Edward continued this naming tradition by naming his son Wolfgang Van Halen after composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Shortly after Edward was born in Amsterdam, the family moved to the city of Nijmegen. In 1962, at the age of seven, Edward moved with his family to the United States, settling in Pasadena, California.
Eddie learned to play the piano as a child and has won many different talent shows. His older brother Alex also played the piano. However, playing the piano did not prove sufficiently challenging or interesting to him — he once said in an interview, "Who wants to sit in front of the piano? That's boring." Consequently, while Alex began playing the guitar, Eddie bought a drum kit and began practicing drumming along with Arty Gomez in Lincoln Heights.They would practice for hours day after day. After Eddie heard Alex's performance of the The Surfaris' drum solo in the song "Wipe Out", he grew annoyed that his brother had overtaken his ability and decided to switch and begin learning how to play the electric guitar.
He has stated that he would often walk around at home with his guitar strapped on and unplugged, practicing with his childhood friend Reyna Plascencia. He claims that he would sit in his room for hours with the door locked as a teen, practicing the guitar.
Eddie notes the importance of supergroup Cream, holding their improvisation in high regard, considering 'I'm so Glad' on 'Goodbye Cream' to be mind-blowing. He once claimed that he had learned almost all of Eric Clapton's solos in the band Cream "note for note" by age 14; in later interviews he stated he could never play the solos precisely, instead he would modify them slightly to suit his style.
In April 1996, in an interview with Guitar World, when asked about how he went from playing his first open A chord to playing "Eruption", Eddie replied:
"Practice. I used to sit on the edge of my bed with a six-pack of Schlitz Malt talls. My brother would go out at 7 p.m. to party and get laid, and when he'd come back at 3 a.m., I would still be sitting in the same place, playing guitar. I did that for years — I still do that."
Eddie has noted many influences. In an interview with Guitar World, Eddie has stated: "I've always said Eric Clapton was my main influence, but [Jimmy] Page was actually more the way I am, in a reckless-abandon kind of way."
Eddie has also mentioned the influence of Queen guitarist Brian May, fusion guitarist Allan Holdsworth, as well as the likes of Montrose guitarist Ronnie Montrose.
Van Halen, originally called "Mammoth", was formed in 1972 in Pasadena. They then found out there was an already successful band with the same name, so they changed their name to "Van Halen." The band consisted of Eddie Van Halen on guitar and vocals, his brother, Alex on drums, and bassist Mark Stone. They had no P.A. system of their own, so they rented one from David Lee Roth — a service for which he charged $10 a night. Eddie quickly became frustrated singing lead vocals, and decided they could save money by letting Roth into the band., Michael Anthony replaced Mark Stone on bass. They opted to change the name of the band because David Lee Roth suggested that the last name of the two brothers "sounded cool." At one point the group considered calling themselves 'Rat Salade', before deciding on Van Halen. The band originally began playing cover material, ranging from pop to disco, before setting on original material.
In 1976 Gene Simmons saw one of Van Halen's shows at Gazzari's in Hollywood, and subsequently financed their first demo tape, flying the band to Electric Lady Studios in New York City to record "House of Pain" and "Runnin' With the Devil". Eddie disliked his playing on the demo, because he wasn't using his own equipment, and had to overdub guitar parts, which he had never done before. During this time, the band opened for acts such as Nils Lofgren and UFO.
In 1977, Van Halen was offered a recording contract with Warner Bros. Records. Later that year, they recorded their first album, "Van Halen", which was released on February 10, 1978. Eddie claims that their first single, "You Really Got Me" (a Kinks cover) was not his first choice. The band was forced to release the song before other bands —notably, Los Angeles rival band "Angel" — who heard Van Halen's rendition and were trying to beat them to the punch.
Van Halen released a total of six albums: Van Halen (1978), Van Halen II (1979), Women and Children First (1980), Fair Warning (1981), Diver Down (1982), and 1984 (1983); however, the band had trouble working together as a cohesive unit; according to Gene Simmons' book Kiss and Make Up, Eddie Van Halen approached Simmons in 1982 about possibly joining Kiss, replacing Ace Frehley. According to Simmons, Eddie did so chiefly due to his personality conflicts with Roth.
Simmons persuaded Eddie to remain in Van Halen, and shortly afterwards the band released the album 1984; which yielded the band's first #1 hit, "Jump". Other singles released from the album also sold well, particularly "Hot for Teacher", the video for which featured a skimpily dressed model playing the part of elementary school teacher and school-age boys portraying younger versions of the band members. The album peaked at #2 on the Billboard charts, behind Thriller by Michael Jackson, on which Eddie also played.
