’s fabulous neck, I have to mention that I had a tough time keeping the guitar in tune if I used the EVH Floyd Rose Special aggressively. It seemed as if only a couple of dive bombs would quickly knock the tuning out of whack.
If you’ve always wanted a Wolfgang but have limited funds, the Wolfgang Standard is a dream. It gives you all the key ingredients of the Van Halen flavor—high-output pickups, compound radius fretboard, locking tremolo system—at a price that’s hard to beat. Even if you’re not aiming to religiously replicate Eddie Van Halen’s sonic stylings, the Wolfgang Standard is a top-notch rock ’n’ roll axe that will shine in almost any musical situation.