Category Archives: Van Halen

Why I Love My EVH Wolfgang Special

This isn’t a review as much as it is they story of how I came to own my favorite and most played guitar of all time. My white EVH Wolfgang special. This is what it looked like the day it arrived in the mail. I had seen pictures of it online, but I had no idea the case was red crush velvet. Every time I open this bad boy in front of someone that hasn’t seen me open the case, they are wide eyed and say “wow!”. Beyond the way the inside looks, this is a high quality ATA approved SKB flight case with snap latches and professional locks.

EVH Wolfgang Special White

Now that you’ve seen what it looks like when you open it, let’s talk about how it plays. My wife showed me this guitar online, and I had never played it before. I watched several videos online to get a sense of what it would sound like. You never know how that will work, because different amps and pedals, even different hands make a difference in how a guitar sounds. Even the equipment used to record it can change the sound. Having said that, I viewed some videos that at least showed me the guitar could easily be used for everything from Jazz and blues to hardcore metal – and everything in between.

Now let’s talk about how this thing plays. For years I had been in search of a better playing guitar. Better for me anyway. I had Strats and Teles – lots of them. I tried Schecter, Ibanez – both old and new. I had Washburn, Peavey, even a Les Paul and an SG. You name it – I tried it. I had made in Mexico, Korea, China, Indonesia, Japan, even made in America.

I read the specs of this guitar and the two things that stood out for me were the pickups and the frets. The frets the model I purchased were stainless steel. Almost all guitars have nickel frets (that wear out over time). Stainless steel frets don’t wear down – they’re good forever. The difference between these and most guitars is that they are medium-small frets (which is what Eddie prefers and they’re called “vintage frets”). Most guitars have medium-large frets – which are better for bending strings (and normally called “jumbo frets”). Medium small frets are better for hammer-ons, pull-offs, and legato style playing. Before getting this guitar I don’t think I realized that this was the way I prefer to play. Also, the neck is super smooth, and playing is almost like playing on glass.

*UPDATE 2016* The Wolfgang Special guitar has been made in multiple locations including Japan, China (Indonesia), and (now) Mexico. Be aware that while the guitar is essentially the same, all of the new ones made in Mexico appear to have jumbo nickel frets and not stainless steel. Depending on what your preferences are, just be aware of that when making your purchase.

The pickups are so incredible they are hard to describe. They are high gain – but not like you think. They are high gain in the sense that if you plug in this guitar and set your amp to the perfect volume setting, and then plugin a different guitar (like a strat, tele, or paul) you’ll find you have to increase the volume quite a bit to be at the same level. But they aren’t hi-gain like EMG’s or Dimarzio Super Distortion, or even Pearly Gates. At every single volume level they are clear as a bell. But they will take on the characteristics of whatever you put them through. You can play using your volume as the main control for distortion and lead volume, or keep it at one consistent volume and let your pedals do the work – it works equally as well either way.

Let me explain. My amp has one clean and two dirty channels. If I stay on the clean channel by itself, and the volume in the guitar is all the way up – you might get a tiny bit of breakup, but for the most part it’s clear as a bell. Tone for days and days. If I turn up the gain a little on the clean channel I can do anything from Stones tone to country, or even blues. Turn up the gain a little more and we’re in classic rock territory. If I switch over to the crunch channel I can get everything from Def Leppard to Judas Priest, Foo Fighters to Red Hot Chili Peppers, Weezer, with some higher gain you can even get Slipknot, Korn, Avenged Sevenfold – you name it. On my channel the thing just sings and sings.

All of this is just through my amp. I think that many people (at first look) would classify this as a rock guitar (which it can be). However, it can adapt to the sound of nearly any amp or pedal. I should say that it complements the sound of any pedal or amp (and makes it better). I have pedals that go from light crunch to full stack and they all sound awesome through the EVH Wolfgang special. I’ve been in cover bands where I needed to sound like country, rock, pop, metal, 80’s hair metal, blues, emo – and I’ve had no problems at all making the same guitar sound like all those styles (and more).

The last thing I’ll say about this guitar is the price. Nearly all the guitars I’ve had were under $1,000. This was one of the first ones I ever paid more than $1,000 for. It appears that the price has gone down since they first came out on some models, find them from about $900 – $1,500 today depending on model. It was the best investment I ever made for a quality instrument.

One last thing you could consider is getting one from eBay. Sometimes you can get a great deal used. Just click on one of the pictures below to explore what’s currently listed and for sale.



Kramer 84 Baretta Guitar (EVH) now on sale

Vintage 84 Kramer Guitar

It’s hard for me to say this (because I’m 43), but remember the (now) “vintage” 84 Kramer Baretta guitar? The Kramer Baretta was the famed hockey stick neck one pickup, one volume pot Floyd Rose masterpiece played by Eddie Van Halen.

Remember the guitar magazine ads with EVH holding the Baretta like this?

