Here’s a link to my forum thread in which I go over what I’ve learned about how to set up a Fender vibrato system. Dweezil mentioned this in this episode and this thread also includes links to the Fender vibrato set-up/mod videos of Italian luthier Galeazzo Frudua that we spoke about:
I realized that there were two excellent questions that Dweezil asked me about Ed’s Fender vibrato use and his tuning stability…he asked “Have you done that (all the Fender vibrato mods and setup tips that I included from Italian luthier Galeazzo Frudua and myself) to many guitars and does it always work?” and in the moment I totally forgot to answer those questions…and excellent questions they are and they deserve an answer!
So I have done that entire series of mods to two guitars that I own…my ‘78 black and white Musikraft body/Locke Custom Guitars neck Frankenstein and my 1968 Fender Strat that I mentioned was my first guitar. On the vintage Strat, I removed the entire stock bridge and then assembled and modded all new parts to create a totally new bridge with new modded parts…though I did use vintage Pat. Pend. stamped Strat saddles which are slightly rusted naturally just like those on my original Strat bridge so that they match the age of that guitar on a visual level. The big question is “Does it always work?” and the answer to that question is a resounding YES! These two guitars stay COMPLETELY in tune, even after hours of playing Van Halen’s music and other general rock and blues playing styles with string bending and vibrato bar dive-bombing. And when I say “completely in tune”, I mean completely…I check the tuning periodically throughout the day with my Peterson strobe tuners, with sometimes 8 or more hours of playing time and the pitch of the strings remains perfectly in tune from where I originally tuned them…the strobe display on each open string remains “caged” or stock still with no movement up or down. Perfectly in tune.
This is for home use. I have had excellent results in a live setting as well, though I would imagine that being under outdoor variable humidity conditions and/or the boiling hot stage lights of a giant 70s and 80s Showco lighting rig (which is as hot as Dallas, Texas where those lights were born), there might be more challenges to that stability which Ed may have experienced. One thing that I have noted is that Ed seemed to stay in tune better with standard Fender non-locking vibrato equipped guitars at the end of 1978 going into the first half of 1979 than he did from 1977 through the most of the 1978 first world tour. I know he changed vibrato systems on the Frankenstein at that point to a 70s Fender vibrato which was different from the 1961 Fender Strat vibrato that was originally on his ‘61 sunburst Strat from which the neckplate and vibrato system was culled for the early iterations of the Frankenstein. I don’t know why that is…perhaps he discovered and applied some different mods? His playing style didn’t change at all, so I couldn’t say exactly why.
But I can firmly prove that I have achieved long lasting and demonstrably perfect tuning stability on my ‘78 style Frankenstein replica and my ‘68 Fender Strat when playing Van Halen music that was recorded or performed with a non-locking Fender or Fender style vibrato system.
You can hear at least some of my success with Fender vibrato tuning stability in Ep. 23 when I play the opening segment of “Eruption” and the “Ice Cream Man” solo on my ‘78 styled Frankenstein replica. I also used that guitar for my demo of the brief string skipping blues licks at the beginning of the first solo from “Bottoms Up!” though there are no “dive-bombs” with the vibrato bar in that solo, I still stay relatively well in tune even with the left hand bends in that solo. This “bend with the left hand/go slightly flat and dive with the bar to get back in tune” method that Ed used along with all the “Frudua” mods and other tips that I mentioned in my VHLinks Fender vibrato thread really works perfectly for Van Halen music that was recorded and performed with a Fender vibrato system!
When you get a chance, take a look at page 11 of my dissertation. I have some information I discovered about Edward's piano teacher. He may have had a bigger impact on Edward's understanding of music than we (guitarists) may have thought. All of my sources are cited for clarity and further research.
Yes…great point Roxy! I read your citation of Greg Renoff’s research on Alex and Edward’s piano teacher Stanley Kalvitis and it is clear that the piano and knowledge of it certainly impacted Ed greatly. Greg and I have spoken of this before and though most piano theory didn’t stay with Ed, there are many key concepts that did stay and work their way into Van Halen music!
