Looking back, it’s surprising to think that anyone would want to stop Eddie Van Halen from making music in any way possible, but that was the case as we headed into a new decade in 1980. Eddie had established himself as the guitar player of a new era of hard rock, and no one in the group wanted to see him experiment with keyboards, especially their producer, Ted Templeman. Luckily for us, they let this first foray slip on the third album, and we were graced with an extremely gritty sound that to our ears could actually have been a guitar.
Taking a queue from the enormous guitar sound that he had crafted, Eddie ran a Wurlitzer keyboard into the same Marshall amps and effects that he used for guitar. The opening riff is played by banging both hands on a cluster of keys and engaging an MXR Flanger to produce an audible sweeping effect. We’ve recreated this setup with the VG402C Amplifier, 4x12B ’78 100W Cabinet, 4x12A ’67 100W Cabinet, and FL101 Flanger. To our ear, the open top end sounds like Eddie (or more likely Don Landee, the engineer responsible for capturing Eddie’s tone) was blending low-powered vintage speakers in the mix.1 Additionally, we hear more bass in this tone so we’re using Channel II. It really brings the chunk out in some of those power chords. We also added a separate preset for keyboard since gain and tone needed to be adjusted and tuned to work with keyboard input.
And the Cradle Will Rock… this is a true classic, and we think you’re going to love digging hard into this heavy metal masterpiece. With a plethora of pick scrapes, slides, trills, and a whole lot of whammy bar dives, there’s a lot of ground to cover!!
The core tone. Tuned for guitar and ready to rock. With a thick bass and bright, open top end, your palm mutes will thump, power chords will rip, and solos will come screaming out of the speakers.
Tuned for keyboards, specifically a Wurlitzer model. Slap on the flanger for that unmistakable sweep, and just grind out some triads for an amazing tone. It’ll sound like a guitar!!
- VG402C Amplifier
- FL101 Flanger
- 4x12B ’78 100W Cabinet
- 4x12A ’67 100W Cabinet
1 zz666. Explaining Eddie Van Halen’s Rig – By Cristopher Michael. http://forum.metropoulos.net/viewtopic.php?t=21279. Accessed 10 December 2022.