Wolfgang Van Halen Shares Humorous Story About Having Different Reverence for ‘Frankenstein’ Guitar Than His Father
Eddie Van Halen's "Frankenstein" guitar is one of the most iconic instruments in the history of rock, one that is held in reverence by most Van Halen fans, including his son, but in a new Total Guitar interview, Wolfgang shares a humorous story about how his father's view on the instrument differed from his.
Wolfgang recalled, “It’s funny, when I started recording with it back in 2015, we pulled it out and Dad picked it up, played it for a second and then sorta just tossed it on the couch. Everybody in the room gasped! Because to us, it’s quite literally the most famous guitar in the existence of music, where to him it was this little piece of junk he put together. So that divide in opinion over it was funny to see!”
The "Frankenstrat" guitar was created by Eddie Van Halen in his attempt to combine the sound of a classic Gibson guitar with the physical attributes of a Fender Stratocaster. A copy of the Frankenstrat has been housed in the National Museum of American History.
As for playing the guitar that his father famously played, the musician says, "You can feel the history sort of emanating out of the Frankenstein. Picking up that guitar is almost a religious experience, even if you’re not a religious person. You just kinda hold it and feel the history right there in your hands."
While many might not dream of changing a thing on the instrument, that wasn't the case for Eddie, with Wolfgang explaining, “He was constantly tinkering with it – that’s why it was called the Frankenstein! He was never satisfied.”
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Will Wolfgang Van Halen Use Frankenstein Guitar on Next Mammoth WVH Album?
Wolfgang played the legendary Frankenstein guitar on his last album, with the guitar being used on the songs "Mammoth" and "Feel," and it is tentatively set to be used on Wolfgang's next Mammoth WVH album as well.
"The only thing I have left to do is track the guitar solos, so what I want to do is go through some of Pop’s notable guitars and do a solo with each of them. Guitars like the Frankenstein or the Shark, stuff like that,” said Van Halen.
As for that next record, Van Halen also offered Total Guitar an update on the scope of the album. “On the debut there was this width of what the project was – on the left you had songs like 'Distance' and 'Circles,' those softer vibes, and on the right you had tracks like 'Stone' and 'The Big Picture.' In the middle, there were songs like 'Mammoth' or 'Epiphany' and stuff like that. What I want to do with this album is widen what that breadth is," he explained.
“Further left, for example, there’s a song that’s all on piano... so it has more of a softer vibe. But on the right, there’s some really heavy sh*t in comparison to the debut! That’s what I find really exciting, it’s fun to stretch the definition of Mammoth on both sides.”
Will Wolfgang Van Halen Play All the Instruments on His Next Album?
On his Mammoth WVH debut, Wolfgang played lead and rhythm guitar, bass, drums, piano and sang, and even though he fielded a touring band to support the record, he's back tackling the majority of the instruments on the second Mammoth WVH record as well.
Some people try to turn me playing everything into a negative thing, which surprises me," he stated. "It’s like they think I won’t let other people play on it or something like that. But really this is what Mammoth is and always has been – it’s my artistic expression."
“I’ve been in bands before where you collaborate and that’s not what this is," he continues."I have a live band but in the studio I do everything and have a fun time doing it. I enjoy being able to express myself musically in every avenue.”
An official release date and album details have yet to be revealed, but Wolfgang and his Mammoth WVH touring band are back out on the road this spring. Tour dates can be found here.