Frankenstein Guitar Body

In part four of this series, I showed you how to get started painting your own Frankenstein replica guitar. Part five will focus specifically on how to tape up the body to make the signature stripes.

In order to create the black stripes on a white guitar, Eddie painted his new Boogie Bodies guitar body solid black. Then he added tape to the body and painted it white. The tape masked the black base coat to create the stripes. You may have seen some older photos of Eddie with a black and white guitar. It might have a full pick guard and a standard Fender tremolo bridge. That’s the Frankenstein. As Van Halen became a popular club band and as Eddie’s reputation grew, people started to copy his signature stripes. That means people have been creating their own Van Halen replica guitar for over thirty years!

There are many ways to lay the tape on the guitar. You could just eyeball it and get close. You could also lay the life-size template on the body and use a ballpoint pen to carve guides in the paint. I chose a different way. I don’t know if I would do it this way again, but I’ll show you how I did it and you can make up your own mind. The point is that there is no right way to do it and you’re not going to be able to tell the difference unless you hang your replica next to the real Frankenstein anyway.

My idea was to lay the life-size template down and place a piece of glass on top of it. I used a piece of glass that was on an end table at home. Then I laid out the intricate stripes on the glass. Having some photos of this original paint scheme will be beneficial. A Google image search should find you all you need. Try a search for “black white frankenstrat”.


I took the life-size template, laid it on the guitar body, then made some heavy marks on the template with a ballpoint pen. This left subtle indentions on the body to locate the position of some of the major stripes. Then I carefully peeled the tape off the glass and transferred it to the guitar body. The stripes should come off in two big sections with the individual pieces of tape stuck to one another in place.


Hang the guitar body up again and paint it white. Remember that several thin coats are better than a few thick coats. Once the paint dries peel the tape off. Now you can start to distress the paint, or turn it into a “relic”. I took some sandpaper, a slotted screwdriver, a hammer, and a nail, and added some gashes and wear to the paint. The idea is to bang it around and add a couple of years a abuse. Eddie didn’t apply the red paint right away, so you need to add the abuse before you stripe it up and paint it again. It’s the only way to recreate the intricate stripes and subtle nuances of the original.


So using the same technique above, lay out the second set of stripes and apply the red paint. Then add some more distress to the paint using your hammer, etc. Take a look at the life-size template and note where there are scratches, gouges, gashes, and missing paint.

It’s now really starting to take shape. In the next post I’ll discuss the hardware you’ll need to find.

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