“A little tribute to Ed”: Neal Schon channels his inner Eddie Van Halen in jaw-dropping shred clip

Neal Schon Van Halen tribute shred clip
(Image credit: Neal Schon / Instagram)

Journey guitar hero Neal Schon has shared a new clip showcasing a mammoth shred workout, which he (somewhat modestly) describes as “a little tribute” to Eddie Van Halen.

The 3:35 video shows Schon, armed with an EVH Striped Series electric guitar, unleashing a virtuosic display of shred talent, including some viciously fast and consistent picking, two-handed tapping and a killer vibrato. 

Van Halen’s arrival in the late-’70s caused a collective WTF moment among guitar players that would last well into the next decade. As an early tour mate, Journey guitarist Neal Schon was one of the first big-name players to witness it. 

The Journey man had a stage side view of some of the guitarist’s first major performances and is therefore better placed than many to observe the nuances of Van Halen’s innovative guitar style. 

“A little tribute to Ed,” writes Schon, in the accompanying text. “It was so amazing to be on Van Halen’s first tour with him. I watched him annihilate every single night and was grateful I didn’t have to follow him.”

Schon has spoken about the 1978 tour previously, telling Eddie Trunk in 2020 that even before they met he had been equally wowed and baffled by Van Halen’s playing.

“Three months prior to the tour starting, I had received a little promotional EP,” recalled Schon. “And I'm sitting there listening to Eruption and I'm going, 'What the fuck is this guy doing?’ For real. I could not figure it out… It drove me nuts. 

“And we finally got out there, and I got to know Ed, and watched him night to night just kill it… [But] in the beginning, he would turn his back, a lot of times, to the audience, or hold the guitar in a certain way where you couldn't see exactly what he was doing. 

“So about halfway through, I remember being in his dressing room, or he came in my dressing room, and I said, ‘Show me what it is, man.’ And he did it. And I did it pretty immediately, but I was just, like, ‘Son of a bitch. That's so crazy.’ I never would have thought of that. And I had heard it before – the sound of it – but not doing the triplets and what Ed was doing.”

We wonder if Schon ever played through EVH’s rig – Nuno Bettencourt once did and described it as “a horrible nightmare”.

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Matt Parker

Matt is a staff writer for GuitarWorld.com. Before that he spent 10 years as a freelance music journalist, interviewing artists for the likes of Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, MusicRadar, NME.com, DJ Mag and Electronic Sound. In 2020, he launched CreativeMoney.co.uk, which aims to share the ideas that make creative lifestyles more sustainable. He plays guitar, but should not be allowed near your delay pedals.