Jimmy Page said at the time: "For my money, Eddie Van Halen was the first significant new kid on the block. Very dazzling".
In 1983 Eddie was invited by "Thriller" producer Quincy Jones to contribute a colorata of hard rock chords and rhythms for Michael Jackson's new rock recording "Beat It". Van Halen improvised and integrated for the recording the familiar Van Halen-styled guitar solo bridge in the new song. Part of rock lore, credit for his work on the noteworthy track would be sufficient and Van Halen declined the payment he was offered for his performance.
In 1984, Van Halen embarked on a tour with fellow rock band AC/DC. Eddie, a noted AC/DC fan, cites Powerage as his favorite AC/DC album, followed with Highway To Hell.
With the arrival of former Montrose singer Sammy Hagar (1985), the band's sound changed somewhat to adapt to the strengths of the new vocalist, as Eddie's keyboard playing became a permanent fixture, heard in songs such as "Dreams" and "Love Walks In". Even on the more rocking, guitar-driven songs, Eddie's performances became looser, less aggressive, and some said more thoughtful, while others said more commercial. The change in sound and pace prompted many fans, both positively and negatively, to refer to the band as "Van Hagar." However, tensions within the band again arose over identity and artist direction, and Hagar, like Roth earlier, departed in 1996.
Following Hagar's departure, the group briefly reunited with original singer David Lee Roth and released Best of Volume I, a greatest hits package, in 1996. Two new songs were recorded for the album, with the single "Me Wise Magic" reaching #1 on the mainstream rock chart ("Can't Get This Stuff No More" was the other new single). However, previous disagreements resurfaced and the reunion did not last.
The band auditioned many prospective replacements for Hagar, finally settling on Gary Cherone, former front man for Extreme, a band also represented by Van Halen's manager. Cherone predicted that the new line-up would last 'ten years', however the Van Halen III album was received poorly. Cherone soon had an amicable departure, and without a lead singer, Van Halen went on hiatus.
In 2004, Van Halen returned with Hagar as their lead singer. A greatest hits package, The Best of Both Worlds, was released to coincide with the band's reunion tour.
The band toured the U.S., covering 80 cities. Despite taking $55 million dollars, it was revealed in Rolling Stone that the promoters had actually lost money on the tour. The infamous final show during the tour in Tucson, Arizona brought tensions between Eddie and Sammy Hagar to the surface. As the show ended Eddie violently smashed his guitar on stage which sent pieces of shrapnel flying into the audience.
Reviews of the tour differed — some reviews were enthusiastic, whereas many stated the band had poor musicianship and the concerts contained apparently drunken behaviour. Michael Anthony stated that Eddie regularly performed in an alcoholic stupor:
"I hate to talk smack about anyone in the band or whatever, but, y'know, Eddie, you know, he's still doing a bit of drinking and everything. There were nights where it was kind of like a roller-coaster, up or down, and myself, I would have liked to have seen him totally clean up if we were gonna take this further."
On February 2, 2007, it was officially announced on the band's website that David Lee Roth would rejoin Van Halen for their summer tour. The excitement regarding the tour waned when on February 20, 2007, reports surfaced that the tour was indefinitely postponed. A previously planned compilation of Roth era Van Halen hits was likewise shelved. However, after six months and a stint in rehabilitation for Eddie, it was finally confirmed by the band on August 13 at a press conference in Los Angeles that they would do a tour with the new lineup from late 2007-mid 2008 across North America, with further worldwide touring and a new album proposed to follow later on.
Persistent rumors had long indicated the Van Halen brothers were in talks with Roth to rejoin the band for a tour and/or new material. In the February 2007 edition of Guitar World magazine, Van Halen had talked about working with Roth during the summer of 2006:
"I'm telling Dave 'Dude get your ass up here and sing, bitch! Come on!' As it stands right now, the ball is in Dave's court. Whether he wants to rise to the occasion is entirely up to him, but we're ready to go."
Regarding the news that Van Halen's then 15-year old son Wolfgang was to play bass in Van Halen in the fall (replacing Michael Anthony), Van Halen claimed his son's presence would have a positive effect on the band:
"Wolfgang breathes life into what we're doing. He brings youthfulness to something that's inherently youthful. He's only been playing bass for three months, but it's spooky. He's locked tight and puts an incredible spin on our shit. The kid is kicking my ass! He's spanking me now, even though I never spanked him. To have my son follow in my footsteps on his own, without me pushing him into it, is the greatest feeling in the world."