I thought I would post some more details on the examples I played which Dweezil and I discussed in Ep. 23. so that anyone can easily follow along. For the first example I demonstrated from “Eruption”, here is an extract from my transcription covering the first repeated open string lick in that piece (note that all left hand fingers-Thumb, Index, Middle, Ring and Pinky are notated as well as the correct right hand picking directions-Up or Down). You’ll also see the correct tuning offset for “Eruption” listed on the first page:
1st string: Eb +12.7 cents2nd string: Bb +12.9 cents3rd string: Gb +14.6 cents4th string: Db +15.0 cents5th string: Ab +15.0 cents6th string: Eb +12.7 cents
I’ve also done a play-through video lesson series for my entire transcription here:
You can find my complete “Eruption” transcription in the February 2021 issue of Guitar World or you can download it from this link:
http://www.vhlinks.com/Eruption.pdfAlso, my friend in Germany and amazing player and all around musician Ed De Genaro did some amazingly detailed and helpful work on putting my “Eruption” transcription into the Soundslice format so that anyone can follow along with the original recording as my transcription plays along with it. You can also vary the playback at any speed and the transcription will follow at that speed as well.
I’d gotten a lot of requests for a Soundslice version of my transcription and Ed put in a lot of work to make it easy for anyone to follow. Ed is also a huge Frank fan and has helped Dweezil with a couple of technical things in the past. I think he’s a great candidate to be a guest on any part of this website…a musician well above my pay grade with a wealth of knowledge to share, so please do look him up online!
Fantastic! Allen. Thank you! I have a GW subscription, so I'm revisiting that issue. Thank you for the videos too!
I have the Peterson StroboStomp HD pedal and have been adjusting the intonation of my EVH Wolfgang USA using the EVH sweetened tuning. Thank you for clarifying to set the intonation using the chromatic setting, and then tune using the EVH sweetened tuning. Next string change, I'll setup this way.
Great to hear! Be sure to read the accompanying article on “Eruption” written by Guitar World’s transcription editor Jimmy Brown and also partly by me. There’s even more details in the article!
I’m glad to know you are a Peterson user…you can download all of the Van Halen offsets that I have found directly to your Strobo Stomp HD. There is a video on my YouTube channel that shows you how to do it. For more information on Ed’s offsets, please read through my forum thread on the subject here: https://www.vhlinks.com/vbforums/threads/62695-Van-Halen-tunings-with-Peterson-strobe-tuner-reference
Very interesting Episode Allen, and a welcome surprise to the series. I have really enjoyed the RWTD Podcast over the last couple of years and look forward to every new episode. Several, I have revisited.
For those who would be interested, I'll attach a link to my dissertation. It maybe worth a glance and to checkout the bibliography. It's a good collection of research, and possibly a draft to a future publication:
Rock Guitar: Individuality, Creativity, and Musical Expression From Edward Van Halen to Guthrie Govan (1978-2021)
Very cool Roxy! I’ll have to take more time to digest all that, but I appreciate the detail! I look forward to digging in further!
Allen's episode was awesome and should make it up to those whose episodes were less of a deep dive. Looking forward to Pete as well, great stuff.
Allen, are you familiar with the "EVH Sweetened" setting on the Peterson Strobo tuners? What group of songs do they align with ( if any)?
Yes indeed I am! I’m a Peterson endorsed artist and they had heard of my research on Ed’s tuning offsets using my Peterson strobe tuners and they approached me. Eventually, they created their “EVH” preset using the tuning offset that Ed’s last tech Tom Weber used on the Roth reunion tours. Tom and Matt Bruck gave those offsets to my pal writer Chris Gill who published them in the March 2016 issue of Guitar World and Peterson lifted those offsets specifically for the “EVH” preset. This was confirmed to me straight from Peterson. The “EVH” preset offset only relates to the Roth reunion tours and does not match any specific offset that Ed ever used prior to 2007 when the first Roth reunion tour commenced.
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