Eddie Van Halen’s rig builder recalls “torture test” late guitarist used to put his amps through
“He’d hit the strings on his guitar, lay it on the floor, have the amp cranked up, leave his studio, and leave it on for, like, days.”
Eddie Van Halen live onstage in 1984 with his Kramer Frankenstrat guitar. Image: Ross Marino/Getty Images
Friedman Amplification founder and Eddie Van Halen‘s rig-builder Dave Friedman has looked back on the “torture test” the late guitarist used to put his amps through.
The amp legend — who’s worked with the likes of Steve Stevens, Joe Bonamassa, Richie Sambora, and Dave Grohl over the decades — recently appeared on The Jeremy White Show, where he discusses Van Halen’s tonal evolution and the rocker’s enduring love for all things gain.
Speaking about how Eddie’s sound got “gainer and gainer over time”, Friedman admits that he’s a “fan of the old stuff”, saying “You know, he’s a guy that always wanted more.”
“If he had a knob and could turn it up, he wanted more of it. A million years ago, he wanted more out of his Marshall, so he figured out ways to [do it]. ‘Here’s a variac in it; it lowers the volume, but it sounds cool!’”
“He always wanted more, and I just think it maybe went too far after a while,” says Friedman.
During the chat, White also brought up the classic marketing material promoting the release of the EVH 5153, which claimed that Van Halen would strike a note, leave the amp on, and then return a month later to see if it was still feeding back.
Asked if there’s any truth to the story, Friedman replies: “He did do that… He’d hit the strings on his guitar, lay it on the floor, have the amp cranked up, leave his studio, and leave it on for, like, days. And it was still operating when he came back. That was his torture test.”
In related news, Sammy Hagar has expressed his disappointment with the lack of a tribute for his late former bandmate.
In a new interview with the Rock of Nations With Dave Kinchen and Shane McEachern podcast, he says [via Blabbermouth]: “As far as the tribute goes, I’m so disappointed how they’ve handled everything, including when I left the band, what they did, and that.”
Speaking about the “dysfunction” in the band, Hagar continues: “Things went wrong. Drugs and alcohol are a band thing when it turns ugly, and it’s just never been the same. And for them not to have done something for Eddie Van Halen, the greatest guitar player in the world, the greatest rock musician, I’m telling you… It’s ugly, but it’s not my job.”