11 Hacks To Play Like Eddie Van Halen – Part 1
Hey everyone, sorry for the long break. I have been learning Sibelius (a music software program), and of course, teaching a lot and that took up a lot of time.
In addition, I was busy learning a whole bunch of Van Halen stuff, which I am excited to bring to you now in the form of “11 Hacks To Play Like Eddie Van Halen – Part 1.”
Eddie Van Halen is one of those guitarists that transcended the instrument back in the late 70s when he burst onto the scene with Van Halen I. That first album was so full of guitar histrionics that nobody had heard in rock music before that Eddie instantly became THE guitar hero of the late 70s, and that continued well into the 80s.
Through instrumental guitar pieces like “Eruption,” “Spanish Fly,” “Little Guitars,” and “Mean Streets,” EVH introduced tapping, whammy bar abuse while staying in tune, symmetrical scales, wide interval stretches, bass slap style, pseudo flamenco tremolo, tapped harmonics, music concrete sounds via strumming springs of tremolo bar, as well as many other techniques and sounds to rock music. And that TONE!
EVH had what he liked to call “the brown sound” and many a myth was born out of speculation on how EVH got that sound out of a 100w, 60s plexi Marshall. Everything from mods to different tubes, to little black boxes and voodoo were discussed as guitarists tried and tried to figure it out. In the end it was a simple thing really. Eddie was using a Variac (light dimmer) to lower the voltage going to his amp, causing the tubes to have to work much harder (don’t do this unless you want to burn your house down) and getting him that “brown sound.”
Eddie would often augment his tones with MXR flanger, and phaser pedals as well as an old Echoplex for delays on songs like Cathedral and the end of Eruption. That phaser tone can be heard on every single solo on Van Halen I and it made the sound of the tapping at the end of “Eruption” take on an other worldly sound the first time you heard it.
Anyway, back to the video. This video is part 1 of a 2 part series.
In this vid I cover Eddie’s use of effects, tapping, harmonics, tremolo picking, as well as 3 string scales.
I used examples from Van Halen songs to demonstrate these things which you should use as a springboard to do your own creative things with them.
Anyway, enjoy the lesson, the tabulature and video are below. Part II coming soon!