Van Halen 1984 Guitar Tone

Slaphappy

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Google "Eddie Van Halen plexi fat cap mod" there is some interesting info about Eddies plexi. A couple of amp builder took his amp apart and realized that it was pretty far from a stock 68' plexi like Eddie claims.
Right...........most EVERONE in rock in the 70's 80's all had the same big Marshall stacks and didn’t sound like Eddie..............NO ONE DID!
 

jlinde

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1,625
I thought you said in post #12 you don't believe what you read :dunno
I usually dont. But saw an old picture of his amp with a white knob on the back....so yes it's not stock. Who knows whatever else was modded on it. But I guess that really doesn't pertain to the OPs question about his tone on 1984 album. Modded or not he used other gear with his plexi to obtain the tones he got on the album.
 

Fishyfishfish

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6,377
Alex was very supportive of everything we were doing. He wasn’t happy with his drum sound, especially on the first and second records. There was only one room at 5150 at the time, so we were very restricted. Recording drums there was a challenge. It really was a racquetball court, where one third of the space was the control room and the rest was the main room.

Because the space was so limited, Alex had to use a Simmons kit except for the snare. We all played at the same time. I had my old faithful Marshall head and bare wooden 4x12 cabinet facing off into a corner and Al was in the other corner. We set up some baffles to have isolation between my guitar and the drums. I would sit right in front of my brother and play without headphones. All I needed to hear was his drums. There were a lot of limitations.

You wouldn’t know it though when you listen to the end product. The sounds on that record are impressive.

I have to give all of the credit to Donn. His approach to everything was genius. I used the same Marshall amp to record the first six Van Halen albums, but my guitar sound on each album is different. The drum sounds are different too. That was all Donn. He is a man-child genius on the borderline of insanity. He would wear what looked like the same pants, shirt, socks and shoes every day of his life. Then you go to his house and see that he has a closet full of all the same type of clothes. He’s just like Einstein.
 

Daprofessor

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
665
Eddie used his plexi up until For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge album. On Carnal Knowledge Ed use a Modify Marshall Plexi and matching speaker cabinet that was once own by Steve Lukather, the Soldano SLO (into the same speaker cabinet) and CAE 3+ Preamp into the Modify Marshall effects return (acting like Power amp) on Dream is Over, Spank, and two other songs for rhythm. This according the John Suhr would work for Bob Bradshaw at the time and help develop the Preamp and was there at 5150 when those songs were being recorded.
Here's Dave Friedman's information about the F.U.C.K album and what was used, it starts at 3:31
 

milli vanilli

Member
Messages
4,952
It doesn't sound that different to me. Same core tone. Just different. Can still hear it's a Marshall cranked to 10 begging for mercy :)


Agree, when he went with the EVH amps his tone took a dive, his tone with the Peavey 5150 is a million times better!
As soon as he went to peavey he lost his familiar tone IMO. don’t get me wrong he still sounded great, just....not brown...colder, more modern. It fit well with Sammy.
 

Daprofessor

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
665
Alex was very supportive of everything we were doing. He wasn’t happy with his drum sound, especially on the first and second records. There was only one room at 5150 at the time, so we were very restricted. Recording drums there was a challenge. It really was a racquetball court, where one third of the space was the control room and the rest was the main room.

Because the space was so limited, Alex had to use a Simmons kit except for the snare. We all played at the same time. I had my old faithful Marshall head and bare wooden 4x12 cabinet facing off into a corner and Al was in the other corner. We set up some baffles to have isolation between my guitar and the drums. I would sit right in front of my brother and play without headphones. All I needed to hear was his drums. There were a lot of limitations.

You wouldn’t know it though when you listen to the end product. The sounds on that record are impressive.

I have to give all of the credit to Donn. His approach to everything was genius. I used the same Marshall amp to record the first six Van Halen albums, but my guitar sound on each album is different. The drum sounds are different too. That was all Donn. He is a man-child genius on the borderline of insanity. He would wear what looked like the same pants, shirt, socks and shoes every day of his life. Then you go to his house and see that he has a closet full of all the same type of clothes. He’s just like Einstein.
Wonder what Don did that was different aside from a different room?
 

