Who Says Tracii Guns and Michael Sweet Can't Play EVH Striped Series Guitars? No One, Apparently!

 Tracii Guns [left] and Michael Sweet 

 Tracii Guns [left] and Michael Sweet  (Image credit: Adam Reiver/FU-Tone)

It all started with a simple social media post.

Back in July 2018, Stryper singer/guitarist Michael Sweet shared a photo on his official Instagram of a yellow-and-black EVH Strat-style guitar, captioning it “EVH is my favorite guitarist. Y&B [Yellow & Black] defined. This guitar represents both.”

Stryper, of course, have long been known for their bumblebee-striped outfits, stage sets and instruments. And so the Eddie Van Halen model, as Sweet explains to Guitar World, “is a perfect fit for us, and it pays homage to the influence of Eddie on myself.”

Sweet’s initial post then ended with a question: “Would it be unprofessional for me to play one? Tempted.” And here’s where the story gets good: Among the many Stryper fans who answered in the affirmative was L.A. Guns guitarist and band namesake Tracii Guns, who wrote, “I have been pondering that same question for years. Let’s do it!”

Explains Guns, “I’d actually been thinking about getting some kind of Van Halen signature guitar, but I always thought, ‘Ah, maybe people would think that was weird…’ But Michael and I are friends, and when he posted that picture, right away I was like, ‘No, it wouldn’t be weird! Let’s both get one and play them live!’ And then I tagged Adam, and Adam said, ‘I can make that happen right now.’ ”

(Image credit: Adam Reiver/FU-Tone)

The Adam in question is Adam Reiver of FU-Tone/EVH D-Tuna, who has been performing his signature FU-Tone hardware updates on Sweet and Guns’ guitars for years. Once he was brought into the conversation, Reiver says, “I thought it was an interesting idea, so I procured two EVH models, upgraded them to the FU-Tone level — titanium saddles, stainless steel hardware, brass tremolo claws — that I do for all of their guitars, and said, ‘Let’s pay tribute to Ed.’ ”

Which is how Sweet ended up with a customized EVH yellow-and-black Striped Series Stratocaster-style guitar and Guns with an EVH Striped Series Star, the latter a replica of the instrument Eddie used on Van Halen’s 1980 World Invasion tour. Given the color scheme, Sweet’s instrument was, he says, a “no-brainer.” As for Guns, he says he’s always loved the Star body design. Plus, he adds with a laugh, “the graphic on the body has a skull in it, and that’s so very Tracii Guns.”

(Image credit: Adam Reiver/FU-Tone)

As for what the guitarists love about Eddie Van Halen? Sweet continues, “As a kid growing up in Southern California, that first album was life-changing.”

Guns concurs. “I was 12 when I heard ‘Eruption’ and I remember being scared and really excited. Like, ‘Oh my god, what is that? It was so new and so bionic and so above everything else. So we’re celebrating how cool Eddie is, basically.”

And they plan to have a good time doing it. In fact, just hours after a Guitar World photo shoot, Guns grabbed his EVH Star and jumped onstage with Stryper during their show at Hollywood’s Whisky A Go Go to jam on “Ain’t Talkin’ ’Bout Love.” “

We had a blast,” Sweet says. “Tracii had the tone nailed, it was killer. There was a lot of energy and electricity in the air. And we’ll definitely do more stuff together.”

“What we really want to do is a Stryper/L.A. Guns tour,” Guns adds. “That’s kind of our endgame. We haven’t gotten there yet. But hopefully we will.”

For more about FU Tone, check out fu-tone.com

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Richard Bienstock

Rich is the co-author of the best-selling Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion. He is also a recording and performing musician, and a former editor of Guitar World magazine and executive editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine. He has authored several additional books, among them Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, the companion to the documentary of the same name.