Guitar Aficionado

“Eddie Van Halen Expects Perfection”

EVH master builder Chip Ellis talks about making the new limited-edition Wolfgang USA Tour Relic Replica.

PHOTO: Daniel Knighton | Getty Images

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By Christopher Scapelliti

EVH master builder Chip Ellis sat down recently to provide a video rundown of the features in the new custom Wolfgang USA Tour Relic Replica. The guitar is an exact replica of the aged-looking ivory Wolfgang USA guitar Eddie Van Halen played on Van Halen’s 2015 tour and is limited to just 20 pieces.

In the course of things, Ellis spoke about what it’s like to work on guitars with Eddie and what he’s learned from it.

“Working with Ed on these projects over the years has been amazing,” Ellis says in the video. “I never thought that I would learn so much working with an artist about guitar construction, setups and sound and everything.

“When we first started on Wolfgang, we spent almost a year on just the pickups alone. It got to a point where I was losing confidence in myself like, ‘I don’t understand what he’s going for.’ We had gone through hundreds of pickups basically.”

Ellis notes that it was Van Halen’s ability to detect subtle nuances of tone that helped him find his way.

“He can like bend a note, and the way it starts to feedback with the amp, he can just pick out that part of the sound that you are hearing and be like, ‘That’s it right there. Do you hear it?’ And then once you hear it, it’s plain as day.

“I mean, that guy—he’s made my ears better. He’s brought up my game as far as construction because it’s a tough mark to hit. He expects perfection, and it drives you hard.”