“I worked at Peavey. Yes, I designed them and they were all the same across the range of models. The bobbins changed early on, but they were always wound with the same specs on both neck and bridge pickups. The current Fender made pickups have the same exact specs.
The initial bobbins were supplied by a domestic supplier, then later tooled overseas. By early 2000, we were told to have the winding and assembly outsourced. I had approved the samples, but left before they were actually put into production. That would have been after spring 2000. All of the parts (bobbins, magnets, base plates, magnet wire, cables and wax dipping process were all the same so you really can’t distinguish the domestic from the outsourced pickups. It took a long time to approve them, but they did such a good job that there really was no difference. EVH was sent samples and he approved them as well.
I worked at Fender (Nashville) for 11 years after Peavey. They wanted me to move to Corona, but they couldn’t come through on their promises, so I turned down moving there. I did commute between there and Nashville for a little over a year and a half.They picked my brain a little before I realized they were trying to lure EVH away. I already discussed what I did with the pickups casually to coworkers. After the guitar was released, I got copies of the pickup specs and blueprints. They are the same specs. They made up a story (as he did with Peavey) about trying to please him and having to make dozens of pickups…but they are the same specs. When I had to go through it, I had to make dozens and heard “No, this is too weak, this too warm, this not warm enough, etc. I finally sent him the first set of pickups, and that was it. smile emoticon I did use the EBMM for reference, but couldn’t do exactly as they had done, so I had to do my own thing.” ~Jim DeCola
My History with The Wolfgang
Ever since Peavey came out with an affordable model of Eddie Van Halen’s signature guitar, the Wolfgang, I’ve made myself somewhat of an expert on the guitar. I’ve owned 2 of the Peavey Wolfgang Specials, and currently own 3 EVH Wolfgang Specials made by FMIC (Fender Musical Instrument Corporation).
When scouring eBay (or even large online musical instrument retailers) for EVH Wolfgangs I’ve noticed that a lot of the time, the information about the Wolfgang Special is simply incorrect. It’s not a surprise really; the Wolfgang Special has been manufactured in multiple countries (Japan, Mexico, and China) and the information available online only provides the specifications for the most current origin of manufacture. So, with this little article I hope to clear up some of the misinformation out there. (This article will mainly cover the differences between the Japanese and Mexican models because I’ve never owned a Chinese model.)
Body and Top
There’s essentially 2 body types and 2 top types for the Wolfgang Special, depending on where it was made. The earlier Japanese models have a FLAT top, in either a solid color, or a veneer flame top. The Mexican models are a ARCHED top, also coming in either a solid color or a veneer top. Many website fail to mention that the top is a veneer and not an actual maple top. Don’t be fooled – it’s a veneer.
Frets and Fretboards
Again, the information on many websites is incorrect. My suspicion is that it’s simply out of laziness; a cut-and-paste job to shorten the time it takes to get the guitar up for sale on a retailer’s site. I own (and prefer) the Japanese Wolfgang Special models. One of the reasons I prefer them is because of their fret size. Many sites state that the frets are “jumbos” but in actuality, the frets are what FMIC call “vintage” frets. They’re thinner and shorter than jumbos and I dig them. On the Mexican Floyd Rose models the frets are actually jumbos, with the hard-tail models still sporting the “vintage” frets. There’s also a difference between the Japanese and Mexican models in regard to fret material and fretboard woods. The Japanese Wolfgang Special has stainless steel frets, and has a Birdseye maple fretboard as an option. The Mexican Wolfgang Special has nickel frets and a plain maple fretboard as an option.
One of the most popular EVH models is “The Stealth” and I’ve even seen this model misrepresented on eBay by private sellers and large retailers alike. The Stealth model is a black satin finish EVH Wolfgang with faux cream binding and an ebony fingerboard. (I say “faux binding” because there isn’t a separate maple top for anything to “bind”.) It’s available in a hard-tail and Floyd Rose variant, both with black hardware. On several occasions I’ve seen people list a “Stealth” for sale, even though it had a maple fret board and a gloss black finish. Be careful, just because it’s a black Wolfgang doesn’t mean it’s a Stealth.
Hopefully this will clear up some of the misinformation out there regarding the EVH Wolfgang Special. I wish I knew more about the Chinese models, but since I’ve never had any hands-on experience with them I’m not positive about their specs. When buying a used one, keep in mind that the seller most likely copy and pasted the current specs from the EVH Gear website instead of researching the actual specifications of the model they’re selling. Even the EVH website itself does nothing to differentiate between the different models’ origins of manufacture so I’m not surprised there’s been so much confusion. Regardless, they’re all great guitars, but if you’re like me and you’re picky about fret size and top style, it’s important to know what you’re buying.
Quick recording using my iPhone :
Amp : Blackstar Stage 60, channel 2, a little reverb
Pedals : EVH 5150 Distortion, Joyo Classic Flanger, Biyang Time Machine Analog Delay
This month, MXR announced the release of the new MXR EVH 5150 Overdrive Pedal. It’s odd that Eddie is endorsing a gain pedal since he’s been criticizing the use of them for years, but I’m guessing the market for it is so large that he couldn’t resist. After all, you can’t get a 5150-III amp for under $700 so for the budget-minded, a pedal that gets you most of the way to Eddie’s tone for ~$200 is a no-brainer.
I’ve been wondering what that red dot or button on Eddie’s EVH Stealth was for a while. After some Google-Fu I came across the following video that explains what it is and where you can get one. It’s basically a mute button, to replicate that Jimmy Page quick muting oscillation sound that occurred when he quickly threw the Les Paul pickup selector switch back and forth with one of the pickup’s volume turned down. Unlike the Les Paul, the EVH Wolfgang guitar only has 1 volume knob, so I guess Eddie had his guitar techs just add the mute button to get the same effect.