EVH Wolf­gang WG Stan­dard + Spe­cial

ED­DIE VAN HALEN’S NAME­SAKE GUI­TAR COM­PANY BRINGS US TWO DIF­FER­ENT TAKES ON HIS WOLF­GANG GUI­TAR CON­CEPT, AND THEY’RE SUR­PRIS­INGLY AF­FORD­ABLE, ALL THINGS CON­SID­ERED. WORDS BY PE­TER HODG­SON.

Australian Guitar - - Contents -

Ed­die Van Halen ig­nited a cus­tom-gui­tar rev­o­lu­tion when he landed on the scene in ‘78. Yeah, there’s his fa­mous ‘Franken­stein’ parts gui­tar, which has un­der­gone all sorts of it­er­a­tions over the years, but that’s just scratch­ing the sur­face.

Ed­die took a saw to an Ibanez Ex­plorer, put Dan­elec­tro necks on Strat-style bod­ies, chucked a Floyd Rose on a Les Paul, and on and on. And it turns out that all this ex­per­i­men­ta­tion was a sort of de-facto prod­uct re­search, be­cause Ed­die went on to pour all of that prac­ti­cal know-how into his first sig­na­ture gui­tar – the Ernie Ball Mu­sic Man Ed­ward Van Halen Model – and then into the Peavey Wolf­gang – an in­stru­ment which was clearly an evo­lu­tion on ideas first ex­pressed in the Mu­sic Man gui­tar.

Ed­die’s EVH brand (in part­ner­ship with Fender) has been around for quite a while, and he’s still re­fin­ing his vi­sion of the per­fect gui­tar, in­formed by decades of road-tested trial and er­ror. The two mod­els here rep­re­sent an af­ford­able in­stru­ment that bares most of the hall­marks of the primo USA-made stuff.

LIT­TLE GUI­TARS

Of these two in­stru­ments, the Wolf­gang Spe­cial Matte Army Drab looks the clos­est to the Wolfies that Ed­die plays on­stage. On a vis­ual level, this gui­tar’s bind­ing and ze­bra pick­ups are con­sis­tent with Ed­die’s stage gui­tars. Mean­while the Wolf­gang WG Stan­dard Fer­arri Red has more of a stripped­back vibe, with plain black hum­buck­ing pick­ups and no bind­ing. Let’s check these two ba­bies out.

The Wolf­gang Spe­cial has a solid bass­wood body with an arched top, but is miss­ing the maple top of Ed­die’s main gui­tars. The body is fin­ished in satin ure­thane and the neck is a bolt-on chunk of quar­ter­sawn maple with a hand-rubbed ure­thane fin­ish. The fin­ger­board is maple with a 12-to-16-inch com­pound ra­dius fin­ger­board and 22 jumbo frets. It’s a bum­mer they’re not stain­less steel, be­cause Ed­die kind of led the way on the use of that ma­te­rial on pro­duc­tion gui­tars.

The po­si­tion in­lays are sim­ple dots. The bridge is an EVH-branded Floyd Rose li­censed lock­ing tre­molo with an EVH D-Tuna de­vice for drop­ping the pitch of the low E string down to D, paired with an R2 lock­ing Floyd Rose nut (string spac­ing clocks in at 41.3 mil­lime­tres). The pick­ups are a pair of high-pow­ered di­rect-mounted Wolf­gang hum­buck­ers with Al­nico 2 mag­nets; Al­nico 2 is of­ten used in lower-pow­ered, vin­tage-voiced pick­ups, but it has some re­ally unique qual­i­ties when used with a hot­ter coil wind.

The Wolf­gang WG Stan­dard also has a bass­wood body, but in this case the top is flat in­stead of arched, with the ex­cep­tion of a Strat-style fore­arm con­tour. The neck is still a maple bolt-on, but this time it’s a sin­gle piece with an oil fin­ish. Again there are 22 jumbo frets with a 12-to-16-inch com­pound ra­dius, and the same Floyd Rose R2 nut. The bridge is an EVH-branded Floyd Rose Spe­cial, and al­though the D-Tuna is ab­sent here, you can buy them af­ter­mar­ket.

The pick­ups are, again, EVH Wolf­gang Al­nico 2 hum­buck­ers mounted di­rectly to the body.

HUN­GRY LIKE THE WOLF

Make no mis­take: both of these Wolf­gangs are ag­gres­sive sound­ing gui­tars. No, they’re not de­signed to give you Ed­die’s clas­sic VanHalen

I sound; think more along the lines of his fuller, fuzzier tone from al­bums like Bal­ance and A

Dif­fer­en­tKindOfTruth. It’s rude, it’s brash, and it freak­ing lives for heavy dis­tor­tion.

Pile on as much gain as you like, and these pick­ups will main­tain their iden­tity and def­i­ni­tion be­cause they’re high-pow­ered beasts to be­gin with. And yet, the neck pickup has a dis­tinc­tive ‘noodly’ tone, which pre­serves your pick at­tack, but fol­lows it up with a great wal­lop of sus­tain.

Of­ten­times it’s one or the other with hot­ter pick­ups: you can have sus­tain but your pick at­tack is mush, or you can have clar­ity at the begin­ning of the note, but then it rapidly muf­fles. But here, on both of these gui­tars, the sonic in­tegrity is main­tained wher­ever you turn the gain knob.

The true clean tones aren’t nec­es­sar­ily the most char­ac­ter­ful, how­ever, but play­ers who like to roll their gui­tar’s vol­ume knob down to achieve a clean-ish over­drive tone are go­ing to love what hap­pens here.

THE BOT­TOM LINE

These gui­tars are both dif­fer­ent takes on the clas­sic Wolf­gang con­cept, with the WG Stan­dard lean­ing a lit­tle more to­wards a tra­di­tional Su­per­strat (de­spite its shape).

The Wolf­gang Spe­cial def­i­nitely comes out on top in terms of its over­all vibe and feel, but the Stan­dard is a great lit­tle bruiser as well. At a cer­tain point, it’ll come down to aes­thet­ics.

Ei­ther way, these are both killer gui­tars that em­body ev­ery­thing Ed­die has learned about the gui­tar through many years of trial and er­ror.

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