Van Halen also stated in a Howard Stern interview that although Roth was a "loose cannon," he was willing to deal with that. David Lee Roth had previously stated that reuniting with the band was "inevitable":
I see (the reunion) absolutely as an inevitability. There's contact between the two camps, and they have legitimate management. To me, it's not rocket surgery. It's very simple to put together. And, as far as hurt feelings and water under the dam ... so what? It's showbiz! So I definitely see it happening.
Suffering from lingering injuries from past high-risk acrobatic stage antics and crashes, Eddie Van Halen underwent hip replacement surgery in November 1999, after an existing chronic condition became unbearable.
Since the 2004 tour, Eddie Van Halen has largely disappeared from the public eye, with the exception of occasional appearances such as the 14th annual Elton John Academy Awards party, and a performance at a Kenny Chesney concert.
In December 2004, Eddie attended "Dimebag" Darrell Lance Abbott's funeral, and donated the black and yellow guitar featured on the Van Halen II album inlay, stating that it was always a favorite of Dimebag's. The guitar was put in Darrell's Kiss Kasket, and he was buried with it.
On December 5, 2005, Eddie's wife, Valerie Bertinelli filed for divorce in Los Angeles Superior Court. The Complaint for Divorce revealed that the couple separated on October 15, 2001. In an interview on Howard Stern's radio show on September 8, 2006, Eddie stated that he and Valerie share custody of their son, and that he sees him every day. Van Halen's divorce became final on December 20, 2007.
On March 8, 2007, Van Halen announced on the official band website that Eddie was entering rehabilitation for unspecified reasons. However, both Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony have made statements indicating that Ed's personality had changed due to alcohol abuse. Hagar, Anthony and David Lee Roth have repeatedly stated their support and well wishes towards Ed's recovery since the announcement.
Van Halen emerged from rehabilitation and appeared publicly as an honorary official during the April 21, 2007 NASCAR event at Phoenix International Raceway. He also unveiled a new Fender Stratocaster with a paint-job made for the NASCAR races before the ceremony.
In 2007, Eddie was honored in the Xbox 360 version of Guitar Hero II. A player receives the "Eddie Van Halen" achievement for hitting 500 or more notes in succession.
Van Halen toured the U.S. (Eddie, Alex, Wolfgang, and Roth) from Sept. 2007 until summer 2008. On October 6, 2008, it was reported that Eddie Van Halen proposed to his longtime girlfriend Janie Liszewski, an actress and stuntwoman who became Van Halen's publicist in 2007. He proposed to her while vacationing in Hawaii. The two married on June 27, 2009 at his Studio City estate, with his son and ex-wife Valerie in attendance. The rocker's brother, Alex Van Halen, officiated the ceremony, while his son served as best man.
Eddie Van Halen's approach to the guitar involves several distinctive components. His innovative use of two-handed tapping, natural and artificial harmonics, vibrato, and tremolo picking, combined with his rhythmic sensibility and melodic approach, have influenced an entire generation of guitarists. The solo in "Eruption" was voted #2 on Guitar World magazine's readers poll of the 100 Greatest Guitar Solos.
The instrumental "Eruption" showcased a solo technique called tapping, utilizing both left and right hands on the guitar neck.
Although Van Halen popularized tapping, he did not, despite popular belief, invent the tapping technique. The tapping technique in Blues and Rock was being picked up by various guitarists in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. The The Allman Brothers Band and Frank Zappa tapped with a pick in the early 1970s. Brian May of Queen also used the tapping technique, which he picked up in America in the early 1970s, on songs such as It's Late from the News Of The World album. From a Brian May Guitar Player Jan 1983 interview about tapping "I stole it from a guy who said that he stole it from Billy Gibbons in ZZ Top."
Early EVH stage photographs, and demo and bootleg recordings from 1976 and before do not indicate EVH using any tapping techniques. In an Ace Frehley January 2005 Guitar World interview, Ace Frehley says that EVH probably started tapping in late 1976/1977 after seeing him tap using a pick with Kiss just before the Gene Simmons Van Halen demo tapes were made. Ace Frehley had been tapping with a pick (similar to Frank Zappa) from at least 1973 as shown in early Kiss television appearances such as Kiss performing She on The Midnight Special television show in 1975. EVH's comments about how he came across the tapping technique vary from interview to interview. This is one interview excerpt.
