Among the many iconic guitars in Eddie Van Halen’s collection, one of the most striking is his small-bodied Steinberger 5150 striped GL2T. The guitar was built for Ed by luthier Jeff Babicz 30 years ago and quickly became part of Van Halen’s musical legacy, both on recordings and on tour.
According to the Van Halen News Desk, Van Halen’s official website, this past November Ed reached out to Babicz and asked him to restore the guitar. On January 4, Babicz announced on Facebook that he’d completed the restoration.
Alongside a photo of the guitar on his bench, Babicz wrote, “Just another day at the office...NOT!
“Here I'm doing the final set-up on Eddie Van Halen's 5150 Steinberger guitar. I restored this guitar for Eddie, which included a re-fret, TransTrem rebuild, new pickups and more…”
According to the VHND, Eddie told Babicz, “This guitar is as important to the music as the songs themselves….I want to play this guitar again, people want to see this guitar.”
The guitar first appeared on the 1986 album 5150 and was used to record “Summer Nights,” the first track that Eddie, Alex Van Halen and former bassist Michael Anthony jammed with Sammy Hagar. The guitar was also used on “Get Up,” from the same album, and made an appearance on the 5150 “Live Without a Net” tour. Eddie also used the guitar to record “Pleasure Dome,” from For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, “Fire in the Hole,” from Van Halen III, and “Me Wise Magic,” the 1996 track that saw the group reunited with David Lee Roth.
That’s a total of just five songs on which Eddie played the Steinberger.
According to the VHND, Babicz first announced he was restoring the guitar on November 19, 2015:
“So I get a call from Eddie Van Halen, who asked me if i’m interested in restoring some of his guitars (of course I said yes!). Here is one of the guitars he sent me: His iconic Steinberger 5150 striped GL2T, serial #3340. I built this guitar for him in November 1985…almost 30 years ago to the day!. When discussing the restoration approach with Eddie, he says “this guitar is as important to the music as the songs themselves…I want to play this guitar again, people want to see this guitar.” I will be doing a re-fret, installing vintage EMG pickups, and rebuilding the Steinberger TransTrem tremolo unit for him. Stay tuned.”
A little more than six weeks later, the guitar is done. You can see the results for yourself in additional photos at the Van Halen News Desk.
Below are a pair of videos in which Ed uses the Steinberger.