Sunday, February 7, 2016

ADHD Reviews: Playing the Fender Frankenstein copy

Back in 2007 or 2008 (I really don't remember which) Chip Ellis who worked for Fender Corp got permission from Eddie Van Halen to build a limited run exact replicas of Ed's famous Frankenstein. According to legend they wanted to build more but could only find the exact parts for 300 of them. That last part (only finding exact parts) has been disputed by various self proclaimed experts but we do know that they released 300 of these and only 180 were released in the USA.

even the case is cool
So imagine my surprise when, right after they announced it, an old friend of mine called to tell me he had one on order. This really surprised me because the ticket price on these were a whopping $25,000!!! This guy was a HUGE Eddie Van Halen fan so I knew owning this guitar was going to be very special for him. A few months later when it arrived he called to set up a time for me to drive up to his place and spend an evening checking it out.

dig the wiring in the center cavity

While he had checked it out he had boxed up the guitar so I could have the fun of opening the box. This of course added to the excitement of the whole thing. Every scar on this thing tells a story, and it looks like it's been dragged through battle. Burn marks from Ed's cigarettes, screw holes where he tried something and then moved it, areas where the paint has rubbed down... all tell stories.

Not gonna lie, I got a little giddy at this point!
The guitar plays well, but the action is not particularly low. The neck is super comfortable, I've gotten into fat necks the last ten years and prefer them to thin necks but the Frankie neck hits a sweet spot, not too thick for fans of thin necks but I certainly wouldn't call it a thin neck. Just very very comfortable.

 The pickup is fairly hot, I would describe it as a PAF on steroids. Similar to but not exactly like the current wolfgang pickups they are dropping in the EVH line.

a close up of the 1971 quarter

The scars of battle and the reflectors 
all of the these layers of paint are very smooth 

We had a great time that night, trading Van Halen riffs, drinking beer, swapping stories and catching up the way friends do. I'm not nearly the Van Halen player he is. I know a bunch of the licks but I've never worked on getting that swing down that Ed has. This guy has put the time in, and it shows. Some people are almost offended by limited run copies of famous guitars with exorbitant price tags. And while I wouldn't buy one I don't have a problem with people who do, or those companies who make them. I love that this guitar exist, it's as close as I will ever get to playing THAT guitar! If you've dedicated time in getting those licks perfected you can do them on most guitars. I remember this my friend playing a Les Paul through a solid state Marshall (a mosfet 100) with a tube screamer and sounding damn close to the Van Halen I tone. So him owning this guitar made sense to me. He's got the chops down perfect. He has since sold the Frankenstein guitar for a nice profit and of course he has picked up one of the new EVH striped guitars (the bumblebee).

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