Eddie Van Halen Biography - Rock Guitar Innovator

Our Eddie Van Halen biography discusses one of the most significant guitarists in rock history, if not the entire history of the guitar itself. One of the true masters of the instrument, his sound, technique, and style influenced an entire generation of rock guitarists.

Van Halen - Savior of Rock Guitar?

Some players, take Steve Vai for example, are noteworthy for their sheer mastery of the instrument. Other players, like Van Halen, are famous because they re-define what is possible on the instrument. In the history of rock guitar, Eddie Van Halen is simply a game changer, pure and simple.

It's important to place Van Halen in the proper context as well. In the late 70s, the idea of the "guitar hero" was arguably on the decline. Disco and synth-based pop threatened to push classic rock to the periphery. Then, the first Van Halen album was released, and the world would never be the same again. 

The Sound of Eddie Van Halen

Although Van Halen's two handed tapping technique and rock pyrotechnics have since become standard fare for most rock guitarists, in the 1970s sounds emanating from Van Halen I were simply otherwordly. In fact, there were many guitarists who heard the sounds from the first Van Halen album, especially Eddie’s trademark guitar solo “Eruption” and simply assumed that the sounds were coming from a synthesizer, two guitarists, or some other studio trickery. In fact, Eddie supposedly hid his hands from the audience prior to the release of the first Van Halen album so that people wouldn’t rip off his now “trademark” two handed tapping technique.

Not Just a Pretty Face

While Eddie became known for his tapping technique, vibrato bar dive bombs, and wild harmonic squeals, he soon established himself as one of the best rhythm guitarists in the business, holding down the groove with his brother Alex on drums and the always underrated Michael Anthony on bass.

Van Halen's Gear

In addition to his technique, Eddie helped redfine the sound and look of the guitar in the 1980s. Soon, everyone was playing a Strat-style guitar with a Floyd Rose vibrato bridge and a single bridge position humbucker. In time, Eddie would come to embrace dual pickup guitars (starting with his time at Music Man and continuing with Peavey and his own EVH brand of guitars), but he made a name for himself with his single pickup “Frankenstrat.” Having used Marshall amps throughout the first part of his career, Eddie came onboard with Peavey where the 5150 amp would help redefine the sound of rock and roll. He currently uses his own brand of EVH amplification (though it is worth noting that the EVH brand is owned by Fender).

Eddie Van Halen Biography - Final Words

Through the tempestuous evolution of the band Van Halen itself (having gone through numerous lead singers and the dismissal of Michael Anthony in favor of Wolfgang Van Halen, Eddie's son), Eddie Van Halen's guitar wizardry has remained constant. He has an instantly recognizable style that has helped define rock guitar for nearly 40 years. If you'd like to add to this brief Eddie Van Halen biography or discuss how Eddie has influenced you, see the form below!

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