The Eddie von Frankenberger, Custom finish, 2055 A.D.



Nevermind what Eddie has been building in his garage, this is the real Frankenstein guitar.  There are very few modifications this guitar doesn't have ...and probably a few you haven't seen before.

Humble beginnings
I bought this guitar for $95 from an antique dealership.  It came with the body, neck, an original Floyd Rose, two pickups, and a volume knob, though no pickup selector(?!?).  The body had an awful, grimy coat of paint with gothic writing on the front.  I think it says "Unbroken."  I have no idea what the other word was supposed to read.  Apparently this was an ignorant attempt at a Van Halen replica.

One of the pickups was a DiMarzio FRED.  I didn't like the look of that one (cream zebra coils on a blue guitar?... yuk!) and sold it on eBay for just more than half the price I paid for the whole guitar.  Similarly, I abandoned the cream pickup rings (what were they thinking?!).  The strap nuts were actually eye-hooks from a hardware store, something Eddie originated.  Those have since been transplanted to the Frankenstrat.


Materials
The body is most likely from Warmoth, as they are the only people I know who make a decent replica of the Ernie Ball/Music Man Axis guitar (formerly the Eddie Van Halen signature model).  This model is known as a VW.

I am not sure where the neck came from, although it is reasonable to assume that it too is from Warmoth.  The headstock resembles an Explorer replica which Warmoth also produces.


Aesthetics
I scraped the original paint off, then poured layer after later of Rustoleum Blue sparkle spray paint onto it (from Home Depot). The chrome strips (which never photograph very well) are auto trim tape that can be purchased at almost any auto parts store.  I sure someone with more imagination than I could really update the EVH concept with this stuff.

Of course, not one to ever be content to leave anything well enough alone, I used a band saw to cut the back of the guitar to resemble a Steinberger.


Pickups: AGI Lace Drop Gain humbuckers
(Note: These aren't the ones in the picture.  Those never got wired into the final version.)

These pickups are unique in a number of ways that work together to produce some incredible  advantages (for those willing to take advantage of them anyway).

First, like other pickups by AGI Lace, each coil of these if hum-canceling (of humbucking, if you prefer).  That means that when the coils are tapped in "humbucker" (i.e., two-coil) mode, they still do not hum.  In any other pickup that I'm aware of (with the sole exception of the EMG 89) this is not the case.

Now, the second and third advantages come out of this primary innovation.  Since the coils are already humbucking on their own, they do not have to be equal in their impedence to produce a traditional humbucker (i.e., two coil pickup) when combined.  As a result, Lace designed their pickup to have coils of different impedence.

There are two consequences: First, having two coils of different gives a fuller response.  One coil catches the muddy lower end of the spectrum while the other coil brings out the high end such that you hear each string.  These pickups were designed for guitarists who favor low tunings (hence the "Drop" in the name), but they really work for standard applications just as well (if not better) than ordinary pickups.

The second consquence of having different types of coils is that, when tapped, the outer coils (i.e., bridge-most and neck-most) are of lower impedence, so they sound closer to a single coil sound.  This means that you can start with a Les Paul sound and twice over to more of a Strat or Tele sound with the flip of a switch.
 
Neck Specifications:
Upper coil - 5.9k 
Lower coil - 8.9k
Total resistance: 14.8k
Peak frequency: 2260 
Inductance: 6.5
Bridge Specifications:
Upper coil - 15.0k. 
Lower coil - 9.0k
Total resistance: 24.0k
Peak frequency: 1547 
Inductance: 11.8





Electronics
Controls: Among the controls is, of course, a master volume and tone knob and a three-way toggle (though the toggle is not in the picture), but there is so much more.  Read on.

Modification: Coil taps
Control: Toggle switch purchased from Radio Shack

Function: This switch simultaneously drops out (sends to ground) the innermost coils of both humbuckers.  This gives you a PRS- or Telecaster-type configuration when both pickups are selected, but you can also get single coils by themselves using the 3-way selector.


Modification: Phase switch
Control: Push-pull potentiometer

Function: The way I have it wired up, this switch turns the signal of one of the coils of the bridge humbucker around.  As a result, the signal is almost completely canceled out except for this really brittle tone.


Modification: Series/spilt/parallel switch
Control: Mini toggle switch

Function: If you combine your pickups in parallel you get a fairly soft sound (think Stratocaster), but in series you get more of that thick sound people associate with humbuckers (since that's the way they are almost always wired).  This combines either both humbuckers or (if tapped) the outermost coils in series parallel or a combination.


Modification: 7 band equalizer
Control: 8 sliders on guitar face

I tried building a 2-band EQ (didn't like the sound), then a 3-band (didn't work), so I finally bought a Danelectro "Fish-N-Chips" effects pedal (where do they get these names?) and gutted it (no pun intended).  As I said, the guitar body was made by Warmoth, who build custom guitars, so they make this huge cavity to accommodate just about anything hardware and configuration of controls you could want.

In spite of this, I still had to take a Dremel to the top of the guitar to thin the wood some so that the EQ siders could poke through.  Also, the edges of the control cavity were similarly routed to accommodate the circuit boards comfortably.


Modification: on/off switch
Control: red push-button switch next to EQ

Function: Because the (former) pedal is always "plugged in," it is always turned on.  I added the switch to a break in the line to save the battery.  Yeah, like I needed another control on the face of this guitar!


Modification: 12-position varitone
Control: Rotary switch and a level potentiometer

Function: This is a rotary switch which allows you to click between the positions and it runs your signal across different gauge capacitors.  A regular tone knob just runs across one cap, so you don't get a lot of variety.  This one comes with 11 caps plus a bypass position.  The level potentiometer serves as the "tone knob" so that I can set how much of an influence the varitone will produce.



The schematic
Components pictured:
  • Two 4-conductor humbuckers
  • Push-pull pos (500k Ohms)
  • DPDT switch (for taps)
  • on-on-on DPDT switch  (for ser/par switching)
  • 7 band EQ circuit boards
  • on/off switch for EQ
  • 12 position rotary switch
  • Output jack

Note: Different pickups will have different color codes for the wires.  Consult the manufacturer's website for which wires feed from which coils.
Too many options?  I don't think so. 

Which would you rather, a three-way toggle and a few tone knobs or the choice of any tone in the world?






Copyright Alexplorer.
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