EVH Baretta

There were actually a whole series of Kramer ads like that, there’s another one with him holding a Kramer Pacer like this:

Eddie Van Halen Kramerr Pacer

So you’re probably wondering already why I’m lamenting about Kramer guitars of years gone by? Recently my wife picked me up a Kramer Focus 3000 from 1983-4 at a yard sale for a rediculous price with OHSC and stock pickups and floyd rose (and working coil tap). I’ll blog about that in another post.

What surprised me in a few google searches was the fact that Gibson now owns the Kramer name and has been reissuing various guitars, like the Kramer 84 Baretta, and the Kramer Pacer (among others). I can’t believe they did the reissue with the hockey stick necks (also AWESOME!). Note in the EVH pics above that one with Ed has the hockey stick neck, but the Pacer has the pointy headstock.

Check out this fabulous Kramer 84 Baretta reissue:

84 Kramer Baretta reissue

Either this thing must be so very new that not everyone has it (yet), because you can’t even get it at Musician’s Friend or Guitar Center. You can find it however at American Musical right now in stock. In fact they even have this new 8 payment plan (that I just used to get mine) so you can get this axe for just $84/mo if you do that deal (and have it to play in just a few days).

*UPDATE*: you can also now get the 84 Kramer Baretta at ZZounds for the same prices with 8 payments as well!!

84 Kramer Baretta

They also have the Vintage Kramer Pacer dual humbucker model for sale too (in Tiger stripe!):

vintage Kramer Pacer

They also have the Kramer Pacer there too, which comes in a both a cool burst or “Tiger Stripe” version (AWESOME!). I like this Baretta because it has the maple fingerboard, and I prefer that to the rosewood. What version would you get?

You can also still find quite a few Kramer Baretta guitars on ebay now as well:

Kramer Baretta Special

USD 99.00 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-14 01:44:52

Kramer Baretta 1986 Kline "Month of the Comet" #52 One of a Kind!

USD 1000.00 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-15 15:20:18

Guitar-Kramer Baretta FR-404S/D

USD 214.50 (2 Bids) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-14 16:14:26

Vintage Original Kramer Baretta 1984? 85 87 Made in USA Mint/Seafoam SUPER RARE!

USD / 239.16 (13 Bids) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-16 03:05:23

Kramer American Baretta Floyd Rose Waterslide Neck Decals CHOOSE any 2

USD 17.00 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-18 01:00:49

Kramer Baretta Style Body.

USD 155.00 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-17 20:41:00

Kramer Guitar Neck American Baretta Pacer Floyd Rose Nightswan Waterslide Decal

USD 17.00 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-13 17:00:37

1987-88 Kramer USA Baretta Guitar Schaller Black Retainer Bar String Tree #2

USD 5.99 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-11 15:03:08

Kramer Baretta German Made Original Floyd Rose Black Mounting Stud Screws #2

USD 15.99 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-11 15:12:56

Kramer Baretta Schaller German Made Original Floyd Rose Black Complete Saddles 2

USD 98.99 (0 Bid) | Buy It Now
End time: 2017-12-11 15:17:14

Van Halen Backing Track Disaster

Here’s a great YouTube video I came across on Create Digital Music where the stage tech’s (or board op) really, REALLY screwed up! The song was Van Halen’s famed “jump”, and the keyboard intro was to be played as a backing track on tape (well, not tape really, digital – probably mp3 or something). So, whoever queued the track played it at 48K instead of 44.1K (cd quality standard) – and in digital terms that’s like playing a tape too fast or playing an old 33 1/3 album at 45 rpm. Basically it made the keyboard parts a “microtone” higher, but not high enough for Eddie to even play it a half or whole step higher to match, and what you get is a brutal, brutal version of the song. As their web site says it was definitely an “on stage disaster”!

Van Halen plays for Les Paul 1988

For all of you young bucks that never saw this – here is Eddie Van Halen playing at a “Les Paul and Friends” show in 1988 (now some 20 years ago). This would have been about in the prime of Van Halen only 4 years after their 1984 album, that is arguably their best selling to date. It’s an all our rock instrumental jam that last over 5 minutes and Eddie starts it out with “Cathedral” from the Diver Down album. An incredible performance by the godfather of modern rock guitar introduced by the inventor of the Les Paul AND multi-track recording!

Van Halen Frankenstein

Fender released the Van Halen Frankenstein replica in 2007 and this video is from the NAMM show where Eddie Van Halen talked about it and then performed. This was such a crazy video for me to watch, the quality is good because it was posted on YouTube by Fender themselves. The weird part was just Eddie’s mannerisms when he was talking, like running his fingers through his hair over and over (why didn’t he just pull it back?) and how disheveled he looked. Honestly if you didn’t know he was one of the world’s greatest guitar players you might’ve thought he was a vagrant or just an agin drunk. So he talks well into the video about the “Frankenstein replicas” and then he grabs one off the display behind him. He straps it on, and he rocks the complete shit out of that thing! Now I’m thinking I’m a complete idiot for saying anything bad about him at all – he is STILL one of the greatest guitar players in the world! Oh, by the way – that frankenstein replica is selling for $25-30,000!!