Watch Dweezil Zappa nail Eruption with the Kramer guitar Eddie Van Halen gave him when he was 12 years old

Dweezil Zappa plays a 1982 Kramer Star electric guitar given to him by Eddie Van Halen when he was 12 years old
(Image credit: @dweezilzappa/Instagram)

Dweezil Zappa is most well-known for his association with the music of his father, the late electric guitar hero Frank Zappa. 

Somewhat less well-known, though, is his association with Eddie Van Halen, who he got to know – at the ripe age of 12 – through his dad. Van Halen took a liking to the young Zappa, and even produced his first ever recording, My Mother Is a Space Cadet.

As if that wasn't cool enough, Van Halen also gifted Zappa one of his guitars, a 1982 Kramer that still occupies pride of place in Zappa's extensive collection

Recently, Zappa pulled the Kramer out of its case for the first time in "years," and had a go at playing – what else – Eruption, on it. Luckily for us, he filmed the run-through for social media. 

Needless to say, it's clear that the Kramer still has some mojo in it. Of course, Zappa's tapping and immaculate pickwork are pretty darn good, too.

"In 1982 Edward Van Halen gave me a Kramer Star guitar," Zappa wrote on Instagram. "I used it to record My Mother Is A Space Cadet, and it was also the guitar I used when I first played onstage with my dad at the London Hammersmith Odeon.

"I pulled it out of the case for the first time in years and tried to play Eruption on it."

Perhaps cooler than the guitar itself (not a low bar to clear, mind you) is the story of how it changed hands.

A 12-year-old Zappa, the story goes, was set to play at a school talent show with his band. They were rehearsing their song of choice – Van Halen's seminal Runnin’ with the Devil – when Eddie Van Halen himself turned up at their rehearsal.

“I’m not only playing one chord wrong – but my guitar’s not staying in tune,” Zappa recalled to Gibson in a 2021 interview.

Seeing the trouble, Van Halen proceeded to drive home and return with a Kramer. 

“Originally it was cream-colored with an orange lightning bolt, like Shazam,” Zappa explained. “He brings that guitar back and he puts it on me and he says, ‘You’re playing it wrong.’ And he stands behind me, he counts it off with the kids and he does the picks slides, the whole thing. It was the craziest experience.”

The next day, Zappa went on, “I called him and thanked him and said, ‘Hey, if you want to come grab your guitar…’ And he said, ‘No, you can keep that guitar.’

“So I kept the guitar, I painted it, this was my homage to the Schwinn bicycle-style painting of Van Halen-esque guitars. I painted it when I was 13.”

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Jackson Maxwell

Jackson is an Associate Editor at He’s been writing and editing stories about new gear, technique and guitar-driven music both old and new since 2014, and has also written extensively on the same topics for Guitar Player. Elsewhere, his album reviews and essays have appeared in Louder and Unrecorded. Though open to music of all kinds, his greatest love has always been indie, and everything that falls under its massive umbrella. To that end, you can find him on Twitter crowing about whatever great new guitar band you need to drop everything to hear right now.