“A great and affordable option for players seeking a stripped-down hot rod shred guitar”: EVH Frankenstein Relic Series review

Meet the new Frankenstein, same as the old one, just without the stripes, and with a lived-in feel that's as comfortable as well-worn denim

EVH Frankenstein Relic Series
(Image: © EVH Gear)

Guitar World Verdict

By ditching Ed’s signature stripes in favor of a single-color finish, the EVH Frankenstein Relic Series provides all of the vibe, tones and high-performance attributes of the Frankenstein guitar in a package that allows players to make their own visual and aural statements.

Pros

  • +

    Powerful, crisp, articulate tones.

  • +

    Neck has comfortable worn-in feel.

  • +

    Provides classic Frankenstein features and attitude in an incognito package.

Cons

  • -

    Pickup height is not adjustable.

  • -

    Single bridge humbucker and volume control setup provides a limited range of tones (unless you wire in the “Easter Egg” neck pickup and selector).

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The EVH Striped Series is pretty much the coolest thing going for guitarists who want to make a loud and proud statement about their appreciation for Eddie Van Halen and his influence. 

However, many players may prefer something a little less flashy and distracting-looking that still provides plenty of classic VH vibe. If that’s your jam, the new EVH Frankenstein Relic Series delivers the goods.

The EVH Frankenstein Relic guitar is based upon the mid-’80s iteration of Ed’s iconic Frankenstein, but it features a single-color finish (red, white or black) and offers a few modern modifications, like a compound-radius fretboard and EVH Floyd Rose with D-Tuna, perfect for guitarists who want the aggressive tones and rat rod appeal of Ed’s original axe, expertly combined with high-performance playability.

The EVH Frankenstein Relic features a familiar Strat-style asymmetrical double cutaway body that’s made from basswood to optimize resonance and keep the overall weight around an average of seven comfortable pounds. The bolt-on neck is quartersawn maple with a separate maple cap fingerboard (so there’s no skunk stripe), both finished with Heavy Relic lacquer that seals and protects the wood. 

The neck finish and simulated dirt/wear on our test example had a warm, mocha latte brown color that resembled roasted maple. The body finish is gloss lacquer that is subjected to moderate relic aging around the edges and common wear areas like the forearm contour and rear “belt buckle” section.

EVH Frankenstein Relic Series

(Image credit: EVH Gear)

Appropriate for its rat rod design, the guitar has a high-power engine: an EVH Wolfgang humbucker in the bridge position, with the pickup measuring 14.3k ohms resistance. 

The neck position single-coil pickup and selector switch in the middle pickup cavity are only there for show, just like they are on Ed’s Frankenstein (however, that pickup and selector switch are functional – they’re just not wired in, but can be). The humbucker pickup is direct wired to a volume pot (with a skirted “Tone” knob) and mounted directly to the body (there are no mounting ring or height adjustment screws), and that’s it.

The Wolfgang humbucker’s tone is surprisingly brilliant and almost Strat-like, with a distinct upper midrange bite and snappy attack that remain consistently lively even as the volume knob is backed down for clean tones. The bass has plenty of heft for heavy distorted rhythms and riffs.

EVH Frankenstein Relic Series

(Image credit: EVH Gear)

The single bridge humbucker/volume knob-only setup is not the most versatile configuration on its own, but its rich harmonic content provides a solid base for sculpting a much wider variety of sounds with amp settings, a wah pedal and/or a programmable EQ.

With 22 jumbo frets, a 12-16-inch compound radius fretboard, slim modified “C” profile, 1.69-inch nut width and easily accessible heel-mounted truss rod adjustment wheel, the neck is built for speed and precise, comfortable playability. 

The raw wood-like feel of the Heavy Relic lacquer finish provides an ideal balance between smoothness and resistance to facilitate gliding up and down the neck and stopping precisely where the player desires.

EVH Frankenstein Relic Series

(Image credit: EVH Gear)

The EVH-branded Floyd Rose 1000 Series Locking Tremolo with EVH D-Tuna are robustly built to provide solid tuning stability and survive years of spirited whammy abuse. The tremolo block is made from brass to deliver enhanced resonance and sustain. As per Ed’s preferred setup, the tremolo bridge is blocked flush with the body in a non-floating, dive-bomb-only configuration.

The EVH Frankenstein Relic guitar provides an ideal personalization base for players who love Eddie’s Frankenstein guitar but prefer their own visual flair. With its broken-in relic aesthetics, it’s something you won’t mind slapping stickers onto or spraying with your own custom paint designs. 

However, it’s also a great and affordable option for players seeking a stripped-down hot rod shred guitar that can deliver years of inspiration and rock-solid reliable performance on stage.

Specs

  • PRICE:  $1,699 / £1,349
  • BODY: Basswood
  • NECK: Maple, bolt-on
  • SCALE: 25.5” (648mm)
  • FINGERBOARD: Maple/12-16” compound radius
  • FRETS: 22, jumbo
  • PICKUPS: 1x EVH Wolfgang humbucker
  • CONTROLS: Master volume 
  • HARDWARE: EVH-Branded Floyd Rose Locking Tremolo with EVH D-Tuna, brass tremolo block,  EVH-Branded Gotoh tuners (aged chrome), overs-sized strap buttons
  • FINISH: Red (as reviewed), Black, White
  • CONTACT: EVH Gear

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Chris Gill

Chris is the co-author of Eruption - Conversations with Eddie Van Halen. He is a 40-year music industry veteran who started at Boardwalk Entertainment (Joan Jett, Night Ranger) and Roland US before becoming a guitar journalist in 1991. He has interviewed more than 600 artists, written more than 1,400 product reviews and contributed to Jeff Beck’s Beck 01: Hot Rods and Rock & Roll and Eric Clapton’s Six String Stories.