I think I got the idea of tapping watching Jimmy Page do his "Heartbreaker" solo back in 1971. He was doing a pull-off to an open string, and I thought wait a minute, open string ... pull off. I can do that, but what if I use my finger as the nut and move it around?" ... I just kind of took it and ran with it.
EVH also employs tapping harmonics. He holds the pick between his thumb and middle finger, which leaves his index finger free for tapping and also makes for easy transitions between picking and tapping. In support of his two-handed tapping techniques, Van Halen also holds a patent for a flip-out support device which attaches to the rear of the electric guitar. This device enables the user to play the guitar in a manner similar to the piano by orienting the face of the guitar upward instead of forward.
Eddie (a self described "tone chaser") achieved his distinctive tone, known as the "Brown sound", by using the EVH "Frankenstrat" guitar, a stock 100-watt Marshall amp, a Variac (to lower the voltage of the amp to change the tone) and effects such as an Echoplex, an MXR Phase 90, an MXR Flanger and EQs. Van Halen constructed his now legendary Frankenstrat guitar using a Charvel factory "2nd" body and neck (cost $50), a single vintage Gibson PAF humbucker pickup (sealed in paraffin wax to reduce microphonic feedback), a pre-CBS Fender tremolo bridge (later to be a Floyd Rose bridge) and a single volume control with a knob labeled "tone". Eddie has used a variety of pickups including Gibson PAF's, 1970s Mighty Mites, DiMarzios and Super 70s.
The now famous single pickup, single volume knob guitar configuration was the chosen platform due to Van Halen's lack of knowledge in electronic circuitry, primitive wire soldering skills, and his disappointment in not finding an adequate, durable bridge and neck pick-up combination on his own. Upon installing the humbucking pickup he did not know how to wire it into the guitar circuit, so he wired the simplest working circuit to get it to function.
His later guitars include various Kramer models from his period of endorsing that company (most notably the Kramer "5150", from which Kramer in its Gibson-owned days based their Kramer 1984 design, an unofficial artist signature model) and three signature models: the Ernie Ball/ Music Man Edward Van Halen Model (Which continues as the Ernie Ball Axis), the Peavey EVH Wolfgang (which has been succeeded by a similar guitar called the HP Special), and the Charvel EVH Art Series, on which Eddie does the striping before they are painted by Charvel.
In an interview he gave to Guitar World magazine in July, 1985, Van Halen states that his "brown sound" is "basically a tone, a feeling that I'm always working at ... It comes from the person." He continues, "If the person doesn't even know what that type of tone I'm talking about is, they can't really work towards it, can they?"
Though rarely discussed, one of the most distinctive aspects of Van Halen's sound was Eddie's tuning of the guitar. Before Van Halen, most distorted, metal-oriented rock consciously avoided the use of the major third interval in guitar chords, creating instead the signature power chord of the genre. When run through a distorted amplifier, the rapid beating of the major third on a conventionally tuned guitar is distracting and somewhat dissonant.
Van Halen developed a technique of flattening his B string slightly so that the interval between the open G and B reaches a justly intonated, beatless third. This consonant third was almost unheard of in distorted-guitar rock and allowed Van Halen to use major chords in a way that mixed classic hard rock power with "happy" pop. The effect is pronounced on songs such as "Runnin' With the Devil", "Unchained", and "Where Have All the Good Times Gone?".
With the B string flattened the correct amount, chords in some positions on the guitar have more justly intonated thirds, but in other positions the flat B string creates out-of-tune intervals. As Eddie once remarked to Guitar Player:
A guitar is just theoretically built wrong. Each string is an interval of fourths, and then the B string is off. Theoretically, that's not right. If you tune an open E chord in the first position and it's perfectly in tune, and then you hit a barre chord an octave higher, it's out of tune. The B string is always a motherfucker to keep in tune all the time! So I have to retune for certain songs. And when I use the Floyd onstage, I have to unclamp it and do it real quick. But with a standard-vibrato guitar, I can tune it while I'm playing.
Eddie used a volume technique in the instrumental "Cathedral". He hammered notes on the fretboard with one hand while rolling the volume knob with the other. This altered the attack and decay of the notes so they mimicked the sound of keyboards. This "volume swells" sound was originally popularized by 1970s progressive rock bands like Focus (Jan Akkerman), Yes and Rush (while Ritchie Blackmore performed this technique a lot live) but was usually performed with a volume pedal, at a slower pace. "Cathedral" also employs an electronic delay, with the delay set at 400 ms and the delayed note set at the same amplitude as the original note. Most of the composition's notes come from hammering on the notes of a major 5th string barre chord (ascending and then descending) and replicating this pattern up and down the neck of the guitar. The end result of this technique made the composition sound as if it is being played on a church/cathedral organ.
