One year ago, the guitar world lost one of its greatest and most charismatic players. Not only did Eddie Van Halen revolutionize technique but he almost single-handedly changed the way people think about designing electric guitar gear.
In a similar vein to Lloyd Loar and Les Paul, Van Halen relentlessly pushed the boundaries of guitar design in order to take music forward, remaining hands-on with the development of electric guitars and amplifiers made under his signature EVH brand.
As a self-taught guitarist with boundless talent and vision Van Halen was rule breaker and rule maker in equal parts. “Instead of reading a book, I wrote my own,” he told an interviewer in 2017. “If I had taken lessons and learned by the book, I would not play at all the way I do. As a matter of fact, because of the things that I created technique wise… they had to create a whole new thing called tablature.”
This incredible clip from the 1986 concert film Live Without a Net gives us a close-up view of the great man at his fretboard-scorching finest. Reaching far beyond the conventional Van Halen shows us exactly why traditional musical notation was simply not enough to accommodate his mind-blowing technique.
Browse Van Halen music here.
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Rod Brakes is a music journalist with an expertise in guitars. Having spent many years at the coalface as a guitar dealer and tech, Rod's more recent work as a writer covering artists, industry pros and gear includes contributions for leading publications and websites such as Guitarist, Total Guitar, Guitar World, Guitar Player and MusicRadar in addition to specialist music books, blogs and social media. He is also a lifelong musician.