Eddie Van Halen’s Frankenstein electric guitar is one of music’s most iconic and instantly recognizable instruments. Even an untrained eye will see the red-black-and-white striped Stratocaster-shaped guitar and immediately think of Eruption.
The heavily modded six-string assumed various aesthetics, configurations and specs throughout its life, but its final form is synonymous with Van Halen and his trailblazing guitar playing.
Yes, Eddie experimented with different shapes – such as his Ibanez Star and aggressively customized Shark models – but the Frankie’s Strat-shaped body remained a constant.
That is, however, until now, because Jackson has partnered with Anthrax’s Scott Ian to create perhaps the most metal iteration of the Frankenstein ever made – the Franken V.
A Van Halen superfan – clock Mr. Bungle's breakneck cover of Out of Control – Ian was first snapped posing with his new prized possessions almost six weeks ago on the FU-Tone Instagram account, but details of the elusive instrument remained few and far between.
As such, we reached out to Fender – the parent company of both Jackson and EVH, which no doubt helped facilitate the collaboration – to get the lowdown on one of 2023's most eye-catching and under-the-radar builds.
With the body of a standard Jackson King V – Ian’s preferred model shape, which was used as the basis for his signature guitar – the Franken V was built in collaboration with EVH as a one-off guitar for Ian as a special tribute to the original instrument.
Notably, the Franken V was assembled by Mike Shannon, the Custom Shop Master Builder who built Ian his first-ever Jackson back in 1983. Perhaps even more notably, it’s possibly the gnarliest Frankenstein reimagining you’ll find.
Aside from the silhouette switch-up, the Franken V is a top-notch aesthetic reproduction of the original Frankie, from its striped colorway and maple fretboard all the way down to its sawn-off scratchplate and body relicing.
Heck, even the electronics and hardware are a mirror image of the original – the dummy single-coil in the neck is partnered with a functioning Seymour Duncan JB bridge humbucker, wired to a sole volume control labelled 'Tone'.
Naturally, the pickup cavities are fully on display, alongside a top-mounted Floyd Rose tremolo.
Shannon and Ian also paid close attention to some of the smaller specs associated with the Frankie, opting for a 12”-16” compound radius maple fingerboard, 22 jumbo frets, and an oil-finished maple neck.
Likewise, in an effort to leave no stone unturned, the rear of the model flashes numerous reflector plates, which have been strategically placed to channel the spirit of the original Frankenstein.
It’s literally as if Eddie Van Halen himself had developed a penchant for V body shapes, and used one when he first embarked on his Frankie journey back in the late 1970s.
It will come as no surprise to learn that Ian is over the moon with this special one-off six-string – a six-string he says he’s “always wanted”.
“The Franken V is literally a dream come true,” he tells us. “It’s a design I’ve always wanted and I’m so grateful to [EVH brand leaders] Matt Bruck, Wolfgang Van Halen and the EVH family for making it happen.”
But the raving doesn’t stop there: “It was built by Mike Shannon, the man that built my first ever Jackson back in 1983 and it feels, sounds, and plays incredibly. It’s the best guitar I’ve ever had.” Praise doesn’t come much higher than that.
As mentioned above, the Franken V is one-of-a-kind, and it doesn't seem as though Ian will be subjecting it to the rigors of the road, so we'll just have to continue admiring the gnarly six-string from afar – that means closely following Scott Ian's Instagram account in hopes he'll post a few new pictures from time to time.
V-inspired reimaginings of classic guitar models are something of a hot topic right now – indie guitar builder Nepco, for example, has been constructing Vs inspired by classic Danelectro instruments.