Eddie Van Halen built his guitar (Black and White) by hand, using an imperfect body and a neck bought from Wayne Charvel's guitar shop. The body and neck were constructed by Lynn Ellsworth of Boogie Bodies guitars, whose parts were being sold by Wayne Charvel at the time. Eddie installed a humbucker in the bridge position essentially creating a Fat Strat. In 1979, Eddie began to play a black, rear loaded Charvel with yellow stripes. This was later replicated by Charvel along with the black and white striped model and the red white and black model (EVH Art Series Guitars). He also used a stock unmodified Ibanez Destroyer on a lot of the tracks on Van Halens first album such as You Really Got Me and Runnin' With the Devil and a modified Ibanez Destroyer on some tracks on Van Halens second album and a borrowed unmodified Ibanez Destroyer on some tracks on the Women and Children First album.
Also, in 1979 Eddie's original guitar was repainted with Frankenstein artwork. Eddie also changed the neck, removed part of the pick guard and eventually installed a Floyd Rose vibrato unit. The guitar is known both as a "Frankenstrat" and as THE "Frankenstrat." Fender reissued the guitar in relic form in 2007, the limited run selling at $25,000 a guitar. However, a "new" (non-reliced) Frankenstrat is currently available through the Charvel company, but has been discontinued, for significantly less,the first time Van Halen has consented to the commercial release of a guitar with his signature graphics on it.
In 1983, Eddie began to use a brand new Kramer guitar with artwork similar to its predecessor and with a hockey-stick or "banana" headstock, which came to be known as the "5150." This guitar was rear-loaded (no pick guard), had a Floyd Rose vibrato unit and a neck that was later electronically mapped in order for it to be copied on the later Music Man and Peavey signature models. This guitar was last used on the track "Judgment Day" on the For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge album. Various versions of it can be seen in the music videos for "Panama", "Hot for Teacher", "When It's Love", "Feels So Good" and the concert video, Live Without a Net. The guitar itself was a variant of a Kramer Pacer, although not a model that was technically available at the time.
It was painted with Krylon paints by Van Halen and used through the OU812 tour, after which it was "retired." However, Eddie did break out the guitar for use on the 2004 reunion tour, although the neck had finally failed and had apparently been replaced. A copy of this guitar is available today (although not with Van Halen's permission) through the current manufacturer of Kramer's, Music Yo, a subsidiary of the Gibson company. However, the commercially available copy doesn't feature the custom graphics, as the "Frankenstein" graphics are trademarked by Edward Van Halen.
Eddie has used a Steinberger GL-2T guitar with Trans-Trem on several songs, including "Get Up" and "Summer Nights" (from 5150), "Fire in the Hole" (from Van Halen III), and "Me Wise Magic" (from Best of Volume I). It was custom painted with the "Frankenstein" graphics.
In the early 1990s, Ernie Ball produced an EVH signature "Music Man" guitar, and Eddie used this on For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge and Balance albums. This guitar is still commercially available under the "Axis" name, and retains all of the original features of the Edward Van Halen model. Edward was allegedly upset that Ernie Ball could not produce enough of this guitar to meet demand, and subsequently moved his endorsement to the Peavey Electronics corporation.
Eddie named his line of signature Wolfgang Guitars after his son, Wolfgang. The guitar itself was similar to the previous Axis line, but with a slightly altered shape and many additional options available in Peavey's much larger custom shop. These guitars included a device called a "D-Tuna" which enabled a guitarist to tune the low E string down to D with a slight turn of a knob attached to the end of the bridge.
