Wolfgang Van Halen has inspired EVH Gear to release 24-fret and hardtail versions of its Eddie-inspired 5150 Series guitars

EVH 5150 guitar
(Image credit: Future)

Wolfgang Van Halen and his EVH co-runner Matt Bruck recently sat down with Guitar World to discuss what electric guitars the brand has in store for future releases – a topic of conversation that teased the arrival of some boundary-pushing axes for the firm.

When asked whether we’d be seeing a replica of Eddie Van Halen’s original Kramer 5150 – the model the late guitar legend developed in the mid-'80s – Bruck said it was “part of a conversation”, but admitted fans should expect to see significant shake-ups in the existing 5150 Series first.

Specifically, 24-fret and hardtail-equipped iterations of the 5150 Series models, which were first developed as a nod to Eddie Van Halen’s original red-white-and-black Kramer original, are on the way. It goes without saying that such appointments would drastically alter the DNA of Eddie Van Halen’s flagship 5150.

“It’s in the queue,” Bruck said of the 5150 replica. “We just can’t do everything all at one time. The replicas are special. We have never thought, ‘Nah, we don’t need to do that.’ There are also some really cool things going on in the 5150 Series of guitars that Wolf has suggested.”

Wolfgang continued, “I really do like the 5150 Series guitars. It’s one thing to do a replica, and it’s cool to play a guitar that looks like the ones my pop played, but there’s also something really special to me about being able to reflect yourself in the instrument. The non-striped issues of those guitars are a really exciting proposition.”

Eddie Van Halen

Eddie Van Halen playing his 5150 electric guitar (Image credit: Brian Rasic/Getty Images)

According to Bruck, Wolfgang’s affinity for “the new breed players” and his penchant for hardtail guitars led him to suggesting the two radical shake-ups.

Bruck revealed, “[Wolfgang] thought it would be cool if we offered 24-fret models with stop-tails and locking trems. There’s a whole new generation of players who are really into 24-fret guitars. We just got our first prototypes of the 24-fret 5150 Series guitars. And once again, they still need to go through development and a little bit of refinement, but they’re very cool.”

After Wolfgang admitted, “I’m not a locking trem guy,” Bruck then confirmed, “There will be hardtail versions of those guitars, too. We want to embrace old and new ideas alike and do them all well.”

The appointment of 24 frets is bound to ruffle a few feathers – Eddie’s original subscribed to the conventional 22 fret count – but it’s the presence of a hardtail that will probably cause the biggest reaction from fans.

Indeed, Van Halen’s relationship with the tremolo is almost mythical, with the guitar hero calling upon his whammy bar to summon some of his most sublime six-string sounds. Both the final incarnation of Frankenstein and his Kramer 5150 came equipped with Floyd Rose-style locking tremolos – which can now be found throughout the current 5150 Series.

Likewise, it sets an interesting precedent going forward for future releases: what else will the EVH team look to tweak from Eddie Van Halen's original models? It certainly opens up an exciting prospect for guitar development.

EVH 5150 guitar

A model from the current EVH 5150 Series (Image credit: Future)

Elsewhere in the interview, Van Halen and Bruck touched on some other future EVH releases, including the recently released 78 Striped Series Relic and a range of EVH Signature models made in Fujigen.

The move to Fujigen – a factory in Japan that builds guitars for a range of brands, including Fender Japan – is a deliberate nod to Van Halen’s own experience with the company and Japanese guitars in general, having played a number of six-strings that heralded from its workshops in his early years.

His bolt-on Flying V and Ibanez Destroyer, as Bruck points out, were both made by Fujigen. Likewise, Van Halen “did a lot of experiments on Japanese Strats before and after the first record”.

“Ed’s history with Japanese guitars predates Van Halen’s records,” Bruck continued. “He played a bolt-on Flying V and an Ibanez Destroyer during the club days, which were both built by Fujigen. 

“We’re super-excited to do something with Fujigen and for the Japanese market. People in America and around the world will be able to access those models too.”

Wolfgang Van Halen with prototype EVH Wolfgang semi-hollow electric guitar

Wolfgang Van Halen playing his EVH SA126 (Image credit: Wolf Van Halen/Instagram)

The pair also took the opportunity to discuss Wolfgang Van Halen’s hotly anticipated EVH SA126 semi-hollow model, which is currently being rigorously road-tested by the Mammoth WVH frontman in a similar vein to how Eddie used to road-test his own guitars.

“The SA126 is still a work in progress,” Bruck explained. “Wolf is like his father in that he liked something that was classic but wanted a higher level of performance from it. 

“Wolf used a [Gibson ES-]335 until we were able to put the SA126 together. The concept was to create a hybrid guitar that had a classic foundation fused with high performance features that players today are used to from EVH.”

To read the full interview with Wolfgang Van Halen and Matt Bruck, head over to Magazines Direct to pick up the latest issue of Guitar World.

Elsewhere in that same issue, Wolfgang Van Halen reveals his favorite guitar player right now.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.

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