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EVH Striped Series Shark review

A spot-on replica of Eddie Van Halen's most aggressive electric with super-hot tones and a shreddable neck

(Image: © EVH)

Our Verdict

An absolute must-have for vintage Van Halen fans, the EVH Striped Series Shark is also a great choice for players seeking a comfortable, aggressive-sounding axe with full-bodied tone as distinctive as its looks.

For

  • Essential for Van Halen fans.
  • Rich, full-bodied tone.
  • Hot, hot Alnico II pickups.
  • Well-balanced and very playable.

Against

  • Well, it's not subtle.

Thanks to its appearance on the front and rear cover of Van Halen’s 1980 album Women and Children First, the guitar that Eddie Van Halen called the “Shark” ranks as one of his top five iconic early instruments along with his homemade Frankenstein, black and yellow “bumblebee” Charvel and “5150” Kramer. 

The Shark started life as an Ibanez Destroyer with an ash body finished to look like korina, but Ed made several modifications such as painting it white before using it to record several songs on Van Halen’s debut album. 

After that album, he cut a huge chunk out of the lower bout, painted the body silver before applying masking tape and a top coat of burgundy Schwinn bicycle paint to create his signature stripes and experimented with a wide variety of different pickups and hardware. 

Due to popular demand, EVH has replicated the Shark guitar in its classic Women and Children First configuration.

Features

The EVH Striped Series Shark is a dead-ringer for Eddie’s original Shark guitar, lacking only the dents, dings and chips from a few decades of wear. 

Other than that, every visual detail is identical, including the mismatched parchment bridge and black neck humbuckers, mismatched gold and chrome tuners, oversized “harmonica” bridge, three-way pickup toggle switch mounted on a brass plate, black speed knobs, brass nut and pair of turnbuckles spanning the cutout section of the lower bout.

Updated custom touches include EVH Bourns low- (volume) and high-friction (tone) pots, compound radius and graphite-reinforced neck.

Updated custom touches include EVH Bourns low- (volume) and high-friction (tone) pots, compound radius and graphite-reinforced neck. (Image credit: EVH)

The ash body is even finished in burgundy with silver stripes. The Shark features a graphite-reinforced maple set neck with a 24.75-inch scale, 12-to-16-inch compound radius, modified “C” profile, pau ferro fingerboard and 22 jumbo frets with the nut width measuring 1.6875 inches. 

Electronics consist of a pair of EVH Wolfgang Shark alnico 2 humbuckers with metal-braid mesh two-conductor wire, a 500k EVH Bourns low-friction master volume pot with treble bleed circuit and a 250k EVH Bourns high-friction master tone pot. 

The pickups on our example measured a hot 12.98k ohms (bridge) and 15.65k ohms (neck) of resistance. 

The EVH Wolfgang Shark alnico 2 humbuckers deliver rich, full-bodied tone and high output that hits an amp’s front end hard.

The EVH Wolfgang Shark alnico 2 humbuckers deliver rich, full-bodied tone and high output that hits an amp’s front end hard. (Image credit: EVH)

Performance

Thanks in part to the hot pickups, the Shark delivers an aggressive voice with a vicious growl. The overall tonal personality is warm and dark, but not overly so, with individual notes possessing lush, thick body and excellent definition. 

The guitar pairs best with bright, high-gain amps that bring out its bite. Due to the large chunk cut out of the lower bout, the guitar is lighter than a Strat. 

Playability is outstanding, and the strategic placement of the oversized strap buttons keeps the guitar in a comfortable playing position when played in a standing up position.

(Image credit: EVH)

Specs

  • PRICE: $1,499 / £1,299
  • ORIGIN: Mexico
  • BODY: Ash
  • NECK: Quartersawn maple, set with graphite reinforcement
  • SCALE LENGTH: 629mm (24.75”)
  • NUT/WIDTH: Brass/42.86mm
  • FINGERBOARD: Pau ferro with dot inlays, 305-406mm (12-16”) radius
  • FRETS: 22, jumbo
  • HARDWARE: Chrome and Gold EVH-branded Gotoh tuners, EVH Chrome-Plated Solid-Brass Harmonica bridge
  • ELECTRICS: EVH Wolfgang Shark Humbuckers (neck and bridge), three-position toggle switch, 500K EVH Bourns Low Friction volume pot with treble bleed circuit, Tone (250K EVH Bourns High Friction pot)
  • RANGE OPTIONS: EVH Striped Series Frankie, EVH Striped Series 5150, EVH Striped Series "Bumblebee" 
  • LEFT-HANDERS: No
  • FINISHES: Burgundy w/ Silver Stripes
  • CONTACT: EVH Gear