Husky

Member
Messages
12,212
Here's Dave Friedman's information about the F.U.C.K album and what was used, it starts at 3:31
I didn’t watch but I know he used my prototype 3+ preamp in to a Marshall Power amp I modded for lukather for rhythm tracks of “Dream is over”, Spank and something else. I was there with Bradshaw. We needed the proto back. His tech told me he used the SLO for solos and most else. That’s when I truly realized his greatness watching him track while I was in the room. He didn’t care. After that meeting and when I completed my move to the west is when he had me work on the original at CAE. Ed said that the main amp is what he used on every record up until F.U.C.K
 

Fishyfishfish

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6,377
Wonder what Don did that was different aside from a different room?
https://www.guitarworld.com/artists/eddie-van-halen-looks-back-van-halen-1984-album-5150-studios
All I could find about 5150. Also remember reading something about Ted not being around a whole lot? Don was also fond of 1176 on all guitars.
There was a ton of info on the old Metro forum that was interesting but gone now.
http://www.rig-talk.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=43828
Light reading about the old days, YMMV-grain of salt disclaimer..
 
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Husky

Member
Messages
12,212
I usually dont. But saw an old picture of his amp with a white knob on the back....so yes it's not stock. Who knows whatever else was modded on it. But I guess that really doesn't pertain to the OPs question about his tone on 1984 album. Modded or not he used other gear with his plexi to obtain the tones he got on the album.
It was plugged when I saw it. The preamp was stock but it could have been a Master volume, couldn’t have been preamp gain because all solder joints and factory paint coating over solder joints were original up until there would have been a Master. Ed said he didnt remember exactly but that didn’t last obviously. The other added part like I said makes very little difference. I asked if he used pedals and he said mostly things to boost like an EQ and the echoplex type of stuff. He play a steinberger with old strings too and it sounded amazing.
 
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Daprofessor

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
665
I didn’t watch but I know he used my prototype 3+ preamp in to a Marshall Power amp I modded for lukather for rhythm tracks of “Dream is over”, Spank and something else. I was there with Bradshaw. We needed the proto back. His tech told me he used the SLO for solos and most else. That’s when I truly realized his greatness watching him track while I was in the room. He didn’t care. After that meeting and when I completed my move to the west is when he had me work on the original at CAE. Ed said that the main amp is what he used on every record up until F.U.C.K
Thanks for the clarification John. Btw- Love my 2018 Suhr Standard
 

tigercasual

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
258
Gorilla 1x10 combo. Trust me on this I know a guy whose cousin was friends with a chick who dated one of the guys who brought food to the studio.
(And by food I mean drugs)

But seriously.

Yeah. THE Plexi.
You don't know how much I wish this was true.
 

laneychris

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
341
maybe they had different mike recording technics
? that could explain the differences in what you hear!!??
 

el greco

Member
Messages
925
So many things play a factor in tone. The room, the mic, mic placement, production in general. not to mention time.

The first 6 albums all have great tone, but they’re all different. there is a noticeable difference between even VHI to VHII
So many things play a factor in tone. You said it right there. The amp is just a piece of the puzzle. The production, the gear used to do it, but most importantly the individual in control of putting the whole puzzle together, is the make or break factor of great sounding tone. The other make or break factor is the player, and Ed is one hell of a player.
 

Dr. Tweedbucket

Deluxe model available !!!11
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48,091
I have an original 80s CD and the tone is paper thin. Same with 5150. Maybe I should pick up a remaster? :huh
 

pfrischmann

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
3,388
The open A chord to start Drop Dead Legs is a sound I go for every time I try an amplifier.
I actually use the D he hammers onto after that chord to test an amp. IIRC it's like open A string, F#, A,D. IF I hit it cleanly, the amp has a certain note separation and space to it that just feels right.

Back to the amp, at one time, I spent a lot of time chasing this tone and even build my own 12 series clone, tried a million different pickups etc. I tried every mod know to man in that amp. In the end, It's stock. I use a guitar with a dimarzio super D and an EQ in front and a little plate verb on the back and it's all there. When I was really getting into it and using medium picks and playing faster passages holding the pick with my thumb and middle finger, I could get pretty darn close. I found the variac helped more with feel than tone for me and softened the 6Ca7's (old GE's or Sylvanias IIRC)...But all that was just me geeking out. I don't think it make enough of a difference to warrant all the effort. For me, the amp sounds best just plugged in at normal voltage.

FWIW,
I was never a huge fan of either 5150. The peavey was a little more organic but noisy, the EVH just sounds too modern for me. There's something in the top end of that amp that seems harsh to me.
 




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