During his tenure with garage-rock kings The White Stripes, Jack White was synonymous with a motley crew of pawn shop electric guitars, in particular his candy cane-hued Airline Res-O-Glas. But his solo career saw him turn to a variety of signature models, among them a Gibson Jeff “Skunk” Baxter Firebird, Ernie Ball Music Man St. Vincent and a heavily customized EVH Wolfgang.
Now, in a new interview with Guitar World/Total Guitar, White has shared details on what lured him to the EVH fold, and his collaborations with the brand’s namesake guitar hero.
“We had a bit of a relationship,” White says of his interactions with Van Halen. “What happened was, when I was doing my last album, Boarding House Reach, I found that the songs took weeks of rehearsal, which was something new to me. I thought, ‘I want to get the easiest guitar there is to play,’ which is the opposite of what I normally do.
“I saw an interview with Eddie Van Halen and [EVH Master Builder] Chip Ellis in which they talked about building the Wolfgang EVH guitar. Eddie talked about how he didn’t want to fight the guitar, and I thought, ‘OK, that might be the one for me.’
“I bought one, and sure enough, it was so easy to play. It practically played itself. That’s when I got into customizing it to my liking. I took his design, and I customized it to some specs that I like – pickups, switches, material and stuff, the paint job.
“But yes, he and I had a little bit of a relationship, talking back and forth, and he taught me a couple things. There were some texts. It was nice, although we never met in person, which is a shame.”
White had a number of Wolfgangs built to his specification over the years, featuring a triple-humbucker pickup configuration, block inlays, and the armrest that also appears on his current beau, the continually evolving Fender Three-Wheel-Motion Low Rider Telecaster.
In fact, the White Stripe was such a fan of his EVH instruments that he recorded the entirety of 2018’s Boarding House Reach on a Wolfgang. A sky blue-finished, maple-necked model would go on to appear with White during his tribute to Eddie Van Halen on Saturday Night Live in the week following the guitar legend’s death in October 2020.
EVH isn’t the only guitar icon to share his knowledge with the Lazaretto riffer; Prince once imparted his own guitar advice when the pair bumped into each other at a Citizens Band show.
To read the full interview with Jack White, not to mention conversations with Def Leppard, Molly Tuttle and Fantastic Negrito, check out the latest issue of Total Guitar, available from Magazines Direct.