Van Halen Frankenstrat

Actually not Van Halen Frankenstrat but one of the licensed copies made by Fender [? ].
I was at my guitar repair guy’s shop this afternoon, saw it on the bench and nearly fell down. Here are some impressions after an inspection and short play;

– it really is something to see, [having never played Eddie’s actual Frankenstrat ] this guitar looked every bit the part to me- every odd screw, knob, reflector and doodad was there. The guitar that launched a million imitators. Very impressive visually.

-this is the heaviest strat I’ve ever hoisted. It had to be 9 lbs, and actually felt heavier than that. You would NOT want to be wearing this bad boy over the course of a night. Was EVH’s this heavy ?

– the fret board was not well finished; sharp edges, badly in need of fret dressing. Also the intonation was dodgy, but that could have been because the Floyd Rose wasn’t set up correctly. In fact the Floyd felt stiff and very unresponsive. Was this the way EVH had his set up ? Don’t know, but this was hard to use and decidedly hard to play.

-I didn’t get to wind it up loud but did get to plug in to a small practice amp- the pickup, a Duncan custom Shop EVH sounded like any clean-ish humbucker at low level- not much to learn about the guitars’ tonality here. Except this; unplugged the guitar sounded a little ‘dead’, not at all the vibrant, resonant characteristics of a Strat. This reminded me of some of the cheaper 80’s Kramer copies, heavy, dense and ‘dead’, unplugged.

Seeing the Frankenstrat in person brought back a lot of memories, all of them good. It also brought a flood of guitar sounds to mind as well, and if EVH isn’t the[living] embodiment of a guitar legend then I don’t know who is.

But playing the Frankenstrat was both disappointing and thought provoking;
if this really is a true and accurate representation of THE guitar, then EVH’s playing is even more impressive than I thought.
Because this guitar is hard to play, really kinda nil from a player’s standpoint. In fact, I only got the chance to see it because it was there for a fret job ! And did I mention it’s heavy? Really heavy.

I consider EVH to be a phenom, arguably creating and defining his own category and place in music history.
Playing this representation of his guitar was fun and illuminating, and maybe illustrates best the axiom; it ain’t the guitar, but the player.

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