Ain’t Talkin ’ ’Bout Love
Might as well jump… on a phaser
Player Eddie Van Halen Album Van Halen (1978)
Guitar modding, amp-pushing, two-handed tapping… There were seemingly no rules Eddie Van Halen couldn’t break. Before this maverick came along, you didn’t have humbuckers in Strats. At all. Enter the ‘Frankenstrat’, Eddie’s iconic black-and-white-striped axe,
which featured a PAF ’bucker swiped from an ES-335 and powers this raucous debut album anthem. In the process, Eddie pioneered the ‘super-strat’.
Eddie was also a leading proponent of high-gain tones, regularly running a Marshall Super Lead with volume and tone controls on 10. This was then run through a variable transformer to lower the volume before it hit an H&H power amp. Not only did this sag and compression yield his legendary ‘brown sound’, but it also allowed him to employ an Echoplex EP-3 tape echo in between the Marshall and power amp without distorting the repeats. It’s this device that provides the slapback echo on Ain’t talkin’ ’bout love’s staccato chords, although its preamp also works its own tonal magic.
And then there are EVH’S FX, masterfully employed to enhance key elements of the riff. In the intro, when Eddie hits the end of each cycle, he kicks in an MXR Flanger for a vocal sweep that tickles the eardrum. He also employs the same company’s Phase 90 for the track’s lead sections. In today’s era of roaring distorted amps and allencompassing multi-effects, it’s not too hard to pin down the sound, but the fact that Eddie was able to revolutionise guitar tone with a relatively limited array of tools is testament to his enduring legacy.
van wail’in Eddie teaches a lesson in using effects to enhance on this song