Back in 2007, Fender launched Eddie Van Halen's EVH brand with an ultra-limited-edition, none-more-accurate Custom Shop recreation of his iconic Frankenstein guitar.
Limited to just 300 examples, each of the instruments cost an even $25,000, and all sold out within 15 minutes.
In a new interview with Guitar World (opens in new tab), Brian McDonald – the former marketing manager for Fender's Jackson, Charvel, and EVH brands – revealed the full story of the guitar's creation, including an anecdote about how the replicas were so accurate, Eddie Van Halen himself mistook one of them for his original Frankenstein.
“[Custom Shop head] Mike Eldred was always leading the charge on these projects and for this one the assigned builder was Chip Ellis," McDonald said. "Eldred and Eddie went all the way back to the days when Van Halen were playing the clubs on the Strip.
“I was working on the Anvil case, case candy, picks, etc. The only thing we didn’t get to do was replicate the chain strap he used on the first tour. Eldred and I were driving around hardware stores in Phoenix looking for the turnbuckles he used. We just ran out of time and shelved that idea.
“There was a guy at the office whose mom worked at a bank and had access to coins. She was tasked with looking for 1971 quarters and I think the majority of them, if not all of them, came from him and his mom.
“Chip, Eddie, and [Eddie’s guitar tech, Matt] Bruck really hit it off. They made a great team when it came to this project. In fact, on the day he finished what would be the final prototype, he handed it to Eddie and Eddie played it for a few minutes and said, ‘All right, let me check out yours and see what you did,’ and Chip said, ‘That’s what you’re playing right now. That’s the guitar I made.’
“Chip knocked it off so precisely Eddie couldn’t believe it. He grabbed a Sharpie and wrote ‘This is the shit’ on the back of the neck so he could tell the difference. It was pretty cool going into NAMM knowing that the guitar wasn’t just something that Ed signed off on, but something the guys at the Custom Shop absolutely nailed.”
You can read the full story right here (opens in new tab).
Jackson is an Associate Editor at GuitarWorld.com and GuitarPlayer.com. He’s been writing and editing stories about new gear, technique and guitar-driven music both old and new since 2014, and has also written extensively on the same topics for Guitar Player. Elsewhere, his album reviews and essays have appeared in Louder and Unrecorded. Though open to music of all kinds, his greatest love has always been indie, and everything that falls under its massive umbrella. To that end, you can find him on Twitter crowing about whatever great new guitar band you need to drop everything to hear right now.
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