Watch Phil X Cover Van Halen's "Unchained," Dive Deep into Eddie Van Halen's Tone

Last week, Phil X got together with bassist Daniel Spree and drummer Kenny Aronoff for a seriously awesome cover of Van Halen’s "Unchained," which you can check out above.

Though the cover itself is great, Phil also devotes a significant amount of time in the video, following the cover, discussing the significant lengths he went to to duplicate Eddie Van Halen's killer tone on the song. 

“I was trying all the different kind of Strat-type ‘Frankenstein’ whammy guitars with the maple neck," he said. “And I found that the maple neck made the high F chord a little spanky. So I tried a couple rosewood necks and the spank went away but it didn’t sound right.

“So I tried my Explorer because it’s a hunk of mahogany but it didn’t work. I tried an SG. And the Les Paul won. So I used a Custom Shop ’57 Gold Top with an Arcane PX-8 [humbucker] in the bridge. Not the guitar [Eddie] used, but it sounded closest to me.”

As for the solo, Phil used a whammy- and PX-8-equipped Luxxtone Choppa S, plus a 1976 Marshall JMP, Boss GE-10 graphic EQ, ‘70s-era MXR Flanger, an original MXR script Phase 90, a Digitech CabDryVR dual cab simulator and a whole lot more.

“You’re never, ever, ever, ever going to nail it," the Bon Jovi guitarist says of Van Halen's trademark tone. "But it’s fun getting close.”

Jackson Maxwell
Associate Editor, and

Jackson is an Associate Editor at and 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.