Review: EVH Wolfgang Special
ELVH, Inc., evhgear.com
Solid black or vintage white (as tested), $1,299.99; tobacco burst, $1,329.99
The Wolfgang Special is a kick-ass model that’s identical to its pricier namesake in practically every way, but it keeps costs down with a maple top that’s flat rather than carved.
Eddie Van Halen's alliance with the Fender Musical Instruments Corporation to produce his EVH brand of guitars and amps has resulted in what many players feel is the finest incarnation of the Wolfgang guitar. The use of heavier woods and warm, detailed pickups help the EVH Wolfgang come closer to replicating Ed’s brown sound than any production guitar that has carried his name. The Wolfgang Special is a kick-ass model that’s identical to its pricier namesake in practically every way, including components and tone, but it keeps costs down with a maple top that’s flat rather than carved.
Although it feels heavy as mahogany, the body is built from basswood, which provides the thick tone of mahogany with the airy mids and highs of alder. The top has a thin maple veneer, and I suspect many players who prefer the right-hand attack angle that’s gained with a flat top will prefer the Wolfgang Special.
All of the standard Wolfgang’s other details are present with the same extreme level of quality. This includes the quartersawn asymmetrical maple neck, vintage-sized stainless fretwire, a Bourns low-friction volume pot and Gotoh-built EVH tuning keys. Ed’s specially designed humbuckers are hard-mounted to the body, and the top-mounted EVH tremolo (pre-installed with the EVH D-Tuna) is made to Ed’s specs by Floyd Rose. The Wolfgang Special even comes in a protective EVH-striped SKB case.
The Wolfgang Special sounds a tad brighter than the standard Wolfgang, but it has the woody and open tones that are integral to Van Halen’s brown sound. These pickups amplify the thump of the wound strings and emote with a vocal quality on the plain strings, where you can almost hear the guitar say “wow” when you perform Eddie’s signature double-stepped bends and G-string dives. There’s a ton of sustain on tap here, but notes are always clear and round, no matter how much distortion you use.
THE BOTTOM LINE
While the EVH Wolfgang Special is more affordable than the standard Wolfgang, it’s built with the same quality and components. And though it’s not as harmonically rich as its brother, the Wolfgang Special will be preferred by players who like a flat top and the playing angle it affords.
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