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Thread started 04/24/12 1:16pm



Eddie Van Halen's Little White Lie


Excerpt from a recent article in Esquire magazine where EVH reveals an "untruth" he gave in an early interview that could've had catastrophic results for a number of guitarist trying to copy his amp rig.


ESQ: Tell me about your amps, though. How much would you tinker with your amps back in the day?

EVH: Always. We were tinkering until we left on tour.

ESQ: I'm talkin' back in the old days, with your Marshall. What did you do to that thing?

EVH: That was a stock amp.

ESQ: Come on man, rumor was that you rebuilt the damn thing.

EVH: I lied in. Okay, this is a long story, actually. I think this is also my paranoia of interview, because, is because the very first - Dave and I did a promo, a radio promo, an interview promo thing before the first record came out. And here we were on live radio, and the guy's going, "We have Van Halen, a brand-new band from L.A. here in the studio. So Dave, tell me" ... And here's Dave, "Bop, bop, yabba, dabba, doo," you know? Then he turns to me and says, "I understand you and your brother, Alex, are from Amsterdam, Holland." And I went, "Yeah." Dead air. Dead air. And then the guy starts going like this, and I go, "I'm over here." And I'm looking at him, and I start gesticulating, too, and then I say, out loud, "What the fuck does this mean?" It was a fuckin' disaster. So afterwards, Dave goes, "Here's what you're gonna do. You're gonna lie. You're gonna make up some shit so they don't remember it." And, you know, I had to say something. I couldn't just say, "Yeah." But he asked me a stupid question. "Yeah" sufficed. You know, I wasn't about to say "Van Gogh's from there, you should see it during the winter," you know? I'm not good at elaborating in that respect. So anyway, I do my first full-blown interview with Guitar Player, and that whole thing is in my head. You gotta make up shit. You gotta keep it interesting. All that Dave told me. So - oh, Joe Walsh calling me?

ESQ: Really? Joe Walsh?

EVH: Yeah. Grab it. Tell him I'm in the middle of an interview. But, so - okay, what I did was the amp was completely stock, but I used a light dimmer.

ESQ: You used a light dimmer on what?

EVH: I bought an English version, I had my 100-volt Marshall. I bought one through the recycling or the newspaper that was from England, and it was set on 220 volts. I didn't know. So I plugged the thing in, but I'm going, "Fucking thing doesn't work. I got ripped off." I just let it sit there. After about an hour, there's sound coming out, but it's really quiet, cause it's running on half voltage. So I go, "Hey, wait a minute. It sounds exactly like it's supposed to all the way up, but it's really quiet." So we had a light dimmer in the house, and I hooked up the two leaves from the amp to the light, so I did it backwards, blew out the fuse box. Then I went down to DOW Radio and asked, "Do you guys have any kind of super duper light dimmer?" They go, "Yeah, it's all Variac, variable transformer, you know." And on the dial you could crank it up to 140 volts or down to zero. So I figured, if it's on 220 and it's that quiet, if I take the voltage and lower it, I wonder how low I can go and it still work. Well, it enabled me to turn my amp all the way up, save the tubes, save the wear and tear on the tubes, and play at clubs at half the volume. So, my Variac, my variable transformer was my volume knob. Too loud, [makes knob turning sound] I'd lower it down to 50.

ESQ: That's amazing. But still, that was it? That was the only modification you did?

EVH: Just out of necessity. I need an amp I could play in clubs. We wouldn't get hired, I would play so loud, you know, I'm going, what can I do? What can I do? Okay, I turned the voltage, the wall voltage into my volume knob.

ESQ: Did you lie to Guitar Player?

EVH: Wait, wait, wait, what I was gettin' at was when I did my first interview, I told people the complete opposite. I told them I raised it up 140 volts. I felt so bad. I felt so fucking horrible, man. They said, "Please don't attempt what Eddie Van Halen said in the last interview, because everyone was blowing their amps." Everyone fried their amps 'cause of me. I felt so bad. I never lied again after that.

Full article:

I wonder how many guitarists that were going for the "brown sound" ended up with the "blown sound"?

Music for adventurous listeners


peace Tribal Records

"Ya see, we're not interested in what you know...but what you are willing to learn. C'mon y'all."
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Reply #1 posted 04/24/12 1:17pm



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Reply #2 posted 04/24/12 2:46pm


Eddie is lucky he didn't electrocute or kill himself with that modification. But I love the tone on those early VH records so I'm sure it had it's benefits.

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