Eddie Van Halen’s legacy is one of constant innovation and exceptional skill. So why, in 2007, did he perform Jump in a completely different key to the keyboards? The show has become infamous, and speculation has circulated as to what led to the tuning disaster, but now Eddie Van Halen’s guitar tech Tom Weber has come forward to set the record straight.
Fan speculation, as can be seen in the comments of YouTube videos of the performance, has blamed the tuning issue on a number of things. One the most of common is that the keyboard backing was being played back at a sample rate of 48Khz, but was meant to be played back at 44.1Khz. Weber and Van Halen keyboard tech Greg Rule were pitched this explanation on an episode of The Jeremy White Podcast: “Were you there when that whole screw up with the keyboard happened? With the sample rate?” White asked.
Weber said in response: “It’s not the keyboard sample rate. It had nothing to do with the keyboards. I haven’t been able to address this because it’s a sore spot for [Eddie Van Halen] … Ed loves to make noises with the guitar, we all know that. Anybody that’s been to a Van Halen show and been there for the guitar solo knows that you’re liable to hear any unearthly sound that Ed can make with a guitar.
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“So at one point he took the guitar and literally jammed the headstock of the neck into the stage several times. Normally if there was a situation where the guitar was out of tune, obviously my job is to be ready for him with another guitar, which I was.”
Weber then recalled thinking: “Oh, crap – he’s knocked the guitar out of tune.”
After the solo in which Van Halen slammed the guitar into the stage and knocked it out of tune, he reportedly retuned a little bit to sound “passable,” as did Wolfgang. According to Weber, “typically the band, at the end of the show, they come offstage for a minute, I switch guitars with Ed, and they go back on for the encore, which is Jump.”
However, that night in 2007, Eddie opted not to come off stage for the encore. “So now you have Wolfgang on his bass and Ed with his out-of-tune guitar on a keyboard song that is in tune. Ed didn’t have keyboards in his monitor mix so he didn’t hear that he was out of tune. So that’s where all that went,” Weber explained.
You can watch Weber and Rule’s appearance on The Jeremy White Podcast below.
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