Eddie Van Halen Gear Now In Stock!
Eddie Van Halen pretty much invented the 80's Hard Rock guitar sound. It's no wonder that when Michael Jackson needed some rocking guitar on his album Thriller, he asked Eddie to collaborate. He's still influential today, with many guitarists seeking out the secrets of his famous "Brown Sound". Luckily, Dolphin Music is well stocked with Eddie Van Halen signature products, and other gear that'll help you to sound a bit more like him!
The "Brown Sound" is how Eddie's guitar tone on the first three Van Halen albums became known. A mixture of custom-made guitars, valve distortion and smart use of the then-new MXR modulation effects, Eddie's tone pretty much defined the guitar sound of Eighties Hard Rock.
Here's the rig that defined the legendary "Brown Sound":
The above pedalboard shows the MXR Flanger, MXR Phase 90 and two Maestro Echoplex footswitches, his only effects. The MXR EQ was not part of his "Brown Sound" formula per se: Eddie would simply use that path when pluggiging guitars that lacked mids, to match the tone of his other guitars. Anyone who says you need an EQ pedal with a certain setting to getthe tone, will be missing the mark.
The photo suggests his guitars could be plugged in different ways, for different songs.
1) FLANGER > PHASER > ECHOPLEX 1 > AMP 1
2) FLANGER > EQ > ECHOPLEX 2 > AMP 2
3) EQ >PHASER > ECHOPLEX 1 > AMP 1 (no A/B boxes then! One patch lead would have to be unplugged to have the other one plugged. The pic suggests this definitely happened. A fourth combination was also possible: FLANGER > EQ > PHASER > ECHOPLEX 1 > AMP 1)
The below photo shows a few Marshall Plexis (a couple probably just spares) and two Maestro Echoplex units.
Today, it's easier than ever to obtain all the right gear to enable you to sound as close as possible to Eddie's "Brown Sound" setup. Here's our guide!
The first and main ingredient of the "Brown Sound" was the use of a MXR Phase 90 pedal. MXR makes various versions of their famous phaser, but the best bet is, of course, his signature EVH Phase 90 Phaser. Eddie would always have it set at 9 o'clock for a slow, subtle sweep, used to highlight his guitar part without boosting the sound.
MXR Script Logo Phase 90
This is the most authentic-sounding version, like the one Eddie used in the 70s and 80s.
MXR Block Logo Phase 90
Sounds great, but a bit stronger than the vintage models.
MXR EVH Phase 90
The best of both worlds - a switch allows you to select either of the those sounds. Used by Eddie now.
The second ingredient for Eddie's signature sound was the MXR Flanger. He used it to highlight certain parts of his playing. His setting would remain the same for most songs - first three knobs at 3 o'clock, the last one all the way up. Of course, his MXR EVH Signature Flangers are the best bet!
Finally, the other important ingredient was the Maestro Echoplex, a vintage tape-echo effect. The Echoplex is quite rare and expensive now, but fortunately the modern player has the perfect alternative: the TC Electronic Alter Ego delay pedals have an "Echoplex" mode that faithfully replicates the sound of the original Echoplex:
Eddie used this fx quite a bit - on most of his solos you can hear a subtle, short tape echo.
Moving a away from the "Brown Sound", Eddie started to use a few other fx pedals, and today his signtaure range also includes the Dunlop EVH Wah pedals.
Other pedal Eddie now uses is the MXR Analog Chorus, which now replaces the MXR Stereo Chorus which he used for a while. he also has a Boss OC-3 Super Octave pedal. Here's how his most recent pedalboard looks:
The distortion of Marshall Plexi heads an important element of Eddie Van Halen's early tone. He never relied on distortion pedals, and what you can hear on any Val halen album is the pure sound of overdriven valve amps. Played very loudly! Sure, you can use Marshall amps to achieve the "Brown Sound", but your job will be much easier if you use one of Eddie's signature EVH 5150 guitar amps - made to his own specifications, and mixing Fender-style cleans with Marshall-style distortion.
The best value EVH ampat the moment is, without a doubt, the compact EVH 5150III 15w "Lunch Box" Head - it totally nails the Van Halen tone at a very affordable price:
If you can't afford a guitar amp like Eddie, no problem, as there are some great fx pedals that perfectly emulate Eddie's 5150 sound! One of such pedals is the Wampler Pinnacle Deluxe, which perfectly nails the sound according to Eddie's guitar tech. But, even better, is the new MXR EVH 5150 Overdrive, which was designed with Eddie Van Halen himself! The perfect addition to the other EVH-branded pedals by MXR, and the final link to get the "Brown Sound" on the cheap!
EDDIE'S ELECTRIC GUITARS
Eddie Van Halen was never happy with stock guitars and, from the start, he'd mod his instruments. His most famous was the "Frankie", a strat copy with a maple neck fitted with thick Gibson-style frets, PAF humbuckers taken from an ES-335 and Floyd Rose tremolo. This "Frankenstein" guitar ("Frankenstrat") soon became his trademark. Now, they are manufactured by EVH and look great, just like the original:
EVH (Eddie Van Halen) Striped Series guitar (Red / Black / White)
EVH (Eddie Van Halen) Striped Series guitar (Black / Yellow)
EVH (Eddie Van Halen) Striped Series guitar (White / Black)