For his debut solo album, Mammoth WVH, Wolfgang Van Halen opted to handle all instruments and vocals himself, with no guest appearances from his late father, Eddie, nor any of his other Van Halen bandmates.
However – as he revealed in a new interview with Total Guitar (opens in new tab) – Wolfgang did use some of his father's guitar gear on the album, including his most famous guitar of all, the original Frankenstein.
When asked by the magazine if he used any of his father's gear for the album, Wolfgang replied (opens in new tab) “Yeah, a handful of it. I played the original Frankenstein on the solo on 'Mammoth' and on 'Feel.'
“You feel the history. It’s kind of terrifying holding it, just because arguably it is the most famous guitar in musical history. It’s definitely quite the thing to hold it."
Eddie himself, however, was decidedly less moved when the original Frankenstein was brought out of its safe for the occasion.
“When we were pulling it out of its safe, Dad picked it up and he was just noodling with it for a second,” Wolfgang said.
“He’s like ‘Yeah, feels about the same’ and he tossed it onto the couch. Everyone just gasped when he did that. To Dad, it’s just a little piece of junk that he built himself, but to us it’s the most famous thing in the world.”
You can hear Frankenstein in action again on "Mammoth" above and "Feel" below.
Elsewhere on the album, Wolfgang primarily used a Gibson ES-335 and an EVH Wolfgang Custom. You can watch him rock the ES-335 in Mammoth WVH's "Don't Back Down" video below.
Amp-wise, however, Wolfgang made a concerted effort to chart a different tonal course from his father.
“We did use a bunch of 5150s mostly, but there were also Marshalls – a red early-’70s 100 watt Superlead, and a ’72 Superlead metal-panel 1959 model," he said. "All the Marshall heads were modified with extra gain stages. We used a lot of cabinet variations, with Celestion G12H-30s, G12M-25s, and G12-EVHs just to contrast the sound.”
For the full interview, pick up a copy of Total Guitar from Magazines Direct (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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