In 2003, at the NAMM show, the relationship between Peavey and Eddie began to strain. Peavey constructed a glass enclosed stage for Eddie in which to play for VIP's at 2 p.m. Eddie arrived late, shocking fans there with his disheveled appearance, as he immediately went upstairs and initially refused to play. After an hour of negotiations, Eddie came down while fans, who had lined up for hours prior to the appearance, roared with approval. Eddie ended up spending his short time on stage, talking about Wolfgang guitar production and his promise to take a keen interest in quality control. Eddie left, having only played a few notes and small riffs, much to the dissatisfaction of the fans and Peavey. The end came in 2004, when Peavey company parted ways with Van Halen, reportedly because Eddie launched an on-line sale of hand patterned (by Edward) Charvel guitars, sold by the name of the "EVH Art Series Guitars", while he was still contractually obligated to Peavey. The guitars sold for large sums on eBay, and were essentially replicas of his famous "Frankenstrat" guitars, played by Van Halen mainly during the David Lee Roth era of the band. Eddie also launched Frankenstein replicas as noted above, which are the only Van Halen guitars currently endorsed by Eddie.
Most recently Eddie has collaborated with Fender guitars to produce a replica of the Frankenstrat. Eddie and Chip Ellis of the Fender Custom Shop teamed up to produce a guitar priced at $25,000 each. Also, Eddie has collaborated with Fender to launch his own EVH brand of guitars, amps, and musical instrument equipment, starting with his new EVH Brand 5150 III amplifier. Eddie now uses prototypes of his new EVH Brand Wolfgang, which is an updated version Eddie's Peavey Wolfgangs but with new pickups, knobs, a thinner but very elaborate quilted maple top to allow the basswood the dominant tone, providing more tonal resonance but with a balanced high sustain. Also, the new Wolfgang is equipped with an Original Floyd Rose. In addition, the new guitar has a slightly altered headstock. This is because this was Ed and Hartley Peavey's original design for the headstock, which Eddie had patented without the scoop on final version of the Peavey Wolfgang. He has been seen with three new Wolfgang guitars, first a sunburst one, then a black one which he stated he liked less than the sunburst one and now he uses a white one, the best sounding one out of the three prototypes according to Ed.
The EVH Wolfgang is planned for initial sale to the public in early 2009.
Eddie's main amplifier in the early years was a 100 watt Marshall amplifier that had a 12301 serial number, which dates it to the 1967-1968 transitional period at Marshall when the circuit of the 100 watt Marshall 1959 changed gradually from the "Bass" circuit to the "SuperLead" circuit. Eddie's main Marshall had a white knob installed at the back of his Marshall head, as seen in the 1978 world tour Japanese leg photos and the Van Halen II studio photos from late 1978. Photos of Eddie's main Marshall in the 1990s show that the white knob had been removed.
For Van Halen I, a single Celestion speaker cabinet was used and a variac set to around 90 volts was also used on Eddie's main 100 watt Marshall head, mainly to lower the amplifier's volume. The volume control and all other controls on his Marshall head were set to maximum or 10. Eddie's Van Halen I recorded guitar tracks were re-amped by using the Sunset Sound studios live reverb room. The first Montrose album was recorded in this way by Ted Templeman and Donn Landee who also produced and engineered the Van Halen I album. Van Halen I was recorded in Studio 1 at Sunset Sound and Van Halen II was recorded in Studio 2 at Sunset Sound.
From the mid 1980s, Eddie has used a real time re-amping or Master/Slave slaving amplifier setup that was originally designed by Bob Bradshaw, with the first amplifier being a Tube Amplifier and the second amplifier being a H&H MOSFET solid state power amplifier. Between 1993 and 2004 Eddie was sponsored by Peavey Electronics to use their 5150 Amplifiers, which he had a part in designing. Following the ending of this relationship, Peavey renamed the amplifier as the "Peavey 6505", with slightly updated styling but original circuitry. Eddie is now sponsored by Fender and has debuted his new amp called the 5150 III. The 5150 III features three channels with their own independent controls, a four-button foot-switch and his famous striped design on the head.
A crucial component of Van Halen's personal style is his use of the Floyd Rose Locking Tremolo, released in 1977. Early tremolo bars allowed the guitarist to impart a vibrato to a chord or single string via movement of the bar with the picking hand, but the slackening of the strings when the bar was heavily depressed could lead to detuning. The addition of the locking bolts at the nut and bridge kept the strings taut and allowed for drastic depression of the tremolo bar to create effects such as the dive bomb. Van Halen went on to collaborate with Floyd Rose on improvements to Rose's device.
Van Halen also pioneered the mainstream use of the Trans-Trem system on the Steinberger line of guitars on "5150", most notably on the songs "Summer Nights" and on "Me Wise Magic" off of "Best of Volume I" where the song goes through several key changes while retaining the same chord voicings. The Trans-Trem system allows for the effect of an instant "capo", increasing the pitch of all strings by up to a minor third or lowering the pitch by as much as a perfect fourth.