How to get Eddie Van Halen Tone

Eddie Van Halen, known as one of the best electric guitar players ever has amazed audiences for years with his fast picking and tapping skills. For many guitarists, Eddie’s tone is quite sought after. Without his rig, he wouldn’t be able to properly get his guitar to scream, or hold copious amounts of sustain for those tapping solos. So todays’ article will show you how you can get Eddie Van Halen’s guitar tone.

First lets look at which guitars Eddie used. Early on, he used a a crazy looking stratocaster-style guitar with a humbucker pickup for a fatter sound. In the early ’80s, Eddie famously used Seymour Duncan pickups. Over time, this strat became a partsocaster with different necks and such. One of the biggest changes to Eddie’s guitar was that he swapped the bridge for a Floyd Rose double-locking tremolo. This would allow him to go crazy on the whammy bar without going out of tune. Other guitars Eddie used were the Gibson 335, Les Paul, and Les Paul Jr.

One of Eddie Van Halen’s favorite amps to use was a ’60s Marshall SuperLead Plexi. Many have said that he would crank all the dials on the amp to get a lot of his tone by pushing the power tubes. Some guitar magazines say that Eddie used an attenuator to control the output of the amp. In later years, he used Peavey Amps which he had a part in designing. As for the cabs, his were loaded with either Celestion 25-watt Greenbacks, Vintage 30s, and/or 75s. He would use multiple cabs on stage for that really fat sound.

Pedals & Effects
Eddie would use a MXR EQ in the studio that was set to give him a mid-boost. Other MXR pedals he would use is the Flanger and the Phase 90. He was also known for using an Echoplex. Throughout his career, he started incorporating all kinds of rack processors to get the exact tone he wanted.

Eddie Van Halen Tone on the Cheap
Of course acquiring all of the equipment mentioned can be rather costly. In order to get Eddie’s tone at a low cost, here is what I suggest. Use a high-gain amplifier, a guitar with a humbucker pickup, your favorite distortion, echo, and phaser pedals, and that should get you close.

In the end, if you want to sound like Eddie, you gotta play like him. So of course practicing his technique will give you his sound, much more than any rig could. Hope this article brings you one step closer to Eddie Van Halen tone!

One thought on “How to get Eddie Van Halen Tone”

  1. “Some guitar magazines say that Eddie used an attenuator to control the output of the amp” – actually he himself recently confirmed that he used a Variac to lower the voltage of the amp then turned all dials to 10

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