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12/12/2006 @ 08:20 AM: The Wolfgang Profile Series, Part 1

My guitar fetish has brought me to this point. I own many guitars, a better part of them being my much-favored Peavey Wolfgangs. As I've acquired and assembled numerous guitars over the past few years, I've kept a log of information on every one of them, including detailed descriptions, stories behind acquisitions, build dates, nicknames, modifications, etc. The log has become quite lengthy, and at one time it was my intention to publish it to my website, with photos included, in an exclusive section. I'm now doubting that will ever happen, so I've opted to release each bit here in an extended series of profiles, one at a time. And so here is Part 1 of The Wolfgang Profile Series; this edition features the introduction I composed and information on my very first Peavey Wolfgang guitar. Each additional Wolfgang profile can be found in the News Archive section.

Wolfgang_Headstock_01 (97k image)


I own a lot of guitars--well more than thirty. One make and model has become my "exclusive" axe above all others, however; hence this series of profiles of each version of it I play.

The Peavey Wolfgang was the Edward Van Halen signature guitar produced from 1995 through 2004. The Wolfgang introduced a few new design innovations, including the famed "D-Tuna," a device attached to the Floyd Rose tremolo that allowed one to instantly drop the low E string to D. EVH ended his association with Peavey, who had also been producing his signature 5150 guitar amplifier series, in late-2004. EVH owns the design rights to the Wolfgang, thus production at Peavey was discontinued in 2005; but the company has continued to manufacture the 5150 line under the new moniker "6505."

I never had any desire to play anyone else's signature guitar, but while visiting my favorite music store in the spring of 1998 I tried out a Wolfgang Special and was instantly amazed at the comfort of the guitar--the oil finish and asymmetrical shape of the neck, the scale, the weight distribution, the harmonics, and the sustain. Up to that point I'd been playing a Strat, and before that an Ibanez; with both I knew I was playing excellent instruments, but neither really ever felt like my instrument. I bought the Wolfgang within days of that music store trip, and for more than six years it was about the only guitar I played. That is, of course, until 2004 when I bought another Wolfgang--followed by several more.

The Wolfgang is, for all practical purposes, the most comfortable guitar I've ever played and my absolute perfect fit. And while I can't promise I'm altogether done buying Wolfgangs (there are still some very desirable Custom Shop models out there), definitely the frequency with which I obtained them through 2006 is not a pace that will be met again.

I do routine maintenance on all my Wolfgangs, keep them clean and lubricated, and treat the necks with lemon oil during string changes and setups (see this post for detailed information on maintaining Wolfgang necks). I refuse to call them a collection, though. I instead reference them as an "arsenal," because all get played, used, and will indeed show their wear over time.

Sunburst_Wolf (149k image)

In 2007 Edward Van Halen launched his own equipment brand, EVH Gear, which is manufactured and distributed by Fender; they have designed and released a limited edition EVH Frankenstein guitar replica and a new 5150 III amplifier head and cabinet. In 2007 and 2008 EVH took out numerous prototype Wolfgangs on tour, and the finalized version was introduced at NAMM in January 2009. And so the Wolfgang guitar is once again in production, albeit a next-generation version. The fundamentals of the guitar are the same (wood types, body and headstock shape, pickup configuration), but some details have changed (pickup voicings, neck contour, tuners, binding, etc.).


Peavey Wolfgang Special TR Gloss Ivory

Nickname: "The Haley 2"
Built: March 1998
Acquired: June 1998
Story: A therapeutic trip to the music store shortly after the end of a relationship resulted in the purchase of this Wolfgang Special. This is a Patent Pending model, one of the first Specials produced, and was empirically my main axe for more than six years. It has been with me to more than 30 of the 50 states, been on every gig I played from mid-1998 to mid-2004, appeared on literally hundreds of studio recordings, and has several battle scars from its years of service (the most notable being a series of small dents on the side from when I accidentally tossed the guitar out my car door). The frets were dressed in the spring of 2004, and a few pieces of hardware have been replaced. Otherwise, the guitar is in its original factory condition, has been extremely reliable, and is my most personally valued Wolfgang. The Haley 2 is named so as it was a "replacement," and its title has the amused endorsement of its human predecessor.

The_Haley_2_01 (54k image)
Live w/ AT/DT @ The Uptown in Minneapolis - August 2005

thumbnail 001thumbnail 002thumbnail 003thumbnail 004Photo Chronology: 1996 to Today
thumbnail 005thumbnail 006thumbnail 007thumbnail 008Please feel free to peruse these memories from the AT photo archives.

Andrew Thomas